This Montana elopement guide is here to provide you with some gorgeous Montana elopement locations, and show you exactly how to elope in Montana. You’re also going to want to consider the best seasons, crowds, and permits for each location, which this guide will cover.

This state truly feels wild. The wilderness areas and parks are unbeatable. There’s also a ton of hidden gem locations if you’re looking for privacy. Here are some of the top Montana elopement locations in my Montana elopement guide!

Elopement Locations in Montana

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is an AMAZING Montana elopement location. There’s wildlife, famous views, and gorgeous hikes all around. If you want to learn more about eloping in Glacier National Park, you can read my full guide here!

Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

Mountain ranges, rivers, wildflowers, and endless remote hiking locations. This Montana elopement location is great for couples who want to explore, and not be around many crowds. Make sure to carry bear spray here!

Lolo National Forest

Lolo National Forest has similar views to Glacier National Park, with so much less crowding. Crystal clear lakes and snow dusted mountain tops, this is a serene and beautiful Montana elopement location.

Flathead National Forest

This Montana elopement location is apart of the Rocky Mountains in Northwest Montana. It’s is just South of Glacier National Park, boasting similar views and experiences with a much more private setting. It’s also a lot easier to get permits here than in the National Park, with less rules and restrictions.

Fairy Lake

Fairy Lake is one of my favorite Montana elopement locations. I’ve shot here in July, and the meadows are filled with wildflowers. Better yet, there were no crowds whatsoever at this lake. It has stunning views, a river, waterfall, and the loop around the lake is short and easy. You don’t need to hike to get here.

Custer Gallatin National Forest

This Montana elopement location is on the southern border of Montana, and partially in Wyoming. This feels like true wilderness, and is a great option for couples who love privacy and to adventure. The colors of this location come to life in the fall.

Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon is a beautiful resevoir near Bozeman, Montana. However, this location can get pretty packed. It’s a spot commonly used by Montana locals to camp, swim, fish, and paddle board. I would recommend a sunrise elopement here, or consider one later in the fall to avoid crowds!

Beartooth Wilderness

The Beartooth Wilderness is actually apart of the Cluster Gallatin National Forest. It spans into part of Wyoming. This areas includes HUNDREDS of lakes. If your ideal day includes hiking and exploring multiple alpine lakes, this is a great Montana elopement location for you

Bittertoot National Forest

Montana elopement

The Bitteroot national Forest is in primarliy Montana, but also in parts of Idaho. Breathtaking scenery is provided by 30 deep, rocky, glaciated canyons breaking the sharp face of the Bitterroot range. This is a great option for couples who want to get views of glaciers and mountains.

Paradise Valley

Montana elopement

Paradise Valley is a stunning Montana elopement location near Yellowstone National Park. This is a great elopement location for couples who want nice lodging, and not have to travel far for stunning and easy to access views.

Montana Elopement Lodging Options

There is an array of lodging options for a Montana elopement. You’re going to want something that caters to your needs. For example, if you’re more adventurous, maybe you want to stay in a treehouse. You can glamp under the stars, stay in a fancy resort, rent a quaint Airbnb on a lake, or even rent a large home in a stunning natural area where you could have an intimate reception with friends and family.

There have been a lot of couples that I’ve helped find vacation rental homes that are in such beautiful areas that they stay local to where their lodging. So long as the owner of the home agrees to it, you’re even able to get rentals for ceremony seating or have a private chef cater a meal to you. Here’s a list of lodging options in Montana:

Montana elopement

How to Elope in Montana: The Steps

Step 1: Choose a Date for Your Elopement

Here, we’re going to go over the major planning steps in the Montana Elopement Guide. Number 1. Getting an idea of your elopement date is important. You can choose a date that’s meaningful to you. Secondly, this will help you be able to secure a photographer and lodging when you’re ready. I’d consider what season will be best for you as well.

Step 2: Pick Your Elopement Photographer and Montana Elopement Package

Choosing an elopement photographer is a crucial element to planning out your day. Not only do they help you pick your location, but they help you figure out what package would be best for you. Maybe you want a short half day elopement exploring the mossy forest. Maybe you want a multi-day elopement where you have a day just for you two, and then a day to explore and celebrate with your loved ones.

