July 10, 2024

The Ultimate Guide To Eloping In Alaska

FILED IN: Alaska, Elopements

Elopement couples are a different breed; the love for adventure, willingness to go against the status quo, and a burning desire to create a day that’ll become a life-long memory. As an elopement photographer based in Juneau, Alaska, I truly believe the biggest state in the U.S. also has the biggest potential to make for a breathtaking, joy-filled location for the adventure of a lifetime. Drawing upon my experiences with couples over the years, I’ve put together this guide to eloping in Alaska. What are the best venues? What do different locations have to offer? What are the legal requirements, and what gives you the best chance of a stress-free day? Read on to learn all you need to know about how to elope in Alaska, for roamers and romantics based anywhere in the world.

Is Alaska The Elopement Location For You?

What words come to mind when you think of an elopement? No doubt, you’re drawn to try something different due to adventure, authenticity, and a dream to honor your love story surrounded by nature. 

Everything that makes an elopement special is enhanced by the sheer beauty of Alaska. Contained within its 663,000 square miles are a huge variety of breathtaking landscapes, including icebergs (Titanic-style Rose and Jack recreations optional), mountains with America’s highest peak, and national parks.

From whale spotting to gazing out at the Northern lights, Alaska is a landscape rich with romance! With a variety of cities, small villages, remote locations, and epic natural landmarks, Alaska is the ideal place to manifest your dream day, making it the perfect match for your sense of adventure.

Best Time of Year to Elope in Alaska

One of the big decisions with an elopement is the date. You have more to consider with outside ceremonies, with the time of year having a big influence on the suitability of various locations. 

Finding the sweet spot of when to elope in Alaska requires considering peak seasons, prices, weather, accommodation, and what activities you’re most keen on. Because of its northern location, the weather is more extreme than in other parts of the U.S.


Some people say that Alaska only has two seasons, summer and winter, due to how quickly the transitional seasons of spring and fall come and go. Although not strictly true, for the fullest experience, it pays to choose a month that is best suited for your needs. 

Summer is peak season, especially mid-June to mid-August, with looong days stretching up to 18 hours (24 hours in some locations), making activities like kayaking and hiking much more doable.


Alaska in the colder months is a joy to behold too, transforming into a winter wonderland. If cozy is your vibe and you’re okay with colder temperatures, you can settle down in a private cabin, go ice climbing or visit ice caves, and enjoy various festivals. Ski season runs from January to April, if you enjoy skiing or snowboarding. The big bonus of long nights and darker days is an increased chance to see the Northern lights!

Because Alaska covers so much land, temperatures vary, so it’s best to research depending on your specific chosen location. In winter, average temperatures range between 0 to 30 °F (−15 to −1.1 °C) along the southern coast of Alaska, and -15 to 15 °F (-26 to -9 °C) in the southcentral and interior region, though the interior is know to get temperatures as low as -40 °F (-40 °C). There’s a saying: “no bad weather, only bad gear”, so be sure to dress accordingly.

But whether a seasoned pro in trickier climates or not, your demands on your wedding day may be different.


Spring and fall are considered the off-seasons. Traveling and activities during this time will be cheaper and less busy, while some close altogether. You also have to consider the weather. 

Spring in Alaska, the months of April and May, is sometimes referred to as “breakup”, because the ice literally begins to break, the snow melts, and there is an abundance of puddles, mud, and a layer of slush covering the ground in many places. Sometimes this happens once, sometimes this happens repeatedly over a couple of months as the temperatures freeze and thaw. If you are considering a mountaintop or trail location for your elopement, avoid eloping in the spring.

Fall in Alaska can be beautiful, especially if you love fall colors and moody fog. However, it often comes with periods of heavy rain and wind (sometimes at the same time), especially in southeast Alaska, which is a temperate rainforest. Temperatures can also drop below freezing at night, leading to frost in the mornings. 

My Favorite Alaska Elopement Locations

Alaska is huge — like seriously huge! Most people overlook just how big it is. To put its size in perspective, you could pick up America’s next three biggest states — Texas, California, and Montana, drop them in Alaska, and you’d still have room to spare. Considering it takes 22 hours to drive from one side to the other, it pays to have a clear idea of where exactly you’re drawn to, and how your elopement will unfold.

I’ve grouped together my favorite places to elope in Alaska below. If you’re from Alaska, you will probably have already narrowed down your selection, or you might be an adventurous spirit wanting to experience another side of your home state!

