David Clumpner Photography

Yellowstone Wedding & Elopement Guide [2024]

Wedding Photo with BisonYellowstone National Park Elopement

This guide shares everything you need to know about planning your Yellowstone National Park elopement or wedding. I have photographed many elopements and weddings in Yellowstone and am well-versed in everything needed for a fun and relaxed experience. If you still have questions after reading this guide, please reach out. More photos from various seasons, locations, and times of day can be seen in my Yellowstone Elopement Gallery.

Step-by-Step Tips

1. Choose your location.

There are five amazing elopement locations within Yellowstone. Pick your favorite or I can help you find one that suits your preferences.

2. Pick your season and time of day.

You can get married in Yellowstone any time of the year. I can offer advice for different seasons, as well as whether a sunrise or sunset ceremony is the best option.

3. Apply for your Yellowstone National Park wedding permit.

Your wedding permit costs $250 and needs to be applied for at least two weeks in advance.

4. Decide which city to fly into and where to stay.

There are three major airports and five entrances to Yellowstone to choose from. There are lodging options both within the park and near all major entrances.

5. Buy your marriage license.

Licenses from Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho are valid, but check with me on which will be best for your ceremony.

Frequent Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about eloping in Yellowstone.

Yes. When you book me to photograph your wedding or elopement in Yellowstone, I'll walk you through the permitting process and make sure that a park ranger doesn't shut down your ceremony.
There are five popular ceremony sites: Lamar Valley, Mammoth (outside or in the chapel), Artist Point, Yellowstone Lake, or Hayden Valley. These are outlined in detail below.
You should travel to Bozeman, Jackson, or Billings. If your Yellowstone elopement is between November and May, you'll want to choose Bozeman.
You can get a marriage license in the city you fly into. Plan an extra day at the beginning of your trip to handle this.

Choose the Best Season

When you get married in Yellowstone National Park, the season you choose affects your comfort, access, and photography.

Most couples choose a warm summer ceremony, but Yellowstone is open year-round which means you can have a snowy winter elopement if you'd like. Yellowstone is on a high plateau at 8,000' feet, so it can get quite cold in the winter months. There is even a chance of snow in the months of June and September, though July and August are usually safe. Still bring a jacket for those summer nights, though!

Summer is most popular because it's warm, but this is also why it's the busiest time of the year in the park. Fall has crisper air as well as changing colors and bugling elk. Winter can be very cold, but it offers 100% certainty of snowy photos. Spring is green and fresh, with wildflowers and freshly born elk and bison calves roaming the park.

Lamar Valley Bison ElopementLamar Valley Elopement with Bison

Sunrise or Sunset?

The middle of the day is busy and the light is strong, so you'll want to decide whether to have your wedding ceremony at dawn or dusk. They are both great options. It can be nice to have an afternoon ceremony then work towards sunset as we go to different portrait locations together. The afternoon could also present some dramatic thunderstorms for your photos. A sunrise ceremony will have a cooler temperature and more wildlife will be out, but you'll have to wake up early!

Permit and Marriage License

There are two legal requirements to get married inside Yellowstone National Park: a Special Use Permit from the Park and a Marriage License from a neighboring county.

A Special Use Permit costs $250 and must be applied for at least two weeks prior to your ceremony. More information on Park permitting and regulations can be found here. As of 2022, wedding sizes are no longer limited though larger weddings must not be visible from a road. There may be caps on guest lists in heavily trafficked areas or spots where parking is an issue. When you fill out your special use permit you'll be required to provide your ceremony site, so consult with me and I can make sure you enter the right coordinates.

If you are getting married at the Mammoth Chapel, which is a great place for a large wedding, you must make a reservation and pay $100 to the Superintendent's office. They can be reached here: (307) 344-2203

Marriage licenses from either Wyoming or Montana are acceptable for use in Yellowstone. A Wyoming license is $30 and can be purchased in Jackson or Cody. A Montana license is $53 and can be purchased at a courthouse in Livingston, Bozeman, or Billings. A Montana license can be purchased in any county and returned to any county. A blood test is NOT required to get a Montana marriage license, but you do have to confirm that you are not siblings. :) Here are the addresses of the county seats where you can purchase your marriage license:

Jackson, Wyoming

200 S Willow Street
Jackson, WY 83001

(307) 733-4430

Cody, Wyoming

Park County Courthouse
1002 Sheridan Ave. Cody WY 82414

(307) 527-8600

Bozeman, Montana

Law & Justice Center
615 South 16th Room 302
Bozeman, MT 59715

(406) 582-2165

Livingston, Montana

414 E. Callender Street, Room #106 (upstairs)

Livingston, MT 59047

(406) 222-4125

Billings, Montana

217 N 27th Street

Billings, MT 59107

(406) 256-2995

Yellowstone Lake Wedding PortraitYellowstone Lake Wedding

Yellowstone Ceremony Locations

The five best ceremony locations within Yellowstone are:

  1. Lamar Valley
  2. Mammoth
  3. Artist Point/Yellowstone Falls
  4. Yellowstone Lake
  5. Hayden Valley

Lamar Valley

One of the most remote places in Yellowstone, Lamar Valley is famous for its plentiful wildlife. You're almost guaranteed to find herds of bison here and maybe lucky enough to see the resident wolves, the Junction Butte Pack. Lamar Valley is beautiful in any season but it's a nice place for a winter elopement as the road is kept open year-round from Mammoth to Cooke City, Montana. It's a big valley but there are a couple places that are just exquisite for beautiful Yellowstone wedding ceremonies. I have photographed more Lamar Valley weddings than any other photographer on earth, so if you book with me, we can work together to pick the perfect wedding location for you.

