Table of Contents:

  • 4 Reasons Why You Should Elope in Idaho
  • Legalities of Eloping in Idaho
    • Idaho Marriage Laws
    • How to Get Your Idaho Marriage License
    • Idaho Elopement Permits
  • Best Time of Year to Elope in Idaho
  • 10 Best Places to Elope in Idaho
    • Sun Valley/Ketchum
    • Stanley
    • Priest Lake
    • Table Rock
    • Bruneau Dunes State Park
    • Thousand Springs State Park
    • Hells Canyon
    • Teton Valley
    • Craters of the Moon National Monument
    • Boise Foothills
  • Idaho Elopement Photographer
Western Idaho couple elopes in the pnw countryside with horses

You can’t convince me that Idaho isn’t the perfect elopement location, despite how overlooked it is in comparison to its PNW neighbors. Don’t get me wrong—I love the beautiful mountains of Washington and Oregon as much as the next photographer, but Idaho is completely underrated and absolutely matches the beauty of the more popular, surrounding states! With versatile landscapes, simple marriage ceremony requirements, and a wide variety of epic elopement activities, I can promise you that you won’t regret eloping in Idaho. To help make sure your dream day comes to life, I’ve put together this ultimate Idaho elopement guide with every little detail you’ll need to know, including when & where to elope in Idaho, how to get your marriage license, fun activity ideas, and so. Much. More. Ready to fall in love with this amazing state and start wondering why you didn’t consider it for your elopement earlier?!

Did you know that Idaho is part of the Pacific Northwest, and is one of the 6 stunning Rocky Mountain States (alongside Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, & Wyoming)? When you combine the quintessential PNW landscapes that everybody loves with breathtaking views of the Idaho Rockies, you get an absolutely, positively magical elopement destination. I could go on forever about my love for this state, but I did my best to narrow it down, so here are the top 4 reasons why you should consider eloping in Idaho!

When I say the word “Idaho,” most people’s minds tend to go immediately to the following: potatoes, farm land, and more potatoes. Yours probably did too, right? (No shame—we do in fact have the best potatoes out there.) But that’s why Idaho gets SO overlooked and I swear the majority of people don’t even know about all the gorgeous landscapes it has to offer! Idaho is truly a treasure of a state with more jaw-dropping scenery than you could ever even imagine, including:

  • Dramatic mountain ranges
  • Lava rocks
  • Lush forests
  • Winding rivers
  • Moon-like landscapes
  • Hot springs
  • Crystal blue alpine lakes
  • Vast sand dunes and expansive deserts
  • Old abandoned mining towns

Idaho’s versatility really makes it a top-notch destination for elopements, as you can find pretty much ANY type of landscape you could dream of. 

Want Icelandic views without the price tag of a trip to Iceland? Idaho’s got ‘em.

Want mountain ranges, meadows, rustic small towns and the chance to see some wildlife? Idaho has it all.

Want winding rivers, canyon overlooks and wildflowers? Go to Idaho!

Want lakes, resort towns, and lots of luxury amenities? You guessed it—you can find them in Idaho.

Want hot springs, forests, and to stay-off grid? Idaho is the place, baby.

I know Idaho is called the “Gem State” for its abundance of rare minerals and gems,  but maybe it’s also because it’s seriously a hidden gem in this part of the country!

Because Idaho has options for everyone (city lovers, outdoor lovers, and everything in between), there’s really just neverending potentail for unique, unforgettable elopement experiences. 

For couples who feel most at home exploring the great outdoors and want to take advantage of Idaho’s spectacular natural beauty, the outdoor recreation is unbeatable, with opportunities to hike, climb, camp, swim, golf, kayak, raft, bike, ski, snowboard, snowmobile. . .you get the picture. We’ve got pretty much everything.

For couples who aren’t as into the outdoor stuff and would rather cozy up in doors, or explore the city, there are all kinds of luxurious hotels & amazing Airbnbs to choose from, as well as a TON of fun things to do in Boise, if you want to get closer to those big-city vibes. 

No matter what kind of activities you want to include in your elopement, or what kind of atmosphere you’re looking for, there’s probably a 99% chance you’ll be able to find it in Idaho (except for if you’re dreaming of a tropical elopement on a white sand beach, surrounded by palm trees—that miiight be the only kind of environment we don’t have here).

I love me a good elopement in the iconic mountains of Washington or on the popular beaches of the Oregon Coast, but damn do those places get crowded! Because Idaho is so much more underrated than the other PNW states, that means you’re way more likely to find secluded locations that aren’t packed with crowds. I love finding off-the-beaten-path locations in general with my couples, but if you do want to visit a popular spot for your elopement, chances are it won’t be quite as busy as a similar location in WA/OR would be! So if you’re picturing a more quiet, private elopement without anybody around you, that’ll usually be a lot easier to find in Idaho.

Alt couple elopes in Idaho in the Sawtooth mountains by lake

I’ll touch more on this in the next section of this guide (about all the legal stuff), but Idaho is a really easy state to get married in, for two reasons:

  1. You don’t need any witnesses
  2. There’s no waiting period

What this means is that you can get married in private and don’t need ANY witnesses to sign your marriage license. No guests required 🙂 It also means that you can get married as soon as you get your marriage license, as there is no mandatory waiting period that you have to wait out before you can have your ceremony! Washington, Oregon, and most other surrounding states have either a witness requirement and/or a required waiting period, which just makes the process a little more complex.

