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Why You Should Elope in Alaska

Choosing to elope is both exhilarating and scary to some couples. Choosing to elope to Alaska? That’s even more thrilling!! As someone who’s called Alaska home my whole life, I may be biased, but there is truly no place quite like it. Are you still on the fence maybe and not quite sure if an Alaska Elopement is the right fit? Hopefully this article will guide you in the right direction to planning an Alaska elopement and saying your I do’s in the gorgeous landscapes of the Last Frontier!

(updated for 2024)

couple standing in front of a blue iceberg in their wedding attire in alaska

Reasons why eloping in Alaska might be a good fit:

  1. Alaska has no shortage of adventurous things to do in all seasons. Hikes, wildlife, tours galore(boat, fly, snowmachine, atv, helicopter, dog sled, jetski, etc.), and so many places to explore. If you’re both outdoorsy and like to adventure together, then you’ll fit right in.
  2. You want to read your vows surrounded by gorgeous landscapes. From mountain tops, icy glaciers, and vast oceans, to winding rivers, lush valleys, huge lakes and wildflower fields. This state is FULL of breathtaking scenery that is epic for your elopement day, and for general exploring.
  3. Alaska is cool enough that you can get married and honeymoon here all in one go. You’ll never get bored or run out of things to do or see!
  4. If you like your privacy, then you’ll like Alaskas! While there are some busier times of year, there are still ways to get away from the crowds. The chances of being out somewhere without anyone else around is pretty likely with how huge this state is! Especially if you steer clear of super touristy areas and hikes.
  5. You don’t need a passport to get here if you live in the states. You can experience what looks like another country, and sometimes even another planet, with just your plane ticket and ID!

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that! If you need more convincing, or have questions, just comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Have I convinced you? Well then heck yeah read on!!

How to Start Planning Your Alaska Elopement

Often planning an elopement from afar is intimidating as you’re not sure what to expect or who to talk to. That’s where I come in! This blog is full of everything you need to know about how to elope in Alaska. From locations, seasonal and weather guidance, best times of the year, and more.

Where to start with your Alaska Elopement Planning

  • Have a general timeframe vs. an exact date. I recommend going into planning with lots of flexibility so that you’re able to work around vendor and activity availability. You can also lean into local experts to help you choose exact dates based on seasons, offer backup days, etc. If you have an exact date chosen for sentimental/your availability reasons, that’s totally okay as well!
  • Experienced vendors. Start with an experienced elopement photographer and/or planner. When you’re researching vendors, I highly recommend vendors local to Alaska, or that have worked here multiple times. Alaska is a wild state with unpredictable weather, unique local wildlife, hidden gems, and so much more. Local or familiar vendors will be able to provide you with the best recommendations and inside expertise based on your needs. Starting with a local expert will make sure you have professional guidance when finding the rest of your team.
  • Think about how you want to feel. How you feel on your elopement day is the top priority and every decision you make should reflect that. The vendors you book should make your life easier and the adventures and timeline should enhance the experience.
  • You need more time than you think. When looking at packages and vendors, be sure to think about what kind of an experience you want to have. If you want to feel stress-free with space to breathe and enjoy, and don’t want it to feel like a photoshoot, then you’ll 100% want more than a couple of hours of photography. The candids and documentary photographs unfold when there is buffer time and wiggle room. Your elopement day and your story deserves SO much more than just a couple hours!
  • Be on the same page about what you want to do. You’re about to embark on this adventure together and it should feel exciting for both of you! Whether you’re both playing an active roll or one of you spearheading it, make sure you’re on the same page with plans and you’ll be set!

There are a couple of routes you can take when planning your elopement and they depend on how hands on you want to be.

Alaska Elopement Packages

The DIY approach: I have exclusively just photography packages that include everything you would need for me to come alongside you as your elopement paparazzi. You take care of logistics like vendor booking and communication and plan everything with my help and resources. You’ll be 100% hands on with this process.

Feeling like you want a little more hand holding? I’ve gotchu!

