Eloping in Alaska
Alaska elopements have been trending and I’m here to validate why! Marriage, in whatever form, is often compared to a long adventurous journey. Elopement is the version where you rattle off in cozy, beat-up truck with your life belongings tucked in the back and maps nowhere to be seen. Where better to capture the spirit than the freeing wilderness of Alaska?
Just imagine – snow-capped peaks, thickets of green, and deep reflective lakes framing you and your fiancé/fiancée. This gorgeous scenery isn’t just for looking either; you’ll have plenty of chances to hike through lush nature reserves or plow through snowdrifts! If you’re a couple that thrives on adrenaline rushes and exploring the outdoors, Alaska’s call is no doubt difficult to resist.
Why you should elope in Alaska
First, let me convince you (or help you convince yourself) why you should elope in Alaska. In no particular order, I present you 5 reasons!
Jump straight from the ceremony to honeymoon
The ceremony will no doubt be beautiful but surely you’ve been dreaming of your honeymoon as well! What my previous clients can attest is that you don’t have to wait – your Alaska honeymoon can begin the second after you’ve tied the knot! Say your vows, seal it with a kiss and step onto a helicopter right after for unique adventures you won’t find anywhere else.
The scenery will steal your breath away
Scenic highways roll out in front of you like a private red carpet! Even outside of National Parks you’ll find boundless lakes, dramatic fjords that pull back to reveal tiny villages, mountain ranges that stretch far beyond your line of sight and ever-changing valleys. You don’t have to be an outdoor person to admire the sheer variety of unspoiled nature.
You’ll become a true explorer
Look a little closer and you’ll see plenty of wildlife. This, of course, is just another excuse to take land excursions all over the state! Where else would you be able to spot rare critters like grizzlies, caribous, wolves and Dall sheep all in one place?
Your cultural lenses have never been more clear
If you’re anything like me, loving the open-mindedness and cultural lessons that travel brings, Alaska is a book you’ll want to read. From Native Indians to gold mining and Russian fur traders, Alaska’s history is carved into cultural heritage centers, parks and historic ports. With artworks, artifacts and remnant architectures to study; don’t worry about not being mentally stimulated!
You’re truly in a world of your own
Best of all, Alaska elopements gift you a world of your own. If you’re eloping for the intimacy that comes with spending quality time alone, Alaska is perfect! You’ll hardly find crowds out in the wilds (unless you’re visiting peak attractions at peak season and at peak hours), but there’s enough company along your journey that you can flash those newly exchanged rings. It’s truly as private as you wish it would be!
When to elope in Alaska
Luckily for you, Alaska is gorgeous all year round! Of course, you’ll have to consider what kind of weather you want on your elopement day – and what kind of backdrop you’d like for your Alaska elopement photos. Each season comes with its own set of pros and cons so let’s dive in and take a look!
Alaska Elopement in Summer
A lot of people see wintery Alaska on postcards but the true peak tourist season is actually summer. Summer is perfect for Alaska elopements when it comes to weather and the range of honeymoon activities! Sunlight can last deep into the night (Alaska is called ‘land of the midnight sun’ for a reason), inviting warm weather and blooming greens everywhere. You can spend a full 24 hours outside at scenic viewpoints; just thinking about the infinite photoshoot opportunities is making me excited!
Temperatures hit 60⁰F to 80⁰F in the day while nights dip into the 40s and 50s. With such pleasant weather, you won’t have to worry about melting your makeup away! The only downside is that most Alaskan summer tours operate between mid-May and September, meaning you’ll have to deal with crowds at popular attractions. But, this is why heading off on an adventure into the backcountry is such an easy-peasy way to avoid being crowded!
Fall Elopements in Alaska
Rain, rain, go away, come again another day – fall might see you singing this but Alaska in the rain is truly something special! Mid-August leading into September offers a stunning array of colors as leaves turn yellow, red, and rich burnished gold. September is when the foliage reaches its peak aesthetic, Fireweed blooming everywhere to dye the horizon red! It’s also the end of peak tourism season, meaning you might score some great travel packages!
