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How to Get Married in Montana With Ease in 2020

Elopements, Featured

How to Get Married in Montana in 2020

Whether you’re eloping in Montana or having a small wedding with a few guests, this guide answers all your questions on how to get married in Montana with zero mistakes and zero stress.

So, you’re getting married in Montana and a little unsure about how? About if it’s different than other states? The marriage license? A blood test? There’s so much to think through when you’re tryna legally put a ring on it and figure out how to get married in Montana!! And seriously… Montana is an amazing state to get married in, so up front we’re just letting you know you’re making an ah-mazing decision! As Kalispell Montana photographers guiding our couples through researching what it takes to get married in different states, we compiled all of our information for how to get married in Montana using all of our couples’ FAQ’s.

We’re covering Montana-specific legalities, general elopement costs, and Montana adventure elopement planning! So let’s dive on in!

How to get married in Montana: Marriage License Requirements

This is the most frequently asked question we get from our couples when discovering how to get married in Montana, and thankfully, the process is pretty simple. You need only apply for a marriage license with the county clerk of the county in which your ceremony is being held. Each county has their own website where you can check their marriage license processing hours. For example, if you are eloping in Glacier National Park, you could fill out an online application at the Flathead County Courthouse, show up a couple days before your elopement to pick it up, pay the $53, and be set to go for your wedding day! And if you’re not eloping there, here is a list of county courthouse locations so you can obtain the marriage license from the appropriate county.

Here is what you’ll need to get married in Montana to either apply at the local courthouse or have present with you when you pick up your marriage license upon arrival in the state:

  • State issued driver’s license, birth certificate, or other recognized proof of age such as a military ID or passport

  • Knowledge of both sets of parents’ full names and places of birth including mother’s maiden name

  • Knowledge of bride and groom’s social security numbers

  • A Rubella Blood Test for the bride, although you may opt to complete this form which either exempts you or allows a previous blood test to count towards your marriage license requirements

  • Proof of divorce if applicable to either party applying for the marriage license

How to get married in Montana is entirely painless, especially in reference to the Montana marriage license! The online application takes roughly 10 minutes, and dropping by the county clerk’s office to provide documentation and pick up your marriage license often takes less than an hour, even if other couples are obtaining their licenses as well. As painless as the process is, most couples still need a guide to answer any sticky questions that are as clear as mud when they are planning. We’d be stoked to chat with you about photographing and assisting in planning your elopement in Montana and helping you figure out how to get married in Montana!

How to get married in Montana:

What will the legalities cost?

The cost of a getting married in Montana varies greatly depending on the type of wedding, but the legalities of marrying in Montana is very cost effective. The cost of your marriage license will be $53 (plus any credit card fees issued by the courthouse) making discovering how to get married in Montana a cost-effective option! A note, however, is that state and national parks often require a special use permit for your ceremony that can range widely as well. The fee for a ceremony in Glacier National Park is $100, and the application is available online here. Be sure when you are evaluating your ceremony site that you have researched any potential ceremony fees with your photographer or venue coordinator as they will have experience navigating any ceremony location fees in Montana for your wedding.

There is, also, the larger cost of getting married or eloping to consider as well, which we’ve broken down into this How Much Does it Cost to Elope blog! Check it out to see why eloping might is a great financial decision!

How to get married in Montana:

Is there a waiting period to get married in Montana?

There is no waiting period to get married in Montana after obtaining your marriage license, and your marriage license is valid for 180 days. Even if you are traveling to Montana from another state or country, you may hold your ceremony immediately upon receiving your marriage license.

Upon completing your marriage ceremony and having your marriage license signed, your marriage license must be returned to the county clerk’s office within 30 days of the minister’s signature.

No waiting period makes your journey of how to get married in Montana pretty sweet, right?

How to get married in Montana:

Will we need to a blood test to get married in Montana?

