How to Elope in Idaho : The Complete Guide

a couple running down a road with mountains in Stanley Idaho behind them.
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media

Why Should You Elope in Idaho?

The real question is, why not elope in Idaho? Idaho has quickly become one of the fastest growing states, but it holds hundreds of nature’s most beautiful and unknown alpine lakes and mountains. Eloping in Idaho gives you a much higher chance of solitude and intimacy on your elopement day. If you are looking for stunning mountain views, vast wilderness, countless lakes and activities, Idaho is the place for you to elope!

With this guide, I made sure to include all of the information you need to elope in Idaho from how to apply for a marriage license, best locations to elope, and a few Idaho elopement packages!

When is the Best Time to Elope in Idaho?

June – August

Summer is the the most ideal time to elope in Idaho. Summer time elopements typically include lots of hiking, camping, boat rides, and fun in the sun. The wildflowers are blooming, everything is green, and the snow finally melts off the high mountain peaks. Sometimes the snowpack can still be pretty significant in June and early July in the high mountains depending on the year, but it usually promises warmer weather and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Keep in mind that August can sometimes be smoky depending on the amount of wildfires that may be within the area. 

September – October

Fall is our favorite month for elopements in Idaho. Depending on the location you choose, fall can begin as early as September, or roll in mid October. The reason fall is our favorite season to elope in Idaho is because of the crisp air, beautiful golden colors, and solitude that the cooler temps can bring. The only weather you may run into is an early snow storm, but other than that you can almost count on great weather. 

November – February

In our opinion (and statistically), this is one of the coldest periods to elope in Idaho. Stanley, ID is known to be one of the coldest places in the lower 48 during the winter, oftentimes having multiple days in the zeros and negatives. The winter is cold wherever you go, but it is possible to escape the far below free temps by opting to stay closer to Boise. Winter elopements are most ideal for those who love snow and winter activities (or snuggling up in a cabin in the woods). 

March-May

This is the most variable season in Idaho. In our time in Idaho, we have either experienced this time of year to be warm (70-90s) with limited precipitation or pretty chilly (35-60) with snow and rain constantly. Chances are if you choose to plan your elopement in Idaho in the spring, you might run into some kind of weather.

a couple who is saying their vows to each other in stanley, idaho in front of the mountains
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media

Best Places to Elope in Idaho

While we can’t give out all of our super top secret locations for elopements, we are more than happy to share the best places to elope in Idaho with you, in a general sense. These locations are to get you planning juices flowing so you have an idea of the type of adventure you want. If you are looking for an in depth guide on the best place to elope in Idaho, check out our guide here. 

Stanley, ID

Stanley will always and forever be our favorite elopement location in Idaho. It is extremely accessible, and offers dozens of incredible alpine lakes and peaks to explore within a few hours time. It also has plenty of drive up locations and venues with 360 degree mountain views! Not only does Stanley give you direct access to the Sawtooth Mountains, but it also is the gateway to the White Cloud Mountains directly east of Stanley. 

McGown Peak in Stanley, Idaho after a storm before a beautiful Idaho elopement
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media

Sun Valley, ID

About an hour south of Stanley is Sun Valley, ID. Known to be a luxury ski town in the winter, Sun Valley is a popular vacation spot for adventure goers and snow lovers, especially if you are looking to ski down the mountain after your ceremony.  Just outside of this little ski town sits the Pioneer Mountains. The Pioneer Mountains are the perfect place to find seclusion and views all in one. This area is much better known for their hikes to beautiful spots, but it also offers shorter hikes than the Sawtooth’s and White Clouds to get to beautiful locations. 

Kane Lake in the Pioneer Mountains near Ketchum, ID
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media via iPhone

McCall, ID

McCall is a lake and mountain town located about 2 hours north of Boise, ID. It’s a popular tourist destination over the summer, making it best to get married here on a weekday or in the off-season. McCall is also stunning in the winter time, and has two ski resorts within 30 minutes of each other with amazing views and tons of terrain. Over the summer, elopements to smaller alpine lakes are even more beautiful with blooming wildflowers and beautiful drive up locations. 

An overlook over Louie Lake near McCall, ID
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media via iPhone

Sandpoint, ID

Sandpoint, ID is a hidden gem in Idaho. Most folks tend to lean in towards southern Idaho, mainly because of accessibility. Northern Idaho is home to hundreds of lakes and mountains, cozying up to the border of Canada, and only about 2 hours from Glacier National Park, making it the best location if you are planning to do a big road trip around Northern Idaho, Montana, and Canada. Some of the highlighted places near Sandpoint are Hunt Lake, Picnic Point, and Lake Pend Oreille, along with Kanisksu National Forest.

am idaho elopement at an idaho ski resort in the summer
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media

Boise, ID

While Boise, ID may not be the first thought that comes to mind for many as a city, it is actually one of the most accessible areas in Idaho, mainly due to having an international airport within minutes of the mountains. In Boise, there are at least a dozen places to elope within an hour of downtown. You can head to Bogus Basin, our local mountain and hike or ski around to find the perfect ceremony location. Lucky Peak, Swan Falls, and the Owyhee Canyon all offer amazing canyon views with rivers and lakes that you can spend the day at. Keep in mind these locations have little to no water in them during the winter seasons. Lastly, there is Bruneau Sand Dunes, home to one of the tallest single sand dunes in North America. 