August and September are considered the rainy season which some people get put off by. The possibility of rain is completely worth it, however! Longer hikes are especially enjoyable since temperatures drop slightly. Expect it to drop 5 to 10 degrees from the summer averages.
Winter Elopements in Alaska
Winter Alaska elopements feature a wholly different charm. Blanketed with snow and with much fewer visitors, it’s like Narnia on a budget! Winter adventures like dog sled riding, alpine skiing, northern lights, and ice art competitions are just some unusual activities you can enjoy.
The downside is that we’d only get 4 hours of good light per day, meaning our schedule would be a lot tighter. The upside however is that you’ll get to experience a soft, romantic golden hour in the middle of the afternoon! I recommend going in January and February when snowfall and winter hours are more consistent so that you can reap both the views and winter activities!
Alaska Elopements in Spring
Spring in Alaska is…. not as pretty when compared to the fresh buds of summer and winter’s clean canvas, but it’s an amazing time to visit for those who love wildlife. Whales return to the coast, making it prime whale spotting season; you might even spot moose leading this season’s calves around town!
Spring’s warmer temperature is also great news for those who are sensitive to the cold but really want photos in the snow. Mountain tops are still snowcapped, turning an ethereal shade of orange, pink, and red during sunset! Since it’s before peak season, you’ll be able to enjoy cheaper adventures too.
Honestly, the best time to elope in Alaska depends on what kind of sceneries you’d like to capture and what activities you’d like to experience! Make sure you weigh in the pros and cons before committing a date but don’t be too worried either. We can always come up with backup plans just in case the weather falls through!
Where to elope in Alaska
In my opinion, the most exciting part is deciding where to elope in Alaska! Let’s start narrowing down your options with a peek at these epic locations!
For those wanting to explore Anchorage city, Chugach State Park is a convenient yet off-grid elopement venue. Turn into the Turnagain Arm for a sheltered ceremony at Turnagain View Lodge, or wander into the park itself for those stunning mountain settings. It’s also a gorgeous drive there; stop by Beluga Point for some photos!
By far one of the most versatile elopement locations, the ski town of Girdwood is nestled within the Chugach Mountains. Experience a dreamy woodland ceremony or ride the Alyeska Tram to the peak for open skies! Frolic through wildflower meadows with your dress trailing behind you, or swoop onto a glacier for something uniquely yours. Other popular places around Girdwood include Moose Meadow, Bird Point, Eklutna Lake and Virgin Creek Falls.
Grewingk Glacier Lake
One of the most amazing sights you’ll ever see is the iconic glacier at Grewingk Glacier Lake. While you have to hike 12 miles roundtrip, the secluded and panoramic location is worth the effort! It’s especially impressive during fall and winter when the lake has frozen over and the mountain ranges far back are shrouded with snow.
Cradled by Prince William Sound on one side and a glacier on the other, there’s a breathtaking elopement point up Portage Pass Trail. If you don’t fancy a hike, Portage Lake itself is frozen in the winter to become an epic elopement location.
For small-town feels, drive towards the famous Kenai River and seek out Cooper Landing. Vacation rentals and cozy B&Bs make up the bulk of lodging, meaning you can play up the domesticity in your photoshoots! You’ll also find access points to pretty Kenai Lake; its aquamarine coloring really adds youthful energy to the scene!
More specifically, everyone’s in love with the 50-miles long Hatcher Pass. This Alaskan classic is full of photo ops, from sloping hills to these infamous red cabins. If you’re a fan of highlander dramas, the rugged vibes and alpine plantation in the area perfectly recreate the Scottish highlands! You can also head off the main road for more intimate creeks in the area. I highly recommend the Reed Lakes Trail, which passes through teal waterfalls and drowsy lakes!
