Your Guide to Eloping in the Winter

A couple walks through the snow together at the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon Elopement

How + Where to Elope in the Winter

winter-elopement-locations

Why elope in the Winter?

Eloping in the winter offers you a lot of things that may get over looked. While every elopement is already different from the other, we are big fans of including unique ideas into your elopement day. These are our top reasons for considering a Winter elopement

  • Less crowds. Hiking destinations have become very popular over the last several years. Many National Parks now require entry tickets because they have become so busy. Visiting an area in the winter offers you less crowds to really enjoy the place you decide to elope. Not to mention, some places are simply best to visit in Winter!
  • You can enjoy some winter sports during your elopement! Maybe you and your partner have connected the most while snow shoeing, skiing, snow boarding, cross country skiing or winter camping! These are all things you can enjoy during your elopement day if you choose to elope in the winter!
  • How romantic is a snowy wonderland?? Some of the locations you can elope at in the winter are simply stunning! Snow adds that extra element of romance, beauty, and stillness. It makes for beautiful photos and scenery.

Best Places to Elope in the Winter

Arizona

Sedona

Sedona is a popular place to elope in Arizona year round. The great thing about winter there is that the temperatures can still be pretty moderate, but there are way crowds. Sedona used to be quiet in the winter, but it has truly become a year round destination now. However, it is still more private than in the height of season, April through October. If you are lucky, you can experience Snow-dona! The red rocks contrasted with the white snow is so magical. Best part? The snow usually melts within a few hours or a couple of days. The snow is not something you have to worry about regarding not being able to do what you want.

A couple walks through the snow together on a winter day in sedona.
Sedona Snowy Elopement

Phoenix

Phoenix really comes to life in the winter, the heat is finally gone and it is time to hit the nearby trails (Planning to hike during your elopement?)! Temperatures are great this time of year here!! This is really the time that people are outdoors in this area. Unlike most places in the country, Phoenix is actually much more pleasant in the winter, where outdoor restaurants and events experience a boom in traffic.

Tucson

Tucson is a lot like Phoenix when it comes to winter weather. However, while Mt Lemmon may be a popular rock climbing and hiking area the rest of the year, during the winter it becomes a popular place for skiing! Do not worry though if skiing is not your jam there are still many areas to hike and explore from Saguaro National Park to nearby National Forest Lands. Some trails even include waterfalls!

a couple kissing at the Grand Canyon. she wears a pink gown and carries a bouquet, while he wears a black vest and white shirt, embracing her face.
Kanab, Utah Winter Elopement

Utah

Moab

While there are several areas you can elope in Utah in the winter, I am only listing Moab though. Moab tends to be slightly warmer than the Zion area and has more accessibility than the surrounding Salt Lake City mountain ranges. These areas are great places to elope in Utah, but I think for a winter elopement Moab would be best! As you may know the National parks in Moab have a ticket system to enter because they are so busy during season. However, in the winter, Moab is quiet! BUT you can still off road, you can still hike, you can still climb (Thinking about including rock climbing in your elopement day?) and more. It is a great time to go, just layer up. Just like Sedona, if you get to see snow here it is stunning!! No matter what the La Sal Mountains will be snow capped in the background of several desert locations.

A bride plays with the fabric of her dress while in the light surrounded by a dark canyon.
Moab Winter Elopement

California

Death Valley National Park

In the summer visiting Death Valley can frankly be dangerous with how hot the temperatures get. However, in the winter it is lovely to be here and you guessed it, less busy! You can spend your elopement day here in the park exploring mountains, sand dunes, colorful rocks and salt flats. Then for your honey moon you can go ski in Mammoth nearby, climb in Alabama Hills or spend your time in Vegas celebrating!

