How To Plan A Skiing Elopement in the Alps

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Years ago when I used to shoot bigger ski weddings with 70-100 guests, I created a guide for “How to plan a ski wedding in Europe“. I’ve updated that guide every year, and lots of people tell me how helpful it has been for them. Since I only shoot elopements and weddings with no more than 15 guests these days, I’ve realised that much of the information in that guide isn’t relevant to my eloping couples. I’ve considered taking the guide down. But then the people who are looking for that information will no longer be able to find it. So instead, I thought I’d just create a new guide instead, specifically with my top tops for planning a skiing elopement in the Alps, so that it’s more relevant to what you’re looking for.

Choosing The Resort

Most people are drawn to the big, well-known resorts. Big resorts certainly have their benefits. They offer many kilometers of slopes, a wide variety of accommodation options and often many other activities outside of just skiing and snowboarding.

However, there can be a huge benefit to choosing a smaller, perhaps lesser-known resort. While smaller resorts may only have a handful of slopes, that can also be their biggest plus. Fewer slopes often means fewer people, as big resorts are simply more popular. That can also mean accommodation is quite considerably cheaper. Of course, the downside is less choice.

Deciding if you would rather be in a big, vibrant and lively resort or a smaller, more quaint one will be one of the first decisions you’ll need to make.

Other factors that might also influence your choice of resort may include:

  • Can you access it with public transport, or would you need to hire a car or book an airport transfer
  • How easy is the access to resort? How far from the closest airport?
  • How high is the resort? Higher resorts usually have better snow conditions, especially in the early and late season.
Bride and groom posing with their skis in the snow on the wedding day in Austria

Choosing The Date

If you are planning a skiing elopement in the Alps, you’ll find most resorts are open from mid-December to early April. However, as the climate is changing, so are the winters in the Alps.

Generally speaking, the first snowfall starts to come in November. However, a pattern over the last few years has been really warm temperatures in December, bringing with them rain instead of snow. It’s been mid-January when the Alps has received most of it’s snow in the last few years.

Even though December isn’t a great month for snow, there’s another reason why it can be less than ideal for elopement. And that’s because of the holidays. Christmas and New Year, despite the poor snow in recent years, are still one of the most popular times of year for a ski vacation for a lot of European families. The kids are out of school from just before Christmas until the second week of January. Plus, spending the holidays in the mountains, even is the snow isn’t great, is a much more fun option than spending it with the in-laws 😉

January is reasonably quiet. Or maybe a better way to say it, is that it’s “less busy”. Because the reality is that during the ski season, most ski resorts are reasonably busy. Temperates are colder, but usually the snow is pretty good.

February is the month of Fasching (carnival), and ski resorts across the Alps get extremely busy again. Across Europe, school’s are on their mid-term breaks, so for the families that didn’t make it during Christmas and New Year, this is the next best time to go skiing. In fact, for many, it’s actually more popular than Christmas, simply because the snow conditions are generally much better.

March is spring skiing. There can (and often is) fresh snow fall in March too, but the temperatures are usually warm enough that it becomes pretty heavy and slushy pretty quick. March is usually busier than January, but quieter than February. The busiest times are over Easter, which can fall in either March or April.

By April, most ski resorts are preparing to close. Some will stay open until mid-April if the snow is good enough. After that point, it’s mainly just the glacier ski areas that allow skiing later into the year. April also isn’t usually that busy, unless it’s Easter. But you never know what the snow conditions are going to be like by then.

Picking Your Vendors

The most important person involved in your ski elopement (after you, of course), will most likely be your photographer. They might even be the only person involved.

Picking someone who is experienced, not just in the mountains, but also on the slopes, is so important to having a stress-free day. You’ll want someone who can accompany you (safely) wherever you want to go.

I’m a huge advocate of booking someone local, because nothing beats local knowledge. My local area includes the Tirol and Dolomites areas. I live in a village in Austria but close to the border of Italy, and these are the areas where I’ve spent the last 12+ years skiing and snowboarding over the winter. As a former instructor (for both disciples), I understand the needs/challenges of the different sports, and I’m always considering that when suggesting locations to you. I know how horrid long, flat sections are for snowboarders and that drag lifts in a wedding dress are to be avoided!

If you’re considering the Italian, Swiss or French Alps, I highly recommend reaching out to local photographers in those resorts. I know there are some, so if you can’t find them, do drop me a message and I’ll try and put you in contact.

