How to Elope in Alaska

Why you should elope in Alaska

There are so many incredible elopement locations around the world, you might think it’s hard to distinguish the most EPIC place of them all, right? Well not exactly. As an elopement photographer who has traveled far and wide, I can tell you there is one place that rivals them all – Alaska. 

Alaska is unlike any place I have ever been. With humbling landscapes, ancient glaciers, wildlife everywhere you look, and the most KIND locals you will ever meet – it’s truly a special place. With so much opportunity for adventure and exploration, you could never get bored. Whether you want to elope on a glacier, or take a helicopter to a rugged mountain top, or kayak through an iceberg lagoon, Alaska has it all. You will literally feel like you are in an episode of Planet Earth when you are exploring Alaska – seriously! It’s that crazy! I got to see wild orcas hunting in fjords, trekk on a glacier and feel it crack beneath my feet, watch seals lounging on icebergs, and witness glaciers calving into the ocean. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and you could experience it on the day you get married. 

As an elopement expert (I’ve been doing this for over 5 years now), I know what makes a great elopement location, and I can honestly say that Alaska checks all the boxes! So keep reading, because I am gonna lay out everything you need to know to plan an adventurous, meaningful elopement in the Alaskan wilderness.

Getting to Alaska

First off, let’s talk about actually getting to Alaska! It might feel like a far away place (and it is), but it’s also pretty easy to get to! Flights usually range from $450 – $1000 depending on where you are flying out of, with lots of nonstop options! Typically I’d recommend flying into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Anchorage is the perfect base to start your trip, before heading out on all your adventures. Alaska is huge, but Anchorage is somewhat centrally located between all the areas you might want to explore, such as the coastal fjords, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks (one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights). Anchorage also has tons of amenities, so it’s also the perfect place to charter a bush plane to a more remote location if that’s on the agenda 😉

When to elope in Alaska

Summer:

Summer is one of the best times of year to elope in Alaska! You’ll experience gorgeous wildflowers (fireweed being especially prominent), moody low hanging clouds that are stunning, lush greenery, waterfalls, vibrant colors, and tons of wildlife. Summer will also be the season that provides the most adventure and accessibility. You’ll be able to hike, ATV, kayak, trekk on glaciers, charter helicopters, and access most locations and trails! You’ll also get to experience long daylight hours, which means the adventure never stops! The best months to have a summer elopement are June – August in Alaska. 

Fall:

Fall in Alaska is absolutely stunning, but short lived! Most Alaskan’s like to say that Alaska really only has 2 seasons – summer and winter. While of course Alaska still does experience a gorgeous fall, it comes and goes so quickly that they just lump it all together. It’s almost impossible to predict exactly when the fall colors will peak. This depends on a variety of factors such as location, weather, elevation etc., but the month of September is usually a pretty good time to plan for! At this time of year, the weather will start to get a little more chilly, and the landscape will turn vibrant warm colors. This is also a fantastic time of year to plan for, because you might have a chance of spotting the northern lights.

Winter:

A winter elopement in Alaska would be an absolute dream! I can’t think of a cooler place to explore! An Alaskan winter elopement could include activities like dog sledding, snowshoeing, exploring ice caves, and snowmobiling. Imagine renting a cozy cabin, heading out for a winter adventure, then ending the day in front of the fireplace sipping hot chocolate! The daylight hours during winter will be short, but you can still pack a lot of fun in! The top reason though that you should elope in Alaska during the winter is the chance at seeing the northern lights! The winter months are when they are most prominent, especially in places like Fairbanks! If you want your best shot at seeing the northern lights, plan to elope sometime in March because that is when they peak. 

Where to elope in Alaska

Choosing where you want to elope in Alaska is going to probably be one of the most important parts of this entire process! I am a big believer that the place you choose to say your vows is so important.  Luckily Alaska is breathtaking no matter where you are, so you really can’t go wrong with any spot! When narrowing down where you want to elope in Alaska, consider these factors:

 

Scenery:

Alaska is obviously massive, with a huge range of diverse landscapes to choose from, so narrowing down your location will probably be one of the hardest parts about this whole process! There are so many different types of landscapes and areas to explore – from coastal vibes, to rugged mountains, to glaciers. Try envisioning the location that you want to say your vows. Do you see meadows filled with wildflowers, turquoise lakes, rugged fjords, or vast glaciers? If it feels impossible to choose, luckily you don’t have to! Alaska has SO many incredible spots, it’s easy to explore multiple incredible locations all within the same day. For a bonus, you can always charter a private helicopter tour, and really see it all!

