Idaho Elopement Guide (2024)

This guide will help you plan your Idaho elopement from start to finish!

I am guessing you’re here because you want a wedding day that allows you to celebrate your commitment to each other in a way that feels authentic to you. You know you want something different than a traditional wedding but maybe you’re just not sure where to start. That’s where this guide and myself come into play (Hi 👋! My name is Autumn and I am your Idaho elopement photographer + planner). I want to help you plan your unique experience focused elopement in the mountains of Idaho!

In my Idaho elopement guide, I talk about places to elope, how to get your Idaho marriage license, why you should elope on a weekday and so much more!

A couple jumps in the air during their Idaho elopement.
A couple kisses during their Idaho elopement in Stanley. The groom is wearing a backpack with flowers and a sign that reads 'just married'. The couple's dog is standing between them. There are mountains covered in fog and a meadow behind the couple.

What is an elopement?

Eloping is a way of getting married that places you and your commitment to each other above wedding traditions and other people. It is a way of getting married that doesn’t have rules. Simply put, eloping is a wedding experience that is created by you and for you.

Some couples choose to elope alone and others choose to elope with their loved ones. How you define an elopement is entirely up to you! I have been part of 20 person elopements that have felt just as intimate and special as 2 person elopements. The key to eloping with family and friends is staying strong to your vision and keeping your day about you.

What is an experience focused elopement?

I define the type of elopements I photograph as experience focused elopements. The best way to plan an elopement is to simply plan your best day ever. This day could be filled with coffee at sunrise followed by an afternoon hike to an alpine lake and then somewhere along the way you just happen to exchange vows and get married. When you plan your elopement as a series of experiences you create a wedding that feels 100% like you.

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.

Why should you plan an Idaho elopement?

Idaho is a hidden gem! It hosts countless alpine lakes, jagged mountain ranges, and beautiful, free flowing rivers. It has fewer crowds than many of the popular national parks in the US and has thousands of miles of dedicated wilderness that offers seclusion for elopements.

Here are 4 things that make Idaho easy to elope in:

You don’t need witnesses

Idaho is one of the few states that doesn’t require witnesses to sign your marriage license. If you are wanting a truly private wedding experience you can hire a wedding photographer that is also an ordained officiate and legally elope just the two of you. I am an Idaho elopement photographer + a licensed officiant 😉.

A couple stands together after their elopement ceremony in McCall, Idaho. The bride is wearing a blue dress and white cape. The groom is wearing a blue suite.

You can get married the same day

There is no waiting period in Idaho, so this means you can get married the same day you obtain our marriage license. Here is a guide to getting your marriage license in Idaho: Click Here

Seclusion

If you do your homework, it’s so easy to find trails and locations where you are the only person on them.  A large chunk of Idaho’s public land is wilderness, this means you have the option to head into thousands of acres of untouched land. Here you will not experience motorized vehicles or crowds of people. This is a huge plus if you are looking for a truly private and intimate elopement day.

Couple embraces, with mountains behind them, during their Stanley, Idaho elopement.

Locations for any vibe

Idaho offers a variety of locations to choose to elope in. If you love high desert you can head to Southern Idaho for sand dunes and sagebrush. If you want rugged mountain vibes you can head to the Sawtooth Mountains for amazing mountain views. If a river elopement is calling your name, you can head to the Salmon River and catch a jet boat and say your vows on a white sand beach.

A couple dances in a mountain meadow during their Idaho elopement in Sun Valley. The evening sun is setting on the mountains behind the couple. The groom is wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants. The bride is wearing a cream dress from Reclamation.

How does eloping in Idaho work?

1

Find Your Photographer + Officiate

Start your Idaho elopement by finding an elopement photographer that is also an officiant.

2

Craft Your Elopement​

Dream up all the things you would like to do on your elopement day!

3

Apply For Your Marriage License

Make an appointment with the Recorder’s Office and obtain your marriage license.

4

Go Elope

On elopement day you marry your best friend in a way that represents you.

When should you plan your Idaho elopement?

