If you're on the fence about choosing whether to elope or have a larger traditional wedding because of expenses, this blog post will help you estimate the actual cost of eloping (in Montana) so you can make those final decisions and start budgeting for your magical day. While many choose to elope because its the "cheaper" option, it's not as cheap as you think it is, especially if you want to get away from the courthouse style elopement.

How Much Does A Glacier National Park Elopement Cost?

Let's breakdown what all goes into an elopement in Northwest Montana and the approximate cost of each of these items. Prices will vary based on different vendors and all prices listed below are rough estimates. Inquiring with individual vendors may provide you with different results. I will always say that choosing the cheapest option isn't always recommended when choosing things for your elopement day. Always consider doing your reseach on vendors, venues, and services to make sure they are the right fit for you!

Travel & Accomodations

A major expense to consider when planning an elopement is travel and accommodation costs. Sometimes this cost gets thrown to the wayside if you're planning a year or more in advance and sneaks up closer to the elopement day when you're actually booking lodging/flights etc. If you're planning to elope in a different city or country, you'll need to factor in the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals. Depending on your destination and travel preferences, these costs can vary greatly. Consider looking for deals on flights and accommodations. Something to consider about planning an elopement near the Glacier National Park area, is that it's a heavy tourism area (especially May-September during the peak summer months) so prices will be a bit higher. Flying into the Kalispell Airport (Glacier Park International Airport-GPIA) is actually quite expensive due to its size, and many people choose to fly into a surrounding city and drive a couple of hours to get to the area instead.

Flights: $300-800 per person if flying coach, more expensive if you choose first class

Rental car: $75-250/day, peak season will have higher costs as well as renting larger/nicer vehicles

Lodging: $200-500/night, this will vary widely depending on whether you choose an airbnb, cheaper hotel, or book a fancy large house for multiple guests to stay at

Location and Venue Costs

A very important expense to account for for an elopement is the location and venue. Depending on where you choose to elope, you may need to pay for permits or rental fees. Bypassing permits is not an option when working with me as your elopement photographer, so applying for the appropriate permits is necessary. Places like Glacier National Park and local State/County parks do require a permit if you're going to have an actual ceremony or exchange vows. If you choose to have your ceremony at an intimate venue, there will be a higher cost to account for. This amount will vary greatly based on how many guests you bring with you for your elopement, so do take this into consideration.

Permits: $60-500

Intimate Venues: $1,000+

Photography and Videography Expenses

Something that I, as a photographer, consider to be the most important cost to your elopement is your elopement photography and videography. While elopements may be smaller and more intimate than traditional larger weddings, capturing those special moments is still important and costs similar to a large wedding. Depending on your budget and preferences, you may choose to hire a professional photographer or videographer, or opt for a more affordable option like a friend or family member with photography skills (I don't ever recommend the budget option because I have heard too many horror stories). Photography and Videography costs will vary depending on hour many hours you choose to hire each vendor for, so this estimate will be a starting range you can roughly exect when inquiring for a 3-4 hour package. More hours of coverage = higher expense. Always be sure to hire someone with experience in the field, research their work and make sure you feel drawn to their style and experience of working with them, and make sure you feel comfortable with them (they are going to spend a great deal of time helping you plan and being present on the day of your elopement).

Photography: $2,500-3,500

Videography: $2,000-3,000

Attire and Accessories

When planning your elopement, don't forget to factor in the cost of attire and accessories. While elopements may be less formal than traditional weddings, you'll still want to look your best for your special day. Consider the cost of a wedding dress or suit, as well as any accessories like shoes, jewelry, and other decorative elements like a veil or hairpiece. Keep in mind that you can often find affordable options for these items, especially if you're willing to shop secondhand or DIY.

Wedding Dress: $1000-4,000+

Wedding Suit: $500-1,000

Professional Hair & Make-up

Choosing to get your hair and make-up done professionally will vary depending on where you are getting married in the area. Some couples choose to completely forgo this option when planning their wedding day as they want to do this themselves, while this isn't something I would do (I am no magician when it comes to making myself look beautiful for photos) , but some people are complete naturals are getting themselves done up for an occasion. Some hair and Make-up artists will come to your location and others will have you come to their salon to perform their services. Always be sure to look at their portfolio of past hair and make-up they've done before choosing to hire someone, especially if you have a special request in mind.

Hair: $150-400

Make-up: $150-300


An elopement day wouldn't quite feel like an elopement without a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in your hands. There are many floral shops in the area that cater to the elopement industry in our area. Some have pre-selected bouquets that you can order online at least a month in advance while others allow you to create a custom bouquet and quote you based on your needs.

Bouquet: $250-400

Boutonierre: $25-50

Cake or Desserts

While you might not be having a large extravagant wedding, getting an elopement cake for your day is pretty standard for todays elopements. You should still get to eat yummy desserts and cake on your elopement/wedding day. Plus we have some extremely talented bakers in the area who create top notch elopement cakes. The estimate below is based off of a 4-6" single tier elopement cake.

Elopement Cake: $100+

Officiant and Marriage License Fees

One of the most important expenses to consider when planning an elopement is the cost of an officiant and marriage license. Getting married in Montana is really easy actually and quite in-expensive. You'll also need to pay for an officiant to perform the ceremony, which can vary in cost depending on their experience and location they are traveling to.

Marriage License: $53 + $7 for official copies

Officiant Fees: $500-800

Extra Elopement Day Activities

While you could choose to have just the bare minimum for your elopement day, many couples choose to add in experiences that make their day unique to them. Below are a few examples and a rough approximation of cost if you choose to incorporate these types of activities into your elopement day.

Charcuterie Board Picnic: $150

Glacier National Park Romantic Row Boat: $300

Kayak or Paddle Board Rentals: $50

Total Elopement Cost: ~$13,375

While this number might seem high at first, it is an approximation based off of a median price range of services. Time of year will greatly impact that number, as lodging and travel are significantly cheaper in the winter months vs the summer months. According to a survey that The Knot did in 2022, the average cost of a large traditional wedding and reception is $30,000!! Eloping is much less expensive than a large 150+ person wedding as you're cutting out many other costs like food, large venue, chair/tent rentals, decorations, party favors, wedding party attire/gifts, etc. If you plan your elopement a year in advance, breaking this price point down over a year makes it seem a little less daunting.

As you continue to plan out your future wedding and decide on whether or not to have a destination elopement like in Glacier National Park, consider me on your search for a Photographer to document your elopement day. Simply fill out the contact form on my webite and we can chat more about your perfect elopement day! Choose vendors who you can relate to, those whose work speaks to you, and those who host an experience that you're drawn to. Remember that most important part of your elopement day, is making sure that you and your partner are happy and that they day is about YOU!

Some more resources that you might find helpful on your elopement planning and searches:

Eloping with Family

Unique Elopement Locations in Montana

Whitefish Montana Elopement