How to elope in Grand Teton National Park
First off, considering Grand Teton National Park for your elopement is so exciting! From the stunning mountain peaks to the lakes and rivers, it truly is a sight to see. If you haven’t been, prepare your heart. If you have been before, still prepare your heart, because every time I see those mountains it’s like the first time. This post has A LOT of info, so as you go through the process feel free to come back to this post for an idea of your next steps!
I think the first step in planning your Grand Teton national park elopement is choosing your photographer. I say this because if you find someone who has shot here before, they will be able to help you with locations and timelines. Having a photographer that you connect with is important as they are one of the only people attending your elopement. You want to find someone who you want to spend a day with, someone you trust to document one of the most important day in your life. I love being able to help couples with planning so the don’t have to figure it all out on their own, so find you a photographer who can help! That’s why I wrote this post, to give info to couples that are badass enough to elope in the Tetons.
Secondly, when do you want to elope?
Pick a season that feels right to you both. I love the diversity of the seasons in the Tetons, so many options and each with its perks. With the new permit regulations, you are limited on dates for some locations. I note them below.
1st con for November-March is you cannot get a permit for groups over 12 and you have to get a Small dispersed ceremony permit. I go into depth on the differences below, but keep that in mind for off season ceremonies. Travel is trickier, but it’s less busy. Plus you cannot beat those snowcapped mountains and fields.
There will be less hiking and the temps can be very low, but if you’re a brave couple and maybe want to ski/snowboard the day after you elope, heck there’s no better time! Imagine waking up, traveling to your ceremony location, and saying your vows as the white peaks turn golden as the sun rises. You spend the rest of the morning exploring, you see moose and the sun warms everything. You head to town for lunch, spend the afternoon on a dogsled trip, and end your wedding day with a drink in a hot tub, warming up from your winter elopement.
This timeframe is great because it doesn’t’ fall in the new 1 ceremony per day per location restriction. November 1 to April 30 the road from Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge is closed.
1st con for April- May 12- is you cannot get a permit for groups over 12 and you have to get a Small dispersed ceremony permit. I go into depth on the differences below, but keep that in mind for off season ceremonies. Next con is the park road from Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge is closed. I’d suggest if you want a beautiful spring elopement, go for May or June. Snowcapped mountains, roaring streams, green grass popping up, warmer temps. Not the busiest season and would be able to have a better chance for good weather.
There’s always a chance of a spring snow or rain, it’s Wyoming after all. You could hike to some stunning spots, we’d be prepared for rain, the moody clouds add drama to the landscape as you hold hand and exchange rings. After your vows you go on a horseback ride, there’s something about seeing the Wild West from the back of a horse, trust me. Finishing the day with wildlife viewing and juicy steak. April to mid May also doesn’t’ fall in the new 1 ceremony per day per location restriction.
More predictable weather, but busier with tourists. If you want the most safe time to elope, this would be it. You can camp, hike, relax outside, and just enjoy your time. Picture this. You wake up and look outside your tent to the sun shining. After a breakfast and coffee over a campfire, you pack your bags with wedding attire. We take a hike to one of the most beautiful lakes, away from the majority of people. You help each other get ready, he zips up your dress, you straighten his tie. You share the most intentional promises, just the two of you. We take photos as we hike back down, your actual ceremony is down by the creek. We timed it perfectly, the sun is golden as you get married with your closest 10 people in your life, your family. Everyone shares a toast and heads to an intimate dinner with a private chef.
The biggest con to peak summer is ow busy it is, and the possibility of smoke. The smoke from CA and nearby states often settle here, and can obstruct clear views. Summer does have the 1 ceremony per location per day, so it’s important to think ahead and make sure you’re applying for your permit ASAP.
Just wow. Is there anything more beautiful than those blue peaks and golden aspens working together? Seriously, if you like a little risk in your life fall is a perfect time to elope. I shoot there mostly in September and October, and I will be there A LOT in September 2023 so if this time sounds right for you, I’d love to chat! While Fall is stunning when it hits just right, there’s no guarantee there won’t be an early snow or cold weather. So if you are in love with fall in the mountains but not snow, I’d stick to late September.
