When it comes to elopements, I’m a big believer that it doesn’t get any better than eloping in the mountains. As an adventure wedding photographer who specializes exclusively in small weddings and elopements in the mountains, I spend so much of my time scouting out the best elopement locations for our couples. And without fail, the locations that consistently take my breath away are the mountains.
Being Colorado-based, I’m definitely a bit biased, as I spend pretty much all of my time in the Rockies. But the thing I love most about eloping in the mountains is the variety you can get in your elopement location. The San Juan mountains in Colorado are vastly different from the dry, barren mountains in California’s Death Valley National Park. And the earthy, green-covered mountains in the Pacific Northwest are truly in a league of their own. Contrary to popular belief, not all mountains look the same. And depending on which mountain range in the US you’re eyeballing for your mountain elopement, the views will be vastly different.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re eloping in the mountains is how the seasons can impact your mountain elopement day. Washington State is a great example of this. While Seattle itself might not have any snow in the city on a winter day, the mountains could be getting absolutely covered in powder on the day of your mountain elopement. On the other hand, it could be a swelteringly hot day in Colorado’s front range towns, but your mountain elopement on one of Colorado’s 14ers could require winter attire.
When I photograph mountain elopements, I like to let our couples know that the mountains have their own weather (and to some extent, their own seasons!). Because of the elevation difference between the mountains and the larger cities that sit near them, the weather at higher elevation could be vastly different than what people are experiencing in town. With that said, I’m breaking down each season, and what the pros and cons of each are when planning your elopements in the mountains.
The amazing thing about eloping in the mountains is that there’s a season for every type of mountain elopement. It really just depends on the vibe your’e going for. Once you and your partner have narrowed down what you’d like your mountain elopement day to look like and the activities you’d like to do, figuring out which season becomes a fun and easy task.
Once you and your partner have figured out which season you’d like to elope during, you can jump right into finding your dream mountain elopement location. I recommend checking in with your mountain elopement photographer at this point, as they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction. As an elopement photographer, it’s super important to me to ensure I’m constantly scouting the best places in the mountains for elopements. And I do it so I can recommend the best off-the-beaten-path mountain elopement locations for couples eloping in the mountains.
That said, when choosing the best mountain elopement locations, it’s definitely a good idea brainstorm what specific landscapes really speak to you and your partner. Do you like the look of barren, desert mountains? Or would you prefer a forest-y, mossy look? Maybe you want super jagged mountain peaks or aqua colored alpine lakes. Whatever you prefer, bring these preferences to your elopement photographer and they can help you figure things out. I talk more about this in our Ultimate Elopement Planning Checklist, which covers the elopement process from beginning to end.
Depending on where you’re eloping in the mountains, there’s a chance you’ll need to acquire a wedding permit to do so. If you’re eloping in a national park, a wedding permit is pretty much a guaranteed necessity. When it comes to eloping in national forests, it’ll vary on a case-by-case basis. The best thing you can do is check in with the local ranger before planning your elopement in the mountains. They can point you in the right direction.
As an elopement photographer who specializes in photographing elopements in the mountains, I have a few favorite states I recommend when couples are planning to elope in the mountains. So without further ado, our top mountain elopement states…
With more 14ers than any other state in the US, Colorado is a mountain lover’s paradise. If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure location for your elopement in the mountains, look no further than Colorado. There’s an outdoors culture unlike anything else, and you’ll run across some of the most epic mountain views imaginable.
From alpine lakes to giant sand dunes, Colorado’s mountains have it all. And it’s the reason we thing Colorado is the best state for eloping in the mountains.
When I think about Washington State’s mountains, one word comes to mind: alive. The greenery in Washington is world-class. So world class, it’s like you can practically hear the trees and grass and ferns breathing while you’re hiking down a trail in the North Cascades.
Eloping in the mountains in Washington State means being surrounded by some of the most epic mountain views imaginable, with some of the most diverse landscapes.
When most people think of California, usually beaches come to mind. But let’s be honest: California’s mountains are where it’s at. From the gorgeous granite mountains of Yosemite to the snow-capped peaks in Bishop to the dry, cracked desert mountains of southern inland California, you can find pretty much any type of vibe for your elopement in the mountains.
California spans more than half of the west coast of the US, so you’re bound to find a ton of different landscapes as you make your way down the length of the state. There’s no shortage of locations when eloping in the mountains of California.
Utah may be most known for its incredible high desert, but it also is home to some absolutely stunning mountain elopement locations. From Park City to Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, the areas near SLC make for excellent mountain elopement spots.
But beyond that, the drive west on 80 towards Nevada also has wide, expansive mountain views that are kind of like the hidden gems of Utah. While many people choose to elope in Utah because of the desert towns like Moab and St. George, I believe eloping in the mountains of Utah can be just as incredible (if not more!).
Montana is home to the incredible Glacier National Park, arguably one of the best national parks in the United States. If places like Banff and Japer in Canada pique your interest (pun intended!), then you’re sure to love Montana.
Glacier NP has aqua-colored alpine lakes and jagged, expansive mountain views that rival those you might find in the Canadian Rockies. It’s honestly the closest you can get to that look in the US, which is why it’s one of our favorite mountain elopement locations.
When our couples are eloping in the mountains, I exclusively recommend two key times of day for them to have their ceremony. Why? As a mountain elopement photographer, it’s my priority to find our couples the best light for their mountain elopement ceremonies.
One thing to bear in mind when you’re eloping in the mountains: depending on where you elope, keep in mind that the sunrise or sunset can start later or earlier than usual. Because of their height, the mountains block light, which can lead to premature sunsets and later sunrises (or vice versa).
The mountains are not one size fits all. Each mountain range has its own characteristics that make it distinct. Whether it’s the jagged look of the Tetons in Wyoming or the distinct lush appeal of the mountains in Washington State, each range has its own personality. It’s one of the things that makes an elopement in the mountains so unique and cool.
Our Ultimate Elopement Guide covers everything you need to know when planning your adventure mountain elopement. Whether you’re eloping in the mountains or elsewhere, this guide will take you through the process, step by step.
If you’ve been struggling to explain to your friends and family why you’ve chosen to elope instead of have a traditional wedding, look no further. I’ve written an article all about how you can avoid offending friends and family when you choose to elope.
Feel like a Colorado elopement might be for you, but not sure what to do next? Our guide on how to elope in Colorado will take the pressure off your shoulders.
P.S. As a mountain elopement photographer, I pride myself on not just documenting your elopement in the mountains, but helping you navigate the details as well — like helping you choose the ideal time of year for your Rocky Mountain elopement or finding you the best locations when eloping in the mountains.
I’ve been in your shoes with my own mountain elopement, and that’s why I’m in this industry in the first place. I want to help you by being a resource to you during the whole process while you plan your elopement in the mountains. So if that sounds like your vibe, I’d love to chat with you about your dream mountain elopement.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
Empowering You To Have Your Adventure Elopement, Your Way
Colorado Elopement Photographers + Adventure Wedding Photographers