St. Mary Lake Elopement at Sunrise


St. Mary Lake Elopement at Sunrise | Bri & Michael

Bri & Michael are just the epitome of a kind-hearted couple!  When they inquired with us about their St. Mary Lake elopement, they made sure we knew they had a pup, Violet, and really respected the great outdoors!  They were so stoked to come up from Florida to experience the vastness of Glacier National Park with their beloved guests!  We had months to help them plan, but their St. Mary Lake elopement honestly came together quickly and beautifully once we had their ceremony location figured out!


Bri wanted to elope because the idea and anxiety of planning a big traditional wedding just wasn’t for her.  Michael loves adventure (and Bri, of course) so he was down for anything.  They opted to include family for their St. Mary Lake elopement, vacation together, and then have a solo sunset adventure for their day.

Related: Eloping in Montana | The Ultimate How-to and Location Guide

Before their St. Mary Lake Elopement Ceremony: Two First Looks

Bri, Michael, and their families met us at Apgar around 5 AM to take the long road over to St. Mary Lake for their sunrise ceremony.  Still snoozy and in great need of coffee, Bri & Michael greeted us before driving along the Going to the Sun Road.  Once we arrived at their St. Mary Lake elopement spot, Bri & Michael had to get ready under the cover of night.  The moon was still looming against the stars!

Bri took to the vault toilet with her future mother in law and her step mother to help her get dressed.  Elopement days are kinda ironic… you tend to get ready in some of the least glamorous places and end up looking the most gorgeous you’ve ever felt.  Michael, likewise, got ready in the parking lot next to their red jeep with all the bros.

Before their St. Mary Lake elopement, Bri wanted to do a first look with her dad and Michael.  Her dad was up first and fell to a puddle once he saw her.  Michael and Bri’s first look ended up being romantic, snuggly, and sweet against the backdrop of the alpenglow. Michael and Bri said once they saw each other all the nerves (and sleepiness) from that morning had melted away.

Related: Easiest Places to Elope in the US | And Montana makes this list!

St. Mary Lake Elopement Ceremony and Celebration

After the first looks were complete and we had all taken a break from tearing up, we took the short work to the vista overlooking St. Mary Lake!  The alpenglow was still visible, but the views around us were incredibly bright.  The wind around the lake was whipping (hello gorgeous wind-blown hair)!  Bri and Michael found the perfect ceremony spot for them and held their own St. Mary Lake elopement ceremony.  Even though they had gotten legally married in Florida before their trip, Bri & Michael did the right thing and got a Glacier National Park wedding permit since they would be exchanging vows.  This was such a smart idea to simplify the legalities of it all!

It was so windy during their St. Mary Lake elopement ceremony that not a single person could hear their vows making it incredibly private even though their families got to watch.  Bri and Michael kissed to conclude their St. Mary Lake elopement, and we celebrated!

While Bri and Michael were off taking some gorgeous photos at the overlook, their families set up a breakfast picnic (did I mention we met up with them at 5 AM???) so everyone could celebrate together and carb load.  Complete with mimosas (Bri’s favorite), local fruit, and some of Bri’s dad’s cooking, we all ate until our hearts were content.  Bri and Michael relaxed, enjoyed their guests, and drove off to take a nap back at their lodging.

couple elopes at st mary lake

Lake McDonald Sunset Portraits

When we had originally worked with Bri & Michael on their day, they wanted to go back up the Going to the Sun Road at sunset to explore some trails.  We had just recently, however, found a spot at Lake McDonald that would give them the grassy beach feel they were craving since they came from Florida!  We met up and adventured along the shores of Lake McDonald until there was simply no light left! As the moon popped out again to finish their day, I gave Bri and Michael a fun task.  “Why don’t you guys just soak in these final moments of your day and share your top 3 memories from today with each other?”

Bri and Michael smiled at each other, started chatting, and we backed away to give them some privacy.  Their last moments with us were spent reliving what they absolutely loved best.  Later Bri said this was her favorite moment of the entire day–getting to relive the day through Michael’s eyes and remembering what she held so dearly.


Here’s what else Bri and Michael said about their experience with us:

When beginning to plan our elopement there were a lot of variables to consider. We knew that it was important to us to have an epic photographer since we were foregoing all of the “normal wedding” details. I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to plan an elopement somewhere I had never been before all by myself. I quickly learned that research online into a location can only give you so much information. When I came across Des on the hunt for our photographer, it was like a dream come true. She impressed me off the bat with the amount of professionalism, information and transparency she provides through her website before you even hire them. Not only are Des and Dan skilled in photography, but they also offer packages that assist in destination planning, vendors, location scouting, timelines, and packing lists. Having someone in your arsenal that serves a major purpose AND has endless knowledge of your event is priceless.




Des and Dan made us feel like we’ve known them for years since the very first day. Des has the kind of personality that makes you feel instantly comfortable and supported no matter what. She could make a second career out of being a therapist. I guess you have to be like that when your job is comforting spastic stressed out brides like myself. Des went out of her way to chat with me ANY time I had questions. There were many features to our day that I would’ve forgotten to plan for without her. Never did I feel like she wasn’t on top of every single detail and that definitely kept me sane. She was like my personal hype woman. We appreciated the endless amount of time and concern spent on getting to know us and our vision. Des and Dan not only met our expectations, but surpassed them by miles every step of the process.


Our wedding day was by far the best day of both of our lives. It went off without a hitch and a lot of that was because of the professionalism and precision of Des and Dan. They made it about us! It wasn’t them trying to fit us into their idea of what our pictures should be like or uncomfortable posing; we just had fun being happy in love newlyweds and they captured those moments in every way. Our photos came out so much more genuine because of this detail. We were blown away by our final gallery. Obsession isn’t a strong enough word. Everything we told Des I wanted out of our pictures, we got ten-fold.


We spent the whole day with Des and Dan, but felt like we were having fun with friends. We were so upset when we had to say goodbye and realized it was all over. We established such a unique relationship with them that I think is a beautiful touch to such a wonderful experience. We couldn’t begin to express our appreciation to Des and Dan for helping us create such a stunning memory that we will never forget. We now have amazing pictures to go with those amazing memories. We couldn’t have chosen better people to be there for us as we begun our lives together.

We’d love to provide you with an amazing experience too!

Pull back the stress and create your perfect wedding day full of meaning, authenticity, and adventure!  From your inquiry all the way until we deliver that stunning gallery telling your story, we’ll be stoked to serve you as you elope in Montana!

newlyweds kiss with cowboy hats
wedding photo at lake mcdonald

Here is who made this St. Mary Lake elopement possible!


Dress: Calla Blanche

Suit: JoS. A. Bank

Florals: House of Mille De Fleur

Lodging: Whitefish Escapes

Hair: Bellami Hair + Jenna Foster Hair

Misc. Styling: Tony Lama + Stetson Hats + Fox Fine Jewelry

Photography: Destinie Fouche Photography

Hiking wedding photographers

Yo.  You need a hiking wedding guide and photographer.

Imma be so honest.  We love hiking weddings, and we love helping couples plan their elopement days to be full of meaning and intention.  Kick that tradition crap outta here, and let’s plan something magical together!

You deserve for your wedding day to bring you peace in the great outdoors, and this is only a taste of how we help our couples.

All of our elopement packages come with professional elopement photography, two photographers, and unlimited planning assistance.  We think this is the best way to serve eloping couples, and we can’t wait to chat!

Contact us about photographing your elopement!

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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


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