wedding planning tips

The Ultimate Guide: How to Elope In Idaho

Although I’m lucky enough to call Idaho home, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and work around the world in some pretty amazing wedding destinations. From Italy to Thailand to Scotland and all over the US, it’s pretty amazing to experience what shooting in different parts of the world is like! However, it seems that every time I come home from a magical trip abroad, I’m reminded of how amazing Idaho is. Idaho has unparalleled beauty and the Rocky Mountains undoubtedly create backdrops that could be mistaken for the Italian Alps. The other thing I love about Idaho? How remote it is. In Idaho, you can find yourself completely alone on even the most popular mountain hikes. In my experiences working in popular areas of national parks or popular mountain ranges like the North Cascades or the Flat Irons in Boulder, Colorado, you have to hike for 15+ miles in the backcountry to get an alpine lake or meadow all to yourself. In Idaho, you can pull off to the side of a back road and not see another human for hours – this makes eloping in Idaho a dream! Whether you’re choosing to elope a few hours away in your home state or travel to Idaho, these eight steps will make planning your Idaho elopement as easy as pie…or wedding cake. 😉

#1 Pick a location 

Location comes first. Depending on whether you want to get married in Northern Idaho or Southern Idaho, you will want to look into flights to Spokane or Boise if you’re coming in from out of town. Ask yourself a couple of questions first: are you looking for a rustic/glamping experience? Do you want a cozy mountain cabin? Is a luxe modern hotel more your style? These factors will play into where you want to elope. Some of the most beautiful locations in Idaho have very few lodging options which is one of the few challenges to getting married in a more remote state like Idaho! However, there are several famous resort towns with hotels that offer nicer amenities. Stanley, Idaho, for example, offers some of the most beautiful picturesque views of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, but most lodging is only available May through September and has few options. However, mountain towns like Coeur D’ Alene and Sun Valley have huge tourism in the winter and have several hotels and cabins available year-round!

I usually recommend early June in the mountains if you want mountain wildflowers and snow-covered peaks. If a perfect summer day with a dunk in the lake and making S’mores is more your style, late July is a perfect time of year in Idaho to plan your wedding because temperatures average 85 degrees and you avoid the risk of fire season that hits in August. If you’re dreaming of fall colors in the mountains, choose the end of September for optimal fall weather and colors! Usually, the trees change in the mountains a little earlier than the surrounding cities/towns in the valley because it gets colder faster.

#2 Find an all-inclusive elopement package

If you’re looking for zero stress, consider hiring an elopement planner to take care of all the details from lodging to dinner to flowers to finding an officiant. A lot of people starting planning an elopement to make things simple, only to find out that planning an elopement does start to add up in cost and planning quicker than they expected. There are all-inclusive options that take away the stress of deciding whether to make dinner reservations or bring in a private chef, to hiring an officiant and figuring out the marriage license details, to finding an elopement photographer. Emily Aitken Events in Boise, Idaho specializes in crafting a personal experience. Although investing in an all-inclusive experience might seem like overkill, it actually creates a more meaningful and personal experience when you can focus on one another all day long rather than dealing with those logistics on the day of! Think of an elopement planner as a way to simplify the day and an investment in creating a once in a lifetime experience stress-free! Also, hiring experts who have lots of experience with elopements can help you time your day so you can enjoy it how you want to, and have local knowledge and insight as to secret locations, the best vendors, and best places to eat and drink!

#3 Hire a photographer

Elopements are so special for so many incredible reasons, but one of the coolest parts about planning an elopement is that you don’t have to be tied to one venue or location. You also don’t have to deal with the hours it takes to shoot family photos, the wedding party, or reception photos, which frees up your day to go on a hike, find awesome locations, and enjoy a coffee or beer together! I’ve had several couples tell me they want to spend some time with their dog on their elopement day and go grab a beer. Although some elopement photographers offer services for 1 hour to only capture the ceremony, I highly consider couples consider hiring a photographer for most of your elopement day, just as you would a regular wedding so your day is captured from start to finish! Just because you’re not getting ready with a dozen people in the room doesn’t mean the moment you put on your dress or write your vows in the morning doesn’t have equal meaning. Your photos are the only thing you will have to look back on your day, so I recommend doing a lot of research to find a local photographer who knows the area well and can serve your needs best. Often, couples want to elope to have a relaxed but personal/intimate day, and an expert photographer will have endless advice as to how to best plan your day around that!

