Epic Locations for Alaskan Elopements

I will confess it is hard to narrow down a list like this, there are really so many beautiful locations and within each location there’s probably another 5-10 locations to pick from so a lot of it is just deciding what kind of location speaks to you. I always knew I wanted an outdoor wedding preferably a picnic on the side of a mountain. Nice and simple right? Well, I waited until later in life to get married so the people in my life and I acknowledge myself included weren’t dying to sit on the ground. Fair enough, we  settled on tables and chairs and got married in the mountains on a beautiful little piece of land outside a friends cabin. It had an outhouse which for me was a perk, I mean compared to other options. I’d been in AK over a year at that point so a nice clean outhouse was luxury living for me. Ok, not really but it was something I was happy to have. I’m not sure how I got to that from epic locations but the moral of the story is consider what it is you really want. What are you willing to compromise on and what is actually a high priority for you. If you’re looking at the big picture of your day and know the overall feeling and vibe you’re going for, it’s easier to decide on the little things. For me my priority was a small wedding with my closest loved ones, outdoors in the mountains so we went from there.

So, here are some of my favorite Alaska elopement or micro wedding locations in no particular order, the reasons we love them and some of the drawbacks:

Homer- Coastal town 4 1/2 hours from Anchorage

If you’re looking for a beach or a wilderness this area has both. There are a couple beach locations in Homer that have beautiful mountain views in the background across the bay that make for really wonderful pictures. They’re easily accessible and you’re close to restaurants if you want to have a nice dinner afterwards. Downside is there’s not as much privacy, and if you are having a mini wedding warn people not to wear heals cause the beach is very rocky and not ideal for that style.

If you want to do more wilderness you can go across the bay by water taxi and find a secluded area to say I do in a much more private, embrace the wilderness kind of way. If you’re looking to do a weekend across the bay, Seldovia and Halibut Cove have lodging for rent and are charming little villages to get away to. This is mostly ideal for summer weddings. Downsides increased cost due to transportation and lodging if staying over. Views are epic however and the ride across is stunning so as I said it just depends on what you are looking for.

Why we love it: Honestly it’s a little bit magical to have both the ocean and mountain backgrounds here. It feels a little bit like you’ve entered another world. Also, during the summer the peony farms come alive here and so you have beautiful local flower bouquet options available here.

Seward- Coastal town 2 1/2 hours from Anchorage with Kenai Fjords National Park access.

Seward is a small town with some truly amazing views and plenty of outdoor activities. You can take a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park with opportunities to see glaciers, orcas, sea otters, puffins, and seals among other things. You can rent sea kayaks and explore the bay. If you’re feeling truly motivated you can hike up to the Harding Ice Fields, super epic experience and super intense incline so go prepared. There are also easier shorter hikes that you can try with great views of Exit Glacier, just be prepared as you may encounter bear or moose on these hikes. As far as locations for elopements there is a beach if you drive back to Lowell Point which is a few miles from downtown. You can get married in the national park if you’re looking for more forest, mountains, or a glacier experience. This does require a permit however so make sure you have submitted the right documents and spoke with national park staff.

I’m listing some of my favorite places to stay in Seward when I visit, however there are many options. Everything from your basic hotel to a lodge, cabin, or yurt in coves or islands out in the bay so look around and see what best fits your dream day and budget.

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Downsides for Seward, in the summer lodging books up really fast, the area can get crowded especially 4th of July weekend and doing fishing season.

Why we love it: So many opportunities for fun activities here in Seward, reasonably close to Anchorage, and you can easily choose both land and sea options for your elopement.

Valdez-Coastal town 5 1/2 hours from Anchorage, gorgeous drive so plan on 7 hours if you are the kind of person who likes to stop for pictures.

Getting to Valdez is one of the most beautiful drives in AK, you pass glaciers, sparkling mountain lakes, go over Thompson Pass with some incredible mountain and valley views spread out on all sides. Within 20 miles of Valdez you will go through Keystone canyon with a number of lovely waterfalls that would make amazing backdrops for wedding pictures. In Valdez there are camping, hiking, and great boat tour options out into Prince William Sound. The glaciers I saw here were some of the most epic I’ve seen in AK. As far as elopement locations you can book glacier helicopter elopements out of Valdez, hike into the mountains and exchange your vows or drive back to any number of lakes and find a secluded spot to say I do. Some of the drawbacks for this location is the distance, it is a long way and sometimes the weather can be poor. On the bright side during the summer of 2023 I am offering discounts for wedding and elopement photography in Valdez as I am relatively close to town for a large part of the summer.

Why we love it: Truly magnificent drive, not always as crowded as some other coastal towns due to distance. Epic photoshoot locations right off the road for your elopement pictures.

