When Morgan booked us for her photography and videography, she and Cody were planning a BIG traditional wedding. Several months later, Morgan reached out and wanted to talk about other options. As your wedding photographer, we ALWAYS want you to do what is going to be best for you and your fiance when it comes to planning your wedding. Morgan and Cody decided they wanted something MUCH smaller, and started looking into eloping. They had never been to Glacier National Park, but fell in love with the photos they found, and the feelings that they got while researching it. Morgan and Cody knew that a Glacier National Park Elopement was going to be right for them.
When Austin and I were talking with them a few weeks before, we asked how they were feeling and if they were glad that they had chosen to elope versus going forward with their traditional wedding. I remember Morgan saying how happy they were, how excited they were, and how right it felt for them. Morgan and Cody have the most beautiful love story, and their intimate Glacier National Park elopement was the most fitting beginning to their new chapter.
Morgan and Cody chose a local officiant, Angie. We LOVE her. She lives in Whitefish and is a phenomenal officiant. I absolutely recommend her! Throughout the ceremony she made so many personal references to Morgan and Cody. It made their ceremony intimate, about the two of them, and just special in general. If you’re looking for an officiant for your Glacier National Park Elopement, email me and I will get you in touch with Angie!
Glacier National Park is an amazing elopement destination, and we love photographing there. If you’ve never been to Glacier National Park, it is centered around the Going-to-the-Sun Road. You can drive through most of the park, and most of the portrait locations we use are just off the road, which is amazing because they’re so easy to access! I know it seems like there might be a lot of hiking or walking involved in eloping in a National Park, but most places that we photograph are actually really easy to get to. If you are interested in eloping at Glacier National Park, and would like access to our portrait location list, please email us with the subject line “Glacier National Park Elopement List”. We would love to serve you and/or offer you our best location suggestions so that you can have a great Glacier National Park elopement experience.
Keep reading for 5 Tips for planning an elopement in a national park, as well as some of my favorite images from Morgan and Cody’s elopement!
Tip #1: Choosing a location for your Glacier National Park Elopement
Now, the most important thing to know while planning your Glacier Elopement, is that there are only a few locations you are actually permitted to do your ceremony. We can take portraits wherever you’d like (so many beautiful and stunning locations to choose from). But for your actual ceremony, there are only a few places you can choose. Morgan and Cody chose to do a beautiful lakeside elopement at the Sun Point Nature Trail . To get there, we entered from the west side of the park, which meant that we got to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road all the way from the west side of the park to almost the east side where they had their actual ceremony. You could definitely stay on the east Side to be closer, but remember, you may want some portraits in other locations near the west side. Make sure that when you choose the location for your ceremony, that has been clearly communicated to your officiant, photographer and videographer, and anyone else that you would like to be attending the ceremony.
Tip #2: Choosing the Officiant for your Elopement
A lot of couples will choose an officiant that they know, is a close friend, or someone who has known them throughout their story. Like I said, Morgan and Cody chose to work with Angie, a local wedding officiant. She is so knowledgeable about not only Glacier National Park, but the entire Whitefish area, which was very helpful. The officiant that you choose will have a huge impact on your ceremony. Make sure that you chat ahead of time to be certain that you are a good fit. Explain and express your preconceived expectations you have for your ceremony.
Tip #3: Glacier National Park Elopement Permit
Make sure that you are in contact with the park. You will need a permit to schedule your ceremony, as well as advanced permission for the date, time and location you will be planning your elopement. Please make sure you have all of these details arranged prior to your elopement, because there would be nothing worse than planning an elopement only to have it canceled by a park ranger looking for your permit.
Tip #4: Keeping in Contact
There is not cell service for most people throughout the majority of the park. Make sure you have a plan of contact in place for all the vendors and people attending your elopement to make sure that you know where to meet up. Some people like to meet at the beginning of the park and drive in together. Some people like to meet at the final spot. This is totally up to you and your comfort level/preference.
Tip #5: Where to Stay for your Glacier National Park Elopement
There are several locations you can stay within the park, as well as outside the east or west entrances to the park. My personal favorite is staying outside the west entrance in Kalispell or Whitefish. It’s right before Lake McDonald, so immediately after entering the park you have a beautiful location (I believe that you can perform your actual ceremony at Lake McDonald). My favorite locations are toward the center of the park, about 60 minutes from the entrance of the park. The drive is stunning and will leave you in awe of what the park has to offer. One of my favorite things about Glacier is that as you drive through the scenery changes and you will have several different amazing views. As you drop down to the east side, the scenery drastically changes. One of the most famous viewpoints is the Sun Point Nature Trail, where Morgan and Cody held their actual ceremony. This is an amazing location to hold your elopement ceremony at Glacier National Park. The only thing that you need to be aware of with this location, is that occasionally it can have very high winds. Morgan and Cody’s ceremony was a very windy day. Remember, we can photograph in any weather, but if you have a fear of heights, being up on a bluff above a lake, trying to elope in 30 mph winds may not be the best fit for you. If the thought of that causes you some anxiety, I would suggest a different elopement location within the park, and then coming to this location for portraits later. We loved the view, and Morgan and Cody were amazing troopers with the craziest windy day that we have ever photographed in Glacier National Park.
Tip #6: Incorporating Traditions Into Your Elopement
Morgan and Cody still wanted to incorporate some of the classic traditions from wedding days into their elopement, so they got a personal sized cake for them to cut and share, as well as a wine tradition. The vase has openings on both sides. The tradition is that both bride and groom drink from the vase symbolizing good luck in their marriage. Morgan and Cody incorporated both of these traditions because they were important and special for them to share. One thing I love about elopements is how much flexibility you have to make it your own, especially when you choose to elope in a national park because you can choose where the scenery fits your love story best.
Tip #7: Don’t be Afraid to Elope in a Remote Location
If you love to hike, we can hike into wherever you would like to elope as long as it is legal to get married there. We have a popup changing tent that all of our couples are able to access, if you would like to hike in comfortable clothes, and change into your wedding clothes once we reach the destination. This is a super helpful solution to keep your dress clothes clean, if you choose a location to elope that doesn’t have public restrooms or an area to change in privacy. Morgan and Cody’s Glacier National Park Elopement was a dream, and we can’t wait to go back to this beautiful location to photograph again!
Planning a Glacier National Park Elopement? We would love to be your wedding photography team!