How to elope in McCall, Idaho (2024)

McCall is a sleepy mountain town in winter and bustling in summer. I grew up skiing in McCall in the winter and hiking there in the summer. This little piece of the outdoors is one of my favorite places in Idaho and I am so excited to share my guide on how to elope in McCall, Idaho with you!

Here is a little more info about McCall, Idaho: McCall sits 2.5 hours north of Boise on the Payette Lake. If you are coming from out of state you would fly into Boise and rent a car to drive to McCall. Once you arrive in McCall you find a variety of accommodations, restaurants and several grocery stories. Outdoor recreation opportunities include boating, hiking, fishing and camping. You can learn more about McCall by clicking here

Now that you know a little about the area, let’s jump into how to elope in McCall, Idaho.

Now that you know a little about the area, let’s jump into how to elope in McCall, Idaho.
A groom and bride dance on a flat rock in front of an alpine lake in McCall, Idaho. This couple eloped at sunset with their two dogs.

1. Hire an elopement photographer

I recommend beginning your elopement planning journey with finding an elopement photographer. Photographers that specialize in elopements offer a package service that will make planning your elopement so easy. This type of service will help you create an elopement experience that is stress free and produces beautiful photographs.

Did you know I’m an elopement photographer + planner?

My name is Autumn and I’m an elopement photographer that helps couples elope in the mountains of Idaho. I’ve photographed 65+ elopements and hiked 100’s of miles in Idaho’s backcountry.

How to Elope in McCall, Idaho Pro Tip: Hire a local elopement photographer! They will know all the best locations and local vendors.

I offer elopement packages in McCall, Idaho

Elopement packages include elopement planning help, location scouting, officiant services and elopement day photography coverage. Learn more about my McCall Elopement Packages here.

Want to see some elopements I have helped plan and photograph in McCall?

2. Choose a time of year

Time of year will have an impact on how you plan your McCall elopement. If you are into hiking and camping, think July-September. If you love winter, think January-February. Wildfires are becoming a way of life during the summer and fall in the Northwest. You will have a better chance at a clear day if you elope in spring or early summer. Here are a few considerations for each season: 

1. Summer

McCall is busiest in the summertime. It is just a few hours from Boise and a lot of people use it as a weekend getaway. The lake is a big draw and you will find it packed on the weekends. Campgrounds are also busy during the summer time. Peak season for tourism is July – September. If you are eloping in peak season I would suggest that you consider a weekday. This will give you privacy and allow you to enjoy the lake without a thousand other people.

A groom hugs his bride while they both look off into the setting sun. The bride is holding a bouquet from Rust + Thistle Floral company in Boise.
Rust + Thistle is a Boise Florist that serves McCall, Idaho.

2. Fall

McCall has a short fall. The Aspen’s begin to turn mid-late September and by Mid October the colors are gone. 

3. Winter

Winter is considerably quieter in McCall. Brundage Mountain Ski Area and snowmobiling is a draw for winter time tourism. During the winter you can elope on a weekend and still have a private day. Winter in McCall is from December-February. 

A bride and groom stand together after their elopement ceremony in Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho.

3. Spring

Spring months to elope are May-June. Snowpack will determine where you can drive and hike in the springtime. Some of my favorite locations at the end of Payette Lake open up when they plow the road in Mid May.

How to Elope in McCall. Idaho Pro Tip: Elope on a weekday! You will have a more intimate experience if you plan your elopement for a week day because you won’t be sharing public lands with others. 

3. Design your elopement day

This is the fun part! Here you get to daydream about all the fun stuff you want to do during your elopement and then you get to start making your dreams reality. Start by thinking about where you see yourself saying your vows. Are you in the trees, on top of a mountain, or standing by a river? Then think about what things you would like to do as a newly married couple. Are you hiking, canoeing, or snowmobiling together?

A couple walks through a mountain meadow during their elopement in McCall, Idaho.

1. Choose an elopement location in McCall

After choosing the time of year you would like to elope, turn your attention to finding an elopement location within an hour of McCall. Here are a few types for choosing the perfect elopement location!

Look for a location that is secluded! There is nothing worse than having a group of people come along when we are in the middle of exchanging your vows. The best way to find a private place is to get away from popular day use areas. AKA, you need to strap your hiking boots on to get your booty into nature.

An eloping couple stands together touching foreheads in a yellow and red sea of fall colors in McCall, Idaho. The bride is wearing a wedding dress with a collar and the groom is wearing a dark brown vest and blue shirt.
A bride and groom stand peacefully together with the rising sun behind them. They are standing on large rocks along Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho. There are pine trees around them.

Alltrails is a great place to start then looking for trails to hike for your McCall elopement. However, I am a huge fan of utilizing local resources! Here is a link to a hiking guide for McCall written by an Idaho native: click here.

Second, look for a location that has a lot to offer in terms of scenery. This will give you variety in your photos and also allow you to explore a cool location for your elopement. I personally love hikes with alpine lakes! The water will give you beautiful reflections in the evening and the surrounding landscape will give dynamic backgrounds at sunset. 

McCall elopement location ideas

Payette Lake has something for everyone. North Beach is a beautiful white sand beach that covers most of the end of the lake. If you visit the east side of the lake you can find house sided boulders nestled among old grow pine trees.

A couple elopes in Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho.