When folks ask how to get married in Montana, one of their first questions is usually about the blood test. We covered this briefly above, but in short—it depends. If you are a female under the age of 50, here are your options as far receiving the Rubella Blood Test required for your marriage license approval:

  • Option 1—Receive the Rubella Blood Test in the State of Montana upon arrival into Montana or prior to filing your marriage license application

  • Option 2—Fill out this form with the help of your general physician stating that you have already had and passed your Rubella Blood Test to be turned in with your marriage license application

  • Option 3—Fill out this form to exempt yourself from the Rubella Blood Test and accept all liability concerning your Rubella risk

Any specific questions concerning the aforementioned options should be directed towards each county’s clerk as to if they will accept the form online via fax or email, via an online submission with their county’s online application, or if they need a hard copy upon your arrival to the county’s courthouse. These questions towards the county clerks are welcome by phone during regular clerk hours.

While we cannot answer all legality questions concerning qualifying blood tests and/or exemptions, we know it can be so mentally exhausting to call between offices, fax paperwork endlessly, and so much more when it comes to the health portion of obtaining a marriage license when attempting to discover how to get married in Montana legally.

The good news is, eloping is actually way less stressful (once you get past legalities haha) than the traditional wedding when you have a great helper who can guide you in creating the adventurous day you are dreaming of—we’re that great helper if I say so myself! Together we can create a wedding day experience that makes you feel snuggly on the inside while traversing new trails on the outside. We’d love to talk more with ya about your elopement day and keep guiding you through how to get married in Montana!

 

How to get married in Montana:

Who can marry you/officiate in Montana?

Okay, we find this how to get married in Montana question so fun!! There is a “cut and dry” answer, of course, but there’s some nuance too. The State of Montana only recognizes marriages performed by the following:

  • Clergy and/or Ordained Minister

  • A Judge or Public Official given specific solemnization rights by their office

  • Justice of the Peace

  • Mayor

  • A Tribal Judge

But wait… how’s that a fun how to get married in Montana question? What is SO FUN about Montana is that they recognize officiants and marriages ordained within the context of any religious affiliation. Broken down that means a guest, your pops, or a random ranch hand could get an online ordination and hold your ceremony for you legally! We love that Montana allows this, because it allows the couple to choose their officiant with true intention and meaning. And BONUS: that means my hubby and I often officiate for couples as a part of our elopement packages, because we are ordained in the context of a religious affiliation! So you have innumerable options for an officiant and to get legally married in an epic way! If you have any questions as to how to obtain ordination or how to choose an officiant, reach out below, and we’ll teach you how to elope!

How to get married in Montana:
Do I need any special wedding permits for my ceremony location?

Special use permits are applicable in many state parks and national parks. As mentioned above, special use permits can be found on the state or national park’s website and are often incredibly simple and cost effective. One thing to keep in mind about location permits is that the application needs very a very specific location in order to be approved. So work out your exact location with your photographer in order to have the best chance at getting approved at your location and date when considering how to get married in Montana.

Special use permits on privately-owned venues in Montana are often not required or are already included in your venue fees. Check with the property owner or venue coordinator about any special permits needed for your specific venue.

Special use permits on private property (not private venues but instead a scenario like a family member’s land) will need to be researched through applicable HOA’s or county legislation. This is typically not needed, but we recommend all of our couples to check and double check about special use permits so they are not found with a hefty fee afterward.

How to get married in Montana:

What vendors will I need?

Some amazing news about eloping is that you need wildly less when it comes to vendors. Essentially, you make up your own rules for this one! We help our couples find their vendors based on the needs for their day. I.e. if they feel like florals would make their day more meaningful, then we help find them a floral designer when discovering how to get married in Montana with awesome vendors. If kayaking on their elopement day sounds stellar, we help find them the most reputable kayak rental company if they are unable to bring their own. Deciding whatever makes your wedding day meaningful and full of life is also deciding what vendors you need.