Rolling hills and meadows, sloping mountains, and patches of snow – are you getting Sound of Music flashbacks? Well, there’s no need to fly all the way to Austria when Gastineau Peak is just a short hike away! You can easily set up base in Juneau and trek your way to this expansive lookout point. Panoramic shots are definitely a go!
Haines State Forest
Skagway is famous for its chain of mountain ranges, making it perfect for an Alaska elopement! With 286,000 acres teeming with lakes and thick forest, an intimate ceremony location is guaranteed. It’s especially beautiful in the winter when white snow falls against the smoky black ridges.
Within Tongass National Forest near Juneau is a jaw-dropping glacier! Stretching out 13 miles long is Mendenhall Glacier, carving its way down the mountainside. There are plenty of hiking trails and waterfalls to explore. Other locations nearby include Mt. Roberts, Auke Bay, and Brotherhood Bridge Trail.
Within southwest Alaska is an elopement sweet spot: Tanalian Falls. This is one of my favorite hikes! Approximately 6 miles roundtrip, the trail opens up to a scene that could belong to Middle Earth! A gushing, low-level waterfall comes through these tree-laden cliffs to form a wide pool. It’s the perfect backdrop for a dramatic shot! The falls do get crowded during peak season but it is possible to avoid the masses.
North Sister Backside
Despite the somewhat lackluster name, North Sister Backside is another fitting Southwestern location for elopements. What you’ll love with this place is the variety – the peak of the trail overlooks large mountains in the background while smaller hills around you make dynamic props. Since it features different sceneries every season, it’s a year-round delight!
From the artistic coastal town of Seward to views that span sea and sky, Kachemak Bay is an elopement favorite. Charter a trip to unspoiled coves or exchange vows on the Homer Spit! You might even catch special witnesses – whales, otters, and seals in the water.
Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains
World-class and luxurious, Ultima Thule lodge deposits you right along Chitina River. Not only do you get to stay at romantic and fully furnished cabins, but it also offers flights over the incredible mountain range! Why not get married in the middle of nowhere, just you and your partner and love?
Denali National Park
If there’s one place that must make the list, Denali National Park is it. By far one of the most popular locations for Alaska elopements, it’s also one of the most beautiful! Gorge Creek is a classic, blooming green in the summer and covered in white during winter. Nearby Byers Lakes, which sits right on the border of Denali, features a lush carpet of trees along the water’s edge.
Chandalar Shelf Ridge
For a moody setting, Chandalar Shelf Ridge is ‘chef’s kiss’! As you wander along the Chandalar Shelf Ridge Trail, mountain ranges covered with snow rise across the horizon. It’s a striking contrast to the reds and browns that dominate the ground. Host your ceremony on an overcast day and I guarantee the photos will turn out mysterious, wistful, and striking.
Tanana Valley State Forest
1.8 million acres of forest ALL for your perusal – there’s no way you won’t find the perfect elopement location here! Just imagine the sunlight streaming through spruces, birches and poplars to create a fairytale backdrop.
Kenai Fjords National Park
All I have to say about THIS incredible place is – glaciers, fjords, islets! This is an epic place for you Alaska Elopement!
For specific locations within these general areas, we can skim through Instagram hashtags and location tag searches to pinpoint your must-have backdrop! The best way to get here is to take a bush plane or helicopter ride and head off into the backcountry!
What to wear for eloping in Alaska
You definitely don’t want to be caught off guard by temperature fluctuations and end up with a cold halfway through your Alaska elopement! Like I’ve briefly mentioned above, even summer temperatures change drastically between day and night. That’s not to mention the temperature difference between lower elevation and high up in the mountains! Since you’ll most likely be eloping outdoors, dress for both aesthetics and practicality.
Dressing up for the big day is a must! Fortunately, there are ways to look good while staying comfortable. Brides would look beautiful in flowy dresses, especially when the winds blow to make the skirts flutter. You also have the added bonus of easy movement since wider skirts won’t break your stride. A sheath dress, for instance, wouldn’t be practical if you’re hiking to the ceremony location. There’s also the option of forgoing the traditional wedding dress for something more off-beat to match your elopement vibes!
