Is it your dream to elope in Glacier National Park?
Here's everything you will need to know!
This area holds a special place in my heart after the time I've spent living 45 minutes from the West Glacier entrance. I absolutely love planning elopements in this area, and because of that I have put together an in depth guide on how to elope in the park. Below is all the information you will need to know when it comes to permits, seasonal closures, leave no trace principals, and local vendors. I look forward to helping many more adventurous couples plan their dream elopement at GNP!
Get your marriage license. You won't be able to legally get married without it, so it is an important first step when planning your elopement.
Choose where you want to have your ceremony in the park. You'll be far less stressed once you have your permit for the ceremony location. It may take a few months to be approved, so you won't want to wait until the last minute.
Time to book your vendors! There are so many amazing vendors in the Flathead valley, but they book up fast! Glacier National Park is a popular spot for destination weddings, and many of the vendors are extremely busy during peak tourist seasons.
Now it's time to finalize your timeline and think of all the fun things you want to do on your wedding day! Just because you are eloping doesn't mean you can't have a full day of activities.
Obtaining a Marriage license
There are two ways to get married in Montana: declaration of marriage or ceremonial marriage. Click here to learn more.
If you're wanting an officiated ceremony, start by applying for a marriage license and finding a local officiant that you would want to officiate your ceremony.
Click here for the marriage license application PDF
- It'll cost $53.00, and you'll have to use it within 180 days. You will have to go to the correct district court to receive your license before the ceremony.
- The license will be issued on the same day that you file your application and is effective immediately. (there isn’t a waiting period and you can even go pick it up the morning of your ceremony if the court is open that day. I recommend going the day before or a few days before just in case there is any bump in the road). You can do this any time, as long as it is not more than 6 months before the ceremony.
- You need an officiant to sign your license, but witnesses are not required. Your photographer can sign as a witness if you’d like.
If you don’t live in Montana, apply in the county where the marriage will occur.
- Glacier National park is in Glacier County, however I recommend filing in whatever county you're staying in so that it is convenient for you to file the marriage license after the ceremony.
- After you're married, the marriage certificate must be returned to the issuing district court for recording within 30 days. So you will have to file your marriage license before you leave the area you got married in.
- For example: If you are staying in Whitefish or Kalispell they are a part of Flathead County.
- Some district courts will mail you a certified copy of your marriage certificate for free, while others charge. Ask when applying.
What you need when you go pick up your license:
- State issued driver’s license, birth certificate, or other recognized proof of age such as a military ID or passport
- Knowledge of both sets of parents’ full names and places of birth including mother’s maiden name
- Knowledge of bride and groom’s social security numbers
- A Rubella Blood Test for the bride, although you may opt to complete this form which either exempts you or allows a previous blood test to count towards your marriage license requirements
- Proof of divorce if applicable to either party applying for the marriage license
County Contact information:
512 E Main St. Cut Bank, MT 59427
Flathead County Justice Center
920 S Main St, 3rd Floor, Suite 300
Kalispell, MT 59901
Click here for more information about obtaining a marriage license in the Flathead County.
Click here for a very helpful and easy to read guide for getting married in Montana.
Permits in Glacier National Park
There is a special use permit required for weddings, elopements, and vow exchanges. ($100)
Directly from the GNP website:
“Do I need a permit?
Any and all vow exchanging, elopements, ceremonies, weddings, etc. require a Special Use Permit. This is regardless of the size of the group, whether or not it is “officiated” or if papers are being signed. If any sort of vow exchange, elopement, or any other form of special event is taking place, a permit is required at all times. If you are entering the park with a photographer only to take photographs and there will not be any exchanging of vows of any sort, signing of documents, witnessing of a union, etc. then no permit would be required.”
If you think you will need a permit, click here for the application form
The park does want the participants getting married to be the ones who fill out the application form, however your photographer should be able to provide you with all the information that you will need to fill out the application. Your photographer should also be able to assist in finding locations that are open and accessible during the time of year you are eloping. You will need to provide exact locations and times on your permit. It is important to be specific if you want your application to be approved. (click here for location options)
- Be sure to include accurate contact information of your photographer when prompted on the application form.
- Under “Equipment” list anything that is not your person that you might want to bring with you. Examples can include camera equipment, chairs, tables, musical instruments, speakers, etc. No arches or extensive 'set up' is allowed.
- Remember to include all participants in your people and vehicle counts. This should include you, your fiancé, any officiants and photographers, and any and all guests.
After the application is completed:
“Send us your completed application and $125 payment in the form of check or money order by mail to the following address or e-mail a digital copy to email@example.com. Note that if you are emailing your permit or otherwise want to pay by credit card, please include a note that you wish to pay by credit card and we will reach out to you when we are ready to process your permit
Glacier National Park
Attn: Special Park Uses
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
Once we have received your application and payment, we will write a final permit and send it to you either in the mail or through an e-mail. You then need to sign and return a copy to us in either the self-addressed envelope we include with your permit or by replying to the e-mail. Your permit is not valid until we have received a signed copy back from you.”
Additional side Note:
“Current regulations are such that you do not need a permit to come into the park to take pictures even with a professional photographer. If you have a permit to hold your wedding inside the park, you may take as much time as you want before or after your permitted time for pictures and may go anywhere in the park open to the general public. However, there are some things to keep in mind. You are under the same rules as any other visitor to the park. These regulations include, but are not limited to: respecting area closures and closures to off-trail travel; rules regarding pets; rules against the collecting, trampling, or disturbing of plants; rules about approaching, feeding or in any way harassing wildlife; and the prohibition of scattering or releasing any items such as rice, birdseed, balloons, flower petals, bubbles, etc.
Soft music such as an acoustic guitar or phone speaker is generally allowed. There are noise level regulations in place. Generally, no one outside of your group should be able to hear it. Please put it on your permit application if you plan to have any sort of music.”
“Your permit does not act as a park entrance pass. All visitors are required to have a valid park entrance pass (including during periods when the entrance station is not staffed)
(all italicized portions above are directly taken from the Glacier National Park Website)
Need to contact the Park?
The most efficient way is by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also call: 406-888-5960