Disclaimer - Some posts on this website contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase using my links, which I'll almost certainly use to buy more skis and climbing gear.
Disclaimer - Some posts on this website contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase using my links, which I'll almost certainly use to buy more skis and climbing gear.
As an adventure photographer & mountain hiking guide living in the Alps, it doesn’t get much better than capturing adventurous weddings and elopements in the Dolomites. When you are surrounded by these magnificent mountains, you are free to be truest, most authentic selves. This Dolomites elopement guide is here to help you plan the most incredible day of your lives.
Eloping is one of the most exciting and intimate ways to get married and start your new lives together as a married couple. And one of the best things about having an elopement instead of a traditional wedding is that there are NO RULES! You can literally do whatever you like, and go wherever you want. And if you are picturing yourselves going to a big adventure to somewhere wild and beautiful, the Dolomites in Italy might just be the dream destination you’ve been searching for.
The Dolomites have it all; spectacular views, adventure and alone time that you have been craving for. If you’re looking to fill your lungs with fresh mountain air and your spirit with adventure on your wedding day, then the Dolomites have so much to offer. They are home to some of the most breathtaking alpine scenery in Europe, maybe even the world (although I am pretty biased)! Living in the Tyrol region (which borders the Dolomites) for almost 10 years, I’ve discovered some of the most beautiful locations that would be perfect for your elopement. Whilst some of these locations are known worldwide for their stunning beauty, many of these locations are off-the-beaten-path, and more of a local secret. Some are easy to reach and others require a bit of effort, but the views you’ll see when you get there will make it well worthwhile.
How To Plan an Elopement In The Dolomites
(updated June 2022)
Planning Your Trip To The Dolomites
Where Are The Dolomites?
The Dolomites are a stunning mountain range in northeast Italy, part of the Southern Alps. They stretch across a number provinces, including South Tyrol, Trentino & Belluno, and in 2009 they became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’ve already done some research into the area, you might have noticed that some parts of the northern areas of the Dolomites have two names. The northern-most area sits in a region known as South Tyrol. This area borders Austria and used to be part of the Austrian Empire. The majority of people in this area speak German first and Italian second (as well as the local language, Ladin). When visiting South Tyrol you’ll notice how the Austrian/Tyrolean culture is very much evident here. As you move further south into Trentino & Belluno, you’ll notice more Italian influences, with Italian being the only language spoken.
How To Get To The Dolomites
The closest airports to the Dolomites (depending on which part of the Dolomites you are visiting) are:
- Innsbruck (yes this is in Austria but for some areas of the Dolomites the drive is closer)
However, these airports mainly serve short-haul European carriers. For long-haul airlines from the USA, Australia or Asia, you’ll probably want to consider either Munich or Milan.
Getting to the Dolomites, and getting around with public transport is possible, although you may find yourselves feeling restricted. Trains can get you to the outlying towns & cities such as Bozen/Bolzano, Brixen/Bressanone or Toblach/Dobbiaco, but to really get into the heart of the Dolomites, you’ll have to take busses, which in some areas can only be a few times a day. If you want to explore lots of areas around the Dolomites, hiring a car certainly can come in pretty handy. Plus, there are some incredible mountain passes that are so much fun to drive (as long as you don’t have a nervous disposition)!
When To Visit The Dolomites – A Month by Month Guide
It is crucial to know the seasons in the Dolomites to determine the time of the year when you will get married. Picking the time to visit will make a huge difference in what locations you can access, the weather that you can expect and also how busy things will be. So let’s break it down month-to-month:
January is when the snow usually starts to fall and the ski season really kicks into full swing. However, you don’t need to be a skier to enjoy the Dolomites in winter as there are loads of beautiful winter hiking trails and vistas to enjoy. While it does tend to snow more in January, that means the weather can be quite hit and miss (i.e. you may not see much sun) and also pretty cold with temperatures around or below. If you want to be in the snow but enjoy warmer temperatures then consider March instead. However because there are not many major holidays in January, it’s one of the quieter times to visit.