The Done With You all-inclusive Alaska elopement packages are where I come along side you not only as your photographer, but as your coordinator. These packages ensure that you’re taken care of through it all. I take care of vendor booking and communication, a full elopement timeline for all vendors, elopement ideas, as well as Full Day Photography. Read more about my all-inclusive Alaska elopement packages if this sounds up your alley!

These packages include: florals, elopement cake and beverages, hair and makeup, an exciting activity, all booked for you, in addition to full day photography with me!

Best Time to Visit and Elope in Alaska

This entire webpage has SO much good information on Alaska weather! Alaska is a wild place with unpredictable weather, seasons and light. If you have a specific idea or ‘look’ for your elopement photos it’s important to think about how the weather and locations affect that. If you want winter wonderland gorgeousness, summery warmth, or fall beauty, the month and season you choose to elope in Alaska will greatly affect that!

Alaskan’s typically break the seasons up into Winter, Breakup Season(instead of Spring), Summer, and Fall.

Weather + Seasons when planning to Elope in Alaska

Credit to Alaska.org for the graphic

My Edits:

Bugs: Fall is still pretty buggy, especially being the wetter months with lots of standing water. Don’t let this fool you haha!

Northern Lights: I’ve seen aurora shows late into April and as early as September. Basically as soon as it starts to get dark enough, it’s possible to see them. Historically the winter months are best.

Summer AKA Peak Season (Mid-May, June, July and August)

Between late-May to mid-August is what I consider ‘summer’ in Alaska. Into August is when the rainy season starts, but it’s not quite fall yet since the leaves haven’t turned colors. There are wildflowers in abundance, we experience our longest days and everything is just beautiful!

wedding couple holding hands and spinning around in a meadow

PROS:

  • Historically warmer temps
  • Wildflowers (likely Lilacs in June, Lupine in Early July, Daisies scattered throughout mostly July, Fireweed July-August)
  • Glacier pools are at their peak (Polar plunge anyone?!)
  • Lots of hiking!
  • True land of the midnight sun
  • Lots of summer activities and fun
  • Hatcher Pass gate up to Summit Lake opens for the summer season(Usually last week of June to mid-September)

CONS:

  • Sunset and sunrise are at obscene hours, but still doable, I’m always game!
  • Peak tourist season and lots of traffic
  • Tons of road construction EVERYWHERE
  • Mosquito season is ROUGH in some places. You’ll need all the bugspray haha.

Fall (Late August to September, maybe into October)

Fall in Alaska usually starts becoming more apparent mid-August when leaves tinge yellow and the rainy season kicks in. Don’t let that scare you though, this time of year is GORGEOUS. The colors between Mid-August into September(sometimes early October) are stunning. If you want rich fall colors, mid-September is your best bet. I also recommend being okay with the possibility of rain. This time of year is usually best for catching Fireweed as it is blooming everywhere before September. Towards the end when it’s dying it turns red and makes just as awesome of a backdrop as when it’s blooming.

PROS:

  • Fireweed (August)
  • Alaska State Fair is the last two weeks of August and into September
  • Starts to get darker later in August, potential for stars and aurora makes an appearance sometimes
  • Still lots of hiking
  • Cozy fall vibes
  • Less touristy
  • Fall colors starting early September
  • Same summer activities available

CONS:

  • Can be a little busier around the fair, with backed up traffic
  • Can still be buggy (August-September)
  • Rainier weather/cooler days
  • Some tours and business and areas shut down for the season by September 15th
  • Hatcher Pass road through closes after the first snowfall which can happen mid September, still lots of hiking though

WINTER (Late October to March)

We’ve had first snowfall as early as before Halloween, and as late as early December. My recommendation is to aim for the dead of winter though if winter wonderland is your goal. During the winter our days are much shorter and the sun is at a more extreme angle than during the summer. Usually, we end up working with around 4 hours of good light in a day. This often lends itself to very romantic golden hour imagery mid-afternoon(unheard of!).

