Grand Teton National Park Elopement Guide | Updated for 2024

married couple holding hands and running down the road in wedding attire during their grand teton national park elopement

Grand Teton National Park is by far one of my most favorite locations for couples to elope to. This park has stunning views, pristine alpine lakes and an abundance of wildlife. There are several hikes to explore, outdoor activities to try and food to be eaten in Jackson. You can’t go wrong with eloping here! In this comprehensive guide I will walk you through everything you should know if you are planning your elopement day here. Read more about how you can have the ultimate elopement experience in Grand Teton Nation Park.

What is an Elopement?

Elopements used to refer to the idea of couples who ran away to get married without their families’ approval. However, modern elopements have evolved into intimate weddings that prioritize the couple’s relationship. The focus is completely on the experience rather than the size of the guest list. An elopement allows you to escape the pressures and expectations of a traditional wedding. Allowing you to be able to create a day that truly reflects you and your partner’s relationship.

Who is an Elopement for?

Elopements are for couples seeking an intimate, meaningful, and adventurous experience. It’s an excellent choice for those who value privacy, nature, and a more relaxed celebration. Whether you’re adventurers at heart, introverts who prefer an intimate setting, or couples looking to prioritize experience over things, an elopement can be the perfect option to celebrate your love.

couple walking through a field in wedding attire during their grand teton national park elopement

Why Should You Elope in Grand Teton National Park?

a) Scenic Beauty: From majestic mountains to stunning alpine lakes, Grand Tetons National Park provides an unrivaled backdrop that you otherwise can’t find anywhere else in the states.

b) Outdoor Adventure: Wyoming is the perfect place for adventurous couples. There are so many amazing activities try while you are eloping in the Tetons. Some of those include: horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing and more!

c) Mountain Towns: Wyoming has some really cute mountain towns. The most popular of course being Jackson which is located 15-20min south of the park. There is a ton to explore in the town itself.

Grand Teton National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits

In order to have your elopement or wedding inside of the park you need to apply for a permit. In 2024 applications will be accepted on December 4, 2023, at 8:00am (MT). Applications submitted early will not be held, and the application fee will not he refunded. Information and rules can be found here.

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

Reserved Site-Specific Ceremony Location Permits

There are 6 designated ceremony sites within Grand Teton National Park. Each ceremony site is limited to 60 ceremonies per year. Only one ceremony per day can be held at each location. The only exception is Colter Bay Swim Beach, which allows only 30 ceremonies per year.

You must have a start and end time when applying for your permit. Time slots are for up to 2-hours. To calculate your group size you must include vendors, guests, wedding party, children and yourselves.

Ceremony Locations:

  1. Schwabacher Landing – Limit 25 people 
  2. Mormon Row (North or South) – Limit 40 people (North) or 25 people (South)
  3. Mountain View Turnout – Limit 25 people
  4. Glacier View Turnout – Limit 25 people
  5. Snake River Overlook – Limit 25 people
  6. Colter Bay Swim Beach – Limit 40 people
bride and groom standing in front of the barn at mormon row in grand teton national park during their elopement

Small Dispersed Ceremony Location Permits

You can apply to have your ceremony in remote areas of the park. However, when applying you must provide a location description with coordinates and/or a satellite view map of the requested location. Dispersed ceremony locations are limited to 12 people. Permits will be declined if it interferes with general visitor use or causes resource damage.

Prohibited locations include:

  • The paved trails within and surrounding the Jenny Lake Visitor Plaza at South Jenny Lake, Jenny Lake Trail, and Jenny Lake Overlook
  • Hidden Falls
  • Inspiration Point
  • String Lake
  • Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
  • Concessioner land assignments
  • Park partner facilities (e.g., Murie Ranch, Teton Science School)
  • The Chapel of the Transfiguration
  • Park cemeteries

How to Apply for a Grand Teton National Park Ceremony Permit

In order to apply for your permit you must submit an application a minimum of 30 days prior to the requested ceremony date. You must complete the application along with the $200 application fee in order for a location and date to be “held.” There is a $100 reprocessing fee for changes (i.e. changed date within this calendar year, location, time, number of people, etc. to a completed permit.)

1. Complete the  Wedding and Commitment Ceremony Special Use Application.

2. Email the application to: GRTE_Visitor_Services@nps.gov.

3. Pay the $200 non-refundable application fee by visiting: Pay.gov. Use the Grand Teton NP Special Use Permit Application Fee Form.