Joshua Tree National Park

While every year lately Joshua Tree gets some snow, it is not much and does not stay long. The Joshua Trees look even more out worldly when they are graced with snow. However, on a non-snowy day in J Tree it is just like any other time of the year – you can climb, hike, off road, horse back ride, etc. What is missing? Crowds. This is the one time of the year it is easy to go to Key’s View for sunset!!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of those classic National Parks that for sure gets visited every season! Yosemite National Park looks like a winter snow globe – it is magical. While two of the main roads in the park are closed during the winter season, the valley is still open and accessible which means views of El Cap and Half Dome. In the winter is when you can experience the fire falls, which only happens once a year.

Washington

Washington can be really sunny and dry in the summer, but in the winter it is moody and often raining. But the rain isn’t usually torrential, and is typically a light mist. If you think of Twilight when you think of Washington then you are thinking winter. Even on a cloudy day here in the winter it is beautiful with the ever greens and clouds, the flowing waterfalls and snow covered trees. Unlike other mountain regions of the United States, winters here are pretty mild. We get a lot of snow, but we don’t have the super cold temperatures all winter.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is the most diverse park in the state. It is also a fantastic elopement location YEAR ROUND!!! Like truly, one of the best elopement locations in the United States, but hey that is just my opinion! Okay, so in the winter here you can – ski, tube, snow shoe, hike, soak in a hot spring, back pack (thinking of backpacking during your elopement?), go to the beach and visit a rainforest. Yeah…..it is pretty great! You can experience snow for sure or totally avoid it, the park is big and diverse.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth, Washington in the summer is known for its epic trails and in the fall for the larches turning golden. In the winter Leavenworth becomes this beautiful mountain Christmas town. Sure you can snowshoe or ski nearby, but you can feed reindeer, ride in a horse drawn sleigh through the town filled with lights and drink hot chocolate by a fire. This is a great a place for a winter elopement with or without adventure.

Mt Baker Ski Area

During the Summer this area is known for Artist Point, but in the winter it is simply Mount Baker Ski area. This mountain on average gets the most snow in the lower 48! This is one of the top areas for skiing in Washington State. It is also known as a beautiful snow shoe hike up to Artist point to see Mt Baker. This 4 mile hike is loved by beginners and experienced winter adventurers. You will also find many people snow camping or cross country skiing. On the weekdays it can be pretty quiet on the mountain, but the weekends can be quite busy, especially on a fresh powder day. On your way up the mountain you will pass waterfalls and an eagle watching area by the river. This can be a great place to spend a cozy winter elopement weekend.

The groom skis past the bride on this snowy mountain during a winter wedding.

Oregon

Bend, Oregon

Bend is a high desert town with access to nearby hot springs, Crater Lake National Park and many mountains. In the Summer this town is busy with folks visiting, golfing, floating the river, hiking and climbing. In the winter most people visit to ski Mt Bachelor or Hoodoo Mountain. There are still many trails you can snow shoe on and of course soak in some of those hot springs!

Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is accessible year round. In the winter the vibe is much more moody on the coast, but the coast has less people on it and is still magical to visit. Out at Cannon Beach many more of the elk get more comfortable with visiting the beach with less people around. Depoe Bay on the more central part of the coast is known for whale watching during this time. No matter what, the coast line is hit with powerful big dramatic waves in the winter, making for a site to experience on your elopement day.

Mt Hood

In the Winter Mt Hood becomes the hot spot in Oregon. Here you will find SO much skiing!! While a lot of the trails and roads become closed, the mountain is in a stunning blanket of snow and you can access a beautiful lake view of the mountain and some waterfalls. If you are into skiing for your elopement you for sure want to consider this area.

A couple stands together along the Oregon coast waiting for sunset
Oregon Coast Elopement

Winter Elopement Locations Abroad…..

Iceland

I am a huge fan of Iceland in the winter! It is like you entered your own personal snow globe. There are hardly any crowds anywhere. That being said, their winters are harsh and not for the light of heart and there is not much sunlight. Although, the trade off for such a stunning landscape is so worth it. Sitting in a hot spring surrounded by snow is so enchanting! Having those stunning views to your self is even better. I do not recommend the Northern part of Iceland in the winter, but the Vík area is awesome!