February in the Dolomites is one of the busier months for the ski season, as you have “Fasching” or carnival and other European school vacations in this month. Lots of the English, Germans, Dutch, Belgians and Austrians (as well as the locals) spend their February vacation days on the ski slopes in Tirol or the Dolomites, so prices are high and resorts are busy. But if you’re not a skier, and looking to do something like winter hiking instead, it’s still possible to have some quiet moments. The weather in February can be changeable. It can be cold and snow lots, but you can also start to get some warm weather and spring vibes creeping in.
See more examples from February:
– Mary & Moriah’s February Elopement
March is still winter in the Dolomites, but it’s spring skiing season. If you’re a ski-regular you’ll know what I mean, but if you’re new to this, let me explain. Basically, there is usually still plenty of snow around and the ski lifts are still running. The days are getting longer and the sun shines a lot more. The snow is generally a lot softer and slushier but there is still enough of it to ski. But in the valleys, especially ones that get lots of sun, things are starting to melt and get greener. There can be days where you can stop at a mountain restaurant for lunch and sit comfortably in a short-sleeved t-shirt if you’re in the sun. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be cold though. It can still be freezing on some days, so you do have to be prepared for everything. Depending on when Fasching and Easter fall, March can be busy but it can also be not so bad in terms of crowds. Just check when the main holidays dates are (or ask me during our calls if you’re not sure) so you can avoid them.
See more photos from the Dolomites in March:
– Skiing in the Dolomites in Winter
Most mountain lifts stay open until Easter. Sometimes that’s late March, sometimes it’s mid April. It varies every year. And most hotels will mirror the ski lifts with their opening dates (although there are a small number that stay open almost year-round). The Dolomites will still have snow cover in many areas throughout April, even though it’s starting to melt as the days warm up. April is however, generally one of the wetter months in the first half of the year, with the 2nd highest amount of rainfall after May. Depending on the amount of snow that fell during the winter, you may be able to access some areas for hiking at this time, although generally this is only lower trails with lots of sun exposure or areas that didn’t receive much snow. Naturally this can be hard to predict when you’re planning your elopement in advance, which is why being flexible if you’re visiting at this time of year, as well as working with someone like myself who knows the area well and can assess the situation and find suitable backups depending on the conditions is vital.
See more photos from the Dolomites in April:
May is another month of change in the Dolomites. Things are continuing to get warmer, and also often quite a bit wetter, with May being the month with the most rainfall for the first half of the year. Most mountain lifts are closed in May, and so are the mountain huts, as their trails are still inaccessible due to snow still sitting in most higher terrain. If you’re hoping to do a hiking elopement, it is possible in May, but many high-up locations will still not be accessible. However there are many beautiful valleys and mountain passes that are fantastic in May, and since the main tourism season is yet to begin, you won’t find too many crowds.
See more examples of the Dolomites in May:
Things start to really get going again by mid June in the Dolomites. From mid-June the mountain huts start to open again, most of the summer mountain lifts are in operation and the hotels and resorts are in full summer mode. It’s not yet super busy in June, so it can be a good month to plan an elopement, but there can still be snow on the higher trails to the mountain huts if it has been a particularly heavy winter. The weather in June is generally pretty warm, and the days are very long (which is something to think about if you’re considering sunrise or sunset for your elopement as you’ll have a very early start/late finish). From June to September afternoon and evening storms can happen occur frequently in the Dolomites, so always have a plan B!
See more examples of the Dolomites in June:
July means summer is in fully swing in the Dolomites. Hikers and climbers from around the world are heading here for adventures. Everything is open by this point (lifts, huts, hotels etc) and pretty much all terrain is accessible. July is considered high season, and especially for the weekends, things like mountain huts get booked up months in advance. It’s also the hottest month, although August isn’t far behind it. If you’re considering July, the earlier end of July is a little less busy than the later weeks, as most European schools start their summer vacations in the second or third week of July. Other things you can do to avoid the crowds in July are considering a multi-day elopement and staying overnight in a remote mountain hut (just make sure you book your place in the hut really early) or consider a heli elopement that allows you to reach a really remote location.