Lamar Valley Elopement Ceremony


This is a popular place for indoor weddings in Yellowstone National Park. Since the flooding of 2022 and the rebuilding of the road, it is a little less popular for outdoor ceremonies as the new road cuts through the middle of the previous ceremony sites. But if you are after an indoor wedding, the chapel can support a large wedding, or just the two of you. I do have a couple gorgeous outdoor locations here that have secluded, expansive views if you'd like to do an outdoor ceremony. Services are located close by at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and just outside the park in Gardiner. Additional lodging options are just up the road in Emigrant and Paradise Valley.

Artist Point/Yellowstone Falls

One of the most photographed views in the Park, Artist Point's view of Yellowstone Falls is simply magnificent. This is also a popular site with the general public, so you may face restrictions in terms of group size or ceremony timing. This is definitely a location you would want to schedule your ceremony to be at sunrise or sunset. It's also suggested that you carpool if you have more than four guests. If you'd like Yellowstone Falls to really be roaring, be sure to schedule your elopement during the melt off season in late spring or early summer.

Artist Point ElopementArtist Point Elopement Ceremony

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. It sits at 7,733' above sea level and is 20 miles long by 14 miles wide. This region of the Park is located closest to the east entrance from Cody or the south entrance from Jackson, but it's not too far from the other popular entrances. Yellowstone Lake has fascinating geology and an interesting cutthroat trout story, which I've always enjoyed. An elopement at Yellowstone Lake can easily be combined with portraits in Hayden Valley.

Yellowstone Lake ElopementYellowstone Lake Elopement Ceremony

Hayden Valley

Famous for its wildlife viewing, Hayden Valley is located between Yellowstone Lake and The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Artist Point. There are usually bison herds throughout the valley and sometimes wolves or grizzly bears are seen. I will usually combine two locations of Artist Point, Mt. Washburn, Hayden Valley, or Lake Yellowstone into an elopement session. Hayden Valley would be great at either sunrise or sunset.

Hayden Valley Wedding PhotoHayden Valley Elopement

Thermal Areas

I'd like to offer a quick note on Yellowstone's most famous backdrops: Old Faithful and the thermal areas including Grand Prismatic. While you can technically hold a ceremony at Old Faithful, I would discourage it for the same reason I would discourage portraits in the Geyser Basin: there are too many visitors. These are great areas to visit on a different day of your trip, but I would advise against going there on your wedding day as we would have to work around boardwalks and throngs of tourists.

If you are still unsure where you'd like to have your ceremony (or you'd just like to leave it up to me!), please reach out and I can help. I have photographed more Yellowstone elopements and weddings than any photographer, so I have the knowledge and experience to help you choose a ceremony location and give ideas for lodging and the rest of your trip.

Places to Stay

Unique to Yellowstone is the large number of lodging options within the Park. On the north side of the park are Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge and Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins at Tower Junction, as well as many more options just outside the entrance in Gardiner and Paradise Valley (I love Chico Hot Springs or Sage Lodge!). Near Lamar Valley would be private options in Cooke City, MT, though you can also drive here easily from Mammoth and Gardiner. Along the east side of the park there is the Canyon Lodge and Cabins (near Artist Point), Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Grant Village, and Lake Lodge Cabins. Along the west side of the park is the Old Faithful Inn or many options in West Yellowstone.

There are numerous campgrounds throughout Yellowstone National Park, as well.

Most accommodations in or near the Park will require reservations, so plan ahead!

Photography Packages

I am based near the park and I photograph many elopements in Yellowstone each year. I know the park very well and can help with ceremony site selection, officiant and other vendor recommendations, and navigating the permit process. My photography packages for elopements include travel and taxes.

Elopement Photography Package:

-Four hours of coverage

-Travel included

-Online gallery of edited photos with download access and personal printing rights

-Commercial Use Authorization (i.e. I'm legal to photograph in Yellowstone)

-Up to ten guests

Elopement Photography Pricing: $3150

All-Inclusive Elopement Package:

Everything from the Basic Elopement Package PLUS

-Ordained Officiant with customized ceremony

-Bouquet (flowers will be park friendly)

-Champagne or Wine

With our all-inclusive package, all you have left to do is secure your permit, marriage license, and travel arrangements, then show up!

All-Inclusive Elopement Pricing: $5000

Please inquire regarding custom packages or larger weddings.