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Your Guide to Planning a Stunning Winter Elopement

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Do you want to know the secret to pulling off the perfect winter elopement? 

Yes!? Okay, here it is: If you want a stunning winter wedding, the best way to make it happen is by being prepared. 

Winter weddings have a few different logistics than weddings that take place in other seasons, which is why we created this guide to help you out. Although planning a snowy elopement may sound daunting, it doesn’t need to be! In this guide, you’ll not only find all of our best tips and tricks to stay warm but also the dreamiest winter elopement locations, the best ideas for your wedding elopement...and so much more! 

Why You Should Get Married/Elope in Winter

Why should you consider eloping in winter? Just picture it now: glittering landscapes, cozy cabin getaways, and an adventure to remember for years to come. There’s something romantic about winter and a world blanketed in snow. Winter is an incredible time to elope if you love snow and want a unique elopement experience that can’t be had in any other season! 

The Best Winter Elopement Locations 

Snow or shine, across the globe you’ll find breathtaking winter elopement locations. So, whether you want to hit the slopes or head to the Southern Hemisphere and keep soaking up summer, below you’ll find the best winter wedding destinations. 

The Best Snowy Winter Elopement Destinations

  • Zermatt, Switzerland
  • St. Moritz, Switzerland
  • Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • Seefeld, Austria
  • Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 
  • Tromsø, Norway
  • Lofoten, Norway
  • Lapland, Finland
  • Iceland 
  • Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park 
  • Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Lake Tahoe, California
  • Yosemite National Park, California 

Ski Resort Weddings 

If you love to ski and snowboard (or just want some gorgeous high-alpine views), don’t overlook getting married at a ski resort! Below you’ll find a few places to consider:

  • Diavolezza, Pontresina, Switzerland
  • Dachstein, Austria
  • Hintertux, Austria (hello year-round skiing!)
  • Alta Badia, Corvara, Italy
  • Sellaronda Circuit, Italian Dolomites

Adventurous, Warm Winter Elopement Destinations 

Who says you need snow at your winter wedding? Some adventurous, warm winter elopement destinations include: 

  • New Zealand
  • Torres del Paine National Park (Patagonia), Chile
  • Cape Town, South Africa

Note: Torres del Paine National Park, sitting at Chile’s southernmost tip is one of the most remote, wild elopement destinations out there. While their summer weather (North America’s winter) weather can still be unpredictable (read: wind), it’s a spot not to be missed! We’d love to help you with your international elopement. 

Location Accessibility for your Winter Elopement

One of the biggest things to consider when choosing a location for your winter elopement is the accessibility to your destination. You’ll want to keep in mind possible road closures (or seasonal roads), trail closures due to conditions or wildlife protection, and what potential backup plans could look like in your potential destination. As outdoor adventure photographers who have spent *a lot* of time in the mountains, we help all of our couples examine these logistics.

The Best Months to Plan Winter Elopement Weddings

As a general rule, the best months to plan your winter wedding run between the end of December to the end of March. During these months, you’re most likely to find snow. Additionally, all the resorts, hotels, and restaurants will be open. While snow can come as early as September/October and last through May, you’ll find that planning becomes less certain during these shoulder seasons. 

In the alps, we personally recommend winter weddings in January and March, since they avoid the crowds of Christmas travel and February holidays, and also have the most sunshine. If you’re heading to a high-altitude location such as St. Moritz or Zermatt, Switzerland, or glacier skiing in Austria for your elopement, April can also be an incredible time to go (although it does tend to be wetter than previous months). 

Winter Elopement Weather

When planning your elopement, understanding and being prepared for cold winter weather is key. We always recommend having a backup location and possibly even a backup date (normally the day after your planned wedding) in case snowstorms and frigid temperatures create unsafe conditions. Additionally, be sure to have winter tires and snow chains handy for the roads (they are legally required across a number of destinations). 

Ideas for Your Winter Elopement

One of the best parts about eloping in the snow is the incredible winter activities that make your day into an experience. Below you’ll find some ideas for your winter wedding and the best places to do these activities. 

Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides

Imagine cuddling up to your partner is a horse-drawn sleigh ride at the end of your winter wedding day. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Mountain towns all over the alps offer private, winter horse-drawn carriage rides through the glittering snow. 