See more examples of July elopements:
My advice – avoid the month of August in the Dolomites. Even though July is busy, August just seems to be worse. There are many reasons August isn’t a great month to travel to the Dolomites. Firstly it’s the high season for the European school vacation, so hotels and huts are pretty fully booked and the trails are also really busy. And not just the trails but also all of the very limited parking at most of the trailheads too. Secondly, it’s HOT. Sometimes too hot for hiking during the day, with huge evening thunderstorms making sunset elopements quite unpredictable. If you are coming in August, my advice is to plan for sunrise, because afternoon weather is too unpredictable, stay in a mountain hut or go with a heli elopement to avoid those crowded spots.
Or alternatively – consider somewhere like Tirol in Austria instead. While it’s still high season there too, it’s not quite as busy as the Dolomites and there are some areas that are still pretty remote that I can take you too!
See more examples of shoots in August:
Early September can still be pretty warm and busy, but as the month goes on the weather starts to settle and cool down, meaning fewer evening storms. During the day you can still reach temperatures of up to 25°C (77°F) but overnight you can see a frost on the ground. Many hotels, mountain huts and cable cars will stay open until mid-September, after which they take a break until the winter season starts (or for the huts until next summer). After mid-September, things really start to get much quieter – including the trails. And while some locations become a little more difficult to access, hiking conditions are often perfect and the fall colors start to come in and the golden morning & evening light is wonderful for your photos. There tends to be less rain in September, which is great if you’re hoping to hike or climb, but for the alpine lakes, it can mean they are very low, or in some cases, completely dry.
See more examples of September elopements:
October is shoulder season in the Dolomites, so most lifts and huts are closed, as well as a lot of hotels and other resort facilities, but if you are serious hikers or climbers, this month shouldn’t be overlooked. There are some fabulous hikes that are perfect in October. The larch trees change from green to golden and another spectacle that can be seen in September and October is the strong alpenglow known as the “Burning Dolomites. The weather in October can be quite changeable. You could have beautiful sunny days but there could also be colder temperatures with even the odd snowfall.
See examples of October elopements:
November is a month of change (and for many a month of rest) in the Dolomites. Only a few hotels are open during this month, as many are closed in preparation for the upcoming winter season. Mountain lifts and huts are closed. The weather in November is highly variable. You could have beautiful warm temperatures up to 20°C (68°F) and sunshine OR it could be freezing and snowing, and all the trails have iced over. Many locations may be inaccessible but there will still be plenty of places to explore if you’ve got an open mind and an adventurous spirit. The benefits of visiting the Dolomites in November? There’s hardly anyone else around!
While many people think of December as the start of winter and the ski season (it generally is), in the past few years the snow has been coming later and later, and while it has been possible to ski for Christmas & the New Year, it’s not always been the “white winter wonderland” that many people picture. Christmas & New Year are two of the busiest weeks of the ski season, even when the snow conditions aren’t great, as many people in Europe like to get away and celebrate the festive holidays in the mountains. That means high accommodation prices and the need to book early. You may also find that many wedding vendors won’t actually be working during these times, as many also want to take the holidays off to spend time with their families. Earlier in December you can experience the Christmas markets in some of the towns in South Tyrol which are pretty, but there is now guarantee there will be snow. If you want a better chance of snow, plan your visit in January or February.
Best Places To Stay in The Dolomites
The Dolomites have so much to offer in terms of places to stay, from cute mountain chalets to luxury spa hotels. Or if you’re up for a real adventure, you could consider staying overnight in one of the many mountain refuges in some of the most remote locations in the Dolomites. Whatever you are looking for, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Mountain huts in the Dolomites are known as Rifugios Italian or Berghütten in German. Whilst most provide only very basic accommodation, often in dormitory-style bunk rooms, you’ll go to sleep and wake up to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.
Trip Planning Resources
Each of the different regions around the Dolomites has its own tourist office, which can be a great place to start planning and look for recommendations that aren’t the same ones you see over and over again on travel blogs. Here are a couple of websites that are great for trip planning:
How To Get Married In The Dolomites
Legal Marriage Ceremonies in Italy
Both civil and catholic ceremonies are recognized as legally binding in Italy. The best thing about the Dolomites is that you do not have to be Italian to get married here. You will, however, need to submit your paperwork a few months in advance to ensure that everything is set for the wedding day. Most civil ceremonies take place at the local government office but it is often possible to request an outdoor location in some areas too, as long as the local authorities have pre-approved it. The civil wedding ceremony is conducted by the local mayor or another government official in either Italian or German. For couples that don’t speak Italian or German, a translator is required. However, if you aren’t too fussed about doing all the legal paperwork on the day of your elopement, you could do like many couples and sort the legal stuff out at home so that you can create a truly personal and unique elopement day.
