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For adventure loving couples there isn’t a better way to get married than surrounded by mountain views. Mountain elopements are chance to spend quality time together and plan a wedding day that really focuses on you and the activities you love.

Imagine reading your vows to each other at sunrise, holding hands as you go on your first hike as a married couple, or skiing down the slopes together on your special day.

You might be wondering “how do we actually make it happen”? As a wedding photographer based in the heart of the Alps, I regularly join couples on their mountain elopement adventures, I’ve got hands on experience of what it takes to plan a mountain wedding, and some of the questions you might need to ask yourself along the way. So if you’re looking to turn your mountain wedding dreams into a reality, here are a few tips to get you started.

Why do people chose to get married in the mountains

People want to elope for all sorts of different reasons. Planning a big wedding at home might seem overwhelming, or couples might prefer something that is more intimate with just closest friends and family. 

Here are a few reasons that couples have shared for why they chose an elopement wedding: 

“We want to do something to reflect our epic, unique, and intimate relationship.”

“I think our biggest challenge was the decision to elope, but it’s also one we definitely don’t regret. We have friends and family that we wanted to share these moments with, but unfortunately like many LGBTQ couples, we also had concerns about some who may have attended and their views causing unnecessary stress for us on a day meant for celebrating our love. In the end, we decided to focus on us and make it just the two of us and we couldn’t be happier with that decision. We asked friends and family to write us letters to read on the day, as a small way of having them with us as we start the next chapter together.”

“We want to build a life together that is adventurous and allows us to explore new landscapes and cultures together. We thought our union would be a special place to start. We also wanted a day where we could just focus on each other and celebrate how great we are together.” 

“We started planning a big wedding then changed our minds. We wanted something that looks more like us. We both love nature, mountains and lakes.”

Different types of mountain weddings

There is no one size fits all for planning mountain weddings or elopements. It’s about creating a special day around you and your partner. Thinking about the types of activities that you love sharing together and finding the best way to celebrate committing your love to each other. 

Although there isn’t a right or wrong way to plan your wedding there are definitely things that you can consider and tips to help make sure your day goes exactly the way you want it. A few different types of mountain weddings to think about are Single day, multi day, and overnight in a mountain hut.

Single Day

When you elope to the mountains you might be travelling just to elope, or as part of a longer trip and just take a day out of your time away to have your ceremony and celebrate. It’s important to think about whether having the legal ceremony on the same day is important to you, where you might be able to have it and the logistics involved. All elopements are different but here’s an example of what a single day could look like:

12pm – Lunch & getting ready
2pm – First look
3pm – Depart for trailhead
4pm – Hike up to mountain lake
5pm – Vow ceremony, followed by photos and picnic
7pm – Golden hour photos and start hike back to valley
9pm – Return to hotel & celebratory cocktails

Multi Day

There are so many reasons to celebrate your wedding over more than one day. It gives you more time to enjoy the moment, you are able to fit in several different locations, and will be more flexible to change plans for the weather. If you are having a ceremony with friends and family you could plan to have a ceremony on one day with your family, as well as a more intimate moment just the two of you the next.

Multi day weddings are also a great way of getting trash the dress photos! If you want to wear your wedding attire to ski, snowboard or head right out on the trails the best way to do it is over two days. On the first day you can have your ceremony, and get some more traditional shots, and then on the second day you are free to wear that dress wherever you want to.

Mountain Hut

Mountain huts are basic accommodation in the mountains for hikers. They have limited facilities but can allow you to access some incredible locations and stunning views. A mountain hut stay can be particularly handy for couples looking to catch sunset or sunrise views in the mountains.

A two day elopement with a mountain hut could look like:

10am – Depart hotel after breakfast and head to start of trail
All day – Hiking, enjoying the views, lunch break at a hut/picnic
4pm – Check-in at mountain hut for the night, shower
7pm – Dinner in mountain hut
9pm – Sunset photos then early to bed
NEXT MORNING
5am – Alarm to get dressed for sunrise
6am – Sunrise vow ceremony & photos
7:30am – Breakfast in mountain hut
8:30am – Depart mountain hut for day of hiking
Afternoon/Evening – Return to hotel for afternoon of wellness, relaxing in spa & dinner in restaurant

When you are planning a multi day elopement you don’t have to stick to one place the whole time, going on a hut to hut elopement (and staying in different mountain huts over a couple of days) can mean that you can get out into more remote areas, and explore the mountains. You’ll be in for an incredible adventure and have the opportunity to experience places that wouldn’t be accessible via a day hike.

Related Reading:
Mountain Hut Elopements in the Alps – Everything You Need To Know
Why You Need To Consider A Multi Day Elopement
How To Plan A Hiking Elopement in the Alps

Choosing your Mountain Wedding location

There are lots of questions to ask yourself as you start to look into locations for your mountain wedding to make sure that you get the very best from your day. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are: 

  • What activities do we want to do? And where are they offered? 
  • Is it important to have a legally binding ceremony in the mountains, or on the same day? 
  • Will this location be easy to reach? 
  • How will this location be impacted by the time of year when I want to get married? 
  • How busy will this location be? 

Using Instagram and Pinterest can be a great way of getting inspiration for the types of places you are looking for, but remember that often “Instagram hotspots” can be overcrowded and aren’t always as scenic and beautiful as they look. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what you are looking for and where I’d recommend talking to someone with local knowledge. 

There are a whole range of beautiful lesser known locations all across the Alps and Dolomites. Whether you are looking to read your vows to each other with no one else around, or trek for several days without seeing another person. By using local knowledge you can access lesser known locations that you’ll never find on social media. 