A bride who is laughing at a groom while he reads her something funny during an Idaho elopement
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media

Island Park, ID

Tucked away into the eastern side of Idaho sits a beautiful little town called Island Park. This is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, but has gained popularity for its beautiful scenery, rivers, and tiny house rental cabins, making it the perfect nature get away. Not only is Yellowstone only an hour away, but Island Park is also close to Henry’s Lake State Park and the Snake River, making it the perfect summer and fall elopement destination.

A beautiful sunset in Island Park, Idaho in late September.
Photo by Intimate Adventures Media via iPhone

Victor / Swan Valley, ID

Victor and Swan Valley are the gateways to the Grand Teton National Park. This makes it the perfect place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Jackson Hole, but still have amazing views and nature with a few minutes of driving. The Idaho side of the Teton Range includes epic views and hikes like Table Mountain, a challenging excursion, but the views make it all worth it. In Swan Valley, you can fly-fish the Snake River, go hiking to Falls Creek waterfall, and more. Grand Targhee Mountain Resort is also only about a 30 minute drive from Victor, making it the perfect location for a winter elopement too.

How to get a Marriage License in Idaho

The process of getting married in Idaho is super simple, making it one of the easiest states in the US to get married in. Check out the steps below on how to obtain your marriage license. 

  1. Call ahead to the Recorder’s Office that you plan to obtain your marriage license at. There is a good chance you may need to make an appointment ahead of time.
  2. Fill out your Idaho marriage application here. (Note you can only apply ahead of time in Ada County).
  3. Plan to bring your driver’s license or passport, social security numbers, and 30$ in cash (sometimes more if you are applying on a Saturday). 
  4. Both of you must be present when obtaining your license from the Recorder’s office
  5. There is no waiting period in the State of Idaho, so once you receive your license, you can get married! Your license expires one year after you apply for your license.
  6. After your ceremony, return the signed license back to the Recorder’s office you received it at by either mailing it in or dropping it off.

Do I need an officiant or witnesses to get married in Idaho?

In order to elope or get married in Idaho, you need an officiant and that’s it! No witnesses are required in order to make your marriage legal in the state of Idaho.

How much does it cost to elope in Idaho?

Honestly, it can cost you as much as you want it to cost! According to the Knot Wedding Website, the average wedding in 2019 in Idaho was $16,000 which is about half of what it costs to get married in other states! Because everyone has different budgets, here are a few different ideas of what you can do for your Idaho elopement with different budgets.

High End

  • Plane Tickets/ Travel ($500)
  • Marriage License ($30)
  • One Week of Lodging ($1500)
  • Photographer ($5000)
  • Videographer ($3500)
  • Florals ($500)
  • Dress and extras ($3000)
  • Hair and Makeup ($500)
  • Suit and extras ($500)
  • Private Chef ($300)
  • 4 hour Boat Rental ($400)

Total: $15,730

Mid End

  • Plane Tickets/ Travel ($500)
  • Marriage License ($30)
  • 4 nights of Lodging ($700)
  • Photographer ($4000)
  • Videographer ($2000)
  • Floral Rentals ($200)
  • Dress and extras ($1500)
  • Hair and Makeup ($250)
  • Suit and extras ($500)
  • Private Chef ($300)
  • Activity Rental ($200)

Total : $10,180

Low End 

  • Plane Tickets/ Travel ($500)
  • Marriage License ($30)
  • 2 nights of Lodging/camping ($300)
  • Photographer ($2500)
  • DIY Florals ($60)
  • Dress and extras ($500)
  • DIY Hair and Makeup ($0)
  • Suit and extras ($300)

Total : $4,190

Keep in mind that these are just ideas of what your Idaho elopement costs can look like, depending on your budget. Choose your top 3 priorities, and then rest will fall into place. 

Idaho Elopement Checklist

Find your photographer/videographer

There are not very many photographers in Idaho that specialize in elopements and micro weddings, so it’s important to find the ones that do. Most knowledgeable and professional elopement photographers are experts in their field. We know the best locations, how to capture our couples artfully and tastefully, and also just give an epic experience. Your Idaho elopement photographer should offer location scouting, vendor recommendations, planning assistance, and should make you feel like you are taken care of on your elopement day. In most cases your media team are the only other people there with you on your day, so you want to make sure they will do a great job.

Choose a general location

Once you choose your media team, you should chat with them about the general locations you are interested in. From there, they can give you the best recommendations on specific locations. If you already know exactly where you want to elope, then let your vendors know right away!

Book your lodging, travel, and activities

Once you have a confirmed date with your vendors, it’s time to start booking your lodging, travel, and more! Lodging is always a very important thing to book quickly, as things can sell out very quickly, especially in small mountain towns. If you are flying into Idaho, the 3 best airport to fly into are Boise International Airport or Idaho Falls/Jackson Hole Airport if you plan on getting married in the lower half of the state. Spokane Airport in Washington is the best airport for if you plan on getting married in Northern Idaho. 

