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Planning A Destination Wedding in Switzerland
There’s no doubt about it, planning a destination wedding in Switzerland or choosing to elope in the Swiss Alps has to be one of the most romantic, yet adventurous ways to get married. This post is for any couple looking for a comprehensive guide on how to get married in Switzerland. As your Switzerland wedding photographer, I'm laying out exactly what steps you need to take to elope in Switzerland, where you should get married in Switzerland, your Switzerland wedding budget, and everything else you may want to know!
What Are the Steps to Eloping in Switzerland?
Planning an elopement in Switzerland is a breeze! Below you’ll find my simple process for making your Swiss Alps elopement a reality. As your wedding and elopement photographer, I'm here to help you throughout each step.
I recommend couples allot at least two to six months to plan their Switzerland destination wedding.
Choose an Elopement Wedding Date
Before you can dive deep into planning your Switzerland elopement, one of the first things you need to do is set a date. Setting a date will allow you to start booking the vendors that can help make your dream come to life!
Book Your Switzerland Elopement Wedding Photographer
Once a date is set, hiring your Switzerland elopement wedding photographer is the next step, and I'd argue, one of the most important. Hiring a photographer who is on board with capturing you as you truly are is so important. Choosing the right photographer also matters, because they’ll be a key player in helping guide you through the process of not only getting incredible images at the end of the day but also they’ll make sure you have the experience of a lifetime.
Dreaming of scaling a mountain? Make sure whoever you hire is someone who is capable of capturing that! I'm not the type to toot my own horn, but I'm your elopement photographer if this is something you want to do! Between 2020 and 2021, I summitted over one-hundred peaks in the Alps, many of which were in Switzerland. I know the alps like the back of my hand!
Do you want a unique and secluded location? Hire a local or someone who knows the area well. In short, hire someone who is well-aligned with your goals. If you're up for an adventure, contact me now! I can help you make your dreams a reality!
Visualize What You Want Your Day to Look Like
Eloping is pretty new, and it’s likely you don’t have a lot of experience attending elopement weddings. You might not quite have a vision of what you want your Switzerland elopement to look like yet (and that’s totally ok!). This step is where you’ll really want to start thinking about what is most important to you as a couple, and how you want to honor that on your intimate wedding day.
Whether it’s spending the night stargazing before catching the sunrise from a beautiful location and exchanging vows, or enjoying breakfast in bed before a morning-first look, the possibilities are endless.
My booked couples receive an exclusive guide that goes over prompts and questions that can help them find clarity in the dreaming process.
Pro-Tip: During this step, you may realize you have a dream so big, you need a little outside help. This would be a great time to book a Switzerland elopement planner! If you want to know more about hiring an elopement planner, I have a free guide you can find here about hiring an elopement planner.
Decide on a Location in Switzerland
Choosing your elopement wedding location in Switzerland is an exciting task that I love helping couples with. When choosing a location, you’ll want to consider:
- What time of year are you eloping in?
- How popular is the location?
- Are there any restrictions on the location?
- What time of day has the best light?
Your Switzerland wedding photographer (me!!!) will have advice for all of this! I have a helpful resource you can find here about how to choose the best mountain elopement location. Location scouting is one of my biggest strengths (beyond taking stellar photos and making sure you have an amazing experience). This is something I help our booked couples extensively with.
If you are planning an elopement with guests or a micro wedding, you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner to help with securing a venue or permission to hold your ceremony at specific locations.
Book Your Switzerland Travel & Lodging
Now that you know where you’re eloping in Switzerland, it’s time to book your travel and accommodations.
How to Get to Switzerland
Switzerland is a major travel destination, making it easy to get to from many large airports. Switzerland has 7 international airports you can fly into.
Traveling Pro-tip: Switzerland is a small country, making it easy to travel around. If you have lots of time to explore during your trip to Switzerland, it may be worth looking at which airport is the most inexpensive to fly into.