#4 Hire an officiant

I’ve seen couples bring friends or siblings along to their elopement to officiate their wedding, but if you’re looking for an officiant, it can be tricky. Most people don’t know that an officiant can really set the tone for your day and the mood of your ceremony. Whether you want someone who sticks to a more religious/traditional style, someone who can add some silliness/humor to your vibe, or someone who can hike 10 miles with you on your day, you want someone who comes prepared and asks for your personal stories to integrate into your ceremony. I highly recommend Chris Aitken with Emily Aitken Events or Pauline out of Boise Idaho!

#5 Get your marriage license

Depending on the country where you’ve decided to get married, you will need to visit your county clerk to obtain your marriage license. In Idaho, marriage licenses will cost you $30 and come prepared with cash only! Both parties must be present, and you will also need to verify your identity with your original birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, and SSN. Fun fact: You don’t need a witness to get married, but you DO need a legal clergy (judge, governor, priest, mayor, tribal judge, officiant, etc.) for your marriage to be legal! There is no waiting period and you can pick up your marriage license the same day you get married, but the offices are only open Monday-Friday from 8 am – 5 pm, so I recommend putting it on your to-do list early. 😉 

#6 Hire a florist

I’ve heard a lot of couples who come to me wanting a simple, fun elopement day who say they don’t want to go through the fuss of finding a florist for a bouquet they’ll throw away the next day. While I understand that it can seem like a hassle, there are several florists who offer easy elopement bouquets at a reasonable rate. If you’re investing in amazing photographer and a great outfit, I don’t recommend going to the store and picking a few stems off a shelf. Your bouquet/flowers are going to be in almost every photo and florals have a unique ability to blend all the elements of the rugged Idaho landscape with your outfits. A great bouquet really can tie your personality and style together effortlessly and create an amazing statement. Wildflower Floral has a storefront in Idaho and offers elopement bouquets. I also love Just So Event Floral and Flower Farm!

#7 Find an elopement dress

Depending on your elopement timeline, how you find a wedding dress will depend on how much time you have. Most boutiques have sample sizes off the rack that are sometimes available for purchase, but it isn’t guaranteed. Once you choose a dress, most gowns take 6-8 months to be ordered and delivered. After that, you also need to get it altered which can take another 1-2 months depending on how much of your gown needs altering. If you’re eloping in under 6 months, I recommend finding someone who can custom make a gown or ordering online. Reclamation gowns are a must for the boho goddess bride. They create custom dresses to your sizing gown quickly. BHLDN is another great option for those wanting to spend under $1000 as they have an assortment of more casual, flowy gowns for your wild Idaho elopement. 

#8 Think outside of the box

Put your personalities first. Your elopement is a chance to have the most perfect YOU day. I’ve seen couples have a campfire with S’mores instead of a traditional wedding cake. I’ve seen couples ride off into the sunset on their bikes. I’ve seen couples go horseback riding or spend their elopement morning in the hot springs. Go for a beer in the middle of the day. Eat brunch together. Go vintage shopping and find a boutique or record store! Get tattoos together! Elopements offer a chance to just enjoy and focus on one another. You don’t need to make anyone else happy – so have fun with it and make it your own!

If you want to see some Idaho elopement inspiration, take a look at this elopement in Owyhee Canyon – it’s the perfect example of what you can do when you hire an all-inclusive package with a planner, stylist, florist, and photographer!

Author maggiegracephotography

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