4. The application and fee will be reviewed by Grand Teton NP. They will draft your permit and will email you a preliminary permit for your review and signature. Allow 7-10 days to review your request.

5. After receiving the permit draft, you will have seven (7) calendar days to review, sign, and return email GRTE_Visitor_Services@nps.gov the document for final processing.

6. A copy of the signed permit will be sent by email.

***MOST IMPORTANT PART: You will need to have a printed copy of the fully executed permit with you on site during the event. Please share the permit with your photographer, videographer, officiant, or event planner. They are expected to know the regulations and permit conditions.***

bride and groom holding hands in front of a barn on mormon row during couples grand teton national park elopement portraits

Locations Outside of the Park to Consider

There are other great locations near Grand Teton National Park that have extraordinary views of the Tetons. Some of these locations still require permits but they aren’t as expensive and don’t have such an extensive process.

Wedding Tree

This spot is a great location for couples who want to get off the beaten path. This location provides a great vantage point to view the Tetons. This location is in Bridger-Teton National Forest which makes it dog friendly whereas Grand Teton National Park isn’t very dog friendly. The wedding tee is off of Gros Ventre Road .There is a small pullout parking lot on the right just before Lower Slide Lake. The trail from the parking lot is about a 5-minute walk and leads you to an old tree at the edge of a ridge overlooking the Tetons.

You must reserve the area for your wedding or elopement with a permit from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)apply here. The wedding tree is first-come, first-served. Requests must be sent at least 30 days prior to the event date. Large or complex events may require more than 30 days to process. Requests must be submitted by the individuals getting married. A non-refundable processing fee of $200 is due at the signing of this Operating Plan.

Additionally, it is to note that the parking lot can only accommodate 5-7 cars. Additionally, there are no stores in this area and the road is rough in places. Always make sure to have a full tank of gas, water and food. Phone service is not guaranteed.

Table Mountain

Outside of the park you can find table mountain which is another incredible location to say your vows to each other. Table Mountain is located at Grand Targhee Resort. You can hike the 5.5 mile trail to the top of the mountain or take ski lift. You can expect to see sweeping views of the Tetons that will make you feel like you can reach out and touch them. This is a pretty busy area so you will want to make sure that you choose a weekday or off-season date if you are considering this location.

bride looking into the camera while her veil floats in the foreground and her husband looks back at her in grand teton national park during their elopement

When Should You Elope in Grand Teton National Park?

Summer

Summer is one of the best times to elope in Grand Teton National Park. The weather is phenomenal, the hiking trails are open and there are several outdoor activities. However, summer is peak season, so expect crowds. It can make getting from location to location slow and parking difficult. You may want to look into eloping during a different season if you want to avoid peak season craziness!

Fall

Fall is probably the best time of year to have your elopement inside of Grand Teton National Park. It is full of vibrant fall colors that set the trees ablaze. Benefits of eloping here in the fall also include less crowds and more wildlife! September and October are two of the best months to host your elopement in the park.

Winter

Want to get married in a winter wonderland? Well the Grand Tetons has all the snow you could ever want! The park is very quiet during the winter months. Also, you want to keep in mind that many of the trails may be inaccessible during the winter. Due to Jackson Hole being a popular ski destination it can result in higher prices and more people milling about the town. If you love winter sports or activities though, this may be the perfect elopement destination for you. There is elk sledding which could be a really cool experience for you and your fiance to do!

Spring

Spring in Grand Teton National Park can be a bit unpredictable. There will most likely be snow on the ground still. You can expect to have snow until around May/June. However, if your goal is to try and avoid the crowds that come with peak season, spring can be a great alternative. Make sure to have an indoor back-up location.