Getting Around Switzerland (Trains and Buses)
Like most countries in Europe, Switzerland has an extensive train and bus network that makes traveling quite simple. I still recommend getting a rental car, at least for the elopement portion part of your trip though, since it makes getting around Switzerland a breeze. You’ll find this especially true in the mountainous regions. I've also found car rentals to be more budget-friendly than public transportation.
Lodging in Switzerland for your Wedding
Switzerland offers a wide variety of lodging options, from upscale hotels and ski lodges to quaint bed and breakfasts in the villages. Airbnb and similar rental property options are also popular. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a place where you can relax and isn’t too far from your elopement location.
Lodging Pro-tip: Choose a location with great natural light and that is clutter-free for the best getting-ready photos! If you want a “first-look” where you’re staying, also keep in mind what scenery is nearby and how everything will look.
Plan Your Elopement Day Activities
By this stage in the planning process, you should have a clear vision of what your elopement day is going to look like. It’s now time to put that all on paper and build a timeline of your wedding day, so you know there’s room for everything. If you find you need more time, most photographers will allow you to upgrade your elopement coverage.
Book Your Switzerland Wedding Vendors
Are you booking more than a photographer for your small Switzerland wedding? Once your timeline is outlined and all the activities nailed down, be sure to hire any other vendors you find you need.
These might include a wedding celebrant/officiant, a hair and makeup artist, a florist, a private chef, or maybe even a mountain guide.
Pro-tip on booking your elopement vendors: Having additional vendors is totally optional, but can definitely enhance your day. If you love food, an amazing, privately catered meal may be perfect for you. If you don’t want to worry about doing your own hair and makeup, an HMUA can take a lot of stress off of you the day-of. You can DIY-things, or go elaborate. The choice is yours!
Gather Any Necessary Wedding and Travel Documents
The documents you may need to bring for eloping can really vary, depending on where you travel from. Some documents you may need for your elopement include:
- Drivers Licenses
- Confirmation of booked flights
- Hotel/Lodging confirmations
- Any legal documents needed if you plan on having a civil ceremony
Pro-Tip: Be sure to have a list of everything you need, print out the documents, and keep them together in a binder. If you’re flying, be sure these stay with your carry-on luggage.
Elope in Switzerland!
Your elopement day is here! After all of your dreaming and excitement, it’s finally happening. Soak up every second and remember- these memories will last forever. Your photographer (oh hi!) will be sure you have amazing photos to help document the experience.
Marriage in Switzerland as a Foreigner
If you’d like to get married in Switzerland as a foreigner, there are a few things you need to consider. Generally, only residents of Switzerland can get legally married, but anyone on a tourist visa can still hold a symbolic ceremony. Below you’ll find an outline of what you need to consider as a foreigner for civil, religious, and symbolic wedding ceremonies in Switzerland.
Civil Marriages in Switzerland
To obtain a legally recognized marriage in Switzerland, you will be required to take part in a civil marriage ceremony first. As a general rule, only legal-residents of Switzerland may participate in a civil wedding. This can change from canton to canton though. It’s up to the authorities to decide. The best way to find out is by contacting the local registry office and sending them in any requested forms. Once you’ve received permission to get married, the civil ceremony must take place within three (3) months.
Documents you may be required to show to get civilly married in Switzerland include:
- Birth certificate
- Certificate of No Impediment.
- Certificate of Single Status.
- Proof of residency.
- Your first marriage certificate and final divorce papers (if you’ve been previously married)
- A death certificate of your previous spouse (if you’re widowed)
Depending on where you’re getting married in Switzerland, your documents will need to be officially translated into German, Italian, or French.
Same-Sex Marriage in Switzerland
Same-sex marriage marriage and LGBTQ+ weddings were legalized in Switzerland in September, 2021! So yes, LGBTQ+ couples can legally get married in Switzerland.
Religious Ceremonies in Switzerland
Couples wishing to hold a religious ceremony in Switzerland need to arrange it to take place after the civil ceremony. Religious ceremonies are not legally binding.
Some churches in Switzerland have chapels that may be rented for non-denominational wedding ceremonies.