If you’re having a winter elopement be sure to keep sunset times in mind when planning your ceremony time and activities. February and March are two of my favorite winter months because landing on the glacier lakes started in January and flyout destinations get a lot cooler!

PROS:

  • Golden Hour is early and lasts a while
  • No Bugs
  • Aurora borealis
  • Unique winter adventures(dog sledding, snow shoeing, snow machining, etc)
  • Gorgeous winter scenery

CONS:

  • Very cold
  • You need warm layers
  • Harder driving conditions
  • Limited accessibility

Spring AKA Breakup Season (Late March-Early May)

I don’t have many nice things to say about breakup season, she’s moody, she’s muddy, and she’s not very pretty. The mountains are gorgeous though and the extra sunlight brings life back to local Alaskans haha!

PROS:

  • More sunshine
  • Warmer temperatures

CONS:

  • Muddy
  • Smells funny
  • Brown
  • Lots of trash that was hidden by snow(don’t worry this gets cleaned up in May!)

Check out some weather data here for a more in-depth look at typical Alaska weather

couple snuggling in front of a glacier pool on spencer glacier

Places to Elope in Alaska

Now that we’ve talked about seasons, weather, and back up plans, we can talk about different areas around Alaska! If you’re from Alaska and have any sentimental locations, consider what eloping there would look and feel like. If you aren’t from Alaska or don’t have a preferred spot, then think about what scenery you love or what activities you want to incorporate. Then choose a location or area that best lends itself to those specifics. Keep in mind that Alaska is very large and there could be hours between the destinations below despite being in the same ‘area’. So when we’re choosing locations we want to make sure they make sense with each other and are within close proximity.

While there are many places, I’m going to list out five of my personal favorites.

Trip map created using Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android

1. Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass is nestled in the Talkeetna Mountains just outside of Wasilla and Palmer and is a perfect destination for couples who want easily accessible locations and couples who want an epic hike. It’s got so many pretty places to drive up to and countless hikes to choose from based on your adventure preference. My favorite months in Hatcher Pass are July-September. During this timeframe the gate to fully cross up and over Hatcher Pass is open as well.

2. Knik Glacier

The Knik Glacier is only accessible by helicopter to land on and access the glacier, but the toe of the glacier is accessible via ATV and small plane + a hike in. This is the ultimate destination if you want 360 mountain views and gorgeous blue icy landscapes. I absolutely love flying in year-round, and in the winter driving out with a tour to the glacier lake is EPIC if you want that adventure.

These images above were taken at the Knik Glacier in the winter. In the winter when the ice is frozen enough(Jan-March usually) we can land at the toe of the glacier and walk all the way up to the ice caves. In the summer, locations like these are not accessible on the Knik.

3. Seward

Seward, Alaska is a quaint little coastal down on the Kenai Peninsula and is the perfect destination for couples that love the sea and also want some glacier mixed in. There are glacier lakes with icebergs, gorgeous mountains all around, and plenty of ocean excursions to indulge in. From fishing charters and sail boat trips to water taxis to remote islands.

4. Girdwood + Portage Elopement

These two places are within an hour of Anchorage and are super beautiful.

Honorable Mentions:

Denali National Park

This couple from Florida chose to elope in Ruth Glacier near the Sheldon Chalet. It was early May one year and we flew in by prop plane. You can see more of that here.

Ruth Glacier is in the Sheldon Amphitheatre in the area of Sheldon Chalet, which in and of itself is a gorgeous place to elope as well. They have a gorgeous remote luxury hotel deep in the mountains of Denali only accessible by private helicopter. How epic is that?!

You can see some summery drive-in Denali elopement images here.

Juneau

Juneau is typically a cruise ship destination in Southeast Alaska and has a lot to offer! From beautiful mountaintops to glacier tours and seaside ceremonies, you can get a lot of variety on your elopement day. Juneau can get crowded in the summer, but it’s truly such a beautiful spot if you’re traveling in via cruise ship or want to fly in!

