If you’re reading this, that probably means you’re planning to elope in Glacier National Park! How exciting! I know that planning an elopement can take lots of research, and sometimes trying to elope in a location such as a National Park can be overwhelming. That’s why I created this guide to help you plan your elopement easily! With that being said, let’s dive in!
Hey there! I’m Brogan, a Northwest Montana photographer who’s experienced in the Glacier National Park and who specializes in weddings and elopements in the Glacier National Park and Flathead area! Finding the perfect photographer for your Glacier National Park elopement is key! You want someone you can vibe with, and someone who has experience photographing in locations like a national park because they’re going to know the ins and outs! My goal is to create unity between the intimacy & stunning backdrops. I would love to be a part of your Glacier National Park wedding or adventure elopement day, if you are ready to make that happen, fill out my contact form and let’s do it!
So, you know you want to elope in Glacier National Park but WHEN is the biggest question! Some people
choose a date that is sentimental or meaningful to them, others choose it by the season they love, and others ask for recommendations! Let me break it down for you!
Glacier is GORGEOUS all year-round! Truly, every season has something so special to offer. Keep in mind, the only part of the park that is open year-round is Lake McDonald. Some other parts of the park open around mid-May and the full park doesn’t open until mid-July! I know, you’re thinking “Mid-July?! Why!?” That answer to that is that we get so much snow in our Glacier mountains that it takes that long for them to get the road plowed for people to be able to use it. I know, crazy huh? With that being said, let’s break it down by seasons.
Now that you’re set on what the date will be, you’re wondering if you should elope during sunrise, mid-day, or sunset? Well, first of all, it will be absolutely beautiful no matter which time of day you elope because you’re going to have the beauty of Glacier National Park as your backdrop! With that being said, let’s break it down by each along with the pros and cons to help you decide!
Now I want you to imagine this: The sky transitions from deep indigo to soft pinks and oranges as the sun climbs higher, casting a warm, golden glow across the rugged landscape. The mountains are silhouetted against the changing sky, creating a stunning contrast of shadows and light. This is what it looks like to elope in Glacier National Park at sunrise. Now let’s get into the pro’s and cons.
Imagine this: You find yourself in an expansive alpine meadow, surrounded by towering mountain peaks. The sun is high in the sky, casting a warm and vibrant light across the landscape. The meadow is adorned with a carpet of wildflowers, and a gentle breeze carries the scent of pine and fresh mountain air.
Last but not least, imagine this: The sky is a canvas of warm colors—fiery reds, oranges, and purples—as the sun begins its descent behind the mountains. The peaks are silhouetted against the vibrant sky, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring backdrop for the elopement
Spring – If you want lush greenery with snowy landscape (early spring) this is your season! It can be so gorgeous! Everything in the park is coming back to life from the winter season, the temps are mild, and it’s less busy then the warmer months.
Parts of the park that are open in the Spring:
Summer – If you want to get the whole Glacier experience, this is for you! This will give you those gorgeous sunsets, warm weather, wildflowers, and lots of wildlife! Keep in mind that this time of the year is extremely busy and touristy. So, if you’re looking for a more intimate wedding, this season may not be for you.
Parts of the park that are open in the Summer:
Fall – If you want those golden tones and crisp cool weather, then this is the season for you! Keep in mind, the whole park (except Lake McDonald) closes mid-October! If you are wanting gorgeous fall foliage, I highly recommend the first week of October!
Winter – If you love the white, winter wonderland look, this is the season for you! Winter in Glacier National Park is STUNNING!!! Looks like a movie scene. If you are wanting adventure, we could even plan a cross country skiing adventure after your elopement!
Keep in mind that I offer a discount for winter elopements!! If your heart is already set on a winter elopement in GNP, then inquire with me here and let’s get to planning! So when is the best time to elope in Glacier National Park you ask? That’s completely up to you! What season aligns with your vision? What look are you going for?
If you’re dreaming of a Glacier National Park elopement with that lush greenery yet still snowy landscapes, Spring is calling your name. Wanting a warm elopement where you don’t feel limited in ceremony location options? Summer is where it’s at as you’ll have a variety of location options! If you’re a lover of fall and want those dreamy fall colors and foliage as your backdrop, along with the glacier views of course, then fall is right up your ally. If you want a winter wonderland kind of wedding, then a winter Glacier National Park elopement is your best bet! At the end of the day, choose the season that makes you happy, abd that you can envision getting married in. You can’t go wrong if you follow your heart!
In my opinion, weekday elopements are the way to go! Weekends are so busy! Because of this, ceremony sites can be really crowded! I recommend sunrise or sunset elopements because the middle of the day can get so busy with tourists! I LOVE shooting in the golden hour! Google will tell you what time the sun sets on any given day so I base my timing on that for the perfect golden hour elopement photos! Check out the Google sunset times here!