Time of year will have an impact on how you plan your Idaho elopement. If you are into hiking and camping, think June-October. If you love winter, think December-February. If you love spring, think April-May.

Wildfires

Wildfires are becoming a way of life during the summer and fall in the Northwest. If you want to avoid smoke altogether, the best months to elope are November-June. If you elope during peak fire season (July-October), eloping at sunrise will help you have clearer skies.

Weather

Weather can be very unpredictable in the high country. Taking steps to ensure you are prepared for thunderstorms, blizzards and flash floods is important. I have experienced snowstorms in June and 3 feet of snow in the middle of September. Be prepared for weather and work with your elopement planner to create a Plan B for your elopement in case weather or a natural disaster infers with your original plan.

Is eloping calling your name but maybe you’re not sure where to start?

That’s where I came in! Reach out to schedule a free consultation to learn more about eloping in Idaho.

Best Places for your Idaho Elopement

Idaho has countless mountain peaks, alpine lakes and beautiful rivers to explore during your elopement. I grew up in Idaho and there are so many amazing, hidden gems! I help the majority of my couples decide on a place for their elopement. The locations I am listed below are popular areas. I don’t tag exact locations (trails, lakes, etc.) because I want to do my part to follow Leave No Trace. Helping keep these amazing places pristine is so important! Below are elopement guides to eloping in my favorite places in Idaho.

Leave No Trace Idaho Elopement Photographer
Couple stands on a large rock with Payette Lake behind them during their elopement in McCall, Idaho.

How to Elope in McCall

McCall is a sleepy mountain town situated along the banks of Payette Lake. You could choose to find a secluded spot along the lake to hold a ceremony with your loved ones, or you could hike to an overlook and exchange your vows at sunrise. McCall is a larger town making it easier to plan an elopement in.

Couple kisses with the Sawtooth Mountains behind them during their Stanley, Idaho elopement.

How to Elope in Stanley

Stanley is one of the most popular places to elope in Idaho because it sits right on the edge of the Sawtooth Mountain Range. You can choose to hop in a car and head to the city park for your ceremony or you can strap on your boots and hike into an alpine lake and exchange your vows. The options are endless and everywhere you turn you will find rugged mountain peaks.

Bride and groom stand together at sunset during their Idaho elopement. Groom is holding a bouquet of flowers. Bride is holding up her gold dress and the sunlight is shining through it.

6 of the Best Place to Elope in Idaho

If you are looking for the best places to elope in Idaho, this guide is for you. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about choosing the right spot for your adventurous wedding experience. Let’s get scrolling and find the best place to elope in Idaho for you!

Do you need elopement vendors?

Absolutely! Vendors are just as important to an elopement as they are to a traditional wedding but you want to hire wedding vendors that specialize in elopements. Vendors that work specifically with eloping couples understand what it takes to create an elopement. An elopement florist will know what flowers to include in your bouquet, so that it will stand up to hiking and won’t drop seeds in the wilderness (LNT bouquets!). A makeup artist that specializes in elopements will understand that full wedding makeup won’t stand up to adventuring and they will have products and a look that will.

Couple embraces on a ridge in the Sawtooth Mountains during their Stanley, Idaho elopement.
Bride holds a bouquet of red and orange flowers from a Stanley, Idaho florist.

If you are going to splurge on one detail for your elopement day, it should be flowers! Wedding bouquets bring a whimsical and romantic feeling to an elopement because bouquets aren’t typically associated with adventurous activities like climbing mountains or snowshoeing. A wedding bouquet also gives you something to do with your hands and they are a beautiful prop to lay at your feet during your ceremony or tuck in the top of your backpack.

Interested in working with me for your elopement?

Reach out to schedule a free consultation to learn more about eloping in Idaho.

Should you elope on a weekday or weekend?

If your date is flexible, you should definitely consider eloping on a weekday. You’re choosing to elope because you value intimacy and seclusion and both of these are going to be challenging to find on a weekend. Whenever possible, I encourage my coupes to elope Tuesday – Thursday.

