This picture perfect Montana elopement weekend changed everything for me. This showed me that there are truly no boundaries in how your wedding day can look, when you are intentional and do something that feels true to you. Let's get into the story of how Beth and Kris chose Livingston, Montana for their destination elopement.
How they chose Montana for their elopement
Since I'm from New England, these two originally had New England on their list for their elopement locations. This, along with Glacier National Park. Beth had a vision of getting married at an alpine lake. If you know Glacier National Park, there are just so many stunning views that drew Beth and Kris in. However, come October in Northern Montana, many attractions and roads are closed because of the snow.
Montana was really important to Beth though because that's where her dad is from. Her heart was pretty set on making that the location, so I went ahead and started my research. I focused mainly on the Southern part of Montana in the hopes that the weather would be better there. Top locations such as Red Lodge, Big Sky and Bozeman were my highlighted areas.
They decided on Bozeman because of an alpine lake they saw and loved in my location guide. They found an Airbnb just 30 minutes from the airport in Livingston, and the planning began.
Prepping for their Bozeman elopement
Because I was newer to the area, I felt more comfortable heading out there from New Hampshire beforehand to get a lay of the land. I wanted to be confident to give them various options just in case weather wasn't in our favor. I spent three days driving around, searching for public land, hiking and trying to find easily accessible locations for their families. I came up with three different options for them depending on what happened with the weather.
Their Fall Montana elopement weekend
Their original plan was to do a two day elopement. The first day doing a first look and adventure together, with the second being their ceremony and dinner with their families. A few weeks before, they added on a third day. They hadn't done an engagement session, nor really ever had their pictures professionally done, so they wanted me to do that as well.
We decided that the first day would be all about their adventure. Their time and experience seeing Montana for the first time. They heard about this cool area near Livingston that has tons of wildlife - moose, grizzlies, black bears, elk and more. So we drove around, taking in all the incredible views, daydreaming of what it would be like to live there and spotting wildlife. Afterwards, we wanted to quickly hop into Yellowstone to explore with the little time we had left before their families arrived.
When we got to their Airbnb, we were absolutely shook. This place was incredible. A beautiful farm house with a small pond and the incredible mountain views beyond it. The inside was beautifully decorated and had a very cozy vibe. I ended up staying with them and their families the whole weekend, which I was so happy about.
The alpine lake adventure and first look
For day two of their Montana elopement weekend, they wanted an adventure. The original alpine lake that I had found unfortunately had the road closed off because of weather. However, I had a backup alpine lake that I think worked out even better. We set off on the trail, and had a perfect Fall day. Crisp weather, but clear skies. We hiked to the summit, and ended at a clearing of the lake and mountain backdrop. We all stood there in awe, having it been the three of our first times there.
We walked around, then found a secluded location with the Montana Fall yellow trees to give some beautiful depth to their photos. They each got ready separately, then had a moment for their first look. We hung out for about an hour just taking in the beauty and exploring the area.
My favorite part of photographing in the outdoors with couples is that it is so simple to be in the moment. As you'll see in the photos, I don't need to stage or pose them whatsoever. They are just together, and taking in what's around them. Those are the types of memories you want to have.
Alright... the day isn't over yet! We had a little bit more time before sunset and they really wanted to catch the second location. Hyalite Canyon was a spot I visited while I was on my trip here in September, and it reminded me so much of Glacier National Park. I knew Beth loved those views, so we made it a priority to get there. It did not disappoint. It was the perfect place to end the evening.
Their winter elopement day
Alright so we had Spring and Fall weather for days 1 and 2, all we were missing was the winter (ok... and summer). A snow storm was in the forecast for their actual elopement day, which everyone ended up being pretty excited for thankfully! How magical can it get?! Since it was snowing and they wanted to keep everyone safe and relaxed, they used their Airbnb for the ceremony.
Following the relaxed morning that everyone had getting ready and playing games, it was time to finally get these two married. Their brother in law, Blake, officiated the ceremony, and the two of them wrote their individual vows. It was a beautiful and emotional ceremony filled with so much love and commitment. Afterwards, they celebrated with a toast before heading out to the Livingston bar down the road.
We spent a few hours playing pool, having drinks and dancing away with the music on the jukebox at the Saloon. I loved watching everyone have the best time, basically at a dive bar. And I think it was actually a big highlight for everyone of the day!
Once we got back to their Airbnb, their private chef had all the food prepared and finished. And honestly, it was some of the best food I've ever had in my life. Everything was so delicious and perfectly made. I'm still daydreaming about every single thing we ate there.
We ended the evening with dinner, speeches, playing in the snow, and a first dance. It was the perfect way to end the best elopement weekend.
A little round up of things I learned or thought about during this amazing weekend I feel like is necessary. Especially if you are here to gain some tips or clarity on your very own elopement day or weekend.
- One of my favorite things was that they were able to spend quality time with every single person they invited. Not only that, they made it very intentional to have their own family time with just eachother, and Kris's daughter Schaefer.
- Spend money on the things that truly matter to you. It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks is important. Prioritize your wishes and dreams.
- Instead of making it just a day, make it a full blown experience. This is the one time in your life you're going to cherish and remember for all the years to come. Make it feel as 'you' as possible.
- Montana is amazing. The end.
Florist: Rooted in Montana
Hat: Cofer Hats
Dress: Davids Bridal
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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