Symbolic Ceremonies in Switzerland
For couples who are eloping abroad in Switzerland, we suggest holding a symbolic ceremony and taking care of the legal paperwork at home. Holding a symbolic ceremony, otherwise known as a commitment ceremony, allows you to craft your day freely, and also have more flexibility with your elopement day timeline. Any couple can have a symbolic ceremony in Switzerland.
Reasons to Elope in Switzerland
If you’re looking for a reason to elope in Switzerland, I've got *seven* that we’re sharing in this post! Keep reading to find out why you should get married in Switzerland.
The Swiss Alps
It goes without saying, the Swiss Alps are all the reason you need to elope in Switzerland. 60% of the country is mountainous, meaning there’s no shortage of jaw-dropping views.
There are over 1,500 beautiful lakes to get married at in Switzerland. Many of these glacially-fed lakes shimmer brilliant blue, and offer great opportunities to swim, paddle, and relax at. Some of our favorite lakes in Switzerland would have to be the Brienzersee, Bachalpsee, and Oeschinensee.
Switzerland is home to over 40 glaciers, making for an epic elopement backdrop. The largest of Switzerland’s glaciers, the Aletsch Glacier, holds over 11-billion tons of ice. I've compiled a guide on glaciers you can’t miss in Europe, so you should check that out!
The Best Skiing in the World
It’s no secret that Switzerland is home to some of the best skiing in the world. If you’re looking to hold an adventurous ski wedding, be sure to check out Mürren, Zermatt, and Saint Moritz.
Incredible Food: Swiss Chocolate and Cheese
If you love food as I do, Switzerland offers an amazing variety of both chocolate and cheese (but we wouldn’t suggest mixing the two). Both are made from high-quality dairy sourced from alpine dwelling cows. Just imagine enjoying a warm fondue during your celebratory wedding dinner.
Another reason to plan a destination wedding in Switzerland is that the country is centrally located to some of Europe’s most beautiful scenery. Within a few hours of central Switzerland, you can visit Chamonix, France; Milan, Italy; or the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. After your elopement in Switzerland, there’s no shortage of nearby honeymoon spots nearby.
The Best Place to Elope in Europe
I'd have to argue that Switzerland is the best place to elope in Europe. There’s no shortage of stunning scenery, romantic places to stay, and things to do.
Unique Wedding Activities in Switzerland
For adventurous couples, Switzerland offers no shortage of unique wedding activities to make your day unforgettable. Here are a few of my favorite adventure elopement experiences available in Switzerland.
If you’ve dreamed of soaring up close to the mountains, paragliding is an activity you’ve got to try. Throughout Switzerland, you’ll find companies that offer tandem-paragliding experiences so you and your partner can go with a professional guide. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland is one of the best places to go for a thrilling ride.
For those who want to see and go places, few can, opting for a helicopter wedding excursion may be a perfect choice. Helicopter flight-seeing tours occur all over Switzerland, but some of the most scenic destinations are around Zermatt and Interlaken. Chartering a private helicopter for weddings generally costs between $1,500-$2,000.
Imagine whizzing above alpine meadows side-by-side with your partner, flying past some of Switzerland’s most majestic scenery. You can do exactly that on a ziplining tour at the First Flyer in the Jungfrau Region. At spots like this one, you can reach speeds of over 50 m.p.h. (80 kmh)-talk about getting your blood pumping! Ziplining is a great, adrenaline-boosting activity for any couple looking to level-up their wedding day experience.
Visit the Jungfraujoch
The Jungfraujoch is home to Europe’s mountain railway station and a breathtaking way to experience the Swiss Alps. At the top of the station, you can access an observation deck, ice palace, and good eats.
When to Get Married in Switzerland
Getting married in Switzerland is beautiful any season, but here’s what you need to know about when is right for you.
Winter Weddings in Switzerland
Winter weddings in Switzerland are a fantastic time to take advantage of skiing, ice skating, or sledding along the world’s longest groomed track. Getting married during the winter also is a great excuse to stay at a cozy chalet in the mountains and relax in your own personal hot tub or sauna. If you’re wanting a dreamy snowscape, we recommend planning your Switzerland winter wedding in the months of December, January, and February.
