Can You Have a Wedding at Glacier National Park?

Have you been dreaming of a Glacier National Park wedding? Good news: it’s possible. Just be sure to follow these guidelines for a successful wedding day.

By The Zola Team

Can You Have a Wedding at Glacier National Park?
Photo by 40 Watt Photo

The First Look ✨

You’re getting married in Montana but not just anywhere in Montana. You and your spouse-to-be will be making it official amidst the alpine meadows of Glacier National Park. Yes, you can host your dream wedding event in one of the United States’ most pristine parks—but it won’t be quite as easy as simply saying “I do” in a normal wedding venue.

Because this idyllic Montana wedding venue is part of protected land, there are a few hoops you’ll have to jump through in order to make sure your wedding ceremony is not only stunning, but also respectful to the nature that surrounds you. But don’t worry: We’ll cover it all, including:

Pack your canteen, hiking boots, and a whole lot of love. Your Glacier National Park wedding adventure is about to begin.

Getting a Permit: Your Step-By-Step Guide

You can have a wedding at Glacier National Park, but you cannot do so without proper permission. Here’s how to apply for a wedding permit at Glacier National Park:

  • Download the Application: Not sure how to obtain a permit for your big day? Naturally, all you have to do is apply. Download the application for a Special Use Permit, and follow the steps as prompted.

  • Be Specific: When it comes to getting your permit approved for a Glacier National Park wedding, specificity is key. More isn’t always better, but it certainly is when it comes to day-of details. What’s the precise time you plan to hold your ceremony? What kind of special equipment will you need? How many guests and vehicles do you anticipate having? Include as much detail as you can on the application form to avoid confusion and back-and-forth exchanges that only lengthen the process.

  • Submit Your Application: Send your completed application by mail or email. Along with the application itself, you’ll need to pay a processing fee of $125 via check or money order. If you wish to pay by credit card, contact the National Park Service via email (glac_sup@nps.gov) to specify your preferred method of payment.

  • Important: Paying the application fee and paying for park entrance are two entirely different procedures. The $125 permit application fee does not cover the park entrance fees you’ll need to pay for separately on your wedding day. All visitors to the park must have a valid entrance pass.

  • Wait to Hear Back: After submitting your application for a Special Use Permit, the National Park Service will review it and, upon approval, formalize a final permit which they’ll send to you either by mail or email.

  • Important: Just because you’ve received the permit from the National Park Service does not mean that you’ve been given the green light to proceed with your wedding. First, you’ll need to sign the permit yourself and return a copy to the NPS.

  • Celebrate Your Love: Hooray, you’ve been approved for a wedding ceremony at Glacier National Park. First, take a moment and propose a toast to landing a spot at this highly sought-after wedding venue. Then, it’s time to dive into the details of the day.

Again, remember to include as many details as you can about your event when applying for a permit. Use the Zola Wedding Checklist to help you keep track of deadlines, prioritize your to-dos, and track various wedding-day details.

Here are a couple more reminders you’ll want to include on the list:

  • When completing your application, you’ll be able to submit the preferred date for your wedding along with a couple of alternative dates. Since there tends to be a high volume of applicants, be flexible with the dates you submit and don’t send out any save-the-dates until you’ve been approved.

  • You may apply up to one year prior to your proposed wedding date and as late as one month before. Be sure to set up a timeline that allows you to complete all of the necessary steps without missing your window of opportunity.

Getting Married at Glacier National Park: FAQs

What accessories will you pair with your wedding day outfit? How will you keep track of guest count? Who will supply you with a to-die-for bouquet as you float down the aisle?

No need to worry. Zola takes the guesswork out of those questions. Shop for all of your must-have wedding accents at the Zola Boutique, find your future florist, and organize your guest list with ease.

As for your park-specific questions, read on.

Why Do I Need a Permit to Get Married at Glacier National Park?

