A Complete Guide on How to Elope in Stanley, Idaho (2024)

You are probably here because the Sawtooth Mountains have your heart. I am so glad you have landed on my guide covering how to elope in Stanley, Idaho! In this guide you will find all the information you need to plan an elopement in the Sawtooth Mountains. 

Here is a little about Stanley, Idaho (more info here): Stanley is a small mountain town in the heart of the Sawtooths. The census found just 63 full time residents in Stanley but during the summer you will find this little down bustling with outdoor enthusiasts and summer campers. Stanley is the jumping off point for outdoor recreational activities within the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains. In Stanley you will find several hotels, a few rafting companies and a small grocery store. Stanley sits about 2.5 hours from Boise, Idaho. If you’re coming from out of state you will want to fly into Boise and rent a car to drive to Stanley.

Now that you know a little about Stanley, let’s get into how to elope in Stanley and the Sawtooth Mountains.

A couple stands together during their first look at sunrise on Stanley Lake. The rising sun is casting an alpenglow on the mountains behind the lake. The orange and pink mountains are reflecting on the lake.

1. Hire an Elopement Photographer

I recommend starting with finding a photographer for your Stanley, Idaho elopement that specializes in elopement photography. Photographers that specialize in elopements will offer location scouting, elopement planning and officiate services along with their photography. These additional services will be a big help to you and save you time and money.

Hiring a photographer is one of the biggest decisions you will make when it comes to planning your elopement. You will want to find someone that is just as wild about the outdoors as you, someone that will mesh well with your personalities and someone that will do their homework and help you plan the most epic elopement you can imagine.

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.

Couple stands together in a grass field after their Stanley, Idaho elopement ceremony.
Couple stands together in a grass field after their Stanley, Idaho elopement ceremony.
A bride smiles and hugs her groom in a mountain meadow in Stanley, Idaho. The sun is setting and highlighting the mountains behind the couple. The bride is wearing a white lace dress with a long train. The groom is wearing a black suit with a paisley undershirt.

How to elope in Stanley, Idaho Pro Tip: Hire a local photographer! They will know all the best elopement locations and have all the tools necessary to ensure you have an amazing experience in the Sawtooth Mountains. 

I Offer Elopement Packages in Stanley, Idaho

Elopement packages include elopement planning help (vendor recommendations, officiant services)and elopement day photography coverage. Learn more about how to elope in Stanley, Idaho by inquiring below. Learn more about my Stanley Elopement Packages here.

Here are some elopements I’ve helped plan and photograph in Stanley πŸ‘‡πŸ»

Stanley, Idaho Elopement Photography Permit

Any national forest location in the Sawtooth National Recreational (SNRA) area requires a commercial photography permit per the requirement of the local Forest Service office (info here). The SNRA Forest Service will not issue permits for any federally designated wilderness area. 90% of the hikes listed on Google for the Stanley area are in federally designated wilderness. It’s important for you, as the couple, to only work with a photographer that is knowledgeable of the area and will get the necessary permit to legally photograph your wedding. The cost of a photography permit from the Forest Service is between $250-$400.

2. Choose a Time of Year to Elope

Stanley is a summer destination for most visitors. Due to the elevation, most trails have snow on them until mid-May with trails over 8,000 feet seeing snow into July. Labor Day weekend is the last big weekend for visitors and September marks the end of ‘busy’ season.

Winter is much quieter around Stanley. During the winter months snowshoeing, snowmobiling and hot springing are the main draw to the area.

If seclusion is important to you I would suggest that you elope on a weekday during the summer months or elope in the off season (October-May).

An eloping couple stands with their officiant on a beach in Stanley, Idaho. There is mountains and water behind the couple.

3. Find Accommodations in Stanley, Idaho

Next you will want to find accommodations for your elopement. There are a few full service lodges, hotels, guest ranches and lots of Airbnb/cabin rentals within 20 miles of Stanley, Idaho. Camping is also an option with an abundance of campgrounds along Redfish Lake and many of the trailheads.

Accommodations Suggestions:​

Cabin Rentals/Airbnb

  1. Park Creek Ranch: This log cabin is about 10 minutes outside of Stanley. It offers unobstructed views of the mountains and is on a private road. It will sleep up to 10 guests and is $750 a night.
  2. Mountain View Home: This beautiful home sits above Stanley and is within walking distance of town. It offers views of the mountains and is on a private road. It sleeps 8 and is $400 a night.
  3. Shaw Mesa Home: This home offers 360-degree mountain views! This property is located about 20 minutes from Stanley and is on a private road. It sleeps 7 and is $395 a night.
This cabin in Stanley, Idaho is the best place to hold an elopement celebration with friends and family. The deck looks out at the mountains and the inside of the cabin is roomy.
Detail photo of elopement cake and charcuterie board sitting on a deck with mountains in the background.

