Can you picture it? You and your partner, standing on a fresh layer of snow, wrapped in blankets and reading your vows as the Northern Lights illuminate the sky, with no sound present but the wind. This is what a wedding or elopement underneath the Northern Lights could like, but you’re not sure where to start.
What time of year are the Northern Lights the strongest? Where are the best places to see them? What are things I need to prepare for? This guide covers all these questions and more. Whether you’re set on eloping under the Northern Lights or exploring the possibility, this guide has all the answers you need. Without further adieu, let’s get into how to plan your wedding or elopement under the Northern Lights.
5 Best Places to See the Northern Lights for Your Wedding
The Northern Lights appear in select places around the world. Below are the top 5 best places to see them.
Alaska, specifically Fairbanks, is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, and often the most accessible for those living in the United States. In fact, this small town of Alaska is one of the coolest places to visit in the winter season. Dog sledding, guided tours, and clear roof igloos are just a few of the sites to see here.
A few short miles from Iceland‘s capital Reykjavik lies Öskjuhlið, a wooded and hilly area 200 feet above sea level. This area has multiple different paths you can walk to view the lights. If you want an even better chance of seeing the lights, head to the Westfjords region where you’ll not only have a complete lack of light pollution, but complete privacy as well.
While there are multiple places to view the Northern Lights in Norway, Tromsø is often regarded as the best place to do so. Because this town is dark for up to 21 hours a day, your chances of seeing the lights shoot up. Don’t let this small town fool you though, it’s actually very well-developed. You can find shopping malls, movie theaters, and more.
In Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota’s only national park, year-round aurora viewing is possible on dark, clear nights. The park even has custom tours during summer and winter nights. Most of the park is covered in water and surrounded by lakes, streams, and more, so planning ahead is crucial, and hiring a guide is always recommended.
In Finland, the Northern Lights are visible over 200 nights a year. Because of this, Finland has a variety of super unique places to stay in order to get a front row show to the lights, some of which we’ll touch on later. Be sure to prepare for the cold though, because this place has it!
Other Notable Northern Light Wedding Locations
Below are some other noteworthy places you can see the Northern Lights.
- Yukon, Canada
What Time of Year Should I Plan My Wedding if I Want to See the Northern Lights?
While this depends on the location you choose, the best time of year to see the Northern Lights is typically December through March, though you can see them as early as August in some locations around the world.
What Should I Wear for a Northern Lights Wedding?
When it comes to eloping during the cold winter months, and especially during nighttime when the temperature is at its coldest, it’s imperative that you dress for warmth. Below are some of my biggest tips and recommendations for what to wear if you decide to elope in the dead of night.
One of the best pieces of outerwear I recommend for brides and grooms are tights. Specifically, nude colored tights so they can’t be seen under a dress or suit. It’s the ultimate hack for staying warm without sacrificing style. I really recommend the brand Nude Barre. They have an incredible selection of skin tones and their tights are convertible, meaning they can be foot or footless. However, these tights aren’t fleece-lined, so if you’re looking for something with some extra warmth (which I highly recommend if you’re planning your wedding under the Northern Lights), I recommend these tights on Amazon.
Heavy-Material Dresses and Suits
I usually recommend going with a dress that has long sleeves to help you keep warm. Specifically, a dress in a heavier material, like silk or velvet, will help keep you much warmer.
As for suits, the same principle applies. Try going with heavier fabrics, like wool and tweed, that are guaranteed to keep you warm.
Boots are one of the most crucial parts of keeping you warm. If you don’t have warm shoes, you’ll be freezing. Insulated and waterproof shoes are key to having an enjoyable experience outdoors. I also recommend getting a boot that goes a little higher than normal to help keep the snow out of your shoes. Pair those with some wool socks and you’re golden. These magic socks will keep you warm all day long.
Some of my favorite books include Danner, Columbia, and Keen Boots.
Accessories and Body Warmers
Many brides/grooms like to bring fun winter accessories like shawls, fur coats, earmuffs, gloves, scarves, blankets, and more. Blankets and fur coats (real or not) look especially good in photos and serve as fun photo props.