Put simply: It’s the law. Glacier National Park is resting its flawlessly beautiful self atop one million acres of protected land. So it’s safe to say that the park staff members have their work cut out for them. Part of their job? Making sure the space is being used in a way that’s both enjoyable for the visitors and respectful to the surrounding land and all that inhabits it.

To avoid overburdening the area with excessive crowds and potentially harmful activities, park rangers have to closely monitor all happenings occurring within its boundaries. Be sure to follow each step closely when applying for your permit to increase the likelihood of getting approved.

Where Can I Get Married Within the Park?

With one million acres of stunning landscapes, you and your partner are bound to find a corner to call your own on your wedding day. Not all of it is yours for the taking, however. Glacier National Park places restrictions on where, exactly, wedding ceremonies can take place.

Across the many districts within Glacier National Park, you’re sure to find a space that fulfills your vision, accommodates your guests, and is as minimally invasive to the protected land as possible.

Find your dream wedding destination in:

  • Lake McDonald District: With a number of amphitheaters, picnic areas, and scenic pull-out spots, you’ll find lovely little locations for your vows. Note that privacy is impossible to guarantee, the time limit is often only one hour, and tables and chairs aren’t always allowed. The maximum capacity varies between 15 and 30 people during peak season.

  • North Fork District: For a waterside wedding, you might like Juniper River Access, Bowman Lake, or Kintla Lake. Just note: All have a one-hour time limit and only allow small ceremonies only.

  • Two Medicine District: Campgrounds, picnic areas, and lakeside locations abound in Two Medicine District. There are six separate venues to choose from with varied maximum capacities, parking accessibility, and equipment restrictions that promise a simple ceremony.

  • Triple Divide (St. Mary) District: Choose between the St. Mary and Rising Sun Amphitheaters, the authentic 1913 Ranger Station, Wild Goose Island Pullout, and more unique spots in this area. Similar time and equipment restrictions apply and catered events are forbidden in many areas.

  • Chief Mountain District: There are plenty of areas and amenities surrounding the Many Glacier Hotel: the beach, the green out behind the lodge, the stunning deck, or the amphitheater. Privacy isn’t guaranteed across the board and most areas do not allow furniture, food, and other props, but the views make up for a lot of the limitations.

Is It Possible to Elope in Glacier National Park?

If you and your partner prefer to spontaneously celebrate your love, it could be possible to do so at Glacier National Park. You’ll still need to follow the procedure in order to obtain a Special Use Permit and you’ll need to give at least one month’s notice to the National Park Service prior to the date of your tentative elopement.

If you’re able to secure a date and a location, there’s not much else stopping you from saying “I do” in secret or in the presence of just a few family members and friends.

Settling on a Location

There are so many beautiful settings to choose from within Glacier National Park. For a complete list of all of your venue options, visit the National Park Service website. They’ll provide you with all the specifics regarding capacity, equipment restrictions, hours of availability, and more.

Here are a few standouts for you to start considering right now:

  • Avalanche Amphitheater

  • Maximum Occupancy During Peak Season: 30

  • Hours Available: 1 hour limit
  • Additional Notes: Bringing additional tables and chairs is okay, however, guests should be advised that parking is limited during peak season.

  • Running Eagle Falls

  • Maximum Occupancy During Peak Season: 12

  • Hours Available: 1 hour limit
  • Additional Notes: Additional tables and chairs are not allowed, and privacy is not guaranteed.

  • Big Bend

  • Maximum Occupancy During Peak Season: 15

  • Hours Available: 30 minute limit before 9 am or after 5 pm only
  • Additional Notes: Additional tables and chairs are not allowed, and privacy is not guaranteed.

  • Walton Picnic Area

  • Maximum occupancy during peak season: 15

  • Hours available: 1-hour limit
  • Additional notes: No additional tables or chairs are allowed. A pit toilet is available as well as three to four picnic tables.

  • Lake McDonald Lodge Beach

  • Maximum Occupancy During Peak Season: 15

  • Hours Available: 1 hour limit
  • Additional Notes: Allows up to four chairs on the sand, but only for individuals with disabilities.

