Do you get giddy when the first snow of the season starts flying? Are you more into snowcapped mountains than sunny beaches? Do you live for powder days? Then a winter elopement might be right for you! Some of my favorite elopements have been during the snowy winter months, so I put together this guide filled with winter elopement ideas and some of my best tips for planning your special day.
Why Elope in the Winter?
Winter elopements are magical. There’s something about the crisp air, snow covered mountains, and if you’re lucky, flurries falling lightly around you as you say your vows. Eloping in the winter is also a fantastic way to beat the crowds and maybe save a few dollars on your budget at the same time!
A winter elopement isn’t the obvious choice for most couples. While winter weddings and elopements have grown in popularity in recent years, they are still far from the norm. A survey by The Knot in 2021 showed that 80% of weddings still take place during the traditional wedding season of May-October. That means that those dream wedding locations that are impossible to book during the summer and fall may be available during the winter. You may also find that vendors are more available, and depending on your location, off-season pricing may be in effect for everything from lodging to caterers.
Winter Elopement Locations
It’s my home base so I’ll admit I’m biased, but Colorado is hands down my favorite winter elopement location in the United States. The snow covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains definitely live up to their reputation as providing some of the most epic views in the world. Add in all of the adventurous activities you can do here, and you’ve got a place tailor made for a dream winter elopement.
All of my top elopement locations in Colorado are great in all seasons, but winter activities really shine here. From snowmobiling in Telluride, to hiking in Breckenridge, to skiing in Aspen, Colorado is a wonderland for snowy fun!
Best Places to Elope in Winter Without Snow
I’m assuming that most people reading a post on winter elopement ideas are big fans of snowy weather, but I just want to give a shoutout to those who may not consider themselves winter adventurers. If you want to elope during the winter months but aren’t a big fan of the white stuff, these are the locations for you!
While the snow does indeed fly in Moab from November – January, the relatively mild daytime temps keep it from sticking around very long at the lower elevations. This means there’s a good chance that you can have a relatively snow-free adventure with snowy peaks in the background. Add in the epic natural scenery and multitude of outdoor activities, and you’ve got the best of all worlds!
If you’re more of a sunshine and beach kind of person but still want to elope during the winter months, why not consider a Hawaii elopement? With warm weather year round and some of the most gorgeous beaches you’ll find anywhere in the world, Hawaii is a dream destination for many eloping couples. And even though the winter months are the peak tourist season, with 6 distinct islands, each with their own vibe, you can definitely still find a spot away from the crowds.
What to Wear for A Winter Elopement
One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your day, and one that will make or break your experience, is what you choose to wear. Winter weather is often unpredictable, so it’s always best to over-prepare than to be shivering all day! Here’s my list of must-haves, and some tips on what to look for when choosing your winter wedding outfit.
Winter Elopement Footwear
Let’s start with footwear, because nothing will make your day miserable faster than cold, wet feet. Here’s how to keep your toes toasty warm throughout all your day’s adventures:
- Wear good quality boots. While winter hiking boots can be pricey, a quality pair of boots can last years if cared for properly and you won’t regret the investment. Look for boots with good traction, waterproofing, and insulation. Note that there are different boots for different types of activities (mountaineering boots for example have much stiffer soles to accommodate climbing gear, but aren’t the most comfortable choice for a long hike). If in doubt, head to your local outdoor gear shop to get their expert advice on the best boots for what you plan to do.
- Avoid heels and other shoes without traction. Yes, it can be tempting to choose fashion over comfort on your wedding day, but slipping on icy terrain is a real danger. And hiking boots and a wedding dress are a badass combo!
- Wool socks are the best choice for keeping your feet warm and dry. Bring an extra pair or two.
- Place hand warmers in the toes of your boots for extra warmth!
Winter Elopement Outfits
Before we get into options for your wedding day attire, I want to note that you don’t need to wear a dress or suit just because you’re getting married! Many couples choose to just wear their everyday winter gear for their elopement, especially if they are participating in adventurous activities.
There are also a ton of options for outfits that are a little bit fancier than your ski jacket but allow for movement and warmth. One of my recent brides wore her white ski pants with an incredible cape for her snowmobile elopement. Don’t be afraid to do something different!
Winter Elopement Dresses
If you can’t imagine your wedding day without a traditional wedding dress, there are a few things you’ll want to look for:
- Choose a dress that is made from a heavier material like velvet or silk
- Consider a dress with long sleeves
- Make sure you can move around in your dress! Don’t choose anything too tight or with too much fabric that could hinder your movement during the day.
- Pair your dress with a velvet or faux fur cape to keep you warm throughout the day
- Plan for an outfit change! We can always bring a tent along to use as a changing room if you want to wear one outfit for your adventures and change into your dress for the ceremony.
Winter Elopement Suits
Suits and tuxes are generally more winter friendly that formal dresses, but there are still a few things to consider when shopping for your winter elopement suit:
- Look for suits in a heavy fabric with the highest percentage of wool possible
- Lining in pants and jackets will serve as an extra layer for warmth
- Wear a wool overcoat in a dark color (or any color that compliments your suit!)
