The Bozeman, Big Sky and Paradise Valley areas of southwest Montana are awesome for elopements! Avoid the crowds and plan a gorgeous elopement in southwest Montana!
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport serves over 20 cities and is the gateway to 2 nationals parks. Yellowstone is the closest with the Tetons just on the other side of the park in Wyoming.
We specialize in photographing intimate weddings and elopements in the area. Our most popular destinations are Bozeman and Big Sky an hour to the south and Paradise Valley a hour or so to the east. This whole area offers some amazing options for just the two of you or a small group.
If I were to offer any couple my top tip is to book a beautiful place to stay where you can also do your elopement, get ready or even do the vows on location! You need a place to stay anyway and this offers a backup in case of poor weather too! This can be one of the great venues in the area or a vacation rental.
There are some awesome options in the area from full service, luxury ranches, scenic cabin rentals to low cost or even free state and public land options. I am here to help my couples with their options and offer local guidance and advice.
First, a note about vacation rentals + airbnb locations
You need permission.
Some venues explicitly prohibit events. You need to secure permission from your vacation rental for even the smallest of “events.” Many of our elopements are just the couple and explaining to the rental owner that you will not have guests but would like to do photos on the property is usually helpful in securing permission. If you are having a small number of guests usually under 10, explain this to the owner, no loud music, just a few people probably staying on the property already and no big party. The more honest you are with them the more likely they are to work with you and avoid conflict down the road.
Why is a vacation rental such a great option
They are fairly private, quiet and there are some options in the area with killer views! Killer views like; on the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin River, mountain views or even on the mountain side! There are always public lands, parks etc for a location but these are open to the public and usually don’t offer any amenities or shelter from weather.
Let’s get on to some locations!
For Bozeman elopement locations there are a bunch of vacation rentals etc that could work well depending on the size of your group. Generally, you will want to look out of the city area for more scenic views and privacy.
Hyalite Reservoir is national forest land and offers some of my favorite options for elopements. There are a few ranger (rustic) cabin to reserve. These go quick! There are camping spots that would be perfect for a camper van and small ceremony. These go quick also! There is also a pavillion that you can rent near bathrooms that is covered and has a fireplace. Located in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, permits might be necessary. There are many options in the Hyalite area and a reserved space or campsite aren’t the only options.
VENUES IN BOZEMAN
There are some great options for more full service elopements too. The Armory in downtown Bozeman is a swank and offers elopement and micro wedding packages, They have the best rooftop bar in town with views of the Bridger Mountains. This is where I take friends from out of town to show off our growing mountain town.
Looking for something more scenic? Gallatin River Lodge offers accommodations and amazing dinner too. Contact them for more options for your elopement!
Big Sky Area
About an hour from the Bozeman airport is the ski resort town of Big Sky. This ski town is becoming a top destination for its huge ski resort and proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Expect peak season prices for accommodations Thanksgiving-March and also during the busy summer season July-Sept. There are amazing vacation rentals with lodge style architecture and some with multimillion dollar views. These views are hard to find on public land in the area so rentals can be a great option!
LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH
For full service options we love elopements at Lone Mountain Ranch complete with horse drawn carriage and rustic but refined cabins. They have packages that include everything you need for your Montana elopement – just add the photographer! We also love elopements at Rainbow Ranch Lodge, offering elopement, micro and even large wedding accommodations. Located right on the Gallatin River, the RR is romantic and fun.
Down with a quick walk to an amazing waterfall? This is one of my favorite locations in the area, but it is open to the public. Plan on a weekday for sure and be flexible with other visitors. Plan on dinner reservations afterward at one of the great local restaurants – no chains here! Our advice: Horn + Cantle or McGills at the 320 Ranch.
Paradise Valley Area
About an hour from Bozeman towards the northern entrance of Yellowstone Park is Paradise Valley – this area includes the towns of Livingston, Pray, and Emigrant. This gorgeous valley follows the Yellowstone River and the Absorka mountain range. There are some awesome vacation rental options in the area with mountain views or even places right on the Yellowstone River.
Historic hot springs?!
YES! Another excellent place to stay and play is Chico Hot Springs. They offer elopement packages with accommodations, scenic views for your vows and one the best restaurants in Montana. There are sweet cabin options, horses rides and you can soak away the stress. Even if you don’t stay here, plan to visit while in the area. It’s a vibe for sure.
For a more full service elopement we really dig Sage Lodge with an amazing pond and view of Emigrant Peak. Refined lodging and offer some great options for elopements including ranch houses and dinner reservations at one of their restaurants.
Need more help planning your elopement? We offer full service planning for your elopement! Guidance for the dream location, accomodations and all the vendors you might need. The most common vendors we help book for you includes: officiant, florals, hair + makeup, videographer, desserts for celebrating and can help with a private chef, transportation and even llamas or beer burros if you are so inclined!
Is that all? NOPE. We always have more ideas and unique spots off the beaten path. Shoot me an email if you are curious.