Spring Weddings in Switzerland
Switzerland’s spring climate widely varies, so be sure to plan appropriately for your wedding. By late May, you can expect many of the lower alpine regions to be melted out and green. Higher up in the mountains, the ski season is still going. Late spring (late May- June) is a fantastic time for a lakeside Switzerland wedding, as the blue colors are the most vibrant from the glacial melt during this time. The snow-capped mountains of the Swiss Alps are also unforgettable in the spring.
Summer Weddings in Switzerland
Summer is my favorite season for Switzerland weddings. Summer season lasts between July-mid-September. By this point, the wildflowers are in bloom, all of the hiking trails are open, and the weather is beautiful. Switzerland’s high alpine regions have generally mild temperatures during the summer months, but it’s not unheard of to experience a handful of 30°C/86°F days. Summer is a great time to explore, and Switzerland’s many glaciers sparkle deep blue.
Afternoon thunderstorms aren’t uncommon during the summer months, so planning a morning-elopement can be a good choice.
Fall Weddings in Switzerland
Early fall is one of the best-kept secrets for planning a wedding in Switzerland. By this time, the busy tourist season has slowed down but the weather is still nice (and drier than summer). If you are hoping to book a venue, autumn also can be an easier month to secure a date. If you want to catch vibrant fall colors, the last two weeks in October is best. This is when the larches change from green to vibrant yellow and orange. It's absolutely INCREDIBLE!
Some of the best spots in Switzerland to catch fall colors during your wedding include:
- The Aletsch Forest
Places to Get Married in Switzerland
It’s no secret that Switzerland is one of the best places to get married. Whether you’re looking for a romantic castle along a lake or views of the Swiss Alps, or maybe even some palm trees (yes, you read that right!), you’re bound to find it. Here are some of the top places to have an elopement or destination wedding in Switzerland.
Interlaken, Switzerland is located between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, making it a picturesque spot for your destination wedding. Interlaken makes a charming destination with its numerous castle wedding venues and mountain views in every direction.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley is a fairytale wedding location. Lauterbrunnen is known as the most beautiful valley in the world, and home to 72 waterfalls. The cliff faces surrounding Lauterbrunnen are nearly 400 meters tall at some points!
In Lauterbrunnen, you can also access the Schilthorn cable car, which whisks you up the mountainside where parts of the James Bond movie, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed.
Zermatt, home to the iconic Matterhorn, has to be one of the most spectacular spots to get married in Switzerland. Year-round, Zermatt makes a perfect wedding destination with its endless skiing and hiking. For those who are looking for a relaxing wedding destination, Zermatt also offers plenty of easily accessible elopement locations via train and cable car.
Engadin is a region in Switzerland that has it all. From glacier views, while hiking and skiing to extravagant day spas and wellness resorts, Engadin, Switzerland is a luxury destination wedding location.
Switzerland National Park
Located within Engadin lies Swiss National Park (Schweizerischer Nationalpark), the country’s largest protected area. The Swiss National Park has also received the status of being a strict nature reserve.
Palm trees...in Switzerland? The Italian-speaking region of Ticino is growing in popularity as a whimsical wedding destination. Lugano, one of Ticino’s towns is even known as Switzerland’s Monte Carlo. Ticino is famous for its vineyards, sparkling blue rivers, and fantastic hiking. For couples looking for a unique Switzerland wedding, look no further than Ticino.
For couples that love the city, a wedding in Zurich offers a nice blend of beautiful “old-town” charm while also being located along lake Zurich. Zurich is also not far from nature, offering numerous hiking options for couples who love to adventure on their wedding.
For a bit of French flair on your wedding day, consider heading to Lausanne, which sits on the shores of Lake Geneva. From Lausanne, you have views of both the Swiss and French Alps. Additionally, you can find numerous chic, upscale wedding venues to meet your celebration needs.