As you work out the logistics of where your event will take place, keep in mind that no space can hold more than 30 guests. If a small wedding is what you’ve been envisioning all along, Glacier National Park will be a feasible and functional choice.

For couples with a more sizable guest list, consider inviting only those closest to you to the ceremony itself. Later, you can gather the entire crowd for a reception outside of the park with enough space for everyone to comfortably eat, drink, and dance the night away. Just don’t forget to organize your invitees with Zola’s always-handy Guest List Manager.

Everything Else You Should Know About Getting Married at Glacier National Park

Before sending you on your way to Lake McDonald, Logan Pass, and all the other natural gems within Glacier National Park, there are a few more details you’ll want to account for.

Aside from permits and park logistics, take a look at everything else you need to know before your big day:

  • Parking Isn’t Guaranteed: You’ll want to keep park capacity in mind when it comes to building your guest list. You’d love for everyone you hold dear to take part in your special day, but simply put, it just might not be possible. Since parking reservations are not accepted at Glacier National Park, you’ll have to find ways of beating the first-come, first-served system. Encourage your guests to share vehicles and travel together to take advantage of limited spaces in the parking lots.

  • Keep the Music Low: The music playing as you, your partner, and your wedding party waltz down the aisle can’t be loud enough to cause your neighbors—both human and animal—any alarm. Detail the specifics of your ceremony playlist and sound system in your permit application. Keep things relatively quiet and you should be given the green light.

  • Pictures Without a Permit Are Okay: If you and your partner have decided to hold your formal ceremony somewhere outside park boundaries, you might consider stopping in for a few photos instead. There’s no need to acquire a permit if all you want to do is take a few photos together against the breathtaking backdrop. Just be mindful of trail signs. Getting “The Shot” isn’t worth the risk of destroying the local fauna.

  • No Passes for Logan Pass: There are plenty of charming corners in which you can exchange vows with your spouse-to-be. Logan Pass, however, is not one of them. Glacier National Park does not grant permission for couples to wed inside this protected area. Snapping a few photos is okay, however, as long as you’re mindful of the delicate alpine plants growing in that section of the park.

  • Plan Around Peak Season: May through October is the busiest time of the year at Glacier National Park. With pristine weather conditions and blossoming flowers, it’s no wonder this time of year draws the biggest crowds. That’s not to say you should avoid getting married during these warm weather months—just be sure to plan wisely and plenty in advance.

  • Be Mindful of the Weather: Couples getting married in Glacier National Park should know that it may be impossible to reschedule events cancelled due to extreme weather. The NPS may try to work with you to find another day, but there aren’t any guarantees. If you’re unable to use your permit due to weather, refunds on the permit fee may not be possible either.

  • Leave No Trace: Whether you’re getting married in Glacier National Park or simply visiting as a tourist, the same rule applies: leave no trace. It’s likely because of the park’s natural splendor that you’ve chosen to get married here in the first place. Do your part to keep it protected and in tip-top shape for future generations by leaving it just as you found it. Dispose of waste properly, respect the wildlife, and carry out what you carry in.

Plan Your Park Wedding With Zola

It’s time to hit the trails and follow the path to wedded bliss at Glacier National Park. The permit application process and special considerations will all be worth it when you and your partner get to exchange vows in the heart of one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful wedding destinations.

  • Look to the wedding experts at Zola next to tie up all the other loose ends in the wedding planning process. Here’s what you can do when you use Zola:

  • Keep your guests informed about all the specifics of your national park venue on your customizable wedding website. All the details will be in one easily accessible place.

  • Share the news of your wedding day and invite the most cherished members of your crew to attend with a paper suite collection that matches your outdoor aesthetic.

Use the vendor search tool to book a photographer. With a backdrop this stunning, you’ll want every detail captured.

We’ve packed up all of the essential planning tools and are ready to help you on your big adventure. Say “I do” to Zola, and let’s wander our way to a one-of-a-kind Glacier National Park wedding.

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