The park has an amazing list of ceremony sites with a ton of information on this page! Below are five of my favorite spots to elope for you below!
My Top 5 Favorite Spots To Elope:
Josephine Lake: There’s a one-mile hike to the ceremony site, but in return the views are incredible! They only issue ONE permit for this location a day, so it gets somewhat competitive! This is on your way to the famous Grinnell Glacier hike, (bright turquoise lakes, uhhh STUNNING!!!) so we could even incorporate that into your adventurous day!
Pray Lake/Two Medicine Lake: These lakes are absolutely stunning! If you chose this location, your ceremony site will be at Pray Lake, and then we would explore all around and take some epic shots!
Bowman Lake: This location is STUNNING!!! It’s a gorgeous lake with some really incredible mountain views! It really shows off in the fall months!
Sun Point by St. Mary’s: If you want grand views with a gorgeous blue/turquoise water lake, this is your spot! This will be along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, so we could hit up all the major sites after your ceremony!!
Many Glacier: This spot is so unique to me! I think the character it shows is beyond words.
Lake McDonald: This is probably the busiest spot in the park because it’s the easiest to get to! At sunset it starts to calm down and is more private. It is SO unique. Its bright-colored pebbles and calm water is the perfect spot to elope all year round!
You and the love of your life decide to elope in Glacier National Park. Not only are you marrying your other half, but you’ll get to see breathtaking views that will be captured in photos that you will look back at for the rest of your life. Memories that will flood back to you and every detail every time you look at your elopement photos. After your ceremony, you rent a boat at sunset and ride off into the night with your new spouse. UGH! If this doesn’t sound absolutely dreamy I don’t know what does!
It’s very important that you apply for your permit as soon as possible! If you for some reason don’t get the ceremony site you were hoping for, we can always go take photos there afterward! You can apply for your permit here!
The vehicle registration system is a program they just started two years ago. In short, vehicle registration is required to access the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor and North Fork, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine Vehicle Reservation Areas. You can find more information on this here! Your elopement permit counts as your vehicle registration ticket! I am more than happy to help with any permit assistance + planning! It’s included in all of my elopement packages!
It’s also important to make you start looking into booking vendors in advance! If you book with me, you get my full list of Trusted Vendors! I offer an all inclusive package which includes an officiant, florals, champagne + flutes, and a cake.
Here is the link to apply for your marriage license! You will need to bring your marriage license to the ceremony! If you hire an officiant, either you or they can file it!
If you’re flying in, I recommend Glacier Park International Airport because it’s central to everything! It’s also only about 35 minutes from the West Glacier entrance!
Lodging For Your Glacier National Park Elopement:
In Columbia Falls: Cedar Creek Lodge.
Hiking is the number one reason why most people visit this area!!! You can find some great hikes here! I also really love this guide on fun things to do in Glacier! If you’re bringing family along, check out some family-friendly activities below!
Glacier Highline Zipline is an excellent spot to zipline near Glacier National Park! This park is family-friendly with lots of activities for young children and adults!
The Amazing Fun Center is a 2-level, human-sized wooden maze 7 miles south of the West Glacier entrance. The fun center has an 18-hole miniature golf course, a bumper boat pond with a fountain and electric boats that can squirt water at each other, bank-shot basketball, and a deluxe go-cart track!
Whitewater Rafting is such a fun activity for the whole family to experience! I definitely recommend trying it out while you’re here!
Flathead Lake offers sailing, power boating, waterskiing, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and camping! In the summer, you can find some roadside stands along the east shore that has an assortment of locally grown cherries, apples, and other fruits! YUM!
Finley Point is a 28-acre park and it has a ton of different farms to choose from for cherry and apple picking!
The Red Bus Tours is also a neat, family-friendly activity! On top of touring guests around Glacier, the buses have also evacuated guests in times of fire or flooding! They average transport of 60,000 tourists each summer through Glacier National Park!
Congratulations, you did it! Now it’s time to share with family and friends! Aside from marrying the love of your life, it’s also super exciting to share your big moment with your friends and family! Post that cute elopement announcement to the gram or Facebook it!
Photo Prop Ideas:
Bring a “We Eloped” sign! Some officiants provide this for you as well, but if you want something custom or unique to you, then make sure to bring one! It’s a fun memory to add to your day! It’s also a great idea to bring a map of the area because it can be fun to incorporate that into your wedding gallery for some stunning detail shots!
I always keep some umbrellas on hand, because the weather in Glacier can be VERY unpredictable and can turn quickly. For that reason, I recommend bringing some coats or warm attire! Some brides have even worn warm leggings under their wedding dresses because of this! If you plan to have an adventurous elopement, definitely bring hiking boots! If you want other shoes for the ceremony, you can totally bring them along! After the ceremony is over, you can go explore and get some amazing shots, because you brought some boots!