Kennicott/McCarthy-Mountain town 7 hours from Anchorage located in Wrangell St Elias National Park

Kennicott was an old mining town and many of the buildings are still standing a burnished red against the mountains and glacier in the background. You can hike to a glacier from here, swim in the local swimming hole or paddle around a mountain lake in a kayak. There are a couple different little lodges or cabins in the area if you’re wanting to spend the night. A few different options for food are available as well as live music on some weekends in McCarthy. Some of the drawbacks, distance, it’s definitely a drive, some of it unpaved. Not all rental car companies will let you take their cars down this road. However their is some companies that run a service to the area. Once there local shuttles are available as you are not able to drive into the town area at this time. Also, a good part of the summer the mosquitos can be crazy, so come prepared.

As with other national parks a special permit may be required so make sure you speak with park staff and submit the proper paper work as required.

Why we love it: Fall colors in the area are really beautiful, the old mines make beautiful backdrops for photos, and there’s plenty of activities for adventurous couples.

Denali National Park: Iconic national park 4 hours from Anchorage

Well, it goes without saying, it’s Denali, plenty of wildlife, a towering mountain, and tundra stretching out for miles. You can only drive in so far in the park, otherwise you have to pay to take a bus which might complicate your elopement plans. Every fall they normally do a road lottery so private cars can drive in so if you’re wanting to get in there apply for it in May. Just make sure you get your permit and make sure you leave room in the car for an officiant and two witnesses, one of which could be a photographer or videographer. If you are ok with getting married on the area that is readily available to the public you will still need your permit but there are a number of picnic areas or short trails that you could use for your elopement. Just a heads up though unless you drive back far into the park there aren’t very many places where you can get a good view of the mountain. So ask your photographer or wedding planner if they know of some other areas where on a clear day you might get a great shot with the mountain in the background.

Drawbacks for this location include, it can be crowded, lodging can sale out quickly and only certain areas are easily accessible.

Why we love it: In the fall the tundra turns beautiful shades of colors making for some breathtaking photos and during the summer there’s beautiful flowers and an abundance of wildlife if you want to take the bus into the park and experience more of what Denali has to offer.

Hatcher Pass: Mountain area 1 1/4 hours from Anchorage.

Beautiful mountain pass area with multiple hiking areas, a historic mine, lakes, rivers, and alpine views. Also great for blueberry picking in Aug, you have the option of hiking many miles to an elopement location or stepping just off the roadway though some bushes and having a beautiful private location for your vows. The wildflowers are beautiful here during the summer and the colors get beautiful in the fall. Also, some  parts are accessible for winter elopements so this is really an all season location that locals and tourists alike love. The closest town is Palmer but there is some lodging closer to the pass if you are interested in staying right there for your elopement.

Drawbacks for this location, it can get crowded especially in the summer on a weekend. If you’re scared of heights you might not want to go to the top of the pass, as the road does have a few drop offs. If the cloud cover is low at all it get’s really socked in and the mountain views disappear.

Why we love it: Close to town and restaurants, beautiful locations with minimal effort required. Easy to get away from the crowds with a little bit of planning. Amazing views on clear days.

Juneau-Capital on Alaska, 2 1/2 hour flight from Seattle or 1 3/4 hour flight from Anchorage.

Juneau on a clear sunny day is nothing if not spectacular and even in the rain with the mists developing the mountains and trees it has an air of beauty and mystery. Juneau has some wonderful options with beaches, mountain tops and trails, glaciers, and lakes. It also is filled with great little restaurants and breweries, and has some good lodging options. This is one of my husband’s favorite locations in AK and it is truly a beautiful place. You can fly to a glacier, go on a whale watching tour take the Goldbelt tram to the top of the mountain and share incredible views together.

Drawbacks for Juneau, it’s only accessible by air or sea so if you’re hiring a photographer or videographer that isn’t local you’ll be adding travel fees. It’s a cruise ship port during the summer so check the schedule as it gets a lot more crowded when the passengers disembark for the day.

Why we love it: The rainforest, glaciers, and ocean all accessible in one place. You can feel like you are deep in the wilderness for your elopement and be back in the middle of town for a great meal and a comfy bed that night. Because of cruise passengers it’s set up to easily engage in fun activities.

As I’ve said, there’s many truly wonderful locations for elopements and small weddings here in AK, so research, ask around, and begin exploring your options based on that dream day you want. I am always happy to answer questions so feel free to get in touch. Congratulations and happy planning!

*Final note, please be careful, AK has a number of types of dangerous wildlife and nature can be unforgiving here, so ask for help from local experts when planning and make sure you come prepared for the last frontier.*