Dog Sledding Rides

If you want to combine your love for dogs, adventure, and stunning scenery, look no further than taking a dog sledding tour for your winter elopement! Two of the best places to enjoy this activity are in Zermatt, Switzerland, and throughout the Italian Alps. 

Elope at an Igloo

Eloping at an igloo may sound uninviting, but when you see the amazing options in the alps, you’ll realize they’re actually quite luxurious. Igloo locations in Europe include large accommodations with everything you need for a warm night, private bathroom facilities, champagne, and so much more. Incorporating an igloo into your winter wedding plans can open up opportunities such as unmatched stargazing. Be sure to check out one of the coolest igloo wedding locations, Iglu-Dorf Zermatt, here

Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing Elopements

The best way to stay warm is to keep your blood pumping, and what better way than a snowshoeing or winter hiking elopement? You’ll find many groomed trails across the alps that offer peaceful forests and sweeping vistas. 

Snowmobiling Elopements

Snowmobiling elopements are the perfect choice for adrenaline-seeking couples! On a snowmobile, you can access locations that are secluded with ease and fun. In the Italian Dolomites, you’ll find numerous options for private snowmobile tours. 

Northern Lights Wedding

One of the most surreal experiences you can have is looking up in awe and seeing the northern lights dance above. If this sounds like a bucket list item, opting for a norther lights wedding could be your dream come true! If you want a shot at seeing the northern lights, some of the best locations include Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. For the best accommodations, check out spots that offer glass-domed ceilings and are away from city light pollution. 

Ice Skating Elopements

Across the alps, you’ll find when the lakes freeze, everyone’s ice skates come out. Unlike artificial rinks, here, you’ll have breathtaking views at every turn. Many lakes are regularly measured for ice thickness and safety, taking the guesswork out of your experience. Would you ice skate at your wedding? 

Sledding Elopements

Going sledding on your elopement is the perfect adventure for any winter lover. In the alps, people of all ages take sledding seriously, and because of that, there are countless groomed tracks 3-4+ miles in length to enjoy throughout the winter. 

Snowboarding and Skiing Elopements

Snowboarding and ski elopements!? Heck yes! Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too? It’s the perfect way to combine your love for each other and a good powder day. You’ll find no shortage of unreal ski resorts to explore throughout the alps. 

What to Wear for Your Winter Elopements

Layering for Your Winter Elopement

Layering is a key part of your winter elopement attire, so you can stay warm and comfortable throughout your snowy wedding day. As a guideline, consider the following layers on hand: 

  • Base layer: Your winter base layer should be something you can wear underneath your winter elopement dress, suit, jumpsuit, etc. Base layers look like long underwear. Their purpose is to help wick away sweat and keep you dry and warm. Our favorite base layers are made from merino wool. Merino wool is lightweight yet cozy, durable, and dries quickly when wet. We’d suggest checking out the brand Icebreaker for sustainable, high-quality merino products. While wearing your wedding clothes, a base layer top may not always be possible, depending on the cut and style of your attire.  Generally you can easily add a pair of base layer bottoms to underneath your pants, dress, skirt, etc. 
  • Midlayer: Your midlayer, or insulting layer, will be your winter wedding attire, and a cozy sweater or suit jacket. In addition to this, consider bringing a down jacket of 800 fill power. Down jackets are easily packable and lightweight (in comparison to synthetic coats) yet keep you warm even on the chilliest of days. A down jacket is a great coat to have on hand to keep warm in between photos. Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, and REI each offer a variety of quality down jackets. 
  • Outer Layer: From wind to snow, your outer layer is there to shield you from the elements and is worn over all your other layers. Outer layers aren’t meant to keep you warm like an insulating down jacket. Instead, your outer layer is thin and lightweight, specifically designed to block out wind and keep your other layers dry. Dynafit makes some of the best shell/outer layer jackets we’ve ever worn. 

