A Sunrise to Sunset Elopement in Glacier National Park


A Sunrise to Sunset Elopement in Glacier National Park

I’ve known Taylor since I was 7 years old… and never in the 20-something years that I’ve known here did I ever think I would be blessed with the opportunity to (a) be her wedding photographer, and (b) be the one and only witness for her elopement in Glacier National Park.

It was actually me who approached Taylor and Nevin about photographing their wedding day… I was just starting up my elopement photography business and they were planning for an intimate wedding in Portland, Oregon. Thankfully, they didn’t resist my request and were so happy they had a photographer they could trust fully for their wedding!

However, 2020 brought one disaster after the next, and Taylor and Nevin ended up deciding to reroute their intimate wedding plans for an adventurous elopement in the mountains. We spent some time together talking about all of their options  including downsizing and postponing… but once I mentioned a spontaneous elopement for just the two of them, their eyes filled with excitement and I could instantly tell there was no turning back.

For the next couple months, I helped them craft an itinerary that focused on experience and intentionality – turning their wedding from a party for others to one of the greatest adventures of their life.

Alyssa was there for us at every step of the planning process, checking in and talking through ideas and making sure that we were thinking through the whole process of our elopement experience and getting it very goal oriented and purposeful: what [we wanted] from our day where we start the rest of our lives together. This is not something you can get from just any photographer. That kind of intention is so special and priceless. Alyssa helped design the experience for us. Going into this, I was so overwhelmed with all the details, I didn't realize this was the most important piece of the process, and I was SO GLAD to have Alyssa guide us through this and help us understand what we even wanted.
Taylor + Nevin

Once we decided on an adventurous elopement for these two, the next step was figuring our where. I think this is where a lot of couples looking to elope get stuck… unlike a conventional wedding where you just look at venues near home, eloping gives you the opportunity to get married almost anywhere in the world, and this level of freedom can be both liberating and overwhelming.

Before landing on Glacier National Park, I interviewed Taylor and Nevin a little bit to get a better understanding of (a) their favorite places they’ve ever been, and (b) their top bucket list locations. Eventually, we landed on Banff National Park, but with the Canadian borders being closed we decided on the next best thing – Glacier National Park in the Montana Rocky Mountains.

Glacier had everything these two were looking for… comfortable accommodations, accessible hikes for a sunrise elopement, pristine blue waters, enormous mountain peaks… truly a nirvana for the romantic adventurers.  

Couple walking down to water for their sunrise elopement in Glacier National Park
Moon rise over mountains in Montana
Close up of the flora in Glacier National Park
Groom waiting to see his bride while standing next to water in with mountains in the background
Groom reacting emotionally to seeing his bride for the first time on their elopement day
Bride and groom exchanging vowx next to St. Mary Lake in Montana
Bride and groom first ksis at their Glacier National Park elopement
Bride and groom walking along shore of lake in Glacier National Park
Bride and groom walking down rocky path to St. Marys Lake
Couple standing in front of blue water in front of mountain backdrop at St. Marys Lake
Couple standing on rocks next to the water of St. Marys Lake
Couple standing with hiking gear looking out at Goose Island in Glacier National Park

Not only did these two opt for a sunrise elopement, but they also decided to head back out for sunset for even more photos.

After waking up at 3am for their elopement ceremony, Taylor and Nevin knew they would want to retreat back to their accommodation at The Glacier Guides Lodge for a nap and a good meal out, so we were sure to find a ceremony location that was super accessible to a parking lot so we weren’t spending all day hiking in and out.

Unfortunately, with accessibility often comes popularity and traffic, we had to be super intentional about the time of day we spent at their chosen location. We arrived well before sunrise when the water was still and there was literally nobody else around for hours, and found ourselves a quiet little corner by the water that we trusted people wouldn’t be visiting until at least mid-morning.

Then, after a restful afternoon, we headed back out for a lake-side picnic and to watch the sun set over the mountains beside Lake McDonald – the perfect way to close out their wedding day.

Alyssa Vanzo Elopement Adventure Wedding Photography Montana

Did this story inspire your own Glacier National Park elopement?  Be sure to check out this guide where I’ll walk you through things like best time of year, airports to fly into, places to stay, elopement vendors near the park – everything you could need to start your planning for an elopement in Glacier National Park!

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