HOw to Elope in the tetons
Elope to the Tetons | 5 Tips | Jackson Hole Wyoming Photographer
Congratulations on your engagement! After much deliberation, or maybe not much, you've decided to elope to Grand Teton National Park! You dream of vowing your love for each other with a personal and simple ceremony! The Wyoming Tetons are a majestic backdrop that will provide jaw dropping views as well as portraits.
I'm guessing you've never done this before, no worries! You're in the right place. Here are 5 helpful tips to help you get started!
Step 1: Choose your Location
Whether your party is very small, or it's just you and your partner, the possibilities are endless in Grand Teton National Park! Here are a few favorites.
1-Taggart Lake: A short 3 mile round trip hike with stunning views of the Tetons along the way and when you arrive at the Lake!
2-Hidden Falls/Inspiration Point: Located on the far side of Jenny Lake, a 4.9 mile loop at the base of the Tetons.
3-String/Leigh Lake: A beautiful side view of the Tetons with a clear blue lake at the base.
4-Jenny Lake: One of the most popular destinations for travelers, and rightly so. Jenny Lake is an epic location with picture perfect views.
5- Delta Lake: For the adventurous couple- and my personal favorite location on the Wyoming side of the Tetons! It's 8 miles round trip but totally worth it! Delta is a blue like you've never seen before!
6- Table Mountain: Speaking of favorites, If you're in for an epic elopement location, and you're staying on the Idaho side of the Tetons, there's no better complete view of the whole Teton range. There are 2 trails to get there depending on your hiking level. I highly recommend the Face Trail. It's more challenging, but so much shorter. So we'll just take breaks when we need them! (chair lift option)
7- Oxbow Bend: A postcard worthy location. Oxbow Bend is a crescent-shaped section of the river with perfect views of the Tetons.
8 - BlackTail Ponds: The ponds and wet meadows along the Snake River are home to the wetland community as well as Blacktail deer.
9 - Colter Bay: Located in the northern part of Grand Teton National Park, Colter Bay sits on the shore of Jackson Lake . From the lakeshore, you will have views across Jackson Lake to Mount Moran and the northern end of the Teton Range.
10 - Moran Junction: Views you'll see all over postcards. Moran sits along the northeastern edge of Grand Teton National Park. You can drive the outer park road from Jackson to reach Moran. It takes about 45 minutes to get there. Definitely worth it!
11- Teton Canyon Trailhead: Located on the Driggs side of the Tetons, a trailhead with beautiful views, that also leads to so many gorgeous views if you're willing to take an adventure! Check out link side bar.
12 - Mormon Row: Famous for its iconic cabins and barn, Mormon row is a location with easy to access. You can drive right to it! Permit needed for small weddings an elopements. See below for more details!
13- Chapel of the Sacred Heart: For religious ceremonies with bonus of the mountain views, this little chapel is located within Grand Teton National Park on the south shore of Jackson Lake. Built in the 1930s. The Chapel seats up to 115 guests.
15- Signal Mountain Summit: A gorgeous, picturesque view of the Tetons, but from a less famous angle. Near Jackson lake.
16 - The Wedding Tree : A perfect location for an elopement with or without guests. The Wedding Tree frames the Tetons beautifully. It has easy access with a parking lot, and a short flat walk to the ceremony site. Click link to schedule.
17 - Schwabachers Landing: Among the most visited tourist attractions, and for good reason. This location has easy access, bathrooms, parking, and a full view of the whole Teton range. Permit is required, and limited are available. See below for more info!
18- Teton Turnout : An open view of the entire vast valley below, with the Grand Tetons as you're personal backdrop. Easy access, no permit necessary.
19 - Teton Pass: A less popular ceremony location, but one with stunning views and easy turnouts. Can be closed in winter months due to driving conditions, but over all, well maintained.
20 - Jackson Hole Lake: Last, but certainly not least. Jackson Lake is beautiful. But anywhere you go here is! You can't go wrong! The Lake is large and majestic. It mirrors the Tetons perfectly and would be a stunning location for your ceremony.
Step 2: Save the Date
Choose your perfect date. Consider the things that matter to you most. Is the weather most important to you? Or less people? Maybe you're desired location is easier to get a permit in a specific seasons? Or maybe budget is most important, so the off season works best for you. Here are a few tips for each season.
- Fewer travelers
- Better hotel prices
- The Tetons look exceptional since snow hasn't melted yet
- Less competition for permits
- Not all the trees have foliage yet so they can be bare
- Cooler temps
- Limited access in the park depending on date
- Predictable weather
- Warmer temps
- Trees and wildflowers are in full bloom
- Easiest time to travel for guests
- Busiest season for the park
- More competition for permits
- Higher hotel prices
- Gorgeous fall foliage
- Cooler temps
- Fewer travelers
- Trails and Park are still open
- Less competition for permits
- Animals are active
- Less predictable weather
- Colder temps
- Some trails will close later in the Fall
- If you love the snow this is the time to go!
- Skiing season!
- Gorgeous winter wonderland
- Not for you if you don't love the cold
- More travelers than spring and fall
- Unpredictable weather
- Poor road conditions
- GTNP closed
Step 3: Apply for your permit (if needed)
Depending on the location you choose, you will need a permit. Don't worry, it's easy to apply. Here are some things to keep in mind before you apply!
