I’ve concierged & photographed several Alaska Elopements and quickly learned that an Alaskan elopement isn’t just any elopement….it’s a cool elopement. 😉 For real, though, there are many things you need to think about that are unique to the Alaskan experience.
What should you know if you want to elope there? Keep reading to get the good, the ugly, the dirty, and the spectacular!
You need to consider the weather for your Alaska Elopement
Over the last two years, Alaska locals have noted they’ve seen the wettest summers in recent memory. Obviously, we don’t know what 2024 will hold, but if the past two years are any indication…there will be rain. 😉
That definitely doesn’t mean anything is ruined, it just means that your elopement might be a drizzly, beautiful, moody, experience!
The weather is always a factor to prep for
If your activities are going to expand across multiple types of activities, you want to make sure you have prepared yourself for it all.
In Alaska, this means a quality base layer (wool is great!), rain gear, gloves, earmuffs, neck gaiters, and really good footwear. Even if you’re eloping when it’s warm out, make sure you pack gloves and a hat (at minimum).
You honestly never know what the last frontier will throw your way, so you want to prepare!
But what if it rains on my Alaska Elopement?
All the rain they have gotten, and are likely going to continue to get, has gotten the trails and hiking in full muddy-squish-mode. Lots of mud means that your wedding garments are likely to get dirty. BUT, that’s okay! Everyone loves a little dirt ombre. 😉
Many outdoorsy Alaskans live in their XtraTuf boots, but any good waterproof or really good water resistant hiking boot can work too, and, is great for glacier exploring also so your microspikes grippers fit snuggly over the sole of your shoes.
PRO TIP: Extra rainy conditions, you’ll want something higher than ankle height for footwear, just in case you are the lucky one to find the crazy soft, squishy spot on the trail 😉 )
I understand that reading that your outfit or wedding dress is going to get dirty can create mixed emotions for folx (especially moms, lol), but it adds to the adventure of your story. “Remember how dirty we got?!” It is fun. 😄
And if it’s still unsettling, that’s totally ok! Then let this be your permission to buy multiple wedding ‘fits so you can start fresh on each day of your Alaska elopement adventure!
The weather moods mean that flexibility is a must during your elopement
You might plan for some of the really awesome activities that Alaska is filled with – float planes, helicopters, ski planes, glacier landings, and whatever else…but those are weather-permitting activities.
This is why you should always plan and prepare for extra time within your elopement adventure. ALL elopements shouldn’t be a “pop in, pop out” experience. Especially when eloping in Alaska, you need to book and prepare for extra time.
Practically speaking, this means talking to your time-sensitive vendors and making sure they know what the game plan is. This is why I always emphasize the importance of your vendors. You want to make sure they are excited to be a part of your team to make your elopement happen in the most magical way possible! (More on this down below!)
The seasons impact options in designing your elopement
While some vendors run tours & activities year round, a solid number of places, specialty lodging, adventures, and other excursions (eg–the famous train! )close during the winter in Alaska. Unless you’re looking for an Aurora Borealis experience, which, is an absolutely unique adventure! Those excursions and accommodations cater to colder weather.
The high season for travel to Alaska is from May 1st to about September 5th so most elopements fall within that window.
PRO TIP: In many locations, I recommend shoulder season, which, is the season just before or just after high season, but in Alaska it is hit or miss on whether things will be available and open.
So, aiming early in the season, or nearer to the end can help the cool lodging & adventures you crave to be open, but, you have the benefit of fewer crowds.
Your Alaska Elopement location should be strategic
The size of Alaska is often not really fully appreciated, it is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined. SO… If you only have a couple of days for your Alaska elopement, my best advice to you is to pick one of the 5 primary regions of the state and stick to it.
There are super cool things to do everywhere, but it isn’t practical to go all over in one trip. Though the views in transit are gorgeous, you’ll end up spending way more time traveling than adventuring.
If you’re turning your elopement into a honeymoon…
…I would still encourage you to plan your activities by region/within a region. This will allow you to see the bucket list spots while still embracing the in-between moments and sweetness of unplanned downtime, too.
Each region has some signature things it is known for, so honestly, no matter which one you pick you can’t go wrong!
And, some things (like glaciers!) can be found in several regions (eg: Inside Passage, South Central, and, Interior), so you can mix and match within your itinerary to lots of great activities within the region you choose.
I would be super happy to help you think about where/what to explore depending on the kind of experiences you want outside of your elopement experience with me! ❤️️
Alaska is built different – diverse geographics
Another important thing to note when planning your Alaskan elopement is that the geography of the state is diverse, as is the natural beauty.