Most elopement photographers help with various steps of the planning process, and we’re pros at it. Personally, I include: sending a planning checklist, location selection, vendor referrals, timeline design, help finding ideal lodging, obtaining permits, and more. This is a great step to help you get guidance on planning your big day.

Step 3: Choose Your Montana Elopement Location

With the help of your elopement photographer, you should have a ton of ideal locations to choose from. I send my clients a list of about 4-8 locations that fit all of their needs and specifications. From here, you can pick one or multiple locations for your day. Remember! You can have different locations for different activities.

This is a huge step, and once you finish, everything starts to fall into place with ease.

Step 4: Pick Any Activities to Include in Your Elopement

When I say “activities” I mean things you want to include in your wedding day that will be a special and memorable experience for you. This includes the regular events such as getting ready and the ceremony, but can also include anything that is important to you.

Having an intimate celebration, hiking, picnicking, there are so many different options. You elopement day certainly doesn’t need to only include a ceremony and taking photos. Make it a day that you would want to re-live over and over by including these special activities that are important to you and your partner.

Step 5: Hire Any Required Vendors

Once you’ve decided on your activities, you’ll know what vendors you need. Maybe you’d like a 3 course meal at your Airbnb and want to hire a private chef. Maybe you want a florist to decorate an arch for your ceremony location. This is the time to book any remaining vendors and get them locked down.

Step 6: Finalize Timeline, Obtain Permits, Apply for Marriage License

Once you’re about two months away from your Montana elopement, it’s time to finish up your last major step. Go over your timeline with your elopement photographer, and confirm start and end times with all other vendors. Also make sure any guests that are invited are aware of the timeline for your day.

Finally, you will need to get permits for any public locations that might be involved in your day. I hope my eloping couples with this step, but if you’re doing it on your own you will need to reach out to the national forest service and figure out where to apply for your permit. Last but not least, apply for a marriage license through the county you’ll be getting married in! If you want more detailed steps about how this all works outside of the xx Elopement guide, we can chat here! I’m here to help.

Do I Need a Permit to Elope in Montana?

Yes, National Parks and State Parks require a special use permit. But it’s fairly straightforward. National Parks and State Parks will have the most rules and restrictions for your wedding. Such as, guest caps, decorations regulations, and even specific pre-determined locations you have to choose from. National Forests are a lot more relaxed on permits. Sometimes, if you’re having less than 75 guests, you won’t need one.

However, no matter where you plan to elope, you want to look up the permit information to make sure it’s okay to have your elopement there. Then find out what the restrictions are, and if you need a permit. If you do, you’ll just apply and pay the fee. This is something I help all of my eloping couples with as it can be a little confusing figuring out exactly which permit you need.

How to Get a Marriage License in Montana

Getting a marriage license in Montana is pretty easy and straightforward! You do not need to be a resident of Montana to get married here. All you need to do is start your application online through a county clerks office. However, you will need to finish the application in person and pick it up. So you’ll want to pick a county clerks office close to your elopement location.

Figure out where you’re eloping, and then find the closest county clerk. Go to their website, and then apply for your marriage license there. Finally, you will both appear in person with valid ID’s, pay the fee, and you’re all set! There is no waiting period in Montana to use your license, so you’re able to use it right away.

Montana elopement

Do I Need an Officiant and Witnesses to Elope in Montana?

In the state of Montana, you need both an Officiant and two witnesses to sign your marriage license and make your marriage legally legit. The good news is, you can have a friend or family member get ordained in the state of Montana to be your officiate. You can also easily hire one! Friends and family are also able to sign as witnesses. If you won’t be having friends and family, you can ask your vendors such as your photographer.

When is the Best Season to Elope in Montana?

The best season to elope in Montana is likely the fall (late September through early November.) However, each season brings about different things. You’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each season, and see what best suits you and your partner for your elopement. Here are what all the seasons look like in Montana:


Spring can be an unpredictable time in Montana. In lower elevation areas, it starts warming up, but can still be pretty cold. Most high elevation areas don’t open (trails or roads) until at least July. You can still find snow on the ground on some trails. The good news is, this time of the year doesn’t bring a ton of crowds. So if you’re happy eloping in a lower elevation location, this could be an awesome choice for you!


