Want to plan the most romantic, epic wedding ever? Whether you are dreaming of a summer elopement in the Swiss Alps or a winter wedding in the ski resorts of the Austrian Alps, this planning guide has you covered!
Planning a Wedding in the Alps
The Alps make up the highest and largest mountain range in Europe, stretching across 8 countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia and Switzerland. Most alpine communities still celebrate aspects of their traditional cultures, with farming & woodcarving continuing to be prominent in most areas. The alps are also famous for their iconic peaks, such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, and also for their top-class winter sports and hiking.
Can You Get Legally Married in the Alps?
Most of the alpine countries in Europe allow non-residents to get married, however, in some it’s a lot more complicated than others. As someone who had a destination wedding in Europe myself, I’ve experienced the bureaucracy that is preparing all your paperwork for getting married in another country than the one you are from. Whilst it is absolutely possible to do all this yourself, I’ve learned from experience (mine and a number of my couples) that if you want a completely stress-free process, it’s best to hire a local wedding planner to help you with making sure you have all the correct documents and you’re actually allowed to get married. If this still sounds like way too much hassle, around 70% of my couples actually decide to sign the marriage license back in their home country and opt for a symbolic ceremony in the Alps instead. I’ve linked my favourite Alps wedding planners at the end of this post 🙂
Getting Married in France
While it is possible to get married legally in France, you need to be resident for at least 40 days before you can marry there. For many couples this isn’t an option, so most opt for a more personal celebrant-led ceremony or a simple elopement instead.
Getting Married in Austria
Austria has no residency requirements to get married there. You need to submit your paperwork to the local Standesamt (registrar) in advance of your wedding date. They perform the legal ceremony in German at the local registry office, so if you don’t speak German, you might need a translator. Some registrars are quite relaxed and will let you have you own translator, or they will translate for you themselves, while others (especially in the big cities) require a court-certified translator. Only a small number of towns have locations outside of the registry office where they will conduct ceremonies, but it is possible to have a legal ceremony in a mountain hut in some areas (I’ll get to which ones later).
Getting Married in Italy
Italy also allows non-residents to marry there. Similarly to Austria, you must submit documents to the local government offices in advance of your wedding date. In most areas in the Alpine regions, the ceremony is conducted by the local mayor in either Italian or German (depending on which province you are in). Many areas offer the option to get married at an approved outside location if you’re not mad about the idea of getting married in the mayor’s office, and some of them are really beautiful.
To learn more about getting married in the Italian Alps & the Dolomites,
read this Dolomites Elopement Guide
Getting Married in Switzerland
It is possible for non-residents to have a legal marriage ceremony in Switzerland. However, unlike in most other European countries, it can vary from town to town, so it really depends on where you want to get married in Switzerland. In Switzerland, a wedding planner cannot submit the documents to the local registry office on your behalf. Instead, you must file them at a Swiss Embassy or Consulate.
Getting Married in Germany
Germany does allow foreigners to legally marry there, but like France, it has a minimum residency requirement, which is 21 days. Many destination couples, therefore, opt for a symbolic ceremony or an intimate vow reading instead.
LGBTQIA Weddings In The Alps
Unfortunately, marriage equality hasn’t reached all of Europe yet, but it has reached some of the Alpine countries. Austria, Germany and France all support marriage equality. Most of the other alpine countries recognise civil unions but not marriages of same-sex couples.
Summer Weddings in the Alps
Summer in the Alps might conjure up visions of the Sound of Music or hiking tours to quaint mountain huts. Perhaps it makes you think lush alpine meadows and jangling cowbells, men in lederhosen and women in dirndls. Summer in the alps is magical. The meadows are lush and green, filled with wildflowers. Cows, sheep and goats often roam freely in the mountain pastures. There’s amazing hiking, cycling and climbing in every direction. Not to mention the welcoming mountains huts serving home-made, local products to refuel you after a long day of exploring.
Winter Weddings in the Alps
Ski & Snowboard Weddings
Yes – you absolutely can get married on your skis and your snowboard if you want to! I’ve accompanied many couples on their wedding day as they’ve hit the slopes. Some choose to arrive in style and opt to ski to their ceremony, while others save hitting the piste until after they’ve said I do. Ski weddings in the Alps are my favourite. After all, what’s better than a ski trip? Using your wedding budget to pay for a ski trip and getting married on the slopes! And if you’re thinking of eloping, I love the idea of a ski touring elopement where we skin out or snowshoe to a beautiful, secluded location for you to say your vows. Doesn’t that sound pretty darn perfect?
Even if you don’t want to hit the ski slopes on your wedding day, a winter wedding in the Alps is so beautiful. Glistening snow, cosy mountain chalets with hot-tub views to die for and snow-capped mountains as far as you can see makes for an unforgettable wedding experience in the Alps.
Alps Wedding Venues
Austrian Alps Wedding Venues & Chalets
Rössl Alm (legal ceremony possible)
Hohe Mut Alm (legal ceremony possible)
Berggasthoff Tenn (legal ceremony possible)
White Lounge Igloo
Ski Museum Restaurant St Anton
Pitztal Glacier Cafe 3440 (legel ceremony possible)
Ice Q Sölden (legel ceremony possible)
Italian Alps & Dolomites Wedding Venues & Chalets
Col Pradat Lodge
Pine Lodge Dolomites
San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge
Lago Ghedina Ristorante
La Jolie Bergere
Le Caprice des Neiges
Swiss Alps Wedding Venues & Chalets
French Alps Wedding Venues & Chalets
Alps Wedding Planners
Working with a wedding planner can help take the stress out of planning your destination wedding in the Alps.
Alps Wedding Videographers
Want To See Some Real Alps Weddings & Elopements?
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Contact me today to start planning your wedding in the Alps