No matter what you choose to wear, don’t forget essentials like a winter hat, scarf, and warm gloves! Even if you don’t want to wear them for photos or during the ceremony, you’ll be glad you have them for the rest of the day!
What you wear under your elopement outfit is important, too! A warm base layer under your elopement outfit is an easy way to add some extra warmth without sacrificing style. From insulated tights under your dress to a wool top under your suit, there are plenty of options to keep you warm underneath your wedding attire!
Winter Elopement Activities
Let’s get to the fun part: What can you do during your winter elopement? There are a ton of ways to enjoy the outdoors in the winter, but here are some of my favorite activity ideas for winter elopements:
Snowshoeing is a fun way to enjoy hiking in the snow. Snowshoes allow you to stay on top of the snow rather than sinking down into it with every step. Most snowy areas have well-maintained trails for snowshoers, so it’s easy to find an area to explore!
Skiing or Snowboarding
Many people love to ski or snowboard in the winter, but have you ever considered it as an elopement activity? Where else can you hitch a ride to the top of a mountain with an epic views? And since most ski resorts are bustling in the winter, you’ll have tons of fellow skiiers and boarders cheering you on all day. You can bet that a few of them will even buy you some apres ski (and apres elopement!) drinks. Cheers to that!
Do you want incredible mountain views but aren’t up for a long hike? Snowmobiling is a great way to get to some fantastic mountaintop ceremony spots without a lot of time or effort. Not to mention, it’s super fun to race with your boo to your ceremony!
Dog sledding is another unique way to explore backwoods trails. You and your partner can just sit back and enjoy the views while hanging out with some adorable four legged friends!
Want to combine your elopement with some icy adventure? An ice climbing elopement is a great way for experienced climbers to share a favorite activity together before or after saying your vows.
For the ultimate in winter elopement adventure, take a helicopter ride! A helicopter can get you to areas that might otherwise be inaccessible during the winter months. Add in the birds eye view and the thrill you’ll get when you take off (believe me, I still get it every time!), and your helicopter elopement is certain to be a day you’ll never forget!
What to Consider for Your Winter Elopement
Winter elopements are not without their challenges. There are certain things you’ll need to consider that are unique to a winter elopement. You’ll want to
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to consider all the weather possibilities for your day. While you may be envisioning moderate temps and lightly falling snow, that is far from guaranteed. You may need to deal with a blizzard. Or rain. Or no snow at all for your snowy activity. While it’s important to remain flexible and roll with whatever mother nature throws at you, there are some things you can do to help make sure weather changes don’t derail your day:
- Know your location. Some areas naturally have more or less snowfall, and are better for certain activities. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to weather, an elopement photographer who has experience the location and type of elopement you are planning can advise on places that are most likely to have the conditions you want.
- Have a backup plan. Your location may be inaccessible, or conditions may not be ideal for your chosen activity. Having a backup plan (and working with vendors who will seamlessly adapt to the new plan) is essential to keep your day fun and stress-free.
- In places like Colorado, winter may last longer than you think! Roads in mountainous areas can remain inaccessible well into the spring (and sometimes summer!). Don’t assume that roads will be open just because the calendar says winter is over. Again, this is where a photographer with local experience can help! Part of my job is to scope out locations for you in advance so you can be sure it’s accessible for your day.
Plan to arrive a few days in advance for destination weddings. This advice applies in all seasons, but it’s especially important in the winter. A winter blizzard can paralyze travel for hours or days. Be sure to leave enough time to weather any storm (pun intended 😉 ).
Consider lodging as part of the experience! You don’t have to settle for a boring hotel room. Airbnb has some great options for lodging to fit most budgets, and many are tailored to winter travelers. Consider a cozy cottage with a hot tub or fireplace to set the mood. (And serve as an awesome backdrop for photos!)
My Winter Elopement Packages
Are you ready to start planning your winter elopement? Reach out and let’s do this thing! From the minute I hear from you, I’m all in on crafting your one-of-a-kind, amazing experience. I’ll take the time to get to know you as a couple so we can craft a day tailored to you. My goal is to take the stress out of the wedding planning experience, so you can just focus on having a day filled with love and a whole helluva lot of fun!
With all of my packages, you’ll get:
- Payment plans that work with your budget
- Personalized questionnaire to help me get to know you and your elopement dreams
- Unlimited free consultations to help you craft your perfect day
- 90 page exclusive elopement guide to walk you through everything you need to know about eloping
- Custom location recommendations, including research and options for your day
- Timeline construction so you know exactly how long everything takes and when you should do it!
- Complimentary officiating where applicable (Not gonna brag too hard – but I’m a pretty dope officiant.)
- All travel included, no extra fees
- Sneak peaks within 5 days. Yes that’s super fast…I want you to relive your day immediately!
- Fully edited hi-res photos available for you to download for free
- A SUPER FUN elopement experience!
Meet Your Winter Elopement Photographer
Hey! I’m Adam and I live for helping couples just like you make their elopement dreams come true. If you want to learn more about how to plan the best winter elopement, I’m your guy! I can help you find the best elopement package and share all my tips to find the perfect location and activities for your day.
If you’re ready to start planning or just have some questions to decide if a winter elopement is right for you, I’d love to hear from you.