How to Elope in Glacier National Park
Holy cow!! I am so excited that you are thinking of getting married in Glacier National Park!!! I’ve spent my whole life near Glacier, and it still blows my mind every time I get to visit. The grand mountains, crystal clear lakes, and winding rivers are absolutely breathtaking– the perfect backdrop for your special day. I’m going to provide as much information I can, so as you are planning you can have this blog to refer back to!
The first step to planning your wedding in Glacier National Park is picking the right photographer. I say this because, if you pick a photographer that is familiar with the park, they can help you find the perfect location and act as your personal tour guide. I also think picking the right photographer is key to enjoying your day and ending up with a gallery you love. Please remember that your wedding photos are something you will cherish forever so consider them an investment. Do your research and take your time deciding. Vibing with your photographer helps create beautiful, candid photos that truly capture your love.
Pick your date! As you may know, Montana doesn’t have the most predictable weather, so choosing the right time of year and time of day for your wedding in Glacier is super important. I recommend choosing sunrise or sunset on a weekday, especially in the summer! There are usually fewer tourists and the light during dawn/dusk makes for the best photos. I also recommend bringing a pair of comfortable, waterproof boots to hike in, a jacket that can handle rain or snow, a pair of gloves, hand warmers, a warm drink, and an umbrella. While you may not need any of that, and I hope you don’t, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it! Below, I’ve linked Glacier National Park’s hours of operation and seasonal information to help you prepare!
Location, location, location! Once your date is set, it’s time to nail down a location for your ceremony and reception (if you plan on having one). I‘ve written a blog you should check out on all the tops spots to getting married in Glacier National Park! You’ll also want to consider how far you’d like to travel to get to your destination from where you are staying, where you want to get ready, and post ceremony dinner. Here is a link that has rough estimates on travel times between locations.
Find someone to perform your ceremony. The State of Montana allows for any ordained person to officiate your wedding, so you can even have a friend or family member do it if you’d like! I’ll list a couple local officiants below and I’ll also link the website you can use to get ordained!
Just a heads up- the park is cracking down on weddings and there are more restrictions to be aware of. You and your guests are allowed only 5 vehicles into the park. You will need to pay for park entry and parking is not reserved for you. There are shuttle options such as Arrow Shuttle or Big Red Bus.
Depending on how large your party is, there may be a park ranger assigned to make sure your guests are respecting the rules of the park. You will also have to pay for the park ranger to be there, so keep that in mind if you are planning on having a lot of people join you during your ceremony. Some of the rules that apply to weddings and elopements include:
In addition to these new restrictions, there is also a ticketed entry system that has been implemented to help keep the occupancy of the park under control. This basically means that you will need to purchase a ticket to reserve a time in the park in addition to your park pass that grants you general entry. This system is in effect from 6 am- 5pm at the West Glacier and St Mary entrances. I’ll link the park’s fees & passes website page below as well as a link for purchasing your tickets.
Now that you’ve figured out where and when you want to have your ceremony, you’ll need to find a place to stay! If you’re planning on spending your day in West Glacier I would recommend staying in Kalispell, Whitefish, or Columbia Falls. Especially during the winter. Those 3 towns will be as close to the park as you can get without staying in the park. If you are wanting to stay within the park, several of the venues available for receptions also offer lodging. I’ll link a few places to stay below & of course you can always find great options on AirBnb or VRBO.
Find your vendors! Picking the right vendors is extremely important to make sure your day goes smoothly. It’s all in the details! Here’s a few that I recommend:
Hair & Makeup: Boundless Beauty Studio- Kalispell
Flowers: Wilde Floral – Instagram
Videographer: Media by Molly
Bakery: Montana Wild Flour- Whitefish
Caterer: Forage 406
Post ceremony celebratory dinner and drinks!
Northern Lights Saloon- Polebridge
Eddie’s Cafe and Mercantile- Apgar
Serrano’s- East Glacier
Park Cafe- St. Mary
Russel’s Fireside Dining Room, Lucke’s Lodge, or Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria- Lake McDonald
Ptarmigan Dining Room- Many Glacier Hotel
Swiss Lounge- Many Glacier
Two Dogs Flats Grill- Rising Sun Motor Inn & Cabins
Pack your bags! Here’s a few essentials I recommend bringing just so you’re prepared for anything:
Thank you so much for considering me as your elopement photographer. I’d love to chat with you more so please fill out my inquiry form on my website- https://presleygrayphoto.com/contact. You can also check out some more of my work on Facebook or Instagram. Congratulations on your engagement! I hope to hear from you soon (: