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How to Elope at Ryan Beach in Glacier National Park

Making the decision to elope is not an easy one! For those couples who are on the fence, we see you and understand what you’re going through! You’re torn between the tradition of having a larger wedding and the uniqueness and fun of an intimate elopement. And even when you do finally feel confident in your decision to elope, HOW to elope can leave you feeling just as confused and overwhelmed as you were before!


That’s why our team here at An Epic Elopement created our specialized elopement and intimate wedding packages: To make the planning process as smooth as possible. With the stress of planning off your plate, you might even find yourself having fun along the way! This certainly was the case for one of our beautiful couples, Lori and Gene, as they eloped at Ryan Beach with just two loved ones as witnesses. We guided these newlyweds through the steps of how to elope in Glacier National Park and in this post, we’ll pave the way for you too!


Check out our step-by-step guide on how to elope in Glacier National Park with Lori and Gene’s stunning elopement day as the perfect example!


Ryan Beach in Glacier National Park:

There are many wedding locations within Glacier National Park. How do you know which one is right for you? From the Apgar Picnic Area to Lake McDonald to Bowman Lake, you really can’t go wrong with any of the gorgeous options, but some factors to consider are distance from the entrance of the park, how many guests you have in tow, how much of a hike it might be to get to the site, and your preferred ceremony backdrop. For a full break down on each wedding location in Glacier National Park and how to elope there, check out our newly updated blog post below:

Lori and Gene ultimately decided on Ryan Beach for their elopement because of the exquisite views of both Lake McDonald and the surrounding mountain range. This site is conveniently situated just five minutes from the west entrance of the park and allows for easy access to the rest of the park for your post-ceremony adventure photos. Ryan Beach is one of our personal favorite sites within Glacier because no matter what time of day or year it is, this location is breathtaking!  


How to Elope Step #1: Decide Your Guest Count & Wedding Style

After you’ve determined your wedding site within Glacier, the next step in how to elope is deciding on who you’ll bring (if anyone!) and your wedding style. Although Ryan Beach can accommodate 15-20 people, Lori and Gene chose to have an intimate elopement with just two of their closest loved ones in attendance to keep the day as private and sacred as possible.


It was at this stage that this couple also decided on their colors, floral, and wedding attire. Lori’s favorite flowers are red roses and sunflowers, so it was a natural choice to incorporate those into her bridal bouquet. These types and colors of flowers also matched the sunny vibe of this summer day!


Lori also picked out the most darling wedding dress! It was a strapless, tea-length gown with floral details cascading down it. It also featured a sparkly belt at her waist, which perfectly complemented her sparkly bridal shoes!


How to Elope Step #2: Book Your Wedding Vendors

Step two in how to elope is booking your wedding vendors! We always recommend booking your wedding planner and coordinator as early in the process as possible since they are a wealth of knowledge. When you work with our team, we provide you with recommendations for only the most trustworthy and talented wedding vendors in the area! We have carefully vetted them through experience and using our preferred list can save you hours of research. Plus, you can rest assured knowing that every vendor you book truly cares about you and is the best of the best!


Our team will also work with you on the logistics of the day, as we create a detailed timeline that includes each vendor’s arrival time, your ceremony song choices, your hair and makeup schedule, and processional order, just to name a few things!


How to Elope Step #3: Obtain Permit & Marriage License

Step three in how to elope is obtaining your permit for your wedding location in Glacier National Park! This is a step that our team is more than happy to assist with, as we’ve done it a time or two! To get an overview of the process, check out this page from the NPS: Getting Married in Glacier.


Closer in to your elopement date, you’ll also secure your Montana marriage license. Our couples tell us that this is when it truly sinks in and it hits them that they are getting married!  


How to Elope Step #4: Get Married!

By the time your elopement day arrives, you’ll practically be an expert in knowing how to elope, especially with our team by your side!


On Lori and Gene’s wedding day, our lead planner, Katie, ensured that Lori’s bridal bouquet and Gene’s boutonniere were just right before they all headed off to Ryan Beach. Once they arrived, she got Gene, their officiant and guests set up down by the water’s edge. She then cued up the ceremony music, which was Lori’s signal to walk down the aisle. She looked absolutely radiant on her mom’s arm, as they made their way down to Lake McDonald to the tune of “You” by Dan and Shay.


Their ceremony was heartfelt and authentic. The sun shone from behind the clouds, illuminating Ryan Beach in the most beautiful way. The mountains provided an awe-inspiring panorama for the ceremony backdrop and the lake created gentle waves that set a soothing tone over the entire area. We also love how Lori’s vivid bouquet was a bright pop of color against the natural landscape!


However, nothing was more brilliant than Lori’s smile after she officially married her best friend!  


How to Elope Step #5: Go on an Epic Adventure Session & Live Happily Ever After

We always recommend going on an adventure photo session during your wedding weekend! Glacier National Park is too beautiful to not get epic wedding photos there!


After Lori and Gene became husband and wife, they explored the park with their photographer, capturing unique and wondrous newlywed portraits. From the banks of Lake McDonald to the lush nearby forest, Ryan Beach offers convenient access to a variety of backdrops for these photos. You can see below that Lori and Gene took full advantage of this and had a blast while doing so!

And they lived happily ever after!


A Word from Katie:

Lori & Gene, congratulations on a beautiful wedding! You two were so lovely to work with and I’m so glad I got to know you! Thank you for allowing me to be part of your big day and trusting me to bring your wedding vision to life. It made me so happy to see your joy on that day! Best wishes to you both!




Venue: Glacier National Park – Ryan Beach

Coordinator: An Epic Elopement

Officiant: Tom Paris


Need an Expert on How to Elope in Montana?

Based in Kalispell, Montana, An Epic Elopement specializes in all-inclusive elopements, micro-weddings, and intimate weddings. Here, you get the full experience of having a traditional wedding, but with a little more adventure included!


Are you ready to start your elopement journey? Send me a note describing your vision and let’s make it happen!



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