Hiking Locations 

Stubai Valley, Austria

Alta Badia, Italy

Lofoten, Norway

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Karwendel Nature Park, Austria

Winter Locations 

Kitzbühel, Austria

Zermatt, Switzerland

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Chamonix, France

Related Reading:
– Best Places To Elope In Europe In 2021
Tyrol Elopement Planning Guide
How To Plan A Ski Resort Wedding In Europe in 2021

SHOULD YOU HIRE A MOUNTAIN GUIDE?

From May 2022 I’ll be a certified mountain hiking guide (Tiroler Bergwanderführer), which means that I’m able to plan routes and guide you on many of the trails across the Alps. However there is some terrain that I’m not insured to guide you on, where only a fully certified IFMGA mountain guide can take you.

Depending on how you envision your elopement, you might want to consider hiring a fully certified IFMGA mountain guide to accompany you on your adventure. When would you want a fully certified mountain guide? Here are a few reasons you might want to have a guide:

  • For a route in high alpine terrain if you’re not experienced in the mountains
  • If you want to do any trek that involves crossing a glacier or other technical terrain
  • If you want to do a route the involves via ferrata or small sections of climbing or scrambling

WHEN TO TRAVEL

Deciding when to elope might be decided by the types of activities you are looking to do, or by your own timelines, but there are other factors you might want to consider about different times of the year in the mountains. 

Winter/Spring  

Winer elopements are a stunning way to get married in the snow, if your keen skiers or snowboarders this one could be for you, but it’s also a great option for anyone looking for a winter vibe, there are so many other activities you can do in winter if you don’t have winter skills: snowshoeing, snow mobiling, and winter hiking, and of course snuggling up together in the warm at the end of the day. Winter weddings are best planned from January – April.

Spring can give you the best of both worlds – in early spring around March-April you can get spring skiing where the snow is more reliable than early on in the season, and warm afternoons and longer days mean there are more opportunities to get out for other activities too. But be warned from April – June is considered the off season in many locations, the snow hasn’t fully melted for the trails to be clear and many of the lifts and mountain huts will be closed – If you are looking to travel in spring it’s best to contact someone with local knowledge of the area to find out more information about which areas will be accessible. 

Summer/Fall  

June-October are the perfect months for hiking and climbing elopements, with mountain huts open and the trails should be free of snow. If you can travelling in Fall can help you to avoid the crowds and ensure you get your intimate moment to yourselves, but with so many different places to go across the alps whatever time of year you want to travel it can be possible to head to a lesser known spot.

The legal stuff : How do you actually get married on a mountain

Depending on your location there may be different things to consider when you are planning your mountain wedding. Fewer and fewer couples are planning to have their civil ceremony on the same day as their elopement. Having it before hand allows you freedom to have your vow ceremony wherever you like, and to plan the rest of the day completely around you. 

However, if it is important for you to do it whilst you are away there are some options depending on where you are looking to elope to.

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.

Austria: 

In Austria, the only option for a legally binding marriage is a civil ceremony. Civil ceremonies are conducted by a local Standesamt, which is usually housed inside the local council. A civil ceremony in Austria is usually rather short and matter-of-fact. They are usually conducted in German at the local registry office, last around 20 minutes and aren’t usually open to a whole amount of personalisation. However, there are an increasing number of locations around Austria where they are offering more flexibility in location and personalisation. 

Related Reading:
The Legalities Of Planning A Destination Wedding
Dolomites Elopement Guide
How To Elope In Austria in 2021 – All You Need To Know

Can I invite people to my mountain wedding?

Of course you can! But you also don’t have to, this is about you planning the day that is right for you. If you want to get married just the two of you there is nothing wrong with that. 

If you are inviting friends and family make sure you have considered their ability and safety when planning the day. Picking a location for the ceremony with good access, and where there will be enough room for everyone. Take into consideration that people might have a different pace in the mountains and make sure there is enough time for the guests to get to your wedding location at their own speed.

What Getting Married on a Mountain Could Look Like:

Here are just a few photos that show what getting married in the Alps or the Dolomites could look like:

Things to Remember for Your Mountain Wedding

Here are some other points to remember as you start planning your mountain elopement:

  • Leave no trace. Follow the same guidelines that you would use for any other outdoor activity, taking your litter home with you and respecting the environment you are in.
  • Consider local laws and make sure you obtain permits, this can be where local knowledge can be really useful to make sure that nothing gets in the way of your special day
  • Think about how you might like to involve your family and friends, could they write you letters that you read on the mountain 
  • Book your vendors well in advance to ensure availability 
  • Make sure you have a back up plan , in case of weather conditions or safety 
  • Be prepared to go with the flow, sometimes the mountains can be unpredictable, be prepared to work with it and know that you will have the best day no matter what happens.

Related Reading:
Elopement Details You Must Not Forget
How To Incorporate “Leave No Trace” Principles In Your Adventure Wedding
Do You Need An Elopement Planner?

Want Some Ideas?

Need some inspiration? Check out these awesome Alpine hiking elopements with some of my past couples.

Climbing & Hiking Elopement in the Dolomites
Bichl Alm Ski Wedding in Kitzbuhel
Elopement ceremony in the Italian Alps by Wild Connections Photography
Micro Wedding in the Dolomites

Ready for your very own adventure?

Thinking of planning a hiking elopement in the Alps? Want to find the perfect secret spot for your elopement? From my base in Innsbruck, in the heart of the Alps, I work with couples to create the mountain wedding they’ve already dreamed of and produce photographic memories they can keep forever. My elopement packages start from €4000 for a half-day and my local knowledge is free.

Get in touch with me today to book your free elopement consultation.

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