Here are 3 reasons why you should elope on a weekday

1) Seclusion

2020 pushed people outside and I don’t see that trend ending soon. The #1 factor in creating an amazing elopement day is finding a location that you don’t have to share with others.

2) Vendor Availability

Vendors will book up on weekends first, so having a weekday elopement will mean more vendors are going to be available. It’s also not uncommon for wedding vendors to be booked a year out. If you are planning to get married in a quicker time frame you definitely want to consider a weekday date.

3) Reservation Availability

If you are booking airfare, an Airbnb or a venue space you will have a much easier time coordinating a rental date if you are booking a weekday.

Couple stands together on a large rock at the mouth of the South Fork of the Salmon River during their Idaho elopement.

Wedding Attire for your Idaho elopement

There are no rules when you are choosing your elopement attire but you do want to choose something that makes you feel like a million bucks! Maybe that’s the only rule! Your wedding attire needs to make you feel like you’re standing on the top of the world.

Bride tosses a lightweight wedding dress make of Chiffon in the air. Dresses that move easily are ideal for adventure elopement dresses.

You want to make sure it is comfortable and flexible because you are going to be wearing it for most of your elopement adventure. Consider what kind of activities you will be doing and what impact wearing your wedding attire will have on those activities.

When you are trying on dresses, do jumping-jacks, squats and step-ups. If you can comfortably do all these motions then you will be able to adventure in your wedding dress. Shopping online will give you a wider variety of adventure rated wedding dresses but starting in a bridal shop is a great way to figure out what styles work for you and then you can shop online if need be.

Lightweight Fabrics

Fabric matters when choosing an adventure rated wedding dress. You want a dress that is made from material that is easy to move in and breathable. Materials like Chiffon, Tulle and Georgetta are ideal for adventuring and hiking because they are lightweight and breathable. The sheer nature and layering of these fabrics catch the wind and sunlight beautifully!

Heavier Fabrics

Materials like Polyester, Satin, Charmeuse and Silk are heavier, less breathable and don’t have as much natural movement. This doesn’t mean they aren’t elopement worthy! They are great for colder weather adventuring because they are warmer. Gowns made of these materials have an elegant and classic feel that contrasts beautifully against a wild landscape.

Here are are few wedding dress designers to checkout:

How to Plan Your Idaho Elopement

Start by envisioning your perfect day together

Begin your elopement journey by spending sometime envisioning ‘your perfect day’ together. Are you biking together, climbing a mountain or rafting down a river? There is nothing saying eloping means climbing a mountain either! Instead it could be enjoying your favorite craft beer together, building a campfire or renting a lake boat. Your elopement is your best day ever and should be filled with things you love to do as a couple. The sky’s the limit.

Do some PRELIMINARY research

Spent some time looking through Google and Instagram for locations you like. Hope on Pinterest and browse elopement photos to get ideas of activities and details that you would like to include in your day.

Will you include others?

This is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you are including others in your elopement. Keeping your elopement guest list between 2-20 people will allow you more options for lodging, elopement day activities and elopement ceremony location options. Elopements with more than 20 people should have a dedicated venue space because large groups of people have a negative impact on natural spaces.

A groom warms his brides hands by holding them. The couple is standing in a snow covered field at sunset on their elopement day. The bride is wearing a white lacy dress with a green belt. The groom is wearing a brown suit jacket.

7 Steps to planning the perfect Idaho Elopement

After you have a general idea for your elopement start making arrangements! Here are 7 steps to planning your elopement in the mountains of Idaho. Pss… I am an Idaho elopement photographer!

1) Find your photographer

Start your Idaho elopement by finding an elopement photographer. Photographers that specialize in elopements take the stress out of eloping!

Your photographer will be the most involved vendor in your elopement, so you want to make sure you find someone you really connect with! Start by searching on Google, Pinterest and Instagram for Idaho elopement photographers that serve the area you are considering eloping in. Spend time looking through multiple photographers websites, so you can get an idea of who they are and what they offer.

