I may be a tad biased, but I think Glacier National Park is THE most beautiful and peaceful place you could get married at. It is such a surreal place with unbelievably big mountains, water and nature all around you, beautiful wild animals, and my favorite…no cell service! You truly do escape reality while in the park and can marry the love of your life with zero distraction, besides maybe a bear or two!
I can’t even imagine trying to plan a wedding from long distance, let alone, a place that you are not so familiar with. That’s why I am here to help with your 10 step guide to planning your Glacier Park Elopement! Keep in mind, these steps are not in order but will hopefully get you on the right track!
1. Choose Your Location!
Choosing a location in Glacier can be tricky, especially when you haven’t been there before or aren’t familiar with the area. Before I jump into my location suggestions, Im going to give you a quick overview of Glacier Park.
Glacier hosts over a million acres of land but there are only a few main sections that can be accessed by vehicle: West Glacier, Logan Pass, East Glacier, St. Mary, Many Glacier and the North Fork Area. The main road that will take you from West Glacier up over Logan Pass is named “Going-to-the-Sun Road”.
See this link for a detailed map: https://www.glacierparkcollection.com/GlacierParkInc/media/Documents/Maps/Glacier-Waterton-Map.pdf
Choosing a location to hold you ceremony just all depends on personal preference.
Do you want something low key and close to town? Then I would suggest:
– The Belton Bridge (West Glacier)
– Apgar Village/Lake McDonald Lodge (Around McDonald Lake)
Are you up for adventure with a lake/mountain view? Then I would suggest:
-Two Medicine Lake (East Glacier)
-St. Mary Lake (East side of Glacier)
-Bowman or Kintla Lake (Up the North Fork)
-Swiftcurrent Lake (Many Glacier)
Do you want somewhere with breathtaking mountains? Then I would suggest:
-Logan Pass : Big Bend, Hidden Lake Trail, Highline Trail
Do you want to hike into a gorgeous lake or glacier? Here is a list of my top favorite hikes:
-Hidden Lake (Logan Pass)
-Avalanche Lake (West Glacier)
-Cracker Lake (Many Glacier)
-Iceberg Lake (Many Glacier)
-Grinnell Glacier (Many Glacier) << ALL TIME FAV.
As you can see. There are SO many beautiful places in Glacier to elope, it all just comes down to how far into the park you want to travel, how adventurous you are feeling, and what scenery interests you the most!
2. Pick A Date!
You are probably thinking, “well duh we have to pick a date, why are you telling us this?”
Well, I hate to say this, but certain parts of Glacier Park are only open for a few short months (typically late May-early October).
Every year is so different and every section of the park’s roads open/close at different times and it is all dependent on SNOW! If I could tell you one thing about Montana, it’s that it is completely unpredictable.
Good new! West Glacier/McDonald Lake area is always plowed and open year round!
If you are planning to elope in Glacier, I would highly suggest doing so anytime June-August just to be safe.
Now that you are thinking of the time of year to plan your big day, it may be important to think about the “day” you want to say your I-do’s. I’m going to be real straight forward….Glacier…is…busy!
Millions of people visit the park every year so finding the right day to elope in Glacier can be tricky. Saturdays and Sundays are some of the most busiest days in the Park. Not only will you be battling tourists, but you will also be battling the locals that want to visit on their days off. So my biggest suggestion is choosing a weekday (Tuesday-Thursday is best). Not only will you find that weekdays are less crowded, but you will also find that most vendors (photographers/videographers/officiants) are available on most weekdays, therefore you should have no problem finding a day that works best for everyone!
3. Pick The Time Of Day
Now that you have a date or two in mind that work best, it may be time to think about the time of day you want to elope. Now, this doesn’t necessarily need to happen right away but it’s a good thing to think about especially when you go to pick your vendors and plan your day.
If you talk to any photographer, such as myself, they would (or should) suggest choosing a morning or evening time.
We consider these two times of day the “golden” hours. This is when the lighting is always the prettiest and adds a golden glow to the scenery. It starts the first few hours after sunrise and the last two hours before sunset.
When choosing a time, especially in the evening, be sure to allow yourself enough time after the ceremony for portraits of just you two!
4. Get Your Permits
In order to officially get married in Glacier, you must apply for a permit and pay a $100 fee. Click the link below, scroll down to the “weddings” section and you should find all the answers you need to apply!