- Some locations are limited so it's important to look into this first!
- If a location is extra special to you, apply for your permit early. Reserved Site Permits open on Dec 1 each year.
- It's a public park, so you will not have exclusive access, but we can choose a location as private as possible! Travelers are typically respectful and give you your privacy.
- You can have guests! But group sizes are limited depending on your permit type.
- You and your partner have to apply for the permit, no one can do it for you. Sorry!
- Fee is $200 to obtain your permit
- More info below!
From the Grand Teton National Park Website:
2023 Wedding and Commitment Ceremony applications will be accepted beginning Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 8 a.m. Mountain Time.
Applications will be accepted no less than 30 days in advance for the following:
- Reserved Site-Specific Ceremonies starting Friday, May 12, 2023, through Sunday, October 15, 2023
- Small Dispersed Ceremonies starting Sunday, January 1, 2023, through Sunday, December 31, 2023
Information on the dates and procedures for applying for 2024 Wedding and Commitment Ceremony application process will be available in the fall of 2023.
There are two types of Wedding and Commitment Ceremony Special Use Permits that can be applied for in the Park:
- Reserved Site-Specific Ceremony Permits
- Small Dispersed Ceremony Permits
A permit is not required to hold a ceremony or reception at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, or a concession facility such as Jackson Lake Lodge. Arrangements for the use of these must be made directly with the establishments.
Reserved Site-Specific Ceremony Permits
The total number of permits issued by the park are limited to 1 ceremony per day, per location with a maximum of 60 ceremonies per year per location with the exception of Colter Bay Swim Beach, which is limited to a maximum of 30 ceremonies per year.
Ceremonies are limited to two hours maximum and must be defined with a start and end time.
Group size includes the ‘wedding party’, wedding guests including children, officiant, and photographer(s).
There are 6 site-specific ceremony locations that may be applied for:
- Schwabacher Landing – Group size limit of 25 people
- Mormon Row (North or South) – Group size limit of 40 people (North) or 25 people (South)
- Mountain View Turnout – Group size limit of 25 people
- Glacier View Turnout – Group size limit of 25 people
- Snake River Overlook – Group size limit of 25 people
- Colter Bay Swim Beach – Group size limit of 40 people
Small Dispersed Ceremony Permits
Group size is restricted to no more than 12 people, including the wedding party, attendees, guests/children, officiant, and photographers.
Ceremonies are limited to one hour maximum at dispersed locations.
Small Dispersed Ceremony locations maybe applied for throughout the park except in prohibited areas (see https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/weddingcommitments.htm). Only one permit will be issued per location per day. A location may not be permitted if the activity will interfere with or prevent general visitor use or cause resource damage. Applicant must provide a location description with coordinates and/or a satellite view map of the requested location.
locations and. more info can be found at https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/weddingcommitments.htm
Step 4: Tell those you love
This is a short tip! If you're eloping as a couple, or inviting a few guests to join your celebration, let your loved ones know! Invite them to celebrate with you whether in person or in heart! Send invitations or just send a text! You have good news to share and they'll be thrilled. And if they're coming, they'll need to save the date and get their bookings coordinated!
Step 5: Start Booking!
Start the Booking Process! Here are some links to start you out!
I'm happy to help you find another amazing photographer if I'm unavailable!
Wedding Planner (if needed ):
These 3 I love
Ashley @ Wildrosejh.com
Alison @ Destinationjacksonhole.com
Not a necessity with an elopement, but a beautiful bonus!
Our Favorite Hotels: priced low-high
Snow King Resort and Hotel: Nestled in the mountain, but still close to town. Perfect for summer of winter, but great for skiiers
Mountain Modern: Their name says it, a modern twist on the mountain vibe. We love the 2 pools and close location to town.
Rustic Inn: Where luxury meets rustic. Beautiful and located in walking distance to town.
Snake River Lodge and Spa: A perfect getaway retreat in the mountains!
The Lodge at Jackson Hole: Warm comfortable rooms designed to feel like a cabin not a hotel room.
The Lexington at Jackson Hole: The Lexington has been around and knows how to take care of you centered around a Jackson Hole vibe inside and out.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott: You can't go wrong with a Marriott, a brand we can trust to always deliver. Its new, clean, and affordable.
The Wort: If a Jackson Hole based Hallmark movie was made, it would be filmed here. Downtown, close to shopping, picturesque.
The Cloudveil by Marriott: Gorgeous, modern hotel in town and close to nightlife, beautiful terrance for gathering.
Fireside Resort: High end camping. Quaint personal cottages make you feel close to nature without all the hassle. ;)
Amangani: The finest luxurious experience in Jackson Hole.
I highly recommend sticking with the Jackson Hole Airport for convenience. But here are links to options if flights don't work in your favor.
Jackson Hole Airport: 15 min drive to the center of Jackson Hole + 7 min drive to GTNP entrance.
Idaho Falls, ID Airport: 2 hr drive to Jackson Hole
Salt Lake International Airport: 4.5 hr drive to Jackson Hole