Amazing Wedding Venues in Switzerland
Blausee Hotel and Spa
Located adjacent to the crystal clear Blausee (“blue lake”), and within a nature park, the Blausee Hotel and Spa is a picturesque venue for your intimate wedding. The venue offers catering and lodging.
Have you ever considered getting married in an igloo? At Iglu-Dorf Zermatt, you can do exactly that. Get married with the Matterhorn in view, then cozy up in a romantic igloo for the night, complete with your own private hot tub.
At El Pradiso Mountain Club in St. Moritz, you can tie the knot high above the mountains, whether it be a private, two-person ceremony or a large gathering of up to 300 people.
In the chic town of Gstaad, you’ll find Wasserngrat, a gorgeous mountain venue offering hand-tailored wedding packages for your wedding day. Wasserngrat offers the perfect setup for small to moderately sized weddings.
Berggasthaus First is the ideal adventure wedding venue with some of the best views in Switzerland. To reach the venue you’ll take a cable car from Grindelwald. At the top, you have not only an incredible place to say your vows, but also the chance to exit in style via ziplining, paragliding, or sledding.
Schloss Schadau is a wedding castle dream, located right near some of the most dramatic scenery in the Swiss Alps. Sitting at the shores of Lake Thun, Schloss Schadau is an elegant wedding venue for couples wanting some flair on the wedding day.
What Does it Cost to Get Married in Switzerland?
The average cost of holding a traditional Switzerland wedding is around €30,000-€40,000. If you’re planning an elopement or micro-wedding though, the standard cost is closer to €8,000. This cost covers the expenses associated with food and lodging, wedding attire, photography coverage, and marriage licenses.
The cost of getting married in Switzerland widely varies though because it depends a lot on what the couple wants to do on their wedding day and what types of vendors they decide they want to hire. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly elopement or something extravagant, there are plenty of ways to get married within your budget.
For example, some couples may find wedding attire that costs less than €200 and suits them perfectly. Others may opt-out of having professional hair and makeup since they’d rather do it themselves atop a mountain. When it comes to desserts, Switzerland has no shortage of bakeries, and it’s easy to pick up a few slices of delicious, already made cake for under €15, or get something custom-made for well over €200. Lodging can range from cozy mountain chalets to luxury wellness resorts.
When choosing how much to spend on your elopement, make sure you invest in what’s most important to you. Whether it’s the photos, having your dream dress or custom-made suit, or splurging on a helicopter ride, don’t be afraid to create the day you’ve always dreamed of.
At the end of the day, how much or how little you choose to spend on your destination wedding in Switzerland won’t matter. What will count is how you choose to intentionally connect with your partner and honor what you value most.
Below, you’ll find some approximate numbers of the cost of eloping and getting married in Switzerland (based on the expenses of two people). Please note, these numbers don’t include travel and transportation costs, since these can widely vary, depending on where you’re coming from. Lodging and food have been averaged for two nights.
Switzerland Budget Wedding Cost
The cost of a budget elopement in Switzerland is €5,770.
Expenses may include:
|Marriage License (Free for symbolic ceremonies)||€0|
|Food and Drinks||€250|
|Photographer (Half-Day Coverage)||€4,200|
|Hair & Makeup (DIY)||€0|
Switzerland Standard Wedding Cost
The cost of a standard elopement in Switzerland is €8,500.
Expenses may include:
|Marriage License (free for symbolic ceremonies)||€0-€350|
|Hair and Makeup||€800|
|Food and Drinks||€350|
|Small Wedding Cake||€300|
|Photographer (Half-Day Coverage)||€4,200|
Switzerland Luxury Wedding Cost
The cost of a luxury elopement in Switzerland is €20,000-€23,000.
Expenses may include:
|Hair and Makeup||€1400|
|Food and Drinks||€500|
|Add-On Activities such as a helicopter ride||€1,500|
Switzerland Wedding Packages
Are you ready to start planning your destination wedding in Switzerland? If so, why not start with your Swiss Alps photographers? You can view my Switzerland wedding packages here, or contact me to get a more detailed pricing guide.
I help guide our couples through the eloping process and make sure they get the epic photo coverage their day deserves.