Bride and groom skiing down the slopes of Kitzbuhel Austria

Booking Your Travel & Accommodation

Once you’ve settled on your date and the resort (which your local photographer can probably advise you on), then I would recommend getting your accommodation booked as early as you can. Ski season is very different to summer in the Alps (which is much more relaxed), and accommodation gets booked up pretty fast.

Many places have minimum 7-night stays in the winter, especially in the high season, so this will be something to consider when planning your whole trip.

Picking Your Elopement Ceremony Location

There is actually a lot of thought and research that goes in to choosing appropriate locations for a skiing elopement in the Alps. Ski resorts can be busy places. Finding suitable locations can be challenging, as there are a lot of factors to consider. These include:


First, there’s how private a location really is. In many busy ski resorts, finding a truly private location on the mountain can be very difficult. So there’s often a need to compromise. Many locations are slightly away from the main ski slopes, but most of the time, they aren’t completely invisible – especially if you want to have a location with amazing views.

If you’re having family or friends with you, that location needs to be suitable for everyone. There needs to be place for everyone to stand comfortably, in a way that makes sense for a ceremony. Finding somewhere that can accommodate that many people is often somewhere fairly close to the resorts infrastructure (slopes, lifts or restaurants).

Ease of Access

In the winter, if you’re looking for a location on the mountain, with panoramic views, you’re looking at locations that are generally either accessed by lifts or by skiing to them. However, that doesn’t take you very far away from where everyone else is.

When you’re looking at lifts, I always recommend looking at gondola or cable car-accessed locations first. It reduces the time you are out in the elements, and for anyone with you who doesn’t ski or snowboard, it allows them to safely get up on the mountain too.

To get further away from the lift stations or the slopes, you’ve got to either walk a bit, or ski outside of the marked pistes. You can sometimes find smaller cat-tracks that aren’t for skiers that you can take, to get a bit away from the slopes, which are the easiest to walk on. Walking on terrain that hasn’t been groomed, you can end up sinking in to the snow up to your ankles, even up to your knees if there’s been some fresh snow, then it can make walking extremely difficult (as well as making you look like you’ve got mini legs in photos).

Bride and groom exchange wedding vows in an elopement in St Anton in Austria
Ski Elopement in St Anton


There are a number of safety factors to consider when choosing your location, as sometimes you might find a location that looks ideal, but that’s really impractical, perhaps even unsafe.

Stopping on a piste, or anywhere where the are skiers, snowboards, ski-doos or toboggans using the same route, is not a good idea. Not only are you blocking the path for others (which is a pretty douchey thing to do), but you also risk an accident.

Going anywhere outside of the pistes, not only do you need to be aware of the snow-pack and avalanches, but you also need to be able to get safely in and out, which may involve skiing in very variable terrain.

You also want to look at the difficult of the slopes, getting in and out of your location. Even if you are confident on the slopes, don’t underestimate that when you’re holding a dress or skiing without poles, that things will feel different. Now imagine that the conditions aren’t optimal, maybe icy or full of slush bumps. Are you still confident? I highly recommend sticking to the easiest possible slopes, so you don’t need to stress about anything.

Snow Conditions

One of the biggest challenges I’ve come across as an elopement photographer shooting skiing elopements, is planning around the snow conditions.

Whenever I’m suggesting locations for you, I’m usually suggestions that I’ve already visited. However, especially in the last few years when snow is becoming more and more unpredictable, a location that is easily accessible one week, may be inaccessible (or just look totally different) a week later. This can be due to more snow, or lack of snow.

That’s also the same for the slope conditions. They could be absolutely perfect one week, and an icy or slushy death trap the week after. So it can be really hard to plan in advance.

What I recommend for every couple is to arrive in resort a few days before their elopement, and actually go and visit the locations. Check out the slopes. How do you feel on them? Check out the ceremony spot. Is it easy to reach, for everyone involved? Do you feel comfortable and confident getting there and back?

Trash the dress ski and snowboard after-wedding shoot in Tyrol Austria by Wild Connections Photography

Choosing Your Outfits

Most of my ski elopement couples do choose to wear wedding clothes for their elopement. During the spring months, they can be warm enough (although I have had a March wedding with temperatures at -5°C/23F). But most of the time, you are going to be cold.

To keep as comfortable as possible, I recommend the following solutions:

  • Fleece, skin-tone leggings under the dress
  • Warm ski jacket for over the top
  • Warm ski gloves
  • A warm hat
  • Sunglasses – absolutely essential

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