Most couples who want to plan a hiking or helicopter elopement on a mountain want to be prepared for how unpredictable the mountains can be. There can be any kind of weather in any season, as well as wildlife hazards and risk of other injuries.
That’s why I made this list of how to be prepared to deal with anything that may happen on your elopement day in the mountains. Then you can focus on your vows and the beauty of your day, knowing you’re prepared for anything.
Let’s start with how to keep warm during your mountain elopement:
- Bring clothing options and outerwear – you might not be too cold at the bottom of the hike, but it can get super cold at the top. Bring a base layer, a down layer, and a shell. This also goes for helicopter elopements. While we are in the helicopter, it’s nice and toasty. But as soon as you step out onto the mountain top, it might be calm or there might be a brutal wind. Make sure you pack gloves, leggings or long johns, headband, and have nice warm wool socks. Bringing an extra pair of socks is also great, incase they get wet.
- Hand warmers – I never go without these. While I always pack extra for clients, it’s never a bad idea to bring your own. Extra warmth for elopements is always a good thing!
- Pack a shawl – they are a great way to keep you warm, and still looking classy in your wedding dress if it’s a little chilly up there. There are a large variety of shawls you could choose from: fur (brown, white, or other, wool, silk etc). Choose something that suits your style and the landscape.
- Bring/wear leggings or long johns – these fit underneath suit pants, or a dress! Pro tip – wear white leggings under the dress so they don’t show through!
- Bring a jetboil and some hot chocolate or coffee – nothing quite like a hot drink to take the mountain top chill off on your elopement! You can pack little packets of instant coffee, hot chocolate, or even instant oatmeal if you get real hungry!
Other hiking gear to bring on your hiking elopement:
- A good backpack – most couples don’t wear their wedding attire for a hiking elopement, so you need a backpack big enough to carry the clothing. It is also helpful to have straps that you can tie the bouquet on with. Plus, comfort is key for hiking, and a backpack that fits properly is a huge help.
- Hiking boots – if you’re planning either a hiking elopement or a winter/spring heli elopement, good hiking boots or shoes are definitely crucial in making the experience more comfortable and enjoyable for you and your feet! It’s even better if they’ve been broken in beforehand.
- Ice cleats/crampons – these are almost necessary for any winter or spring hiking elopement as well. Most trails have snow or ice at this time of year, and crampons make a world of a difference. Just trust me on this one!
- Hiking poles – poles are great, especially for the way down the mountain. They help with stability and take a lot of weight off your knees.
Safety gear to consider for your mountain elopement:
- Bear spray – bears can be out at any time of the year. Bear spray works on other wildlife as well. Always come prepared for your hiking elopement with bear spray.
- SOS device (optional) – something like a Garmin Inreach is a great device to have because it works off satellite communication. That way if something did happen, even an injury such as a twisted ankle, we could call for help. I always carry one with me on hiking elopements for my own safety and the safety of my clients.
- First aid kit – even a little fall could result in a cut hand or a scrape that may need a bandaid. It’s always good to carry a few emergency items.
What to bring for food on your hiking elopement:
- Water – is that food? I don’t know, but always pack water. If you know you are going to be near a lake or stream, you can also bring a water filter and pump your own water out of the stream.
- Bars, jerky, other snacks – for most day hikes, snack food is usually sufficient. I like to bring Clif bars, granola bars, dried mangoes or other fruit leather, trail mix, jerky etc. Feel free to pack your favorite snacks, or even a sandwich for lunch!
My favorite time of year for a hiking or helicopter elopement is later summer or early fall. The weather is a little cooler, but not too cold. The colours of the changing leaves and needles are stunning. And the sunrises are later and sunsets earlier so we get better light without being awake at crazy hours of the night!
Want a checklist to have on hand while you’re planning your mountain elopement? You can download my free one here!
**Disclaimer: I am not a guide. These are all just tips I have learned from spending many days and hours hiking in the mountains and the backcountry.