Bring bear spray and bug spray! There are a lot of wild animals and of course, bugs in the park, so I definitely recommended bringing this with you! Headlamps, snacks, and water are also good ideas too! And of course, bring some bubbly or cold beers to celebrate your special day, because you deserve it! Also, make sure you bring your ceremony permit and marriage license! DO NOT forget!
When it comes to Glacier National Park, you never know what you’re going to run into! Whether that be weather or wildlife, it’s always so important to be prepared! On top of that, there’s things that you won’t want to forget that pertain to when you elope in Glacier National Park as well. Let’s get into everything that you may want to pack for your adventure elopement in GNP to make it the best day ever!
1) Your Special Use Permit & Marriage License! (Refer Back to the Get Your Marriage License section if needed!)
2) Water bottles. It’s important to stay hydrated as we will be doing a lot of walking!
2) Hiking shoes or comfortable shoes to walk to the ceremony/couples photos locations. Remember, this is rugged terrain, don’t kill your feet by wearing uncomfortable shoes!
3) Bear Spray. Read up on bear safety in Glacier National Park here!
4) Touch up makeup/lip stick
5) Umbrellas (you never know when it can rain)
6) Extra layers. (Weather can change drastically in GNP)
7) Vow Books (if using)
8) Detail items for the flat lay (Custom coffee mugs, GNP maps, family heirlooms, anything sentimental, etc.)
9) We Eloped Sign
10) Some food!!! There aren’t many amenities in the park
If you’re anything like me, you look some good food! Glacier National Park is home to some amazing restaurants and spots to grab a bite. In my opinion, checking out the food in the area is all about the experience. Because of this, I’ve decided to showcase some of my favorite restaurants around Glacier National Park that are worth a visit. These are separated based on which area you’ll be visiting!
I’m also a coffee loverrrr! It’s my little slice of happiness every single day! If you’re anything like me, you love checking out new coffee shops while you’re traveling and taking adventures. Below are also some of my favorite coffee shops around the valley!
|Whitefish Lake Restaurant
|Three Forks Grille
|Mackenzie River Pizza Co.
|Abruzzo Italian Kitchen
|Oro Y Plata
|Split Rock Restaurant
|Herb & Omni
|Monaco Steakhouse and Sports
|Snowline Coffee Co.
|The Firebrand Restaurant
|Columbia Falls Coffee:
|Wasabi Sushi Bar
|Montana Coffee Traders
|Montana Coffee Traders
|Jersey Boys Pizzeria
|Montana Coffee Traders
|Fluer Bake Shop
Are you wanting to show up to your elopement, get married to your best friend, and then enjoy the rest of your time together without the worry of having to plan the whole elopement? Look no further, because I offer an all inclusive elopement package that lets you just show up! I organize all of the best vendors for you so you can just sit back and relax! It doesn’t get any easier than that.
What’s Included in my all inclusive Glacier National Park elopement package?
-Up to 4 hours of photography coverage
-Wedding bouquet + boutonniere
-Hair + makeup
-Elopement cake OR champagne + flutes
-Location planning + permit assistance
-Online gallery with high resolution downloads
-Signature elopement album
(Videography can be added on)
Imagine showing up to your elopement with all of this planned for you..
I know that the process to elope in Glacier National Park can feel overwhelming. From choosing the best vendors, making sure you have your permits, figuring out the best locations, etc.! That’s why I decided to create an all inclusive package so that you don’t have to stress. I’ve capturing many Glacier National Park elopements, so I now know the process like the back of my hand, and I know the best vendors around to make your day incredibly special and smooth flowing! Inquire here to learn more!
“Brogan is hand down the best photographer! She not only takes amazing photos but was integral in helping us plan our big day! We eloped in Glacier, we live in Ohio so obviously it was challenging figuring out vendors. Brogan was able to assist me in getting my flowers as well as finding me a person to assist with makeup and hair. OH! I also forgot to mention she drove to Glacier for our 7am wedding from where she lives( I think it was a two hour drive). She went to the furthest ends to make sure our day was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t recommend her enough if you are looking for a photographer in Montana!!
Absolutely Incredible Experience AND photos! I can’t even put into proper words how incredible our elopement hiking adventure was with Brogan. The entire process was fun, relaxed, & she made us SO comfortable. And then… she dropped us 48 sneak peeks THE NEXT DAY!! I seriously cried over how beautifully she captured our love & our experience eloping. I can’t express enough how highly I recommend booking Brogan. If you’re considering it – do it. The photos & moments she captures are worth every single cent. THANK YOU, Brogan, for the incredible experience all around! We are still over the moon about it all.”
So, what do think?! Are you ready to plan your own dreamy elopement in Glacier National Park? I know I’m ready! As a photographer who is familiar with Glacier National Park and who has photographed elopements here before, I know I’m up for the task!
When I’m capturing your love story unfold, my goal is to capture your moments in a way that is raw, authentic, and absolutely YOU! You can learn more about me here and if you’re ready to make some memories, let’s chat!