We have found the bare minimum for elopement vendors is a photographer (hey, that’s us!) and wedding attire! That’s as minimal as you can go. However, you can also add as many meaningful elements as you desire. We have seen couples use as many as up to 20 vendors for their elopement.

We are so passionate about helping our couples find the most perfect vendors for their day that we actually wrote a specific resource on Montana wedding vendors that you can check out when you’re ready to investigate further! Until then, let’s chat about your elopement day and see if we would be a great fit for you! We can’t wait to see the elopement experience you create!

How to get married in Montana:

What does it cost to elope?

Montana’s cost of living is a lot lower than most of the country, so that really benefits you when it comes to eloping in Montana as well! Eloping in Montana is incredibly cost efficient, even when considering the cost of varying vendors for your wedding day.

Here’s the breakdown for most eloping couples in Montana at Glacier National Park, for example:

  • Required special use permit for your ceremony—$100

  • Marriage license—$53

  • Photographer/officiant (hey, that’s us again!)—$4500

  • Bridal bouquet and floral accessories—$300

  • Elopement cake—$50

  • Wedding attire—$1000

So that brings your total to $6003!

Not friggin bad for the most epic and inspiring day of your life! Another perk of discovering how to get married in Montana! <3 Especially when you consider the cost of a traditional wedding averages at $33,000 in the US. That means eloping in Montana could potentially cost you 1/6th of a traditional wedding you may plan elsewhere.

If you’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of eloping anywhere, we cover that here in how much does it cost to elope.

How to get married in Montana:

What season should I get married in Montana?

The good news is, people get married every day in Montana making how to get married in Montana very easy. No time of year is strictly off limits, and there are wondrous sights in nature any time of year for eloping. Without doubt, the most popular time of year to get married on Montana is summer (which is amazing, because summer weddings are typically too hot in other parts of the US), which is considered to be June to August. The second most sought after period to get married is what’s called “shoulder-season.” This would be mid-May to June and the month of September. Weather during this time is still temperate but can be slightly less predictable in reference to snow and/or wildfires in some parts of the state.

Here are the benefits and risks of differing seasons:

  • Spring—benefits: rushing waterfalls, ample wildlife viewing, less traffic, inexpensive lodging and activities while potential risks are: rainy weather, mud from snow-melt, difficulty traveling in and out of Montana

  • Summer—benefits: the best weather for outdoor weddings, easy access to high elevations, flourishing flora and fauna while potential risks are: overcrowding and inflated lodging and activity prices

  • Fall—benefits: seasonal colors and cooler temperatures while potential risks are: being in the middle of fire season and unanticipated weather

  • Winter—benefits: minimal crowds, inexpensive lodging and activities, snowy and beautiful winter-laden scenery while potential risks are: difficulty in accessing popular sites due to weather, extreme cold temperatures, and the most unpredictable and severe weather of the entire year

If you’re looking at how to get married in Montana at Glacier National Park check out our Glacier National Park elopement, where you’ll find 5 simple steps to get you married in Montana there! There are some more fun things to consider when choosing the date, and we know when is the best time to go to Glacier National Park! If you’re looking for the infamous bear grass, you’ll need to stay up to date on blooming predictions. If you have particular trails you’re wanting to explore for your wedding day or afterward on your honeymoon, you’ll need to get expert opinions to help determine when higher elevations will become accessible. We’re 100% capable and stoked to help couples research the perfect date range for the Glacier National Park elopement depending upon what you want to see and experience, so let’s chat about your wedding in Glacier National Park!

How to get married in Montana:

How long does it take to plan a wedding in Montana?

Most small weddings or elopements take much less than the traditional wedding to plan, especially when you have a photographer and guide to help you along the way. Since the marriage license process is incredibly time efficient in Montana, and the over all culture of the state is more relaxed and hospitable than most, a stunningly gorgeous outdoor elopement can be planned in less than a month with the right guidance.