Accessibility:

Alaska is literally made for adventure! There are so many incredible excursions and adventures you can do, such as chartering a helicopter, taking a private boat tour through the fjords, kayaking through glacial lagoons, hiking into remote mountains, taking a train ride to a secluded glacial lake, or riding a tram to the top of a mountain. When considering where you want to elope in Alaska, you’ll need to decide how much effort you want to put in to get to your location! If you are including guests in your day, maybe opt for a more easily accessible ceremony location (such as a mountain pass you can drive up to, or a lake that’s just a short walk from the parking lot), and then head out on a more adventurous excursion afterwards! You can also always plan for a 2-day elopement! With how vast Alaska is, I can’t think of a better place to spend 2 days adventuring for your wedding.

Check out this blog post I wrote about the Best Alaska Elopement Locations for more ideas on where to elope in Alaska!

Alaska Trip Itinerary

You can’t elope in Alaska without planning to at least spend a few days exploring the area. There is seriously so much to see and do, so here is a fun itinerary to get you started:

Day 1: 

  • Arrive in Anchorage
  • Eat at Moose’s Tooth for some of the best pizza in the country!!
  • Relax after a long day of travel!

Day 2: 

Day 3: 

Day 4:

  • Explore Whittier 
  • Check out Portage Lake
  • Hike to Byron Glacier 

Day 5:

  • Head to Seward – enjoy the insane roadside scenery as you drive 
  • Hike to Exit Glacier – continue on to the Harding Ice Field for a more challenging hike
  • Eat at The Cookery – make reservations in advance! 

Day 6:

  • Walk the Tonsina Creek Trail
  • Explore the Lowell point tide pools
  • Take a tour of the Kenai Fjords
  • Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center 

Where to stay for your Alaskan Elopement

Alaska has plenty of traditional hotels, but here are some of the more unique lodging options that might take your elopement experience to the next level! Eloping really is all about the experience, so I always recommend splurging in an awesome place that you will feel comfortable in!

Alaska elopement ideas / Things to do in Alaska

Alaska seriously has so much to do. Here are a few ideas that you can plan either for your elopement day, or anytime during your trip!

  • Trekk on the Matanuska Glacier 
  • See the northern lights 
  • Take a helicopter tour 
  • Explore ice caves 
  • Visit a reindeer farm 
  • Go dog sledding 
  • Ride ATV’s into the mountains 
  • Hike to an overlook 
  • Take a boat tour through the fjords 
  • Go whale watching 
  • Kayak through glacial lagoon
  • Take a train to a glacial lake
  • See the brown bears in Katmai National Park
  • Visit Kodiak Island 
  • Visit Denali National Park 
  • Explore the Gates of the Arctic 
  • Stay on a private secluded island

How to get legally married in Alaska

Marriage License:

In order to get legally married in Alaska, you first need to obtain a marriage license! To do so, you’ll need to submit your Marriage License Application, and pay the $60 fee. Once you submit the application, there will be a 3 day waiting period before you can pick up your license and get married – so make sure to plan for this when you are planning your trip itinerary! You can also mail in your application if needed! Once you receive the marriage license, it will be valid for 3 months. 

You will also need 2 witnesses and an officiant to perform the ceremony! I am ordained, and can help out with that if need be!

Permits:

You may or may not need a Special Use Permit for your elopement in Alaska, depending on where you elope! Typically a Special Use Permit will range from $150 – $300! Permitting processes can be tricky to navigate, so make sure you hire an incredible photographer (like me 🙂) who can help you with this!