Lodges/hotels

  1. Redfish Lake Redfish Lodge: Redfish Lake is about 10 minutes northeast of Stanley. Redfish Lake Lodge sits on the banks of Redfish Lake and offers beach access and views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Redfish Lake Lodge is a full service lodge with a restaurant, boat marina, and an affiliate spa located in downtown Stanley.
  2. Redfish Riverside Inn sits on the banks of the Salmon River and offers views of the Sawtooth Mountains.
  3. Triangle Cabins sits in Stanley and offers views of the Sawtooth Mountains.
A couple stands together holding lanterns at dusk. The mountains behind them are covered by mist. This couple eloped in Stanley at Redfish Lake.

Camping

  1. Redfish Outlet and Outlet Campgrounds: These two campgrounds sit close to each other along the north end of Redfish Lake. They are close to the North Shore Rec. Day use area. They are busy in summer!
  2. Point Campground (located on the west side of Redfish Lake)
  3. Glacier View Campground (located at the end of Redfish Lake)
  4. Iron Creek Campground
  5. Alturas Lake
  6. Stanley Lake Campground 

How to elope in Stanley, Idaho Pro Tip: Weather can change quickly in the Sawtooth Mountains. Being prepared and flexible to adapt to these changes is key to a stress-free elopement.

Elopement couple stands together in the clouds after their sawtooth mountain elopement.
See this Stanley Elopement by clicking on the image.

4. Pick a Ceremony Location in the Sawtooth Mountains

Picking a location for your elopement ceremony isn’t hard because there are literally hundreds of beautiful views and hidden gem locations within the Sawtooth Mountains.

The question you should start with when considering elopement locations is β€˜how adventurous do we want to be?’ You can drive to the banks of Redfish Lake for an incredible view of the mountains or lace up your hiking boots and hike to a location with unobstructed views of the Sawtooth Mountains.

A couple walks away from the camera holding hands in Idaho. There is an expansive mountain landscape in front of them. The groom is wearing a blue blazer and the bride is wearing an open back dress.

Eloping with guest is an amazing experience but you do need to take time to consider how and to what extent your family and friends will be involved in your day. If you are eloping with family ask yourself these questions: 

  1. What are the physical restraints of our guests?
  2. How much do we want to include guests in our day?
  3. Do we want to have a small wedding at a venue and then adventure just the two of us?

Let’s look at a few wedding venues first, in case you are wondering how to elope in Stanley, Idaho with your family.

Stanley wedding venue ideas:

Redfish Lake Lodge

This wedding venue sits right on the banks of Redfish Lake and offers amazing views of the Sawtooth Mountains. It is a full service wedding venue. Included in their service is day-of coordinate, food and drink catering, reception tent rental, tables/chairs/linens and 5 cabin rentals. This venue can accommodate 60-223 guests.

Redfish Lake Lodge Website: Click Here. See a Redfish Lake Lodge wedding here: Click Here

A couple stands together. The groom is holding a bouquet of flowers and the bride is holding her dress trail. This couple renewed their vows in Stanley, Idaho.
A couple kisses after their elopement ceremony in Stanley, Idaho.

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

This beautiful guest ranch is located 14 miles outside of Stanley. The ranch sits on 900-acres with magnificent views of the Sawtooth Mountains and access to over 700 trails into the Sawtooth Recreational Area. It offers an in-house hot spring pool, guest lodging, horseback riding and a wedding venue space for weddings with less than 50 people. 

Idaho Rock Mountain Website: Click Here

How to elope in Stanley, Idaho Pro Tip: Alpine lakes reflect mountains in the morning and evening. Plan your couple photos during these times to capture cool reflections.

A bride stands at the edge of a mountain lake in Idaho. The mountains and the bride are reflecting in the water of the lake.

Stanley Ceremony Location Ideas:

Here are two of my favorite ceremony locations in Stanley. These ceremony locations can be paired with another sunrise or sunset location for couple photos (I provide location suggests for these locations to my couples).

  1. North Shore Picnic Area: North Shore is a small day use area along the banks of Redfish Lake. This area has pit bathrooms and two reservable picnic areas. A special use photography permit from the forest service is required to use this area.
  2. Sawtooth Valley Pioneer Park: The city park in Stanley has amazing views! The park has two reservable group sites (info here). The park can be used without reservation but if you intend to use it for more then a ceremony its a good idea to reserve it.
Bride smiles as her groom kisses the side of her face. The couple is standing on a mountain ridge.
A couple walks down a trail together during their adventure elopement in Stanley. They eloped in early winter and there are patches of snow on the ground.

5. Find ElopementVendors

An amazing team of vendors is so important to your elopement day, so don’t skimp here! Take time to research and hire a set of vendors that will help you bring your elopement vision to live. You can find vendors on Google or ask your elopement photographer to connect you with vendors they love to work with. Stanley is a tiny mountain town with few wedding amenities, so you will more then likely end up hiring wedding vendors from Boise or Sun Valley.

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

Officiant

You will need to find an officiant and get your marriage license – here is a helpful blog post on getting your marriage license in Idaho. A marriage license and officiant will cost between $200-$400.

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. 

Elopement details laying on a log. Details include a leather vow book, boutonniere, and orange cord for a handfasting ceremony.
Autumn Lynne Photography, is an officiant located in Stanley, Idaho.