Summer is when everything is open. The trails are open, and all roads are accessible. July is also when there’s a huge bloom of the wildflowers, which are absolutely stunning. However, summer is of course when there are going to be the most crowds. Especially in popular locations such as Glacier National Park a Hyalite Canyon. The good news is, if you’re picking a more remote elopement location (and there’s a ton of them in Montana) you will still have a ton of privacy. Lastly, you’ll want to bring bug and bear spray.


Fall is one of my favorite seasons in Montana. It’s cooling off, so that means there’s less crowds in all of the parks. Even Glacier starts receiving less visitors this time of year, especially closer to November. The trees also begin changing colors, which makes it even more beautiful. Plus, theres still no new snowfall so everything is still open and accessible. The downside is you’ll be missing some of the greenery and flowers.


Winter can be an absolute wonderland in Montana. It gets a lot of snow, so if that’s what you’re interested in as your background, this could be a great choice. Keep in mind that a lot of things aren’t going to be accessible. There’s not a lack of winter elopement locations, but you’ll want to do your research in advance. West Glacier in Glacier National Park also remains open this time of the year. On the plus side, there will be no crowds, and you’ll get whole locations to yourself.

Montana elopement

Can I have guests at My Montana Elopement?

Yes! Even in the parks where there are restrictions, there are a lot of elopement locations that allow 20-100 guests. Glacier National Park his a list of pre-determined elopement locations that show you the amount of guests you can have per spot.

In National Forests, you’re usually allowed to have a lot of guests as long as you’re following the rules set by the National Forest. You’ll find these rules and regulations when you apply for your special use permit.

How Much Does Montana Elopement Photography Cost

The cost of elopement photography in Montana can vary based on if your photographer is traveling, what’s included in their package, and their skill level. You can expect most experienced elopement photographers to start at $5500-$7000.

Many elopement photographers offering some kind of planning or location scouting in their packages. To read more about what elopement photography costs and what’s included, click here!

Activity Ideas for Eloping in Montana

The way elopements are so uniquely different from traditional wedding days is that elopements are primarily about have an experience. And a unique one, at that. Many couples don’t want to simply have a ceremony and call it a day. One of my favorite things about photographing elopements is that it’s not an all day photoshoot or performance.

I’m often capturing couples doing things together that they enjoy the most. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Beach bonfire
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Scenic helicopter tour
  • Hiking in one of Montana’s many National Forests
  • Ziplining
  • Having a picnic in a meadow of wildflowers
  • Cliffjumping
  • Swimming in alpine lakes
  • Exploring waterfalls
  • Stargazing in the desert
  • Hammocking in the forest
  • Rock climbing
  • Cafe hopping and trying various food and drinks
  • Going on a boat ride
  • Wine tasting
  • Visiting Natural hot springs

These are just ideas, you can include anything, and I mean anything that sounds fun, cozy, or memorable to you in your elopement day.

Montana elopement

Montana Elopement Packages

Montana elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within Montana, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Elopement packages in Montana starting at $6800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Montana?

Eloping in Montana will be the cost of your marriage license, and permits. However, most couples spend $5,000 to $20,000. This budget includes various expenses such as accommodation, permits, decorations, vendor services, catering, transportation, attire, and all the essentials for crafting your desired experience. The extent of your budget depends on the level of extravagance or simplicity you envision for your special day!

Everything listed in the Montana elopement guide is under that 20k budget. Even getting first class flight tickets and luxury lodging is much cheaper than spending $20,000 on a venue alone, so go wild!

Montana elopement
Montana, USA. Glacier National Park, landscape, autumn

Ready to Elope in Montana?

This Montana elopement guide is a way to get you excited about all the possibilities of what your day could look like. Although, this amount of information can be overwhelming. I’m here to help. I can answer any and all questions you have on a complimentary low pressure consultation call. If you then choose you’d like to work together, I’ll do all of this planning right by your said to alleviate any stress, and bring your Montana elopement vision to life. We can chat here!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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