Montana Wedding Guide: How to Plan a Glacier National Park Elopement
Whenever you’re ready, it is the best time to go. Glacier National Park is one of those places that even though I have my favorite times of year, there really isn’t a bad time to go! I’m always looking for an excuse to return and I’m just waiting for my couples to give me one! We can capture your adventurous engagement, elopement, anniversary photos or any other story you want to tell in this amazing national park! Here are the top tips you’ll need to plan an amazing Glacier National Park elopement.
“What are you guys doing tomorrow for sunrise?” This was literally the question I asked when I was shooting one couple in Glacier and met another at the same time. They were totally down for an impromptu sunrise shoot the next day and I was THERE FOR IT! The couple wore exactly the same outfits and we met up the next day at the iconic Big Bend.
I spent the morning with this couple running around like we had been friends for years even though we had met literally one day prior. That’s the magic of Glacier!
When you think of Glacier National Park, a shot of the iconic Big Bend scenery probably comes to mind. It’s one of the most photographed spots in the park, and for good reason. Directly off the Going-To-The-Sun-Road, it simply is a beautiful bend in the road with a grassy patch and beautiful mountain scapes.
As the sun rises, you have plenty of time before the direct sunlight hits since there is a tall peak behind the bend in the road. At sunset, the sun goes behind the mountains to the right of the bend. As the sun goes down, it beams behind the mountains creating the most stunning backdrop for your photos. While I don’t believe this is an approved location for a ceremony, you can still pop in to take some photos or to read vows during your Glacier National Park elopement!
Sun Point is probably one of my favorite spots in the entire park for a Glacier National Park elopement. On my first full day ever in Glacier, I stumbled upon it and ended up sitting on a rock for two hours. I spent my time journaling and staring at the mountains because it quite literally took my breath away.
Near the restrooms at the Sun Point parking lot there are short trails you can walk and end up on a huge slab of rock overlooking Saint Mary Lake. It’s beautiful any time of day, but I would say the light is best about an hour or two before sunset and into blue hour!
If you’re up for a little hike and want to avoid the crowds, I would recommend a sunrise adventure elopement at Avalanche Lake! This hike is one of the most popular in the park because it’s available most of the year even when the Going-To-The-Sun-Road is mostly closed. It’s a fairly flat out and back trail with a little bit of incline, and it totals a little less than three miles one way!
The backdrop of the lake is unreal, and it will leave anyone with their jaw on the floor. During the day, it can become super crowded and in late spring/early summer, the lake will have a lot more water in it. I would recommend this as a Glacier National Park elopement spot in late summer or the fall, but any time of year would be a dream!
Lake McDonald is one of the most popular views in Glacier, and for good reason! It’s the biggest lake in the park and the first thing you see when entering from the West Glacier Entrance. You are able to visit this lake year round, even when the park is covered in snow! There are lots of little cabins in Apgar Village as well as the iconic dock to explore.
If you ever want to feel as close to heaven as you can on this earth, your first stop should be Lake McDonald at sunrise. It’s the easiest to shoot at this time since no is around but this spot is UNREAL really at any time of day.
Here’s what I’ve gathered from all of my experiences that can help you in planning your own destination wedding in Montana!
If you are planning to actually get married inside the park, make sure you fill out an application to get a permit. If you are planning your trip between July 1st and September 10th, you will also need a vehicle reservation for the Going-To-The-Sun-Road road as well as the Many Glacier area of the park.
There are plenty of places to stay for your Glacier National Park elopement! The most cost effective would be an Airbnb or hotel somewhere either in Kalispell, Whitefish, or Columbia Falls. Staying in an Airbnb will allow your stay to be less expensive, but the trade-off is you’re further away from the park. All three of these Montana cities are 30 mins to an hour away from the main West Glacier Entrance.
Here are a few spots where I personally would love to stay!
Another option for accommodations would either be the Lake McDonald Lodge or the Many Glacier Hotel. These lodges book far in advance, but if you can snag a room, they’re totally worth it! Check out all the lodging options within the park property!
Even though I just can’t stop gushing about Glacier National Park itself, I have to ask a question. What is a location without the memories attached to it? It’s the time you’re spending with those around you that’s more meaningful than the location.
I love shooting a Glacier National Park elopement, but I love the friendships I’ve forged there even more! As one couple put it, “From marriage to moments in the mountains, I’m very thankful for the life I’m living, the people I’m living it with, and the God who’s gifting it.”
Glacier National Park is so special to me and I’m thankful everyday for the couples’ stories I get to capture in this place. One couple had been married for years but their dream was always eloping in the mountains. So we did it. I would lose sleep and time again for many more of these sunrises!
Who’s trying to get to Montana ASAP for an elopement, adventurous engagement, or an important life event redo?