Here is a blog post from a mid September elopement in the Tetons. You can see on the post, the weather couldn’t make up its mind. The day started out with rain and moody clouds. As everyone arrived for the ceremony at Schwabacher Landing, the skies cleared and the sun popped out. Afterward we explored for photos, the clouds rolled back in with rain. They celebrated with their family back at their vrbo with dancing and a shrimp boil. This timeframe also includes the 1 ceremony per location per day, so it’s important to think ahead and make sure you’re applying for your permit ASAP.
Sit down together, and dream up your elopement day. It does not need to look like any one else’s day. Above all, it’s about you, that’s it. It’s about what’s important to you, and if that’s having an adventure elopement, I’m so excited for you!
Location, that’s your next step.
Now we are getting to the fun part! If you’ve never need to the Tetons before, definitely do some research on these locations and pick one that speaks to you! New in 2023 is closing either a Reserved Site Specific ceremony OR small dispersed ceremony. We can always do photos away from the ceremony spot you pick, but you’ll need a permit to say vows and legally get married at a location, more on that in a minute. I like to look at geotags on instagram to get a clear view of the areas in different seasons. Here’s the 6 Reserved Site Specific areas you can choose from for your Grand Teton National Park Elopement.
- Schwabacher Landing – Group size limit of 25 people
- Mormon Row (North or South) – Group size limit of 40 people (North) or 25 people (South)
- Mountain View Turnout – Group size limit of 25 people
- Glacier View Turnout – Group size limit of 25 people
- Snake River Overlook – Group size limit of 25 people
- Colter Bay Swim Beach – Group size limit of 40 people
For Small Dispersed Ceremonies, remember this is for groups of 12 or less…including vendors. This permit can be obtained year long, yay for off season!! You can pick from lots of areas, however there are some prohibited areas, read the full list of places you can’t get this permit for on the GTNP site here. This is a great option for super small groups who want to get away from the highway and people, and have a more unique and intimate ceremony.
In addition there are a couple other options. The Chapel of Transfiguration and Chapel of the Sacred Heart do not require permits as well as a concession facility like Jackson Lake Lodge, but there may be other fees involved.
Finally, once you decide on a season and location, talk with your photographer for a date and apply for a permit. Definitely shoot for a weekday elopement. It will be less busy and you’ll have better chances at getting a permit for the area you want. Permits are first come first serve, 2024 permits are being accepted starting Dec 4 2023. This process can take a little time, so doing it early is a great idea. You are able to list your ideal date and location, but also an alternative date and location which is great because of the new limitations.
Once your permit is approved, get your travel plans set up and book your other vendors and get to planning all the little details! If you want you can get florals, cake/desert, catering/reservations, hair and makeup artists, and all the things!
Here’s a list of Jackson vendors you can check out.
Cakes – Buttercream Cake Design Co. |
If you aren’t bringing someone that is ordained, here’s a couple places to look for an officiant.
Also you’ll need a marriage license, here’s the link for that.
Where to stay
If you’re into camping: https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/camping.htm
And as always there’s some amazing places on Airbnb.
What to do (besides get married, obvi)
There’s some awesome places to eat, a quick google search will give you all the options and reviews to help decide. There’s also so many activities to look into. For example, skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, hiking, rafting, scenic loop drive, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife viewing, boating, bus tours…you don’t have to be still for a moment if you don’t want to! However if you just want to relax and just take in the views during your time here, it will be time well spent.
I hope this how to elope in Grand Teton National Park post was helpful in your start in planning your epic day! You will have the best day ever surrounded by amazing views, and if you’re on that first step of finding a photographer, I would love the opportunity to chat with you and see if we’d be a good fit to adventure together! You can check out my work here! Want to reach out and chat, fill out my contact form and you’ll hear from me shortly!
AND here are some of my all time favorite photos that I’ve taken in the Beautiful Park.
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