5. Choose Your Photographer
Choosing your photographer sort of goes hand-in-hand with picking a date. If you have a photographer you’ve been eyeballing, you’ll want to be sure to reach out to them ASAP and make sure they have that date available or ask what dates they have open and go off of that.
Now you can find the most amazing photographer in the world whose talent matches everything you have envisioned your wedding photographer to have, but when planning your Glacier Park elopement, It’s important to find a photographer who knows and understands the park. Someone who is going to guide you with confidence and make the best suggestions. If you are planning to do an adventure elopement and roam around the park, wouldn’t you want to roam around with someone who knows where they are going?
6. Choose The Rest Of Your Vendors
Now, you have the photographer you want. Have you thought about what other vendors you want?
You will want to check into your other vendors shortly after booking your photographer to ensure they are all available on your date as well.
When looking into an officiant, make sure to find one that will travel to the location in the park that you decided.
If you want florals, hair/makeup, a videographer, or any other vendor, it may be beneficial to check out these amazing ones on the My Montana Wedding directory: https://www.mymontanawedding.com/
7. Book Your Flights, Lodging & Transportation
Your almost there! You have your “while you are here” plans. Now its time to make your “getting here” plans.
Glacier International Airport (FCA) is the closest airport to Glacier Park. It’s located in Kalispell, and is only 30ish miles from Glacier.
Are you wanting to stay in the Flathead Valley (Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls) and be more “in town”? Closer to restaurants, bars, courthouse, etc.? Or do you want to be closer to Glacier and be more “out of town”? Here are a few great places to stay depending on where you want to be!
Whitefish is the cutest little tourist town right at the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort. Whitefish has many great restaurants, bars, breweries, and fun things to do!
The Firebrand (Whitefish)
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (Whitefish)
Grouse Mountain Lodge (Whitefish)
North Forty Resort (Columbia Falls)
Cedar Creek Lodge (Columbia Falls)
Close to Glacier:
Great Northern Resort (West Glacier)
The Belton Chalet (West Glacier)
Glacier Raft Co. (West Glacier)
Izaak Walton Inn (Essex-betweenWest & East Glacier)
Glacier Park Lodge (East Glacier)
Lake McDonald Lodge (West Glacier)
Many Glacier Hotel (Many Glacier)
These are but a few options in and near Glacier, but of course there are MANY others. Another option if these don’t work for you, would be one of the many hotels or VRBO’s around. Renting an RV or pitching a tent for a few nights is always a cheap and easy option for the more adventurous folks!
8. Obtain Your Marriage License
The courthouse in Kalispell is going to be the closest place to get your marriage license.
920 South Main, Suite 300
Kalispell, MT 59901
To jumpstart the process, you can fill out an application ahead of time online here before arriving at the courthouse. You and your fiance must both be present with a drivers license or birth certificate to sign the application. A $53 fee is required as well. They accept cash, checks, money orders or debit card (extra fee for cards).
9. Plan Your Fun!
The more you look into it, the more you will realize that there are SO many fun things to do here in the Flathead Valley and Glacier area. Make sure to give yourself a few days before/after to explore and celebrate!
Here are some of my favorite things to do, see and eat here..
Wasabi Sushi Bar (Sushi)
Ciao Mambo (italian)
The Firebrand Lounge (Everything)
Tupelo Grille (American)
Bonsai Brewery (Whitefish)
Montana Tap House (Whitefish)
The Great Northern Bar (Whitefish)
Gunsight Saloon (Columbia Falls)
Backslope Brewing (Columbia Falls)
Rafting – Glacier Raft Co. (West Glacier)
Zipline/Alpine slide/Gondola– Whitefish Mountain Resort (Whitefish)
Paddleboard– Whitefish Lake (Whitefish)
Horseback Riding– Swan Mountain Outfitters (Glacier Park)
Visit the Hungry Horse Dam
Maze/Mini Golf– The Amazing Fun Center (Coram)
10. Do the Damn Thing!
You now have most of the information you need to plan your Glacier Park elopement, now it is time to finalize the details, get your booty here and marry the love of your life in one of THE most beautiful places! If I am lucky enough to be your elopement photographer, than I CAN NOT WAIT to meet you both and share this special moment with you!
If you have any more questions or things you are unsure about, don’t hesitate to contact me!