Eloping in Montana’s Paradise Valley

eloping in montana at a tiny church in the mountains of Paradise Valley
I'm Jackie

Traveling wedding photographer + photography/small biz educator.

Mesmerized by the way two people love each other, each so uniquely.  I always leave room for dessert. Believe swear words are just sentence embellishers. Think indulgences are necessary in this life. 

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Parties with all the best people in their lives.

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Love stories in all forms without the white dress... or maybe they wore white, it happens.

Just my little thoughts on different topics of planning your wedding day big party or just you two.

Stories of two lovers making it all about them, as they should.

Eloping in Montana was an easy decision for Angie and Ryan to make. They pictured a mountain wedding ceremony and a getaway for just the two of them and we all know big sky country checks those boxes. Welcome all fans of the show Yellowstone loL!  But rather than head to the go-to elopement locations in the north like Glacier National Park, they chose a sweet little cabin in underrated Paradise Valley to the south. 

When you’re eloping in Montana, you never know what kind of weather you’ll get. Rain clouds rolled in and out of the valley all day, but as your friendly neighborhood elopement photographer, it’s my job to remind you that isn’t always a bad thing. The moody skies gave us different views all day, adding fun texture to every photo. 

I showed up to the cabin to have a laid-back morning in progress. Angie already had her hair and make-up done when I got there, with her details laid out ready to be documented. The videographers there doing their thing. We took some getting ready photos, sweet little moments as Angie pulled up her bridal cowboy boots and Ryan slipped on his tan suit jacket perfectly paired with blue jeans. Ryan waited just off the front steps of the cabin for a first look with Angie before heading off on their wedding ceremony adventure. 

There are first-looks in my wedding photography portfolio, all different and special in their own way. But Ryan moved right up to the top of my list of emotion-filled memories from grooms. From the moment Angie stepped out of the cabin, tears were flowwwwin! And they didn’t stop (all day really). There’s nothing I love more than when my couples are just over-the-moon happy, drunk in love all day long and these two were absolutely that. After a quick Facetime to their baby at home, we set off for their Montana elopement in the mountains. 

The first stop was a little white church. No, really. A teeny tiny white church off of the side of the highway. Angie + Ryan had never seen the church until that day, a ceremony location suggestion by their officiant. When we opened the doors, we were immediately transported to the 70s, complete with wood paneling and green shag carpet and the fakest flowers I’ve seen. It was truly eclectic, one-of-a-kind, and absolutely freakin’ perfect for their day. 

Chasing mountain views and epic lighting for some more portraits, we took off down the road with no real plan. We stopped in a field, they sipped some beers, and turned on some music for a bit of time to just take it alllll in. The video team had an idea to move the party to a saloon back closer to the cabins so we packed up and headed back to town. Not thinking that it was a Friday night, we showed up to a packed bar. And here’s where another important lesson from your neighborhood elopement photographer comes in.. 

As wedding vendors and creatives, sometimes we’ll have cool ideas or fun visions for what is possible for your day or how we capture it. But none of it matters more than doing what YOU want. Here’s why.. 

  1. It’s your wedding day. It’s about so much more than the photos or video or decor. The last thing you should do is something that makes you uncomfortable or takes away joy from your day. 
  2. If you’re uncomfortable, you’ll be able to tell in the photos and video. Just trust me on this one! No need to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do because it shows. 

After sneaking a peek at the packed saloon, Ryan shut down. And I don’t blame him! I could see Angie unsure herself. I pride myself as an observer. I immediately knew this wasn’t for him + it wouldn’t turn into the vision in our minds if they weren’t into it.

Hungry and fading from the action-packed day we already had (eloping in Montana and the mountains is fun, but tiring bb!!), Angie + Ryan decided to take out food and getting cozy back at the cabin was at the top of their priorities. So we snagged some BBQ from a food truck down the road and returned to their magical little cabin to wrap up their day in the same spot it started. 

We originally planned for a fire and some fun after-dark photos to end their mountain elopement, but after one last FaceTime with their baby, the wedding dress turned into pajamas, the lashes came off, and the feet were propped up – a sure sign that these lovers were ready to call it a day. 

So that’s what we did! But before I made my exit, I snapped one last photo of Angie in comfy mode. (Make sure to scroll to the end to see this shot!) A candid reminder that your day doesn’t have to end in fireworks and a dance floor for it to be absolutely freakin’ perfect. And that’s why planning an elopement is the best! 

Wanna see more photos of couples doing weddings their own way? Take a peek at this early morning, coffee sippin’ couple and their national park elopement! Or this Yellowstone National Park elopement that had some wildlife wedding crashers! 

There’s a million ways to have a wedding day. Let’s plan an elopement around you + your partner + this crazy stupid love you share! Head on over to my contact form and let’s dream up your day.