Alaska Elopement Vendors

The vendors you choose to hire for your elopement day will have a big impact on how it all comes together! When you are eloping, you can prioritize what you spend your money on, so you can pick and choose which vendors you want to invest in for your elopement! Here are a few different vendors you might want to consider hiring for your day:

Photography:

Well of course I’m gonna say photography haha! As an elopement photographer myself, I might be a bit biased, but I truly think photography is the most important thing you can invest your money in for your elopement. You are planning such an incredible, one in a lifetime experience – it’s so important to walk away with beautiful memories of it all. My best advice is to book your photographer before you do anything else! A great photographer will be able to help you plan your day from start to finish, by recommending incredible location options, fun activities, amazing places to stay, and crafting a timeline of the day. Not only will your photographer provide you with incredible photos, but they will also basically serve as your planner as well, making the experience so stress free and FUN.

As far as elopement photographers go, of course I’m gonna recommend myself for this one! I take some pretty good photos, and work my butt of to ensure you have an incredible experience. Reach out here if you want to chat more about your day.

Florists:

Florals are such a great way to add a special touch to your day, even if you just get a small bouquet! This is one vendor I almost always recommend investing in! Here are a few of the best florists in Alaska:

Hair and Makeup Artist:

About half my brides will hire a hair and makeup artist, and about half will end up doing it themselves! This is a great vendor to splurge on if you think it will make you feel your absolute best on your elopement day! Here are a few of the best Hair & Makeup artists in Alaska:

Officiant:

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m ordained and can help with marrying you, so an officiant is not necessary! Some couples still choose to hire one though because they want someone to lead their ceremony. Here are a few of the best Officiants in Alaska:

Helicopter tours:

If you want to truly explore all that Alaska has to offer, then booking a private helicopter charter is the way to go! It doesn’t get more Alaskan than this! A helicopter tour will seriously take your elopement to the next level. Here are a few of the best tour companies in Alaska:

How much does it cost to elope in Alaska

The cost of your elopement day can vary pretty widely, depending on the type of elopement you have. Obviously a more simple day, at an easily accessible location is going to cost less than chartering a private helicopter to elope on top of a glacier! My best advice is to figure out what your priorities are (whether it’s an adventurous excursion, beautiful views, luxury accommodations, or romantic stylish details), invest in those things, and ditch the rest! Eloping is all about doing what you want, so don’t get caught up in the things you should do.

Below, I’ve made a breakdown of what the costs are associated with eloping in Alaska, to give you a better idea of what your total costs might look like:

 

Photographer: $4,500-$8500

Wedding dress / attire: $500-$3000

Permit: $150-$300

Marriage License: $60

Officiant: $500 (but not required)

Florist: $500

H&MU: $350

Travel to Alaska / Accommodations: $1500-$2500

Helicopter Tour: $2000-$3500

Special details (personal vow books / invitation suites etc.): $45 – $200

Ready to plan your Alaskan elopement?

I specialize in helping couples plan a once in a lifetime experience for their elopement day, and I can’t recommend Alaska enough! My experience exploring the area means I have a long list of incredible spots that are perfect for your elopement.

My role as photographer goes waaaay beyond just taking incredible photos (although I do a lot of that too). I’m here to walk you through every step to plan your incredible Alaska elopement adventure. Beyond just a gallery of AMAZING photos, when you book with me you get:

  • My 70+ page elopement planning guide – exclusive only to my couples
  • A “get to know you” questionnaire so I can learn all about you two + the your dream elopement
  • A customized list of INCREDIBLE locations to choose from
  • Vendor recommendations so you can book your vendor dream team
  • Assistance with acquiring the proper permits (all the boring legal stuff)
  • A hand crafted day of elopement timeline
  • Plus any other help you need!

Let’s do this thing! Contact me here and we can get started planning your dream Alaskan elopement experience!

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Meet your elopement photographer

Hey, I'm Carissa! Intimate wedding & elopement photographer, for adventurous couples whose love takes them to the wildest corners of the earth. I can usually be found me with my couples, jeeping through the San Juan mountains, chasing sunsets in Moab, or exploring other wild destinations around the world. I care deeply about your elopement experience, and the photos you walk away with to remember it all. I'll help you plan the most unforgettable elopement day that feels like you, and document your adventure in a way that feels like art.

Based in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, and traveling worldwide.

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