Most weddings take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to plan, but most of our eloping couples plan their wedding days packed full of meaning and adventure in less than 9 months! Which we think is friggin’ stellar!! The time it takes to plan for your wedding in Montana depends mostly upon vendor availability. If you are using a venue to host an elopement celebration or anything, this will heavily impact how far out you need to be planning. For example, luxury lodging in areas such as Big Sky, Bozeman, Whitefish, Eureka, etc. will book a year or more in advance for all four seasons. If you are planning on bringing family or guests along this will need to be considered.

Here’s a rundown on the minimum amount of time needed for different types of wedding days:

  • If you are eloping outdoors with no guests, you can plan your elopement in less than a month.

  • If you are eloping outdoors with less than 25 guests and no venue, you can plan your elopement in less than 6 months.

  • If you are having a small wedding with more than 25 guests at a venue and desire all of your guests to lodge nearby, you can plan your small wedding in less than 18 months.

These times may vary greatly depending upon your preferences in your ceremony location, venue, lodging, time of year, etc. We recommend giving yourself 6 to 9 months for elopements so you can take your time choosing activities and create meaningful ways to celebrate your wedding experience and build it into your elopement day, but an ah-mazing elopement can be planned in less than a month if you are just too stoked to wait!!!

Oh, hey!! Speaking of planning an elopement or small wedding in Montana…

We help our couples find out how to get married in Montana all the time as well as planning their small wedding or elopement and would love to answer any remaining questions you have about getting married in Montana! We are so thrilled when eloping couples say yes to getting married in Montana, because the process can be so seamless and simple while giving you the wedding day experience you will always be able to remember… Imagine seeing a moose and their baby crossing a stream while you exchange your vows. Imagine summitting a peak to watch the sunrise and dance to the noise of wind rustling through the valley beneath you… Imagine trekking across glaciers hand in hand and breathing in the peace that your wedding day is bringing you. This is what you can have when you elope.

And here are some additional resources about eloping in the meantime:

Should I Elope | In case your mind isn’t made up on which type of wedding is perfect for you yet

Pros and Cons of Eloping | If you’re type A enough (lol like me) to need an official pros and cons list
Lastly, Wedding Planning Stress | If wedding planning is bogging you down a bit and you need a pick me up!

Hey, it’s us!

We’re Des & Dan! Husband & wife elopement photographers, planners, and officiants! We help couples like you create elopement days full of meaningful details, authentic moments, and creative experiences because we believe you deserve a wedding day where you are truly heard—a wedding day you can truly remember.

We’d love to help in any way you can, so check out our other free planning resources or send us an email by hitting contact! We’d love to hop on the phone and see what you’re envisioning for your elopement day.

You deserve this.

Des & Dan

11 Comments

  1. Meghan

    Wow this is such an informative post! You break it all down so nicely. I’ve been to Montana before and I can definitely say it’s an absolutely beautiful place to get married in!

    Reply
  2. Lynn

    This is so helpful!! I love the breakdown of budget and seasons.

    Reply
  3. Vital

    Ahh, such valuable info about elopements in Montana! Thanks for the pricing break down too, that’s very helpful!!

    Reply
  4. Hans

    You are giving some value information to your couple and telling them that eloping is not going to cost them an arm. By the pics you post seems like a good place to elope!

    Reply
  5. Vital Wilsh

    Solid tips for elopements in Montana! I had no idea about the blood test, whoa! Thanks for all the info and your great work!

    Reply
  6. Mikalynn

    This is great information and it’s so specific for the area!

    Reply
  7. Kat Carney

    So so much helpful info! Montana is so gorgeous!

    Reply
  8. Traci

    Montana looks so pretty a great place to get married!

    Reply
  9. Bailey

    This is so helpful for anyone looking for get married in Montana! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Jessica

    This is such a detailed outline of planning a wedding or elopement in Montana! So helpful!

    Reply
  11. heashot

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