Apply for your marriage license

This is one of the most important pieces of planning. Without a marriage license, you technically can’t make your elopement day your legal wedding day, but some couples decide to do this and just have a commitment ceremony rather than a legal ceremony. 

Get married and enjoy eloping in Idaho!

Idaho is truly one of the best kept secrets in the US. You have done all the hard work to get here, and now it’s time to enjoy your Idaho elopement!

A couple that just got married in Idaho looking at each other with the Sawtooth Mountains in the background

Curious about what your photographer coverage could look like on your elopement day? Here are a few Idaho Elopement Timeline examples. 

2 Hour Elopement Timeline

  • 5:30 pm – Media team meets you at your hotel to capture finishing getting ready images
  • 6:15 pm  – Ceremony at an overlook of the mountains begins
  • 6:45 pm – Go paddle-boarding in your wedding attire at Redfish Lake
  • 7:15 pm – Have your first dance and take couples photos on the lake
  • 7:30 – Photo coverage ends

6 Hour Elopement Timeline

  • 5:00 am – Meet media team at trailhead and begin your trek to an alpine lake
  • 7:00 am  – Finish getting into wedding attire and prepare for your first look and ceremony
  • 8:00 am – Relax by the lake and read letters from family and friends
  • 8:30 am – Have your first dance
  • 8:45 am – Take a few structured bridal photos
  • 9:00 am – Head back down the mountain 
  • 10:45 am – Finish your coverage at the local hot springs to soak your tired muscles
  • 11 am – Photo + Video coverage ends

12 Hour Elopement Timeline

  • 7:00am – Getting ready pictures in an Airbnb in town
  • 8:00am – Drive to first location
  • 8:30am – Begin your 2 mile hike to ceremony location
  • 9:30am – Get dressed into wedding attire for your first look and ceremony
  • 11:00am – Summit the mountain peak over the ceremony location
  • 12:15pm – Take couples photos at the top and have a picnic enjoying the views
  • 12:45pm – Start your hike down back to town 
  • 4:15pm – Arrive back in town, head to the the hot springs to enjoy some wine and relax 
  • 5:30pm – Head back to your cabin where dinner from a private chef is awaiting you
  • 6:20pm – Head to the fire pit and make s’mores with your love and watch the sunset / take a few final couples photos together
  • 7:00pm – Photo + Video coverage ends

Idaho Elopement Ideas

  • Hike to an alpine lake
  • Go on a plane ride to a backcountry airstrip in the mountains
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Go on a pontoon boat 
  • Rent a paddle board or jetski
  • Go backpacking in the Sawtooth mountains
  • Soak in hot springs (did you know Idaho is home to the most soakable hot springs in the country?)
  • Go in a 4×4 vehicle to beautiful overlooks 
  • Summit a mountain peak 
  • Fish in one of Idaho’s many lakes or rivers
  • Stargazing (Idaho is the only dark sky reserve in the lower 48)
  • Sand boarding 
  • Snowboarding or Skiing
  • Snowshoeing and cross country skiing
  • Snowmobiling

Idaho Elopement Photography Packages

Did we convince you to elope in Idaho yet? We sure hope so! Matt and I Idaho elopement photographer and videographer team who want to make all of your elopement hopes and dreams come true! We help couples plan elopements all over Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, and more! We would love to chat more about how we can best serve you, so feel free to check out our pricing here, and to reach out for more information here while planning your elopement!

FAQS

We want to hike up to an alpine lake, do we have to hike all the way up in our wedding attire?

Absolutely not! For most hiking elopements, most of our couples choose to pack their wedding attire up and hike it up the mountain with them. This makes the process so much easier, and basically allows our couples some time to freshen up once we get to the location. Choosing lightweight and flowy fabrics for your wedding attire is our best recommendation for hiking elopements to help with natural unconstricted movement.

What is the best day of the week to elope?

Any day! For the most part, we strongly recommend weekdays. There are typically less people in most locations, and more of your must have vendors will be available. Plus lodging and booking activities can be easier on weekdays too!

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Idaho elopement photographer | Wedding photographer Boise, ID

HEY, WE'RE LAUREN & MATT

Your Idaho Elopement Photographers and Videographers

We are storytellers, adventure seekers, and fly-fishing addicts. We love spending time together outside exploring, and we know we aren't the only ones who do this too. This is why deciding to have a micro-wedding or to elope allows you to focus on the two of you, rather than putting on a big and fancy show for people you may not even talk to 3 years from now. 

Imagine starting your morning with a nice cup of coffee while the stars are still shimmering in the sky, and watching the sun slow illuminate the mountains surrounding you as you make your way up to an alpine lake to say your vows. After enjoying a calm and romantic morning together, You then hike back down to be greeted by your closest family members for an intimate ceremony at your airbnb, followed by dinner and drinks while you all watch the sun go down.  

This could be your wedding experience. It doesn't have to fit into the societal norms or follow a timeline. You can try new things together, spend quality time with your significant other and family if you want. This experience should be to celebrate this new step in your relationship, and should be a stress free adventure that authentically represents the two of you.