Florist

I love flowers and grow a large cut flower garden with my kids in the summer. Flowers are my favorite elopement accessory and something I always encourage my couples to spend a little extra on. Here are a few florists in Boise and Sun Valley that serve Stanley.

  • Petal Works Idaho – Beverly with Petal Works in Boise is my first choice! Her designs are beautiful and she is really easy to work with. She is also Leave No Trace aware and will make you a sustainable, LNT aware bouquet.
  • Thistle And Sage – Maggie & Denise with Thistle & Sage Weddings are in Sun Valley.
  • Bloom Theory Studios – Kacie with Bloom Theory Studio in Sun Valley.
Bride holds a Leave No Trace aware bouquet of yellow, pink and red flowers during her Stanley elopement.

Dress

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.

Food

Amazing food is something you shouldn’t skimp on during your wedding day! Why not hire a private chef to come to your cabin and cook for the day or weekend? Redfish Lake Lodge has a restaurant inside the main lodge and a lakeside grill that is open to the public. They also offer a lake cruise and dinner option. The Sawtooth Hotel has some of the best homemade food in Stanley. Stanley Supper Club has amazing food and the restaurant can be rented out for private events.

Planner or Stylist

Planning an elopement is definitely less stressful than planning a traditional wedding but there are times when a planner/stylist is someone you may want to add to your elopement vendor list. For example, if you are eloping with family and want to have dinner after your ceremony you should definitely work with a planner/stylist. This will make planning your dinner details and decorating a breeze! Here are a two planners/stylists I love:

Dreamer Events is a small boutique wedding planning company based in Boise, Idaho. They offer full and partial event planning services. Erin, the owner, is wonderful to work and very organized. She is a wonderful addition to any elopement!

Emily Aiken Events is an adventure elopement and wedding event planning company based in Boise, Idaho. They offer event planning, styling and officiant services. Emily, the owner, has a love for the Sawtooth Mountains and is the perfect planner for your Stanley, Idaho elopement. 

Engaged couple stands together on snowshoes with the Sawtooth Mountains behind them during their adventure engagement session in Sun Valley, Idaho.

How to elope in Stanley, Idaho Pro Tip: Stanley is magical in the winter time but oh is it cold! You can buy peel and stick body warmers. Placing them on your core will help you stay warm!

6. Create an Elopement Timeline

Eloping gives you so much freedom when it comes to planning and designing your wedding day. You can utilize the beautiful light of both sunrise and sunset for your couple portraits. Or, you can split your day up and have a morning ceremony and an evening reception. The possibilities are endless and I am here to help you dream up your perfect wedding day timeline.

Example Elopement Timeline for Stanley

  • 5:00 am – Meet at Airbnb, getting ready photos, detail photos
  • 6:15 am – Leave Airbnb, head to Redfish Lake
  • 7:00 am – Meet at Redfish Lake, sunrise first look & portraits
  • 8:30 am – Meet family at Redfish Lake, get ready for ceremony
  • 9:00 am –  Ceremony at North Shore Picnic Area
  • 9:30 am – Ceremony wraps up, wedding party & family photos 
  • 10:30 am – Formal Photos finished, head back to Airbnb
  • 11:15 pm – Lunch at airbnb with private chef
  • 12:30 pm – Photo coverage wraps up until afternoon hiking photos
  • 2:00 pm – Meet at Tin Cup trailhead and hike into Fishhook Meadows for sunset photos
  • 7:00 pm – Photo coverage wraps up
A couple stands together on a rock with an expansive mountain view behind them. This couple included a pre-wedding hike in their elopement day.

7. Plan Your Honeymoon Activities

Most likely, you are eloping in the Sawtooths because you are an outdoor enthusiast! To get the most out of your elopement adventure you should consider spending at least 4 days exploring the area. Here you will find ideas for recreation during your stay in Stanley, Idaho.

Outdoor Recreation

A bride leans against her grooms chest. The couple is sitting in a hot spring and there are rocks surrounding them.

Hot Springs

You could choose to relax and spend some time at one of the hot springs. There are several natural and developed hot springs around Stanley.

PLEASE follow hot spring etiquette and Leave No Travel guidelines (info here) when visiting any national hot spring! This etiquette includes packing out all trash, not bring glass containers, not using the hot spring for a bathroom, not bring pets and being considerate of others.

  1. The Mountain Village Resort offers a quaint soaking house with views of the Sawtooth Mountains.
  2. Kirkham Hot Springs: Kirkham is located along Highway 21 and is an hour drive from Stanley or 1.2 hours from Boise. There is a hot waterfall and 5-6 soaking pools along the river.
  3. Sunbeam Hot Springs: Another natural hot spring along the banks of the Salmon River. Located 12 miles north of Stanley on HWY 75 between mile markers 201 and 202.

8. Elope in Stanley, Idaho

It’s time to get out there and marry your best friend with a stunning mountain view! Your elopement day in Stanley will be calm and stress free because you have taken all the steps necessary to have a well planned elopement day.

And that’s it! I hope my ultimate guide on how to elope in Stanley, Idaho helps you in your elopement process!