Interested in knowing more about where to elope in Alaska? I offer free consultations with couples looking for photographer for their Alaska Elopement and typically on these calls we talk about timeframes and locations that fit their needs. Reach out here!

Back-Up Plans For Your Alaska Elopement

I’m 100% game to photograph in all forms of weather, so long as it isn’t detrimental to anyone’s safety! Rain, shine, wind or snow, all weather is beautiful weather and can lend itself to gorgeous backdrops to your special day.

Alaska can be unpredictable, but with the help of weather apps like Windy, it’s a little more predictable! Even so, whether we see it coming, or not, it’s helpful to have a backup plan incase plan A doesn’t happen. Having backup locations, activities and days is so important to give peace of mind. I build a back up day into ALL of my Alaska Elopement Packages because I know how important it is. Typically most tours have weather reschedule opportunities if it’s unsafe to continue as planned.

Rental Car & Accommodations when you Elope in Alaska

Rental Cars

Having a vehicle while you’re traveling in Alaska for your Elopement is HIGHLY recommended, there really is no way to get around this. Driving services such as Lyft and Uber aren’t as popular up here, and if they’re available it’s usually within bigger cities.

A lot of places around Alaska involve hour+ drives so having your own vehicle to explore is the only way to make it work.

We have several big car rental chains available at our airports:

  • National Car Rental
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • as well as Turo vehicles

Pro Tip: If you are using Turo keep an eye out for cars that have the Alaska State Parks parking passes so you can save yourself $5 at each State Park you visit! They also usually come equipped with extra amenities or have add-ons available like coolers, etc.

Airbnb, VRBO, BnB or Hotel?

When choosing where you’re staying there are a few things to keep in mind. I personally prefer Airbnb or VRBO’s for getting ready spaces as hotels tend to be a little old school. Also, most hotels are pretty far from most destinations with the exception of Alyeska in Girdwood.

  1. Make sure your chosen location is okay with a professional photographer being on site for photos.
  2. If you’re going to have guests make sure the location is okay with groups/events.
  3. Make sure it’s close to where you want to have your elopement + activities. No one wants to drive hours on their elopement day!
  4. Check that there is ample space for getting ready and good lighting.
  5. Minimal decor is nice so that it’s not detracting from the images.

What to Wear When you Elope in Alaska

As mentioned, Alaska can be pretty iffy with the weather and coming prepared is NEVER a bad idea!

Layers: On the big day you can wear your usual wedding attire, obviously, but under and over layers are good to bring. Better to have and not need, than need and not have, is what I always say. Having jackets, coats, scarves, hats, gloves and other accessories that you don’t mind being in photos is important incase the weather is pretty rough.

In the summer it is usually pretty warm, but it can get cool on occasion. Bring a light coat or windbreaker along with maybe some skin colored leggings(so they don’t show!) to wear under your dress. If you’re used to warmer temps and 50 degrees is chilly for you, bring a sweater or thin/medium jackets. In the fall it gets rainy and chilly, so having a rain jacket and waterproof boots on hand is recommended in addition to warmer layers.

During the wintertime long johns and thermals are sooo nice to have to wear under a suit, skin colored leggings under gowns, and functional accessories that you can incorporate into your photos such as scarves, hats, winter jackets, gloves, sweaters, fur coats, etc. are all recommended.

Don’t forget about your feet! During the summer anything from flats, birks, chacos, hiking boots, rain boots + are doable. Having a pair of durable shoes to wear when we are making our way out to a specific location is recommended and then you can change into something more summery if the location allows. The same applies for fall, but good hiking boots or rain boots are nice if it’s raining. In the winter having good and warm winter boots with solid tread are the best option! If you want something on the cuter side rather than ugly winter boots, check into Sorel, they have cute options!

You’ll also want to consider your socks, because a good, or bad pair of socks can make or break your shoe experience.

Places to find outdoor gear are:

I give all of my couples a much more in-depth guide on choosing attire for their elopement day after booking.

