Planning Your Hiking Elopement – The Ultimate Guide

Your wedding day is one of the most important and emotional days of your life! You will remember this day forever! If you and your partner love exploring new places, always look for an adventure, are eager to have a new experience, love hiking and being outdoors, can’t imagine your life without the mountains, then a hiking elopement might be a great option for you! Hiking elopements can be adventurous, unique, beautiful, and intimate! Simply because it’s a hike and it’s an elopement doesn’t mean there you don’t have to plan anything. Just as weddings involve planning, so do hiking elopements.

Bride and groom are getting ready by the alpine lake for their hiking elopement in British Columbia

What is a hiking elopement?

Any adventurous intimate wedding that requires a couple to take a hike to a wedding ceremony location is called a hiking elopement! Hiking elopements are filled with natural beauty, mountain views, exploring, authentic experience, fun, and adventure. As British Columbia adventure elopement photographers, we love helping our adventurous couples with the planning process. So we decided to put together an ultimate guide of how to plan your dream hiking elopement!

First look of the bride and groom in the mountains during their backpacking wedding

Step 1: Choose Your Elopement Location

It can be quite difficult to choose the perfect location for where you want your hiking wedding ceremony to take place. There are endless options of amazing destinations to choose from in British Columbia, and sometimes it makes a choice very difficult.

To start brainstorming your location ideas, we recommend asking yourselves a few questions. If you could go anywhere in BC, where would you go? What provincial parks haven’t you been to? Is there a new place you want to explore? What does the ideal scenery look like for you? Would you prefer an alpine lake with turquoise water, snow-capped mountain peaks, rugged west coast beach, wooded forest, glistening waterfall, ice cave, or an expansive desert to be your backdrop? Is there a spot that’s meaningful to you and your fiancé where you want to spend this special moment?

Planning Your Hiking Elopement The Ultimate Guide

Step 2: Choose A Time Of Year

First, imagine the scenery you want to be surrounded by during your dream elopement. Do you dream of eloping among stunning yellow, red, and orange fall colors with foliage covering the ground? Or maybe you want to be surrounded by alpine wildflowers in full bloom? Do winter wonderland vibes appeal to you the most?

When picking a time of year to elope during, we recommend that you research thoroughly weather conditions for your chosen location such as average temperatures, precipitation, winds, etc. We also suggest checking roads and trails accessibility, as some of them may be closed during a particular season. Also, keep in mind that some popular destinations may be very crowded during the high season. It may impact how intimate your experience will be.

Intimate mountaintop elopement ceremony by the alpine lake in Squamish

Step 3: Choose A Trail For Your Hiking Wedding

Once you’ve decided on your location and time of year, it’s time to plan out the trail you want to hit during your hiking elopement. Sometimes backpacking weddings and hiking elopements are a great excuse to finally do that bucket list trip you’ve always wanted! We don’t recommend doing a very challenging hike simply because you’re getting married. It may be very exhausting and time-consuming. And of course, we always recommend not to overlook your safety and manage something that is beyond your ability and experience.

Backpacking wedding in British Columbia

Things To Consider When Choosing A Trail

Trail length – Everyone has different hiking experiences, physical abilities, and comfort levels with hiking. Ypu will need to identify a length you’re both comfortable completing. If you don’t normally hike 10 km, your wedding day probably isn’t the day to start.
Elevation gain – More often than not, elevation gain is what defines the difficulty of a hike, not its length.
Terrain & level of difficulty – Some trails require creek or glacier crossing, scrambling, or maybe even rock-climbing. Make sure that all of it within your abilities.
Season accessibility – Some routes may be accessible all year, but may require specialist equipment, such as crampons or ice axe.
Access to the trailhead – Oftentimes you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to get to the trail. Some hikes (like for example Widgeon Falls near Pitt Meadows or Cirque Lake in Callaghan Valley) require a boat or kayak to reach the trailhead.
Your guests – If it’s not going to be just two of you, consider the hiking abilities of all your guests.

Newlyweds are celebrating their marriage on the top of the mountain by popping up a bottle of champagne

Tips For Choosing A Trail

– Your hike should be within your abilities, so you’ll have a truly enjoyable day.
– If you don’t have a lot of experience hiking or time to dedicate to your wedding day hike, avoid long, difficult, and tricky trails.
– Do your own research about the trail. There are a lot of resources on the Internet to check the status of the trail. Be sure to read recent reports and reviews.
– Check if the trail needs any kind of permits.
– Find a trail you’re both excited about!

