Snow-covered mountains and meadows, warm hot chocolate, and quiet, peaceful landscapes are just a few of the many reasons couples choose to elope during the winter season. While planning an elopement during winter requires a bit of extra planning, nothing can beat the feeling of exchanging vows with the person you love while the snow slowly hits the ground.
Whether you need help picking the most magical snowy location or simply need tips on how to stay warm, this guide covers absolutely everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect winter elopement, no matter where in the world you decide to tie the knot.
5 Best Winter Elopement Locations
Below are some of the most dreamy places to elope at in the cold winter months. There’s a great mix of winter levels on this list, from snow-buried trails to lightly-brushed cities, there is truly something for everyone.
Alaska is not only one of the most breathtaking places in the winter, but it’s also one of the most underrated elopement locations out there. While the days are short, the adventures are grand. This area is known for its immense beauty and abundance of winter-related activities. Oh, and don’t forget about the Northern Lights!
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park, located in Washington State, is the perfect location for couples wanting both snow and snow-free spots. Enjoy a day in the snow at Hurricane Ridge and end your night at a nearby snow-free lake for dinner. The location options truly are endless here. Beaches, forests, mountains, and waterfalls await.
Leavenworth, also located in Washington State, is famous for its Bavarian-themed German village surrounded by the majestic North Cascades. This small town is especially popular during the Christmas season. Leavenworth has numerous celebrations and an endless supply of Christmas lights filling the streets.
Grand Teton National Park
While many of the trails in Grand Teton National Park close in the winter, don’t let that deter you. You will never see the park so quiet! There’s a different kind of magic that happens during the winter months in Grand Teton. Plus, it’s extremely close to Jackson Hole, a small ski-town filled with local bakeries and fun photo-ops.
New York City
I couldn’t make a list of winter locations and not include New York City. This location is great for couples considering an urban elopement. What more could you ask for than 24/7 pizza shops, twinkling lights, and fresh snow in Times Square? New York also has many mountainous locations not too far from the city, allowing you to experience the city and nature all in one day.
Other Notable Winter Elopement Locations
Below are some other noteworthy winter elopement locations, each indicating the amount of snow expected during an average year.
- Hawaii (no snow)
- Death Valley National Park (no snow)
- Oregon Coast (very little to no snow)
- Redwood National Park (very little to no snow)
- Northern California (no snow to snowy, depends on location)
- Yosemite National Park (very snowy)
- Mt. Shasta (very snowy)
- Lake Tahoe (very snowy)
- Norway (very snowy)
- Iceland (very snowy)
When Should I Plan My Winter Elopement?
While each location has a different winter season, I usually recommend planning your winter elopement January through March. While December is also a great month to consider, travel price are usually higher, and most locations have lots of crowds due to the busy holiday season. Planning anytime from January to March ensures that you’ll experience all the perks winter elopements have to offer: less crowds, cheaper prices, and stunning backdrops.
What Should I Wear for My Winter Elopement? (4 Things You May Not Think Of)
When it comes to eloping during the cold winter months, you truly can wear anything you’d like. However, it’s important to consider the climate of where you’ll be eloping. Is it snowy all the time? Windy? Rainy? Below are some of the most important things to consider bringing with you to ensure you stay warm and has a pleasant elopement experience all day long.
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, I recommend these tights on Amazon.
Best Dresses and Suits for Winter
I usually recommend going with a dress that has longer sleeves to help you keep warm. However, if you’re wanting something with shorter sleeves, consider purchasing a dress in a heavier material, like silk, to provide you with some extra warmth. It’s also important that your dress has some movement to it, especially if you choose to walk in the snow, as more constricting dresses, like mermaid dresses, make movement a bit more difficult.
As for suits, the same principle applies. Try going with heavier fabrics, like wool and tweed, that are guaranteed to keep you warm.
Best Boots for Winter
Boots are one of the most overlooked parts of the outfit. If you don’t have warm shoes, you’ll be cold all day. 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.
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. I also highly encourage couples to invest in some wool socks. These magic socks will keep you warm all day long.
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.
Winter Elopement Ideas
One of my favorite things about winter elopements is the amount of fun adventure-filled activities you can do on your special day. Below are some of my favorite activities you can do in and out of the snow on your elopement day.
- Snowshoeing (this is particularity enjoyable on hikes)
- Go to a reindeer farm (yes, they have them!)
- Go skiing or snowboarding
- Take a horse drawn sleigh ride
- Dog sledding (this is especially fun in places like Alaska)
- Ice skating on a frozen lake
- Elope under the Northern Lights (I recommend Iceland or Alaska!)
- Make some hot chocolate and snuggle by the fire
- Warm up in the hot tub while it’s snowing
- Make a fire and roast some s’mores
- Try your hand at snowmobiling
- Have a snowball fight
- Build a snowman together
- Turn on some Christmas music and bake some goodies together while it snows
- Make snow angels
Winter Elopement Tips: 4 Things You Need to Know
While winter is an absolutely magical and special time of year to elope, there are some challenges that could arise. Below are some of my best tips and advice to help keep you safe while planning.
Have a Backup Location
If you take one piece of advice from this section, let it be this… have a backup location for your elopement. Weather in the winter months can be unpredictable, causing roads or trails to unexpectedly close down due to the snow. For winter elopements, I encourage my couples to choose two different backup locations, because you never know what could happen.
You’re probably thinking… how do I choose a location?
Check out my “How to Elope Guide” to help you with this question. As an elopement photographer, I send each of my couples a questionnaire to help me create a personalized location list filled with ideas that match up perfectly to what they’re looking for based on the answers of the questionnaire.
Add More Travel Time
Planning for extra time goes for your whole elopement experience. Bad weather can cause flight delays, so be sure to get to your elopement destination a few days earlier than your actual wedding day. On your actual day, factor in extra travel time, as snow and ice can build up on the roads, doubling travel time.
Rent the Right Car
Speaking of icy roads, be sure to rent a car that can handle harsh winter conditions, such as a 4WD vehicle with winter tires. Regardless of the vehicle, always bring tire chains and an emergency kit.
Not Every Location Is Available
While some locations are easily accessible in the winter, most are not, especially if you’re wanting something in the mountains. This limits your options quite a bit, so keep that in mind when planning your day. If you’re hoping for a “mountaintop feel” location, I recommend waiting until the summer or fall months, as conditions will be much safer and you’ll have much more options available.
Winter Elopement Packages
I’m Brianna, an elopement photographer based in Northern 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 $5,500 for CA, OR, WA or $7,500 for anywhere in the U.S.
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I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.