Activity Ideas for your Alaska Elopement

  • Dogsledding on a Glacier or through the forests
  • Helicopter Tour to a glacier and mountain peaks
  • Float plane out to the ocean or an alpine lake
  • Stargaze and chase the Northern Lights in the winter in Fairbanks
  • Take a sailboat or water taxi out of Seward to remote islands
  • Go on an all inclusive private cruise out of a coastal town
  • Stay at a remote wilderness lodge in the mountains
  • Hike into the backcountry and camp overnight to have a sunrise ceremony

Not sure what kind of elopement is right for you? Take the quiz on my homepage.

How to Get Married in Alaska

Alaska Marriage Laws to Elope in Alaska

Now it’s time for the nitty-gritty of the legalities of getting married in Alaska. It’s pretty straight forward, you need an officiant and one witness for your Alaska elopement. For more marriage license information and to download the Alaska Marriage License Application, visit this Alaska Gov website.

What you need to legally Elope in Alaska

Submitting your Alaska Marriage License by Mail:

NOTARIZED/MAILED:

  • Sign and notarize your application with a notary in your state. Mail your notarized application to the Anchorage office with copies of your IDs.
  • Include the $60 fee by check or money order. Please note: Personal checks must have your current address on it.
  • Your marriage license will be mailed to you. Include payment for shipping as well, listed below.

UNNOTARIZED/PICK UP IN AK:

  • Mail your unnotarized application to the Anchorage or Juneau Office(whichever you’re flying in to!)
  • When you arrive in Alaska make sure you have time to arrive during business hours and pick up your license.
Submitting Your Alaska Marriage License Application in Person:
  • Complete the required form found on Alaska.gov.
  • Both parties must sign in person and be sworn in by a Licensing Officer or Notary at either of the following locations: (if out of state read online application)
    • Juneau Vital Records Office Physical: 5441 Commercial Boulevard Mailing: PO Box 110675 Juneau, AK 99811-0675 Phone: (907) 465-3391
    • Anchorage Vital Records Office Physical: 3901 Old Seward Hwy Suite 101 Anchorage, AK 99503 Phone: (907) 269-0991
  • Photo IDs need to be presented for both parties
    • Accepted forms of ID (If expired, must be less than a year):
      • Driver’s license
      • State-issued ID
      • Passport
      • Military ID
      • Tribal/BIA card (with picture)
      • If you have none of the above forms of ID, please contact (907) 465-3391 for assistance.
  • A $60 application fee is due.

Things to Consider:

  • There is a three (3) business day waiting period that begins once a mailed or faxed application with payment is received by the issuing office. This means that you must wait at least three full business days after the application is submitted before you can pick up the license and the marriage ceremony can be performed.
  • If you need to receive your marriage license quickly, and cannot pick up in person, please include $9.00 for Priority Mail with tracking or $26 for Express Mail. Both methods are trackable. Regular mail can take up to 4 weeks or longer. Your total for the Marriage License Application and Shipping would be either ($69) or ($86), depending on your shipping method.
  • Once you have been approved and receive your marriage license, you will have 90 days to perform your ceremony before it expires or you must reapply.
  • After the marriage has taken place and the License has been signed by all parties, you must return the original License to a local Vital Records Office (in person or by mail) to be registered in Alaska.

Officiants:

Pilot and/or Captain – If you’re going on a helicopter/flight or boat tour with a company that hosts elopements frequently, chances are the pilots or captains are ordained.

Friend or Family Member – A family member or friend can apply for a one-time license to marry you in the state of Alaska.

Celebrant – If you don’t want to bring guests but want something more in-depth, then hiring an actual Officiant/Celebrant is a great way to have a more formal ceremony.

Myself – I can perform legal ceremonies and sign as your officiant. Since I’ll, of course, be photographing, I would perform the legal portions of the ceremony quickly, then allow you to exchange rings, read vows, and guide the ceremony how you’d like it to flow. This is included in any package booked with me if you’re okay with short & sweet.

Witness:

Typically if you don’t have any guests then this honor falls on your photographer! I have signed many a license and it’s always so exciting!