Best Time of Day to Elope in Grand Teton National Park

Sunrise vs. Sunset

I personally always recommend couples to choose either sunrise or sunset because they provide the best lighting scenarios. Sunrise and sunset both have softer lighting make photos come out so beautifully. A bonus is that most people are not exploring the park during these times. At sunrise most people are still asleep and at sunset most people have left the park to go into Jackson to enjoy dinner. Either time of day is going to give you better photos, than if you were to be squinting in harsh overhead sun.

bride and groom sitting in a field in front of the grand tetons during their elopement

How to Pick Your Elopement Date

a) Meaningful Dates: Consider choosing a date that holds significance to you as a couple, such as an anniversary, your first date or a shared milestone.

b) Availability: Check the availability of your preferred vendors, such as photographers, officiants, and florists, to ensure they can accommodate your chosen date.

c) Weather Considerations: Research the average weather conditions for your desired season and choose a date that aligns with your preferences and comfort level.

d) Pick a weekday: Many people choose to get married on the weekends so traffic can be high on the trails or popular locations. If you select a weekday date you will have more locations and vendors to choose from. 

**Pro-Tip: If you are planning on eloping during the winter months I would suggest coming into town for a few days if you are from out of state. This allows you the flexibility to move your elopement date up or down if there is bad weather. Additionally, if you are flexible with your date, you may be able to work with more vendors. 

What to Wear & Pack for your Grand Teton National Park Elopement

What Shoes to Wear

Investing in a good pair of hiking boots or sneakers for your elopement is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. It can be very rocky on some of the trails so if you are planning on hiking you may want the extra ankle support hiking boots can provide. If you are planning on just driving from location to location inside the park it may not be necessary to invest in hiking shoes but you definitely want to have a walking shoe / dress shoe to change into once you have reached your portrait location. It’s important to have practical shoes so that your feet warm warm, dry, and comfortable.

You can usually opt out of getting a waterproof pair if you are eloping in the summer, but I recommend getting waterproof boots if you plan on having a winter elopement. With the right footwear you can enjoy the outdoors longer. I only really recommend wearing heels/ dress shoes when you have reached your final ceremony location or portrait location.

What Kind of Wedding Dress to Look For

After photographing hundreds of wedding and elopements it’s still my favorite thing when brides send me pictures of the dress they choose! When selecting a wedding dress for your elopement you want to make sure that it isn’t restraining you in any especially, if you are planning on hiking in your dress. I recommend staying away from heavy dresses and corset style dresses. I love a good train, but you want to invest in having a seamstress adding a bustle. Make sure when trying on the dresses, that you bend, stretch, walk, twist, raise your arms, and twirl! Also remember to ask how long the dress takes to ship – some wedding dresses can take up to a year! (Mine took 9-months!!)

Suits for Elopements

When trying on suits, make sure you can sit down, lift your knees, and have full range of motion. If you’re eloping in winter, go for a warmer fabric like wool or tweed. You might even want to leave enough room for layers if you are planning on hiking in winter. (Make sure you try on the suit well before your elopement). Additionally, if you are eloping in the summer you may want to choose a more breathable fabric. If you are having a custom suit/tux made, you will need to check on how long it will take to ship.

Bring Several Layers Along!

Wyoming’s weather is unpredictable, so it’s best to come prepared for every weather condition. I personally tell all of my couples to bring a light puffer, a raincoat, extra layers. In the winter it’s best to wear layer a wool as your base and then layer from there. Don’t forget scarves, hats and gloves. There are also nude wool leggings you can purchase to wear under your dress – all of my brides have said that it’s a life saver.

Gear for Your Elopement

I always suggest bringing a hiking backpack along because you can stuff all your extra layers into it, as well as, snacks, water, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. If you are planning on hiking a good bit of the day you may also want to consider bringing trekking poles to help relieve any back pain or knee pain you may have. Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to bring hand-warmers, oxygen (if coming from a low elevation state), sunglasses and anything to make you more comfortable for spending a few hours outside.

Activities for your Wyoming Elopement

There are so many fun things to do when visiting Grand Teton National Park and the great state of Wyoming! If you love the outdoors and shopping in small mountain towns there will be no shortage of things to do. The different activities you can find here range from super adventurous to chill & relaxed.

Via Ferrata

One of my all time favorite activities to do is via ferrata. If you love rock-climbing this can be a similar experience. Via Ferrata, is translated to “iron way.” Via ferrata first showed up during WWI, when Italian soldiers built them to safely traverse mountain passes. The recreational use of via ferratas is a staple in the Italian Alps for summer adventure. In Jackson Hole you can experience this adventure too. With 17 unique routes, the Jackson Hole via ferrata is an adventure unlike any other. This adventure includes incredible views, ladders and suspended bridges.