When you think “glacier” what do you think of? Did you know they can look different in different spots, and different at different times of year?
The high-apline glaciers like the ones around Denali and the sheer granite walls of Ruth Amphitheater, feel very different than the valley glaciers across Chugach National Forest (with famed crystal crystal blue melt pools in the summer!). The tidewater glaciers in the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park tumbling into the ocean have a unique vibe, too.
Even the mountains are different.
The mountains you get in Hatcher Pass feel a bit shorter (the Pass itself is around 3900 ft elevation), while the Chugach Range is a bit more craggy, with peaks starting about 4,000 ft up to the tallest peak at 13,100 ft. Despite the differences, they can both be green in the summer and snow-capped come cold weather. If you want super craggy, moody AF mountains, maybe you want the Denali range- the classic Alpine.
If the rugged & lush Kauai coast of Hawaii, the sea stacks of the Oregon & Washington Coasts, and the mountains and glaciers of Alaska all smooshed together, that’s a little bit of how to explain Kenai Fjords National Park down near Seward. Lol.😉 However you describe it, it’s magic.
Timing is everything for an Alaska elopement
Honestly, time is such a big element of your wedding experience. It goes by so fast and you don’t want to miss or sacrifice anything at all. This is your wedding and you’ve chosen a RAD place to explore that to rush it or cut is short would be a huge disservice to you both on this amazing experience.
How much time do should you book for an elopement in Alaska?
When it comes to your dedicated adventure time, don’t cheat yourself of time to explore, play and just go slow and enjoy.
Instead of just booking one day, book two or even three depending on the type of activities you really want to experience and if it is just you two, or, you two + your crew.
If you’re eloping with a crew, you want to take them into consideration, too.
Imagine this, you spend a full day wandering around Alaska with your most favorite humans. Seeing the sights, exploring the mountains/glaciers/lakes for a wedding ceremony you’ll never forget. Close the day by indulging in a wonderful dinner in an amazing and breathtaking spot, making once-in-a-lifetime memories together.
The next day, your crew gets to do whatever they want while you and your partner spend the day having a private experience, custom adventure, and, sharing your intimate vows.
Finishing on a beautiful high, you two spend the final day of your elopement package’s 3 days of coverage together relaxing, with a slow morning with a bubble bath together, a light hike to enjoy a prepared picnic lunch, with time together to just be.
To close it out, you rejoin your crew for a fun evening together around the camp fire or fireplace at your Airbnb; recounting the details you want to share from your private experiences, while an in-home chef makes you something delicious and completely tailored to you….that ALL sounds incredible.
Multiple days is 100% the way.
Adventure elopement travel itinerary–build in FLEXIBILITY
PRO TIP: Plan for flexibility in your schedule. Book extra time before & after your elopement dates at your lodging you are using for home base for your adventure. This will allow you to have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to the actual adventure & ceremony day(s) in case we need to shift to accommodate permits, weather issues, etc.
I don’t book back-to-back elopements , as I offer each of my couples a “date window” as standard (and for no extra cost!) This date window holds a day before and a day after your officially planned elopement dates for this exact reason! That way we (and other vendors, as appropriate) can flex as we plan early on, or, can make a game-day decision based on the conditions we’re faced with at the moment.
For example, I went to Talkeetna, a tiny little town positioned below Denali that climbers go to when they’re prepping for their climb.
I went because I wanted to try and fly and glacier land at the high alpine glaciers around Denali. Outside of a miraculous clearing one night for the Aurora Borealis to show themselves (wahoooo!!!), the weather was terrible the whole time. I even extended my stay for a 4th day and we never had a weather break allowing us to land.
It meant that I had to adjust. And this is why being flexible is a must! (Promise we will always figure out an amazing “Plan B” and time and time again, experience shows that this backup plan (or Plan C or D!) is truly spectacular, even if it wasn’t original plan.
How much will an elopement in Alaska cost?
I’m always on your side and so I have to be straight with you…a bucket list Alaskan elopement will likely not be your cheapest option. If you want a $3000 elopement, this is probably not the best choice for the fullest experience possible.
Car rentals are pricey. Helicopter excursions are pricey (can be $1,500-$2,500+ for you two + your photographer). Some super rad lodging options are pricey.
That said, I always work with you to figure out how we can prioritize your spend to what matters most to your vision!
I’ve scouted multiple vendors that work across a relatively wide range of specialities (from cake options to float plane pilots!) and across various price points. But, that doesn’t change the fact that if you want something cheap, Alaska will not give you the best bang for your buck.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for the most radical memories possible, Alaska is a “Hell Yes!”