If you’re from further afield, each of these areas offers something unique and inspiring, and I’m sure you’ll find something that makes your heart sing.


Alaska’s capital is one of the largest wilderness areas in the U.S., and the only state capital that is accessible only by boat or airplane. Nestled between the mountains of the Tongass National Forest and the clear waters of the Inside Passage, Juneau is abundant with glaciers, rainforests and all nature has to offer. It’s remote but not disconnected; this mountain town by the sea is rich with culture and events.


  • Nugget Falls: a majestic waterfall location for couples looking to make a splash. 
  • Mendenhall Glacier and Herbert Glacier: two remarkable glacier locations that provide a backdrop that looks out of this world.
  • Mount Roberts: a remarkable panoramic view of the Gastineau Channel, the city of Juneau, and surrounding mountains. 
  • Auke Rec: swap ice for shorelines with this romantic and playful beach location.
  • Eagle Beach: another beach option north of Juneau, with views of Lynn Canal, the Chilkat Mountains, and the Juneau Mountains.


The Matanuska-Susitna Valley (The Mat-Su) covers 23,000 square miles of southcentral Alaska and is a shining example of its natural gifts. From hiking to fishing, slowing down and drinking in the surrounding beauty, carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. There are plenty of B&Bs, events, and small towns with big personalities to visit along the way.


  • Knik Glacier: one of the largest glaciers in southeast Alaska, this ice landscape is 50 miles east of Anchorage.
  • Knik River: a serene riverside expanse, with opportunities to settle and glamp with your beloved.
  • Eklutna Lake: a picturesque lake with options for canoeing, kayaking, or swimming, if you don’t mind the cold.
  • Matanuska Glacier: one of the most accessible glaciers, which you can reach by car.


The scenic mountain pass stretches for 49 miles, weaving between mountains in the Mat-Su Valley. Originally used by gold miners in the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll feel like you’ve struck gold with this location. There are hiking trails and opportunities for berry picking and to explore the Independence Mine State Historical Park. In winter, you can ski, snowmobile, or just get cozy in front of the fire.


  • Summit Lake: located at the crest of Hatcher’s Pass, this lake is part of a State Recreation Site with incredible vistas and paragliding options.
  • Hatcher Pass Lodge and Cabins: one of the most wholesome options, these iconic red cabins are painfully cute, and one of my favorite places in Alaska.


One of the most accessible glaciers, Portage Glacier, is located in the Portage Valley. This popular attraction is jaw-droppingly beautiful and feels like you’re living in a desktop wallpaper. There used to be a community here that had to evacuate following an Earthquake in 1964, but the area now remains a must-see for the glaciers and the 600-foot-deep lake.


  • Portage Glacier and Byron Glacier: as mentioned above, Portage Glacier is super accessible, based 48 miles south of Anchorage. Byron is also accessible and has a wonderful trail.
  • Portage Lake: appearing around 1914, when the glacier began to retreat, this lake is a natural wonder, with the opportunity to ice skate in winter. 
  • Whittier: if a city break is your thing, stop by this small harbourside town, accessible by cruise ship or ferry. If you want to stay in the area, this cute inn is a great option.


Chugach National Forest is the second largest in the U.S., covering 6.9 million acres. Although huge, it’s well connected by various highways and entry points, and in true Alaska form, offers plenty of forest, rivers, glaciers, and mountains. The forest is 35 miles south of Girdwood, a ski resort town with an active community, if you and your loved one want to socialize a little.


  • Raven Glacier Lodge: a fairytale location situated in the forest, which is also a hotel and wedding venue.
  • Virgin Creek Falls: walk a half mile along a nice and relaxed trail, before expanding to the waterfall.
  • Winner Creek Gorge: another soul-enriching trail, covering 3 miles through a rainforest.
  • Alyeska Ski Resort: this is the recommendation for ski lovers, Alaska’s premier resort operation all year.


Renowned for world-class salmon fishing, the Kenai Peninsula is a space for particularly adventurous, outdoors-loving couples, with options for rafting on the Kenai River and Six Mile River (with varying degrees of intensity), and hiking through wildflower meadows. If you prefer a less demanding day, view the Northern Lights or take part in various wildlife cruises.


  • Seward: abundant with opportunities for hikes, fishing, and Alaska’s finest mountains and glaciers.
  • Resurrection Bay: you have to see it to believe it, I highly recommend getting a boat for some serious mountain gazing.
  • The Homer Spit: a small stretch of land with recreational opportunities and more.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park: a standout attraction, rich with glaciers (the Exit Glacier, in particular, is a top choice), and coastal fjords and islands.