If I’m officiating and we don’t have an additional party available to sign with our group, we can find a random bystander or hiker!

Alaska Special Use Permits & Photography Permits to Elope in Alaska

Many parks and recreation areas will require permits for ceremonies, such as National Parks & State Parks, as well as some Alaska State Land. It typically depends on the scope of the event and how many guests will be present. Providing insight into permits required for different locations is something that I offer to all of my booked couples. I stay very up-to-date on required permitting for operating commercially in various areas around Alaska and can let you know what permits are applicable for your event. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do your own research just incase!

Leave No Trace When You Elope in Alaska

While LNT is not legally required, it is highly recommended that their principles be followed when recreating in the great outdoors. Alaska is a vast gorgeous state and we want to be sure to keep it that way!

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly.
  • Leave What You Find.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts.
  • Respect Wildlife.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

Choosing Alaska Elopement Vendors

I have an extensive list of vendors I looooove to work with! This includes florists, helicopter companies, officiants, planners, hair and makeup, you name it! If I’m not booking them for you then I want to make sure I connect you with the best team possible to make your elopement dreams come true.

We have so many amazing florists, chefs, hair and makeup artists, musicians and more!

When choosing your vendors make sure that you not only love their work or service, but that you get along with them. Chances are you’ll be spending a good portion of your day with them(depending on the vendor) and it’s important to make sure you like them!

When looking into Alaska elopement vendors, in addition to making sure you vibe with them and they’re your style, be sure to check where they are located and if they have travel fees to your chosen destination.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Alaska?

This varies greatly depending on the kind of adventure and experience you want to have. You can keep it as simple as just hiring a photographer (heyyy!!)or you can go all out and have a photographer, a fun tour, private chef, florist, hair and makeup, cake, you name it! I highly recommend sitting down and prioritizing your top needs for the day and planning from there.

Travel Costs to Elope in Alaska

Travel to Alaska varies depending on how you prefer to fly, the airline, and the time of year. A safe bet would be to expect to pay around $600-1000 per person and any less is a happy surprise. A rental car will run around $150 a day give or take depending on the time of year and vehicle.

Alaska Elopement Accommodations

Typically a night stay ranges upwards of $300 per night once taxes and fees are factored in. It can also range up to $500+ for higher end stays. I recommend looking into pretty early on once you have dates in mind to get the best pricing and availability.

The Elopement Day Itself

This can range anywhere from $10k-40k+ depending on the experience you want to have and the vendors you hire. If it’s just you and a photographer vs. bringing in a bunch of awesome vendors for a luxury elopement experience. My all-inclusive Alaska Elopement packages include some amazing vendors and range between $16k-$18k depending on what your preferences are.

Marriage License + Permits for Your Alaska Elopement

Your marriage license is $60 and Permits range anywhere from $100-400 depending on the location and how many people.

These are all ballparks based on many factors and of course can be more or less expensive depending on where you’re going, how long you’re staying, who you book and the level of luxury you’re looking for. If you’re staying in a camper van the whole time you’re here then your scope of expenses will be so different than if you’re staying at a boutique bnb or wilderness lodge.

Are you planning your Alaska elopement right now?

Trip Advisor is a great resource to start, be sure to check with your local Alaska vendors if they have recommendations or discounts available as well! Some tours and companies also work together to offer bundle discounts.

If you weren’t sold on an Alaska elopement before, but you are now, I would absolutely LOVE to help you put this together! Reach out so we can go over all the fun details!

Couple eloping at beluga point in alaska

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Couple eloping at beluga point in alaska

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Everything You Need to Know About How to Elope in Alaska | Alaska Elopement Photographer

  1. Ericka smith says:

    Help!
    We are coming in on a cruise May 31 and my friends want to elope in Skagway which is scheduled for June 4th!
    Can this be done?????

    • Donna Smith says:

      Hey there!! Check with Becoming Images based out of Juneau!! She might be able to help!! 😀

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