The Jackson Hole via ferrata is a series of routes composed of cables secured to the rock. Climbers wear a harness with special lanyards and carbineers that are used to clip onto the cables and move along the route. You will work with an experienced guide who will lead them through terrain.

Whitewater Rafting

If you love water sports you might want to check out whitewater rafting on the snake river! There are several tour companies that host guided whitewater rafting tours in Jackson Hole. This is a really unique way to see Grand Teton National Park, as a section of the rafting runs right through it. Whitewater trips with Mad River Boat Trips are divided into three categories of rafts: classic adventure, small and super small. The smaller the boat, the bigger the adventure. Each trip covers eight river miles. The classic adventure is best for those that want a taste of whitewater rafting without any white knuckling. The raft holds 10-12 people and has several non-paddling positions if you’re not sure you’re up to wielding a paddle.

Snake River Float Trips

If you want a more relaxing trip down the snake river, I would suggest looking into one of the many companies that have float trips. During these trips you might even see a variety of wildlife, such as bald eagles, moose, elk and otters.

Barker Ewing by Jackson Hole Whitewater offers a 7-mile scenic float trip outside of Grand Teton National Park. Your guide will provide you with information on the the geology and ecology of Snake River and the wildlife living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. A discount is applied to all fares purchased online.

Grand Teton Lodge Company based in the national park, offers float trips on the Snake River. Choose a morning, afternoon, lunch or dinner float for epic scenery and wildlife. 

Solitude Float Trips are located within Grand Teton National Park. You’ll get to see a different side of the park that a majority of people don’t get to see. Your guide will share fun facts about the wildlife, the geology and the people who have left their marks in the area. You’ll start at Deadman’s Bar below the famous Snake River Overlook where photographer Ansel Adams took his iconic shot. Trips are two hours long and six trips per day. 

Mad River Boat Trips This is a 13-mile serene float on the Snake River and has iconic views of the Tetons. All 10 seats on the boat are non-paddling positions, so you can sit back and relax as your guide navigates you through world-class scenery. 

Horseback Riding

One of the best ways to see the park is by horseback riding! This is another favorite activity of mine. Horseback riding allows you to cover a lot more ground in a shorter amount of time. This is a great option if you aren’t a strong hiker and want to see more remote areas.

Grand Teton Lodge Company Located inside the park, this lodge offers several different horseback riding adventures throughout the Tetons. They offer 1 and 2 hour horseback rides departing from Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village, or 1 hour rides from Headwaters at Flagg Ranch.

Swift Creek Outfitters This family owned business has been around for over 25 years. They have over 150 horses and have a unique remote trail ride. Along your journey you will experience creek crossings, flowered trails, wildlife and some of the best views of the Teton Mountain Range.

Teton Village Trail Rides This company offers 1 and 2 hour rides on the Teton mountain range. Enjoy a beautiful ride up the mountain, through the trees, followed by a meadow ride with vast views of the mountains.

bride and groom in grand teton national park during their elopement

What Vendors Should You Hire

Florists

There is nothing like having a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to articulate how special your elopement day is. Florals just add a bit of extra “oomph” and beauty to your day. Plus who doesn’t love flowers? There are several amazing vendors to choose in and around Grand Teton National Park.

Flowers by Chloe

JH Flower Boutique

Plush Floral

Hair and Makeup Artists

There are few times in life where we get to splurge on getting our hair and makeup professionally done. I always recommend hiring a hair and makeup stylist so that you look and feel your best. Additionally, it helps to cut down on the stress of doing your own makeup and hair, and it’s usually a huge time saver!

Hair and Makeup by Tanya

KK Beauty

Ashley Drew Artistry

Bakeries

Buttercream Design Co.

Lady in the Wild West

Picnic Companies / Private Chefs

Edge Wyld

Chef Andrew

Chef Eric Wilson

Officiants

In order to get married in Wyoming you do need to have an officiant and two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Although you could have a family member get their officiant certificate, if you don’t want to go with this option there are a few officiants that perform ceremonies within Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole Wedding Ceremonies

Michael Leach Weddings

Yellowstone Secular Ceremonies

How to Get to Grand Teton National Park

The best way to get in to the Tetons is flying into Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) located in Jackson, Wyoming. The airlines that you’ll want to look at are American Airlines, Alaska, Delta, and United Airlines. Over the summer you can also find flights to JAC with Frontier and Allegiant. I always recommend using Google flights to find the best deal. Salt Lake City (SLC) is also a budget-friendly option.