Ponderosa State Park sits on a peninsula that extends into Payette Lake. The park is open year round and offers both winter and summer activities. It hosts a variety of wooded areas with trails for hiking and biking. The North Fork of the Payette River meets the lake within the park and offers a wonderful place to canoe and kayak. There is one road within the park that loops around to a beautiful cliff top vista of the lake. During the winter months the road and a number of the trails are groomed for snowshoeing and cross country skiing use. The park also offers camping and cabins rentals.

McCall wedding venues

If you are eloping with family that does not plan on going on a big adventure, you might consider renting a venue space to celebrate with them and then plan an adventure for your couples photos. You can find a full list of wedding venues in the McCall area by clicking here.

No Business Lodge is a wedding venue located in McCall, Idaho.

2. Decide on your elopement activities

Many couples that chose to elope are doing so in conjunction with a honeymoon trip. They come and get married the first few days they are in the area and then spend the remainder of their trip adventuring in that location.

When you are creating your elopement day, start by researching activities in that area and then pick 1-2 that you would like to do during your elopement. This could be hiking, canoeing, taking a chairlift ride or an adventure auto tour. After you have your activities picked out you can start planning how you are going to incorporate each activity into your wedding day.

Eloping couple stands together at sunrise in McCall, Idaho.

3. Create a timeline

Creating a timeline is supper important for your elopement day! It will help you stay on track! Especially, if you are eloping with family. Adventure elopes often have several locations and a solid timeline will help you arrive on time to each location. Below is an example timeline for an 9 hour elopement day:

  • 5:00 am – Meet at Airbnb, getting ready photos, detail photos
  • 6:15 am – Leave Airbnb, head to Payette Lake
  • 7:00 am – Meet at sunrise location, sunrise first look & portraits
  • 8:30 am – Meet family at North Beach Rec. Area, get ready for ceremony
  • 9:00 am – Ceremony on the beach
  • 9:30 am – Ceremony wraps up, wedding party & family photos 
  • 10:00 am – Photo coverage wraps up until afternoon hiking photos
  • 6:00 pm – Meet at Louie Lake trailhead and hike into Louie Lake for sunset photos
  • 9:00 pm – Photo coverage wraps up

How to Elope in McCall, Idaho Pro Tip: Elope at sunrise! Sunrise skies are clearer, even during fire season, than sunset skies. AND there is something so peaceful about saying your vows at sunrise.

4. Find lodging

Next you will want to find lodging for your McCall, Idaho elopement. In McCall, you will find a mix of Airbnbs and hotels. Camping is also an option with Ponderosa State Park located within McCall City limits and there are several campgrounds within 20 miles of McCall.

If you are considering renting lodging that will double as your venue space make sure you confirm with the rental company that the property allows events. Many of the rentals in McCall do not allow onsite events.

A bride ties her hiking boot on the foot of a bed during her elopement.

Hotels/Lodges

  1. Shore Lodge is located on Payette Lake and  is a full service resortt. It hosts a spa, pool, several restaurants, beach access and a dock.
  2. Hotel McCall is located in the heart of downtown McCall and has a historic feel.
  3. Scandia Inn is located in downtown McCall and is newly remodeled. It’s beautiful!

5. Book your vendors

A solid team of vendors is so important to your elopement day! You want to be able to know that everything is taken care of and in order for your element. If you are eloping in McCall with just the two of you, you will want to find an elopement photographer, officiant, florist, attire and food.

If you are eloping with family and interested in a traditional reception you should consider including a planner/styles for your elopement. You will also want to find an elopement photographer, florist, officiant and a cater.

An eloping couple stands with their backs to the camera on a rock ledge in McCall, Idaho. They are wearing backpacks and there are 'just married' signs hanging from the backpacks.

Officiant

Idaho requires your wedding to be signed off on by an ordained officiant, so you will need to find an officiant and get your marriage license. A marriage license and officiant will cost between $200-$400. Here is a blog about getting your married license in Idaho.

I am a licensed officiant

I am an elopement photographer that is also an ordained officiant in the state of Idaho. If you choose to elope just the two of you or do not wish to bring an officiant along I can sign your paperwork for you.

Florist

Farm to Market Floral Design is the only florist located in McCall. Rust + Thistle and Atwill are florists located in Boise that service McCall. 

Petal Works Idaho is a Boise florist that serves McCall, Idaho.
Eloping coupe embraces with pine trees and sagebrush behind them during their McCall, Idaho elopement.

Attire

If your heart longs for a wedding dress that dances in the wind you should check out Daci Gowns. Daci’s designs feature lace and silk materials and are handmade in Boise, Idaho. If you want to add a little western flare to your outfit, check out Hells Canyon Bolo Co.!

Food

I am a big fan of charcuterie boards! They are great for a picnic style celebration. They can be ordered in a box and will fit in a backpack. Savory n’ Sweet is located in Boise and makes beautiful boards! Incahoots BBQ is a local McCall caterer and has amazing food!

How to Elope in McCall, Idaho Pro Tip: Bring snacks and water on your elopement hike! Food is always overlooked but no one wants to be hangery on their wedding day! 

A bride and groom stand apart on two rocks. The bride is wearing an orange leather jacket. This couple eloped in McCall, Idaho.

6. Elope

When your elopement day arrives you will be calm and stress free because you have taken all the steps necessary to have a wonderful elopement in McCall, Idaho. And that’s a wrap! I hope my ultimate guide on how to elope in McCall, Idaho helps you plan your dream elopement!