Winter Elopement Dresses and Skirts

Some tips for choosing the perfect winter elopement dress and things to consider include: 

  • Keep in mind how warm the dress is. Are there lots of layers to the skirt? Is the material thin or thick? How comfortably can you layer other clothes under and over it?  
  • Consider the sleeve length. If you can find a long sleeve dress that you’re in love with, we’d definitely suggest taking this route! 
  • How easy is the dress to move around in? Will you struggle to walk in it if there’s snow? Are there layers you’re worried about stepping on or tearing if you need to wear micro spikes? 
  • Are there any intricate buttons, zippers, or other details on the dress that will be difficult to fasten if your hands are cold? 

Like any elopement dress or skirt, you should prioritize finding something that you not only absolutely LOVE, but will also be practical for your chosen elopement season and location. 

Winter Elopement Suits and Jumpsuits

Whether you wear a suit, tux, or jumpsuit for your winter elopement, the main thing you’ll want to keep in mind is whether you can comfortably layer in your chosen style or not. While all of your layers can be fitted, make sure that there’s enough room to fit a base layer underneath and your arms can easily move around if you put an extra coat on top. 

Consider a moisture-wicking, wrinkle-free dress shirt if you opt for a suit or tux.

Winter Wedding Boots and Shoes

Your winter wedding shoes are one of the most easily overlooked, yet essential, parts of your outfit. Wearing boots or shoes that are insulated and waterproof can make a world of a difference when it comes to your comfort. Winter wedding boots and shoes can range from being low-cut to coming well above your ankle. Consider a higher-cut boot that will keep the snow out. If you buy brand-new boots before your winter elopement, you’ll want to break them in beforehand, so you can avoid blisters. Some great brands to check out for winter wedding boots include Sorel, Columbia, Merrell, and Danner Boots. 

Winter Elopement Accessories

In addition to the clothing above, here are some winter elopement accessories that will help keep you comfortable during your snow-filled wedding day. 

  • Mittens and glove liners
  • Wool socks
  • Gaiters (great for winter hiking)
  • Fleece-lined leggings (if you’re wearing them with a dress or skirt, purchase them nude-colored!)
  • Ear Muffs
  • Beanie or Hat
  • Micro Spikes

Tips for Staying Warm During Your Winter Elopement 

Beyond your wedding attire, here are a few other tips to help you stay warm during your winter elopement. 

Bring a thermos with hot drinks

Bringing a thermos along with your favorite hot drink is an easy way to take the edge off the cold. Some drink ideas include tea, coffee, and Glühwein (hot, spiced wine popular in the alps). We suggest checking out the Thermos Ultimate Series, Klean Kanteen, and Hydro Flask for mugs that will keep your drinks hot for hours. 

*Note: Alcohol can impair your ability to shiver. Shivering is a way your body generates heat. Alcohol also lowers your body’s overall core temperature over time. Minimize your alcohol intake if you know you won’t be heading indoors anytime soon. 

Hand warmers

Hand warmers are one of the best ways to keep your extremities warm when gloves just aren’t cutting it. Hand warmers come in reusable and single-use options (such as the popular brand Hot Hands). We prefer the single-use option at elopements because we’ve found they radiate heat for longer, are easier to travel with, and don’t require boiling in water to reset. For normal day-to-day use, the reusable ones are great! We always keep several pairs of hand warmers in our first aid kit during cold-weather weddings. 

Stay Nourished and Hydrated

Foods that digest slowly will not only give you the energy you need for your winter elopement but also raise your overall body temperature as the food metabolizes (which generates heat). Isn’t that neat!? Some high-fat and high-protein foods to consume before and during your winter elopement include oats, granola, nuts, eggs, and quality dairy products. For easy, on-the-go snacks we love Epic Provisions, LÄRABAR (vegan), and Clif Bars (vegetarian, many vegan options). 

Choose an elopement location that gets plenty of sun

Since the sun remains low in the winter sky, many locations stay shaded (and therefore, much colder) throughout the day. Picking a location that gets plenty of sun will help you stay warm during your elopement. It’s worth mentioning, even if it’s overcast, these spots will generally be warmer than naturally shaded locations. 

Winter Elopement Photography and Winter Elopement Packages

Has this guide convinced you to elope in winter? If so, it’s time to get this party started! At Made in the Mountains Photo, we offer winter elopement packages throughout the alps and worldwide. We’d love to help you with your winter elopement photography, location scouting, timeline planning, and so much more! Contact me to get started and set up a free consultation call. 

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