Another huge National Park, covering 6.1 million acres, Denali (meaning “tall one” in the native Koyukon language) is home to America’s tallest peak, soaring over 20,000 feet high. The sub-arctic ecosystem is home to many mammals, including grizzly bears, wolves, and moose. 


  • Horseshoe Lake: a car-accessible lake with surrounding trails, with panoramic views of the Nenana River.
  • Wonder Lake: another lake with road access, you can see the clear view of the Alaska Range, and the way it reflects off of the lake’s crystal clear water.
  • Ruth Glacier: the world’s deepest glacier, if this ice melted, you’d be left with an abyss the size of the Grand Canyon.

Check out more of my favorite picks for more detailed guidance on top elopement locations in Alaska.

Getting Married in Alaska

By now, I’m hoping you’re dreaming big and feeling on top of the world! Without bringing you back down to Earth too much, it’s crucial to tick all the boxes when it comes to Alaska marriage requirements. The better prepared, the more stress-free the day becomes. 

Choosing the right venue, the right photographer (hello, hi!), delicious food, the dress, the tux, and other vendors, is all part of the preparation. But all the effort will be worth it once the big day arrives.

Do You Need A Marriage License to Elope In Alaska?

First things first, this guide would mean nothing if it didn’t support you in how to get legally married in Alaska! Elopements are spontaneous, exciting, and even a little rebellious, but fortunate for everyone involved, 100% legit. To make sure you’re eligible, there are a few key steps. The first is obtaining a marriage license.

Both parties have to be over 18 years old to get a license. If either of the parties are 16 or 17, they’ll require parental consent, and the partner can’t be more than three years older. You and your partner will need to submit an ID, and the application will cost $60. It will take around three or four days to receive the license after you’ve applied, and it will be valid for up to three months.

The ceremony itself can be solemnized (a posh word for “performed”) by a religious leader, elected official, judicial officer, or marriage commissioner (the last two costing $25). If you want to keep it even cozier, you can have a friend or family member ordained and they can officiate your Alaska elopement. 

You’ll also need one witness, while your photographer (or another vendor) can serve as the second witness. I’m often asked, “Can non-residents get married in Alaska?” Don’t worry, you’re still eligible, making this a prime location for people all over the world! 

What Else Do You Need To Elope In Alaska

If you’re ready to get married about, well, right now, let’s pause for a second and make sure you don’t forget any of the main tasks for the day. To conclude this Alaska elopement guide, the key things to keep in mind are:

  • Choosing a venue and date: make sure your favorite venue is free when you want it to be, depending on the time of year and unique availability.
  • Planning the day: from the ceremony to soul-enriching, romance-inducing activities, there’s lots to keep in mind.
  • Sorting all the legal requirements: including obtaining a marriage license, choosing witnesses and officiants, sorting any necessary permits for your chosen location.
  • Booking your top vendors: you want to feel on top of the world inside and out. Make sure you have the right people in the right place to support you along the way. My top choices are listed here.
  • Sorting travel and accommodation: you’ll want to make sure getting from A to B, C to D is as stress-free as possible. Plus, you’ll want somewhere to unwind and reflect on the day with your new husband or wife.
  • Knowing what to pack: check out my separate guide to guarantee you don’t forget any essentials during your elopement.
  • Hiring an Alaska elopement photographer: I get what it takes to capture all moments between the majestic and the subtle — even if you’re camera shy. I’ll make sure your special day leaves you with the photos you deserve, from the cinematic depth of breathtaking landscapes to the small things, like lingering glances and hand-holding. 

Ready To Put Your Plan Into Action?

Are you ready for a wedding day full of freedom and fresh air, where you can feel at peace and empowered to do whatever sets your soul on fire? As a skilled elopement photographer based in Alaska, I will support you through this process, share inside insight, recommend top venues and vendors, and provide overall planning assistance with my elopement packages. Contact me for more information.

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Considering Eloping in Alaska?

I’d love to be considered as your Alaska elopement photographer! Simply fill out the contact form to get started!

Hey there, I’m Sierra! I’m your photographer, travel guide, and biggest fangirl. When you work with me, you can expect to dance, run, piggyback, motorboat, swear, laugh, and get messy. So what I’m saying is: wear comfortable shoes, throw the rulebook away, and don’t take life too seriously (none of us get out alive).

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