Lastly, my biggest tip is to get some peel and stick body warmers/hand warmers. Stick these puppies against your skin and throw some in your socks to have you warm and toasty all day long.
Oh, and don’t forget a good-quality jacket! I’ve had a $30 jacket and a $300 jacket, and let me tell you that the $300 jacket was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
Best Airbnbs and Hotels to See the Northern Lights
If you’re looking to go all-out with your experience, consider staying in an Airbnb with a clear roof for optimal viewing. Below are some of my favorite Airbnbs or hotels from the locations discussed earlier where you can see the Northern Lights.
- Large Modern Villa (great for elopements with friends and family)
- Modern Cabin By The Sea
- Spectacular Modern Home
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
4 Things You Need to Know About the Northern Lights
While the Northern Lights are magical and a bucket-list item for many, it’s important to understand how they work and prepare for every “what if” situation.
They Aren’t Always Visible
The Northern Lights can only be seen when the sky is clear and there isn’t any light pollution. While it’s hard to predict the weather, try blocking off at least 3 days in a row that you can choose from for your ceremony. If there are clouds in the sky, the lights cannot be seen. The same goes for light. Avoid planning your wedding around a full moon.
Have a Backup Location
Having a backup location is key to having a flawless wedding day. For example, your first choice may have clouds blocking the lights, while your second location is clear as day. Having a second and even third backup location will save you a headache in the end.
Add More Travel Time and Prepare
Because the Northern Lights are visible in the winter months, most of the locations they can be seen from have snow. Be sure to plan for extra travel time, especially since many locations where the Northern Lights are visible are pretty remote, meaning driving on ice and snow-covered roads is a big possibility.
With that, be sure to also have a full tank of gas, food, water, tire chains, a safety phone, etc. you can use to call for help. You never know what can happen!
As much as we’d like to control the weather, we unfortunately can’t. The Northern Lights are usually most visible from 12am-4am. However, they may not start until 3am, after you’ve been sitting in the car for 3 hours waiting to see them. Make sure to be patient and enjoy the journey!
Also, most photographers may have you stand completely still in order to capture you with the lights without having the image turn out blurry. While it may feel like a long time, the pictures are always worth it!
Northern Lights Wedding and Elopement Packages
I’m Brianna, an elopement photographer based in California. I help couples from all over the world plan and photograph their elopement along the West Coast. From location lists to permits, the experience goes beyond just photography. To get more information about my elopement packages, check out my elopement packages page here.
- 4 hours – 2 days of elopement coverage
- A personalized elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
- Personalized elopement location recommendations
- Vendor, lodging, and activity recommendations
- Assistance and information to help you with permits, licenses, etc.
- 90+ page elopement planning guide filled with tips and tricks
- Customized elopement timelines
- Optional complimentary officiant services
- Online gallery with full resolution images and printing rights
- 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
- Travel fees to anywhere in California, Oregon, or Washington are already included
- Starting at $6,500 for CA, OR, WA or $8,500 for anywhere in the U.S.
Don’t forget your FREE elopement guide!
An all-in-one planning guide for all things elopements! Whether you’re hoping to hike through the mountains of Washington or sip a margarita on the beaches of California, this comprehensive elopement guide has everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect elopement.
You? You’re the kind of person that gets a lil’ teary eyed looking at an epic view…
That moment when you turn to the person you’re with and ask, “Are you seeing this?” I live for it. Places with trees and mountains and soft breezes that make you say, “I can’t believe this place exists,” I spend pretty much all of my free time searching for and exploring them.
These places have always felt like home to me. And if you’re the kind of person who also feels more at home surrounded by trees than by people? Then we’ll get along really well. The Pacific Northwest is full of secret spots that are too special to share with just anyone. But it would make me happy to share them with you on your wedding day.
(I promise you won’t regret it.)
P.S. I’m Brianna. My mission is to create custom, one-of-a-kind elopement experiences in the Pacific Northwest that allow couples to fully immerse themselves in the highest levels of excitement and wonder on a day designed exclusively for them.