If you are looking to escape the Winter weather all together and find a little bit of a warmer paradise you may consider Belize, Spain, Anguilla, Bermuda, Peru or Costa Rica!

How to Prepare for your Winter Elopement!

What to pack for a Winter Elopement?

Eloping in the winter requires some extra planning and packing! Some things you for sure want to pack for your winter elopement are:

(some of these include affiliate links, all to items we personally use and some we even have in our own winter bridal kit!)

  • Gloves
  • Hand warmers and sticky warmers
  • Multiple layers that you will love getting photographed in. We can’t stress this one enough. For a bride I highly recommend wool tights (you can get something in your skin color or the color of your dress!) and for grooms I highly recommend thermals underneath the suit. Comfort is key to a good experience!!
  • Proper shoes – this may be a water proof hiking boot, this may be snow boots, but also consider proper warm socks.
  • A hat (You can still get a cute bridal one!)
  • Water/Food/snacks for the trail – This one is crucial year round and can sometimes get overlooked during the excitement.
  • Headlights, always crucial to carry even if we have a simple plan in place.

Okay, so that covers a good starting point for what you’ll need to bring along for your winter elopement, however if we’ll be playing in avalanche terrain there are a few crucial things everyone should have on them! We won’t go into great detail here as going into the backcountry where avalanche potential is a real concern can’t be adequately covered in this blog. But just for a brief note on the subject, be sure to at the very least have your main 3 life lines!

  • Avalanche Transciever
  • Shovel
  • Probe

If you are eloping in an area in the winter that will have snow, you want to stay on top of the weather the week of the elopement day, check out the road conditions and check check in with the Forest Service or National Park site to make sure things are open and safe. The higher up you go in elevation and the more mountainous the terrain, the quicker the weather system can change unexpectedly. Be prepared to drive on snow with having the proper tires, chains if needed and a 4×4 vehicle. If you’ll be entering an area where any type of services are hard to come by, then be sure to have plenty of gas, emergency rations, and ways to stay warm. Whether holding your winter elopement in an accessibly friendly location or in a remote paradise, with proper planning it’s extremely unlikely that any of the emergency items will be important to have on hand, so we certainly aren’t trying to stress you out with this list! But like all things of this nature, it’s best to have them if you need them.

How to plan a Winter Elopement?

The number one thing to think about when it comes to planning any elopement during any time of the year is to place yourself in the experience first. What we mean by this, is one of the biggest factors that draws us and our couples together is that this is your wedding day and one of the reasons you’re likely looking to skip the traditional route is that you value the experience over the fluff. From the moment you wake up, until the moment you go to bed as a married couple, it’s a day completely centered around you two.

To address the photography element, not only have we captured hundreds of couples love stories, but we also have a huge background in photography education, had attended college for photography, provide education to aspiring photographers ourselves, and before moving into the elopement world, we used to photograph in the commercial world with lots of varying clients. All of this to say, we are confident that we can capture those stunning images no matter what location we are capturing. That isn’t a concern that you should ever worry about with us tagging along on your elopement day.

When it comes to the planning stage, planning assistance is a huge part of what we provide our couples. But all of our expertise and suggestions boil down to a collaboration between us where we bring your dream elopement day to life. We suggest our couples hold a date night in a way that feels authentic to them and go over all of the important details they’d like to include during their day. It doesn’t have to be perfectly mapped out by any means, but a strong framework. The details like suit color, type of bouquet, or cake topper are not what I’m talking about here. We ask our couples to reflect on what activities do you want to include in their day. We have a great blog that goes over elopement day timeline examples which will showcase what we’re referring to here. Given the subject of eloping in the winter, here is a checklist to get the brainstorming started!