Can LGBT Couples Get Married In Italy?
Unfortunately, Italy doesn’t yet recognise marriage equality so LGBTQIA+ couples can’t legally marry here yet (you can only have a civil partnership but hopefully that will change), so that could be another reason to get the legal part taken care of separately.
(Alternatively, you could consider the region of Tirol in the Austrian Alps if you are looking for an LGBTQIA+ civil ceremony).
Fewer and fewer couples are choosing to have their civil ceremony in Italy on the same day as their elopement. More couples are choosing to sign the legal paperwork in their home country before travelling or having the civil ceremony the day before.
Going down this route means that you are free to plan your elopement day exactly as you want, without the restrictions of all the legal stuff. With the boring, legal bit taken care of, the day is free for you to have the best adventure of your lives. If your dream is to hike up a mountain, have a picnic by a crystal clear alpine lake and say your vows to one another at sunset, you can absolutely do that!
You could choose to have a celebrant conduct a ceremony for you in your chosen location, bring your closest friends and family to officiate, or plan a private vow reading with just the two of you. The beauty is that possibilities are endless.
Elopement Locations In The Dolomites
Picking The Perfect Location
As a Dolomites elopement expert, I know so many incredible locations to elope. That’s because I spend a lot of time there hiking, skiing, climbing and exploring. Whilst I keep my absolute favourite locations secret and only share them with the couples that book me, there are a number of areas that I think are must-see places in the Dolomites. There are also some that, in my honest opinion, are slightly overrated, but I’ll come to that in more detail below.
Whichever area you choose, I recommend staying in that area for the whole day of your elopement. Whilst the Dolomites might look small on a world map, the drive from Lago di Braies to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, for example, takes 1 hour, and on your wedding day you might not want to be spending so much time in the car when you could be outside, exploring and having fun.
Avoiding The Crowds In The Dolomites
The Dolomites have been gaining huge popularity on social media, with more and more visitors coming from around the world every year. And because some of these locations in the Dolomites are easily accessible year-round by car and ski lifts such as the famous Lago di Braies, Alpe di Siusi and Seceda, they can be super busy and can lack privacy, which might not be what you are looking for for your intimate elopement. If you want to beat the crowds, there are a few tricks, such as visiting locations in the off-season (which means avoiding July & August), getting there for sunrise, hiking or finding an equally beautiful, but less “Insta-famous” location. Hiring a photographer (like me) who is a local expert is a great way of finding these hidden gems of locations. Or of course, you could charter a private helicopter and visit once everyone else has gone home for the day!
Lago di Braies / Pragser Wildsee
Whilst it might look like the perfect place to get married in the Dolomites, Lago di Braies isn’t actually a location that I recommend for an intimate elopement. For the simple fact that it’s incredibly busy almost year-round now. The problem is you’ll see loads of photos on Instagram or Pinterest that make it look serene and idyllic but that’s the beauty of a still image. It can be shot and edited to make it look like you were the only people there when the reality was totally different.
In the last couple of years, Lago di Braies has seen such an increase in tourism, that sometimes I think it feels more like a theme park than an area of natural beauty. Of course, the lake is still incredibly beautiful, and if you are visiting the Dolomites, I do recommend visiting it, just not on your wedding day. If you do decide to keep Lago di Braies on your elopement day schedule, the best time to go is early in the morning. Just look at driving times because it’s quite far away from a lot of other places in the Dolomites. It’s also not unusual to see multiple couples in wedding attire at Lago di Braies, so if meeting another bride or groom on your wedding day, or standing in line for a photo opportunity isn’t your idea of romantic, give this one a miss.
Update for 2022 – The boathouse no longer offers private rental for photoshootings!