Planning your adventurous hiking elopement

Step 4: Decide On Marriage Legalities

To officially get married in BC, you’ll need an officiant and two witnesses. So if you decide to officially get married while hiking, you will need to find an officiant who will be ready to hike to your ceremony location with you. As for the witnesses, a photographer can be one of them. In addition to the photographer, you’ll need to find one more witness willing to share your epic elopement adventure with you and sign the papers. Make sure that you get your marriage license in time!

If you can’t find a hiking officiant, don’t want to bring any witnesses, and have an intimate experience, or just want to make things easy you can sign legal papers before or after your actual elopement.

Touching moment between bride and groom after they read their vows during their mountain top hiking elopement

Step 5: Find Your Vendors

For a “traditional” wedding, you usually need a large number of vendors to help you with everything and make the event a success. Some traditional wedding vendors include: catering, florist, baker, décor, wedding planner, décor rentals, officiant, makeup artist, DJ, – the list goes on and on. But what vendors do you need for your hiking elopement? Do they need to hike with you?

Bride and groom in wedding attire with backpacks hiking to their mountain wedding ceremony location

Vendors That’ll Need To Hike With You

The main vendor is your hiking elopement photographer! They will not just take photos and document your wedding day. They’ll help you plan, prepare your hiking elopement and give you valuable advice for your big day. Officiant and videographer are your other main vendors! Although it’s fantastic to have them, they’re optional.

Vendors You’ll Work With Prior To Your Elopement

There may also be vendors you’ll work with before the big day.

Florist – if you want to bring a bouquet and boutonniere.

Baker – if your hike isn’t going to be very long, you may be able to bring a tiny cake or cupcakes with you to celebrate and eat after your ceremony!

Hair and makeup – there are two ways you can go about hair and make-up for your big day. You can do it on your own if you are comfortable with it. Another option is to hire a makeup artist that’ll get you ready in the morning before you go on your hike. You could also ask your hair and makeup stylist to join you on the hike if you’re worried about your hair or makeup being messed up along the way. Your hair and makeup artists might be up for some adventure also!

Bride and groom sitting on the blanket surrounded by the mountains and reading letters from their families during their hiking elopement in British Columbia

Step 6: Plan your elopement day

A hiking elopement is more than simply walking to a spot and saying your vows. That’s why it’s important to allocate enough time for all of the activities you want to do. Keep in mind you won’t just be hiking! You’ll be changing into your wedding attire, touching up your makeup and hair, having a ceremony, reading vows, taking photos, popping up champagne, and many more! If you want you can also have a first dance, picnic, or visit a second location.

We recommend adding a little bit of extra time for something spontaneous or unexpected. You don’t want to feel rushed on elopement day! Please make sure to give yourself enough time to soak each and every moment, enjoy the day, enjoy each other and the beauty of nature you’ll be surrounded by.

Planning Your Hiking Elopement

Step 7: Prepare A Backup Plan

Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the wilderness and outdoors. Anything can happen. You should have at least one solid backup location (one that you’re equally excited about if you’re unable to elope at your primary location). Weather can be unpredictable, roads can unexpectedly be shut down or your dream trail can be closed. Due to this, it may be necessary to change your hiking elopement plans at the last minute. To have an amazing experience, be spontaneous, go with the flow, and be okay with a backup plan.

9 steps of how to plan your perfect hiking elopement in British Columbia

Step 8: Add A Personal Touch To Your Adventure Wedding

Just because you’re going hiking doesn’t mean that you can’t add personal touches to your wedding day! We always recommend bringing some items that’ll make your elopement even more special and authentic to you and your relationships. Some ideas of what you can bring include a blanket to keep you warm or to have a picnic with, a bottle of champagne, a Bluetooth speaker for a first dance, “We Eloped” sign, matching backpacks, Bride & Groom mugs, letters from your families. Be sure to incorporate any items like this into your elopement day plan to make it special.

Mountaintop adventure backpacking in British Columbia

Step 9: Have Fun And Enjoy The Day!

Be present, soak in every moment, enjoy the day, enjoy each other! Let yourself relax. Because of the nature of an adventurous hiking elopement, there’s a good chance things won’t go as planned. Embrace it, and make it part of the adventure!

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Happy bride and groom with backpacks in the mountains

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