  • Are you envisioning snow on the ground? Snow capped mountains? No snow at all?
  • Maybe mornings are something you and your partner share together before rushing off to a busy day. Would you like to share your morning coffee while writing your vows to be shared in the evening as you watch the sunrise?
  • Will your closest loved ones be there or will it just be you and your partner?
  • What activities do you love? Do you want to play in the snow, maybe have a cute little snowball fight? Would you like to play your favorite board game together before heading out?
  • What does your elopement ceremony look like? What can you see, how do you feel while you’re there?

These are just a small list of thoughts, but it’s to set the intention in the right direction. Yes, 100% choose a location where the aesthetic calls to you, but we promise you that your experience together on the day is what you’ll cherish for the years to come and the beautiful photos will be a permanent reflection of that day and those moments you shared. You’d much rather look back at each photo with a smile that comes from deep in your heart rather than being reminded of an experience you toughed it out for just to get some pretty images.

What to wear to a Winter Elopement?

This one also ties heavily into the experience. We’ve photographed elopements in every season under every weather condition. The number one mood killer is when a couple is too cold! Considering we’re talking about a winter elopement, what you wear is much more crucial than many other times of the year.

We mentioned it earlier, but the key to staying comfortable is picking layers that you’d love to get photographed in. You don’t want to show up in your warmest but least favorite jacket to have to take it on and off for every photo. Yes, we definitely are stoked for the courageous bride who wants to show off the beautiful dress at a stunning vista without any extra layers on, but we can’t emphasize enough that this should be a part of the experience, not the entire day of braving through the cold.

So when it comes to what to wear, refer to the weather in the area you’ll be eloping in and be sure to dress appropriately. If it’ll be cold, grooms usually have it a bit easier. They can layer up with thicker socks and thermals without it being noticeable. For the bride, if the dress allows it (Here are some tips for selecting a dress for an elopement!), thicker leggings underneath can make a huge difference. Gloves with some hand warmers activated and slipped inside can bring a ton of comfort if the weather is quite chilly. If it’s especially cold, be sure to wear the proper footwear, and you can even slip in some foot warmers for your toes! If you’ll be facing some rain, then a rain jacket that you love is important, but also clear umbrellas so your faces aren’t hidden from the camera!

The bride and groom hold hands together and celebrate after a ceremony in the mountains during the winter
A portrait of an elopement photography team.

Your Winter Elopement Photography Team

Hi – ya! We are Bill + Traci your elopement photography team that is not scared of the cold temperatures, snow or anything else that comes with it!!

We are based in the North Cascades of Washington and love the beauty the mountains take on in the Winter blanketed in snow. The gets slower, the world gets quieter. It’s a beautiful, cozy time to get married.

We photographed elopements year round for years now. We can help plan a dream Winter elopement and capture your story to cherish forever.

A couple walks through the snow together in the desert.

Tell us in the comments where would you elope in the winter!!!


28 Responses

  1. Love, love, love all these! Such great elopement inspiration (which feels so relevant right now!) Outdoor wedding ceremonies have to be the way forward. And such super-awesome and inspiring images – I wanna get married all over again!

  2. Yes! Just because the weather is cooler, doesn’t mean that winter isn’t a viable option for an elopement. There are so many great possibilities for eloping in the winter time!

  3. These locations all sound so magical! Honestly who wouldn’t want to enjoy a winter wonderland? That last photo among the hoodoos in the snow is epic

  4. I’ve been dying to visit Arizona and Utah! Amazing article, and good motivation for those who think they can’t elope during the winter!

  5. Wow! Who knew Winter offered so many amazing options and places to get married?! Such good elopement inspo!

  6. So many awesome locations to consider– thanks for putting this together. Btw I LOVE that you put a pinterest specific photo in here so peeps can save to their boards, very smart!

  7. I’ve surprised myself and think I’d go with Arizona! Flagstaff sounds like a blast and it’s been too long since I went skiing.

  8. Great information here and some wonderful locations! I love the look of the more ‘desert’ locations covered in snow, such a different vibe than a summer elopement and I love it!

  9. ohhh, I’d have to go with Iceland! I’ve been dreaming of visiting there for ages! Love all these locations though so hard to choose!

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