Grooms benefit from more flexible outfits, with suits being a nice medium between wearing a tux and casual clothes. I suggest clothes made out of flexible and breathable material; for comfort and for a clean appearance!
However, when it comes to eloping in Alaska and just in general don’t think you have to go hiking in your wedding gear. You can most definitely change into hiking clothes and then put that wedding gear back on once you get to your destination!
Layers are a must when you’re climbing from one elevation to another! In the summer, a light coat or windbreaker will suffice – maybe nude leggings just in case you’re used to warmer temperatures. In the fall, prepare with a rain jacket and rain boots! You’ll also see why flowy dresses are best; you can wear layers under for warmth. During the winter, long johns are essential to keep warm especially if you’re baring your shoulders. Try to accessorize with fur coats, fluffy scarves, and the like if possible.
Don’t leave your feet out in the cold either, and I don’t just mean wintertime. If you’re hiking to various photography spots, comfortable hiking shoes are a must. You definitely don’t want your feet in pain on this important day! Pretty shoes can always be slung over the shoulder or carried in a backpack to change into.
Things to do for your Alaska elopement
I can’t even begin to tell you the sheer abundance of hiking trails in Alaska! When you have millions of acres shared between Denali National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Reserve and Katmai National Park and Reserve, hiking is an absolute must.
With so many lakes, coasts, and generous waterways, kayaking gives a new perspective on Alaskan landscapes. Looking up at the fjords from sea level is especially humbling.
Maybe you’ve already planned for a glacier elopement, where helicopter rides are part of the package! If not, definitely sling yourself into the air for those gorgeous aerial shots of both mountains and fjords.
Skimming low over the water and hovering above the tree line, bush planes are a great way to take in Alaska’s vastness! You’ll also get to visit the heart of the Alaskan wilderness where other vehicles can’t access.
Bear viewing tour
But don’t just hop onto any old bear viewing tour! Take a flight to Katmai National Park and Preserve for the ultimate bear spotting experience. Brown bears are populous at this nature reserve!
Arctic Circle Tour
It’s worth the extra travel to cross into the Arctic Circle! From dog sledding to midnight Northern Lights drives and studying the Trans-Alaska-Pipeline, it’s a much-anticipated experience no Alaska elopement is complete without.
Chartering a yacht for fishing or private dinner
What’s more romantic than a meal on water? If you’re considering unique but low-energy activities, chartering a yacht could be a great option.
Foodies simply have to try the local fare, especially if you’re touring around the state. Of course, you must try fresh seafood!
There’s nothing more spellbinding than cruising through a glacier package. Take advantage of Alaska’s ferry system for a unique sightseeing tour! In particular, for those basing out of Juneau or Skagway, venture through the Inside Passage. You can hop on and off charming coastal towns like Juneau, Ketchikan, and tiny islets.
Riding the Alaskan railway
Another classic itinerary is taking the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. It’s a quick and comfortable way of experiences the mountain passes!
If you time your trip right, whale watching can be on offer! Join tours for maximum spotting potential and to learn about the migration process. Alaskan wildlife is fascinating and an integral part of their history!
From skiing to dog sledding, snowshoe hiking to chasing the Northern Lights on snowmobiles – there’s no end to winter sports. Want something calmer? Try ice fishing or slow glacier treks!
Brush up on Alaskan history
I believe you leave a little of yourself behind at every place you visit, so why not take some of the places with you too? Drop by Anchorage Museum or Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about local culture!
I hope you don’t feel too overwhelmed by the possibilities! I’m here to help you bring your vision to life, putting together a personalized and private celebration. Make a checklist of things you’d like to see or do and we’ll start from there. Dream big – the opportunities are endless.
I’d be SO stoked to help you get started planning your dream Alaska Elopement! You can >>CONTACT ME<< to get started planning your epic day!!
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