Where to Stay

Lodges Inside the Park:

 Jackson Lake Lodge

Jenny Lake Lodge

Signal Mountain Lodge

Camping Inside the Park:

Pro Tip: The National Park Service manages these campgrounds, and you can make reservations via Recreation.gov.

Colter Bay Campground

Gros Ventre Campground

Jenny Lake Campground

Lodging Near Grand Teton National Park:

Huff House Inn and Cabins

Inn on the Creek

Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole

Triangle X Ranch

Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa

Amangani

Camping Outside of the Park:

Atherton Creek Campground – this a beautiful location and is much more private than some of the large campground located inside the park. There are about 22 campsite along Lower Slide Lake and this site is located about 40-minutes from the ‘Moose’ entrance of Grand Teton NP.

Crystal Creek Campground – This campground is quite peaceful and has 7 campsites along the Gros Ventre River and Crystal Creek, this site is located 45-minutes from the ‘Moose’ entrance of Grand Teton NP.

Curtis Canyon Campground – This campground is equipped with 12 campsites near the National Elk Refuge and is about 45-minutes away from the ‘Moose’ Entrance of Grand Teton NP.

Airbnb / VRBO:

If you are exploring the option of booking an Airbnb or VRBO for your elopement, I highly recommend double checking where they are located. Although there are definitely options around Jackson and in nearby towns like Wilson, many of the listings you’ll see are over Teton Pass in Driggs and Victor. These towns are about an hour away from Grand Teton National Park.

How to Obtain Your Marriage License

In order to apply for a marriage license in Wyoming you need to appear in person, most places do not accept walk-ins so you will need to schedule an appointment. I always suggest coming in a few days before your elopement if you are traveling from out of town. You will want to check what government building you need to go to and what hours they hold.

You can obtain you marriage license in Jackson Hole. In order to receive your marriage you need to out the marriage license questionnaire. Once this form is completed you will need to call the County Clerk’s Office (307-733-4430) and make an appointment. The County Clerk’s office does NOT accept walk-ins at this time.

Make sure to bring the questionnaire, your photo ID’s, and $30 cash to your appointment. If you want to pay by card this may incur processing fees. Once you receive your marriage license you are ready to get married! Fortunately, in Wyoming there is no waiting period so you can get married the same day you pick up your marriage license (although I don’t recommend it).

Once you have had your ceremony and the marriage license has all the appropriate signatures you will need to drop it back off to the County Clerk’s Office for it to be processed.

You can always check out their website here to get more information.

In the state of Wyoming, you do need an ordained minister and 2 witnesses to sign your marriage license. If you plan on bringing guests to your elopement you can always have one of them officiate your ceremony. However, they will need to become ordained online by the Universal Life Church. Luckily this is a free and easy process.

Check out these officiants:

Jackson Hole Wedding Ceremonies

Michael Leach Weddings

Yellowstone Secular Ceremonies

Grand Teton National Park Elopement Checklist

  1. Book your Photographer (that way they can help you move through the following steps listed below)
  2. Pick your Date
  3. Choose Your Location
  4. Apply for Your Permit(s)
  5. Book Your Accommodations
  6. Book Your Flights or Plan your Travel
  7. Book Your Remaining Vendors
  8. Book Your Activities
  9. Apply for Your Marriage License
  10. Get Freakin’ Married!

Leave No Trace in Grand Teton National Park

Piggybacking off of the topic of permitting – it is incredibly important that we keep the land you get to say your vows at beautiful. It is such a privilege to be able to have access to these public lands. To put it into perspective Instead of paying $5-20k+ for a wedding venue, public lands give us the gift of the best venue for nearly free. With that, comes the responsibility for all of us to keep the land pristine, so that in 10, 20, or 50 years, it still looks and feels the same as when you said your vows there. That is why I am a Leave No Trace certified elopement photographer.

Leave No Trace a is a set of ethics and best practices we should follow to enjoy and protect the outdoors. Leave No Trace has a set of 7 minimum-impact principles, that help guide our decisions when we’re outside.

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of other Visitors
bride and groom facing away from the camera looking at the grand teton mountains during their elopement jackson hole

Ready to get started planning Grand Teton National Park or Wyoming Elopement?

I would absolutely love to help you plan one of the most incredible days – reach out here to get started!

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