“We no longer offer private photo shoots. But you have the possibility of booking our Sunrise Experience, which allows you to reserve 2 boats (one for the models and one for the photographer) 4 days in advance and hold your shooting directly on the lake. Due to the weather forecast being time-limited, earlier booking is not possible.“
Seceda is an iconic most Dolomites vista, and it’s ridge-line is easily recognised with its shark fin like peaks with grass on one side and dramatic cliffs on the other. Seceda is easily accessed by lift from Ortisei in Val Gardena or with a 1-hour hike from the Col Raiser lift from St Christina. The ease of access to Seceda makes it a popular destination for tourists, so expect to see crowds along the ridge during the day. A large amount of the ridge is fenced off with wire fencing as there are many areas where soil erosion is very evident, and while you will see many people stepping under the fence for photos, I do not recommend this! However, there are some spots where there are breaks in the fence with stunning views. For the best light on Seceda you’ll want to be here at sunrise when the sun comes up just behind the peaks – this means a 3-4 hour hike in the dark or staying overnight in one of the mountain huts and hiking for around 2 hours.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (also known as the Drei Zinnen) is another one of the Dolomites’ most iconic locations. Reaching the base of the 3 peaks is extremely easy. There’s a private toll road from Misurina that takes you right to Rifugio Auronzo at the base of the towers (it costs €30 for a day or €45 if you stay overnight & drive down the next day). For the best light and the most privacy for your elopement, I highly recommend staying overnight in one of the mountain huts around the Tre Cime and getting up for a sunrise ceremony before the majority of the crowds arrive. The most famous rifugio is the Drei Zinnen Hütte (also known as Rifugio Locatelli), but you also have Rifugio Auronzo and Rifugio Lavaredo. These huts get booked out months in advance, so if you want to stay up here, you’ll need to book early.
Val di Funes / Vilnößtal
Most come across this location after seeing photos of the church in the meadow. But now that this location has become very popular for photographers, a fence has been built around the chapel so it’s no longer possible to access the chapel or the meadows in front of it. There are plenty of stunning locations in this valley around the Malga Zanes/Zanser Alm, however this can also become extremely busy in the summer months of July & August, and at weekends.
Other Elopement Locations in the Dolomites
A lot of the people who contact me about their elopement in the Dolomites don’t realise quite how huge the area is, and how far some of the driving and hiking distances are to some of the most famous locations. If you’re planning on visiting the Dolomites, I would definitely recommend basing yourself out of one particular area and exploring as much as you can in that area, rather than trying to simply tick off all the famous locations on a list. Below are some of my favourite areas to visit, and each of there areas are usually much less crowded that Lago di Braies and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo:
What Can You Do For An Elopement In The Dolomites?
A full day elopement might sound like a lot at first, but you have to remember it’s not a full day photo shoot. A full day elopement is simply how you want to spend your wedding day, and the adventure you want to experience with your partner.
- Hike the Alta Via hiking trails
- Sleep in a mountain hut
- Via ferrata climbing
- Take a cable car up to witness the views from the top
- Go boating on a crystal clear alpine lake
- Hike with alpacas and llamas
- Taste traditional Ladin cuisine from a Michelin star restaurant
- Snowshoe or ski tour to some of the most iconic locations in winter such as the Tre Cime
- Ski & snowboard the world-famous pistes of Cortina d’Ampezzo or Val Gardena
- Go mountain biking on the many trails across the region
- Follow a winter hiking trail
- Send one of the many sport or trad climbing routes at Cinque Torri
- Take a helicopter tour
- Take a road trip over one of the many dramatic mountain passes
- Relax and get pampered in a luxury spa with panoramic views of the mountains
Adventurous Hiking & Climbing Elopements in the Dolomites
Summer is awesome for hiking, via ferrata, and climbing (sport and trad climbing) in the Dolomites. From July to September, most of the mountain huts (rifugios) are open, giving you almost endless opportunities for adventures. For multi-day hiking elopements, following sections of some of the famous Alta Via routes can be an epic way to start your adventure into married life together. There’s nothing quite like hiking up to a mountain hut the night before and waking up for a sunrise vow ceremony with the epic views all to yourselves. Even if you don’t fancy hiking to the top of the mountain, there are many cable cars that run through until October that will also bring you to some incredible spots. You also have the option of taking a road trip over one of the many mountain passes and simply pulling over at one of the many parking places and going for a short hike from there to find the perfect location.
