Eek!! If you’ve found yourself here, odds are: you’re planning an elopement in an epic location. WELCOME, friend! In my humble opinion, Montana is the BEST place to elope 😉 Many couples plan to elope because it’s easier (and sometimes more affordable) than planning an entire “traditional” wedding. According to the 2020 Brides American Wedding Study, even the most expensive elopements are still cheaper than traditional weddings. With that being said, the thought of planning an elopement might be a little daunting. Well, friend… that is where I come in. Here are my top 7 tips for How to Elope in Montana.
The hardest part of eloping in Montana is choosing the perfect spot to say, “I do”. Montana has approximately 3.5 MILLION acres of wilderness – making the decision that much harder! I have an entire blog about the Best Places to Elope in Montana. Below is just a sample of some of the best places to elope in Montana.
Glacier National Park – Glacier National Park undoubtedly has the most breathtaking landscape in all of Montana. From the turquoise lakes to the jagged glacier-carved landscape, there’s not a single spot that isn’t absolutely stunning.
Whitefish – Whitefish is perfect for ski-enthusiasts and anglers alike. My favorite places in Whitefish include Whitefish Lake State Park and Whitefish Mountain Resort. Both offer comfortable amenities and incredible views.
Flathead National Forest – Don’t sleep on National Forests! Flathead includes impressive mountain views, high mountain lakes, and a feeling of solitude. Montana alone makes you feel like you’re in another world… but Flathead National Forest just might top that feeling.
Let me be the first to say that there is no inopportune time to soak up Montana. The only decision you’ll have to make is what you’d most like to experience.
Spring – While the weather is somewhat unpredictable in the Spring, the rain brings new life to the landscape and wildlife. Not only that, but the blue skies allow wildflowers to flourish. Although you won’t be able to access high elevation trails due to lingering snow, you’ll be able to experience Big Sky Country without huge crowds. Spring elopements aren’t very popular, so it’s perfect to take a chance! No matter the weather, I’m ready to wander alongside you.
Summer – Summer in Montana is definitely the most popular time to visit. The warm temperatures bring large crowds and busy trails. Don’t let that scare you, though! If you’re hoping to have an intimate elopement, my best tip is to elope at sunrise. High elevation trails give way to early sunshine before the valleys below. Trust me when I say that a golden hour sunrise is unmatched in Montana. And of course, you’ll have the opportunity to spend the rest of the day enjoying fly-fishing, hiking, or boating.
Fall – Much like Spring, the Fall brings unpredictability – but it is my FAVORITE time in Montana. As the crisp air and warm-toned foliage spread across the landscape, this is a Fall-lovers DREAM. You’ll enjoy exploring without congested trails and overcrowded views.
Winter – Calling all winter lovers! If you and your love enjoy hitting the slopes and basking in the fluffy snow, Winter in Montana might be best for you. Although the resorts are typically busy, the hiking trails aren’t as crowded. Winter is also an incredible time to visit Glacier and Yellowstone National Park; road closures are frequent in these areas, though, due to snow and icy conditions.
Now that you have found the perfect time and place to tie the knot, make sure to make it legal. There are 3 main elements of making your marriage legal when you elope.
Marriage License – This is definitely a big one, of course! You must apply in the county in which you are getting married. My best recommendation is to apply online in advance (not more than 180 days). There is a $53 fee, and you can pick your license up Monday-Friday (except holidays). Be sure to check the hours of the government building before you travel to your destination. There is NO residency requirement, but you will need to bring the following documentation:
Officiant – Anyone ordained through a religious organization online can officiate your elopement. (Fun fact – I am ordained!) You can also find officiants in Montana through online resources like Montana Bride.
Special Use Permit – If you’re eloping on public lands, it is required that you are aware of national park and forest permit processes and the ever changing regulations that come with them. Most national forests, state parks, and national parks will require some type of special use permits in order to get married on the land. I am here to help with all the legalities of permits for eloping!
Montana offers a wide array of activities to choose from. Be sure to check out my list of 50 Activities to Do on Your Elopement Day HERE ✨
On an elopement or intimate wedding day, rules go out the window. You can do WHATEVER you want. You can include activities, or you can simply sit and gaze into each other’s eyes. My advice is to do something meaningful to you. Do something that you love doing to commemorate your union.
Here are a few ideas:
The opportunities are endless! And I would love to help you create a timeline filled with activities that scream “this is us.”
Personally, I help all of my clients with custom vendor recommendations if needed. Whether you are planning to have a low-key elopement, or one with all the luxuries of a traditional wedding, head to Montana Bride for their list of vendors that will make your elopement day unique.
It is important to book your dream vendors early, and be willing to be flexible to secure your dream team 🙂
The vacation rentals and beautiful lodges in Montana are plentiful.
Whether you’re planning on eloping just as a couple or including your friends and family on your big day, I’ve put together a list of the Best Elopement Vacation Rentals in Montana. From cozy, intimate Airbnbs to luxury resort-style properties, you’ll be sure to find the perfect fit.
Make sure to touch base with your photographer or planner before booking your stay, as you want to make sure your photo locations or hikes are within a good driving distance from your lodging!
When eloping in the wilderness (like Montana), being prepared is vital for a safe elopement. I have a very detailed list I send to my clients to make sure they are properly prepared for weather changes and overall well-being. Head over to my “What to Pack for your Mountain Elopement” blog to help you pack for your elopement.
Now that you know How to Elope in Montana, let the excitement begin!! If you’re looking for more Elopement tips, behind-the-scenes, and more – head over to my Instagram (@sydneybreannphoto). I’d love to be friends! Are you ready to wander?