It all comes down to what matters most to YOU.
Dream big because part of what I love is helping my couples realize things they could have never imagined are possible ARE possible.
There are so many different ways to make an idea real, across many different budgets. So dare to dream and prioritize what matters to you. It’s possible and damn, I’d love to show you how amazing and beautiful it could really be!
Alaska elopement vendors require time
When it comes to elopement or wedding vendors in Alaska, it requires a little bit more thought.
To be honest, this is where my complimentary concierge support is supercritical to help relieve stress in planning for you, as there are typically more limited vendor options in Alaska, especially in the outlying areas that so many couples want.
It can be a bit overwhelming to plan out all the logistics, coordinate everything, and make sure they are quality teammates for our adventure.
With my experience, connections, and foresight, I can make sure we plan ahead, ask the right questions, and find the best adventure partners for your elopement!
PRO TIP: If time is on your side, I really recommend booking all your vendors, accommodations, and reservations about 6-12 months in advance. Booking shorter lead times is possible, but you may end up with fewer choices.
Renting Cars in Alaska
You can get away with a regular sedan passenger vehicle from a big box renter like Hertz or Enterprise. If you want more independence and confidence for some dirt road driving, I really recommend renting a 4×4 Jeep or something with a bit more clearance.
It really boosts your flexibility, your confidence, and the ability to approach trailheads without limitations. (PS: I almost always rent 4x4s just in case. So we can carpool!! But if you plan to adventure on your own, you’ll need your own.)
Car rentals do book up fast (even with a referral), so make this a top priority. I have some good referrals, too, that I will send you as a part of my concierge service and support!
PRO TIP: Double and triple check your car rental’s location of use limitations to avoid hefty fines/fees. Some vendors don’t allow driving in certain areas such as the long & bumpy McCarthy Road to Wrangell/St. Elias National Park, roads north of Fairbanks, or, even up and over Hatcher Pass nearer to Anchorage.
Some do allow use in these areas, but with pre-authorization and an additional fee. When in doubt, always ask 👍
Watch out when driving to your Alaska elopement
Driving should never be taken for granted in Alaska, as the wildlife has a big presence. So much so that as I brain-dumped my thoughts for this blog post I was driving, nearing Alaska Hwy 3 and a massive moose meandered into the road!! It scared the sh*t outta me! Lol.
Because of the wildlife, driving at dusk and dawn is particularly tricky. If you’re going to do it, you just have to take it slow. Obviously, you want to avoid hitting any living creature both for their sake and yours!
Road Factors in Touring Alaska
FACTS: It will always take longer than you plan to get you where you’re trying to go. lol😄
In Alaska, a lot of the more outlying highways are two-lane or flex-lane roads (2 lanes, but where a 3rd lane as a passing lane is intermittently present) so traffic volume and/or accidents can really slow or stop traffic.
And, as you can likely appreciate, summer in Alaska is construction season and is when the state can take care of the roads to survive the rougher months. This means that you will be very wise to add an extra minutes to whatever Google Maps tells you to help buffer delays.
So plan for wiggle room, you won’t regret it!
PS–don’t forget to double check you travel plans vs your rental car location limits as noted above!
Are you ready for an adventure Alaska elopement?
Alaska is filled with literally endless opportunities. Regardless of the season you want to come, how long you want to spend there, how much you want to invest in the experience, there is an incredible Alaskan elopement waiting for you.
I am currently booking for 2024 elopements and I am already planning on being in Alaska in June (availability June 19-25th 2024!) and at the end of August (availability August 24-Sept 2 2024!). The stars might be aligning for you! ✨😏
What kind of adventure could we build or you? Do you want to integrate your crew? I am bursting with amazing ideas and I can’t wait to explore them all with you.
If you want to reserve my services or even just a no pressure chat with me about what an Alaskan elopement could look like for you, reach out here. I’d love to meet you two and hear everything on your mind!❤️️
May through Labor Day at the start of September is tourism season in Alaska. I typically advise my couples that you should have your elopement in Alaska in 2024 earlier in the season (around June), or, towards later in August. This can help with weather, but, still help cut down crowds. I already have trips booked to Alaska in June and August 2024 and I’ve got some availability to fit in your elopement! Next up… where in Alaska should you elope?
Well, picking the spot where you should elope is about what you want to **feel** and **experience** for your elopement! Sound like frufru? It’s not! 😉 I just posted a reel showing you my secret sauce in how I pick rad locations using your thoughts on vibe or wispy ideas about want you to see like a stress-free elopement in the Dolomites in Italy! Check it out!