Your Photographer is the vendor you will spend the most time with on your elopement day. It is so important that you find someone you click with and are genuinely excited to have along on your wedding day.

Pss… I am an Idaho elopement photographer 😎

Reach out to schedule a free, no-obligation consult to learn more about eloping with me.

2) Choose a location

Once you book your Idaho elopement photographer the fun begins. A qualified elopement photographer should help you choose a location. When a couple books with me I send off a questionnaire that allows me to understand what they are looking for in a location. I then send off a customized list of location ideas that are tailored to their answers.

3) Plan your elopement details

This is the fun part of your elopement but it can also feel overwhelming! This is where your elopement photographer will help guide you and keep you focused. I am available via text, email and phone to my couples as they plan their elopement.

Ceremony – Your ceremony will be the highlight of your elopement day. Spend some time thinking about ideas to include in your ceremony. This could be handwritten vows, handfasting, music, wedding lasso tradition or letters from your loved ones.

A couple kisses during their Idaho elopement at Redfish Lake Lodge. The sun is setting on the lake behind the couple. Groom is wearing a blue suit and bride is wearing a white dress and bridal cape.

Food – Food is an important part of your elopement. No one wants to be hangry on their wedding day! You could pack a charcuterie board, plan a picnic or hire a private chef.

Celebration – Even if it’s just the two of you, you should plan a celebration for after your ceremony. This could be eating donuts and drinking whisky, popping a bottle of champagne or zooming with your loved ones.

Couple canoes at sunrise on Red Fish Lake in Stanley, Idaho.

Elopement Activities – This is where you decide on what you want to do during your elopement day. Do you want to canoe around a lake, take a jet boat tour, going hot springing, dance under the stars, write your vows together or go hiking? Big adventures, like climbing a mountain or doing a helicopter tour, are popular in the elopement space right now but they are just a few examples of the 1,000’s of things you could choose to include in your wedding day.

I love when couples include activities that are special or meaningful to them. I’ve had couples include activities like coffee at sunrise, soaking in a hot spring, writing vows together and playing spoons. The more that you can inject your relationship and personalities into your elopement the more fun and meaningful it will be.

4) Book your vendor team

Vendors aren’t just for big weddings! Your elopement photographer will be a resource for helping you find awesome elopement specific vendors. As part of my service I give my couples a detailed list of vendors that serve their elopement location. I see most couples working with a florist, hair/makeup artist, ordering a cake and making some kind of arrangement for food. This could be a private chef or charcuterie board to enjoy after their ceremony.

5) Book your travel & Lodging

If you are renting an Airbnb or booking travel as part of your elopement you will want to make arrangements as soon as possible.

Looking online at AirBnB and VRBO is a great place to start. You can also checkout this article on AirBnB wedding venues and this article on wedding venues in McCall, Idaho.

If you are flying into Idaho, you will mostly likely fly into Boise. You will need to rent a car there for your elopement adventure. If you are eloping during the winter months or planning to drive into a remote area you will want to rent a AWD vehicle.

Couple stands among rock cliffs along the Salmon River during their Idaho elopement.
Bride does her makeup in the side  mirror of her pickup on the Main Salmon River in Idaho.

7) Obtain your marriage license

To obtain an Idaho marriage license both parties have to appear in person at any recorder’s office within the state. Both parties must provide a photo ID (driver license or passport) and their Social Security number. The cost for a marriage license varies by county but is usually around $30. You can opt to have your officiant return your completed marriage license or you can return it yourself. A marriage license must be returned to the recorder’s office it was issued from.

8) Go elope

Yay! 👏🏻 It’s elopement day and you are marrying your best friend in a way that is stress free, relaxed and focused on the two of you. Congrats! You are trailblazers in the wedding landscape and you’re broken the mold of tradition.

That’s a wrap! I hope my Idaho elopement guide helps you start dreaming up your epic elopement adventure.

An eloping couple walks through the forest with lanterns illuminating their backpacks and just married sign. This couple eloped in McCall, Idaho.

Where to next?

I am an elopement photographer with a lot of free resources. Head over to my blog or check out these freebies next!