For more advice on how to plan a hiking elopement, check out this hiking elopement planning guide.
Get inspired by these real hiking & climbing elopements in the Dolomites
Winter Elopements in the Dolomites
For couples who love winter and the snow, you should travel to the Dolomites between December and April. For the best conditions for a ski or snowboard wedding, I recommend January to mid-April, as over the last few years the snow has been coming later to the Alps and staying longer. The Dolomites are a paradise for anyone considering a ski touring or split-boarding elopement because many of the most iconic summer spots can only be reached by touring in winter. If you’re looking for a more mellow winter elopement in the Dolomites, there are also a number of beautiful winter hiking and snowshoe trails to take you out into the magical winter landscape.
If you’d like to read more about how to plan a ski wedding, check out this ski wedding planning guide.
How Much Does Eloping In The Dolomites Cost?
When it comes to how much an elopement in the Dolomites costs, it really comes down to how much you want to spend. You can do things on a budget or you can take all that money you’ve been saving for the big wedding that you don’t want and instead spend it on an epic elopement experience you’ll never forget.
You might see some people offering budget-friendly packages with a photographer, florist and officiant included. These can be a great option if you are on a super tight budget, but they usually lack the option for you to choose your own vendors and really put a personal stamp on your day. So my recommendation is to book your photographer first (that’s me) and if you need other vendors, I can help put you in contact with them.
When it comes to planning an elopement budget, and how much to spend, all of my couples have different priorities. Some of them don’t want hair & makeup or flowers and just want their day to be about the simplicity of their experience in nature. Other want to use their elopement as an excuse to treat themselves to a taste of luxury and splash out on things they wouldn’t usually do on any other trip.
Below I’ve listed a couple of examples of different budgets for different styles of elopements so you can get an overview of what’s possible. These don’t include your travel costs to the Dolomites, or paying for any guests you might bring with you, as that’s different for every couple.
Luxury Dolomites Elopement Costs
€5000 – Luxury accommodation for 3 nights
€10,000 – Photographer
€3000 – Helicopter flight
€500 – Hair & makeup
€3500 – Private chef
€1000 – Bouquet, boutonniere & flowers for dinner table
€100 – Small cake
€4000 – Wedding dress & accessories
€2500 – Suit & accessories
€3000 – Elopement planner
Total = €32,600
Mid-Range Dolomites Elopement Costs
€1000 – Mid-range accommodation for 3 nights
€8500 – Photographer
€500 – Hair & makeup
€250 – Bouquet & boutonniere
€2000 – Wedding dress & accessories
€1000 – Suit & accessories
€250 – Romantic dinner for 2
Total = €13,500
Budget Dolomites Elopement Costs
€500 – Budget accommodation for 3 nights
€5000 – Photographer
€100 – Wedding night dinner in local restaurant
€250 – Wedding dress & accessories
€250 – Suit & accessories
€0 – Hair & makeup – DIY
€0 – No bouquet or boutonniere
Total = €6100
Dolomites Elopement Packages
Dolomites Elopement Photographer
Your elopement in the Dolomites isn’t complete without the right photographer to capture this incredible adventure for you. You’ll want to have an experienced adventure wedding photographer, who is also a local expert, and that’s where I come in! I’m a multi-award-winning adventure wedding & elopement photographer, and I’m based in the Alps, on the Austrian/Italian border. As a local expert and Tirol mountain hiking guide, and I’m here to help guide you through the whole process of planning your adventurous elopement in the Dolomites.
My Dolomites elopement photography packages for 2023 range from €5000 to €12,000 and include helping you find an epic location for your intimate elopement ceremony and pictures away from the crowds, sharing all my local contacts with you such as wedding planners, florists, videographers and makeup artists, and helping you plan the perfect elopement day timeline so that your day is filled with adventure and excitement without having to feel pressured with time. I’m here as your Dolomites elopement guru!
Would you like more information about my Dolomites elopement photography packages? Fill in the form below and contact me today to chat about the next steps on planning your Dolomites elopement.
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