How could I not include this one? If you’re getting married in Idaho, it’s basically required that you find delicious french fries to snack on at some point—bonus points if you do it after you tie the knot as a little celebratory snack 😉

Let’s dive a little deeper now into that legal stuff I was talking about. It might not be the most exciting or glamorous part of planning your elopement, but it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with Idaho’s marriage laws and requirements well ahead of time! This way you know exactly what’s required of you, when you’ll need to start the process, etc. 

Who can officiate a wedding in Idaho?

You must be an ordained minister to legally officiate a wedding in Idaho. Online ordination has made the process pretty easy in recent years so if you have a friend or family member who you want to marry you, they can go through the process of getting ordained and then be good to go!

Fun fact: I’m not the only one behind Good Earth Photo—my husband Nate is my amazing assistant, and he doubles as an officiant! So when you hire us for your elopement you’ll not only get a photographer and a planner, but also an ordained officiant. One less vendor to hire for you!

How old do you need to be to get married in Idaho?

You need to be at least 18 years old to get married in Idaho; however, if you’re 16 or 17, you can get married if accompanied by a legal guardian.

How many witnesses do you need to get married in Idaho?

One of the best parts about eloping in Iowa is that there are zero witness requirements—aka you and your love can get married without an audience (besides your photographer and officiant, of course)! And if you have a dog (or multiple)? Bring them along as your unofficial witnesses, and have them put their paw prints on the decorative copy of your marriage certificate. How cute would that be?!

Can you get married the same day in Idaho?

Yes you can: Idaho doesn’t have a mandatory waiting period, so you can technically get married the minute you get your license finalized. No need to wait a couple of days to make things official!

How long is an Idaho marriage license valid?

Idaho makes things even EASIER for couples by setting no expiration date on your marriage license! If you don’t use it within a year, you are required to contact the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, but your license will still be valid and can be used at any time.

What documents do you need to get married in Idaho?

All you need in order to get your Idaho marriage license is your social security number and a valid ID as proof of your identity and age, such as a current driver’s license or passport. 

Does Idaho require a blood test to get married?

Nope! No needles necessary.

Can non-residents get married in Idaho?

Hell yeah! You don’t need to be an Idaho resident to get married in Idaho; however, you can only use your Idaho marriage license in the state of Idaho, nowhere else.

How much does it cost to get a marriage license in Idaho?

The fee can vary by county, but on average you can expect to pay approximately $30 for your Idaho marriage license. Make sure you bring cash (plus some extra), as a lot of County Recorders’ offices don’t take card or check as a valid form of payment.

Does Idaho have common-law marriage?

Nope, Idaho does not recognize common-law marriage as a legal form of marriage. That means that no matter how long you’ve lived with your partner or how serious your marriage is, you won’t be seen as married in the eyes of the law without going through the actual legal process.

Now that you’ve got a handle on how the legal stuff works for marriages in Idaho, here’s how to actually get your Idaho marriage license, which will be issued in-person by a County Recorder. Depending on the county, you may need to make an appointment ahead of time, so be sure to look into the requirements of the specific county where you’ll be getting your license.

  1. Check your county office’s website to see if you need to apply online beforehand, and/or make an appointment
  2. Visit a County Recorder’s Office together, in-person
  3. Pay your marriage license fee (average $30; often cash-only)
  4. Bring your social security card
  5. Bring a valid photo ID to prove your identity and age

Once you’ve got your license issued, then voíla—you’re ready to go and do the damn thing! No waiting period, no expiration date, and no witnesses required.

As a Leave No Trace photographer, I’m a big proponent of following local land rules & regulations to ensure we’re exploring the outdoors in an ethical, environmentally-aware way. This means not only following the 7 Leave No Trace Principles, which you can learn more about here, but also obtaining the appropriate permits at whatever location you elope. Permits are an important way to learn about national and state parks, protect their land, and be respectful of the wildlife and vegetation, so let’s talk about what permits you’ll need in order to elope outdoors in Idaho!

If you’re planning to elope on land that’s federally protected under the National Parks Service, such as the Craters of the Moon National Monument or the City of Rocks National Reserve, you may need a Special Park Uses Permit in order to hold your ceremony. It’ll depend on the location, but often times a permit will be needed for large gatherings/groups, and there may be a list of permitted locations that you can use. Other parks may not require a permit if you’re eloping without any guests, so that’s why it’s important to check ahead of time! To find information about the specific park you’re eloping at, go to the Idaho NPS website, click on your location, and head to the Permits & Passes section. You’ll find all the details there and should find an email or phone number of the proper park contact to reach out to! 

As far as Idaho state parks go, most parks can accommodate groups of 25-100 people, and each one will have its own permitted locations/guidelines to follow according to your group size. Keep in mind that in addition to a Special Use Permit (if needed), you’ll also have to pay the standard park entry fee, which is $7/vehicle for both residents & non-residents of Idaho. Head to this webpage to find more info about each specific park’s regulations!

Weather plays a huge role in how your elopement plays out. I’m a rain-or-shine type of photographer, though, so no matter what the weather is like (as long as it’s safe), I’m going to be encouraging you to dance in the rain, to sing in the snow, to take it all like champs and use it to make your day unforgettable!

With that being said, the best time of year to elope in Idaho is generally between late spring and early fall as that’s when you’ll find the best weather, comfortable temperatures, lots of outdoor activities, and picturesque mountain scenery. However, it really depends on what activities you’re looking to include in your day! If you want to hike in the mountains, opt for a summer elopement when all the trails and roads will be open. If you’d rather hit the slopes and cozy up by a fireplace, what’s more magical than a winter elopement? And if you want gorgeous fall colors & all the autumn vibes, elope in late September or early October. A few other things to keep in mind when picking a time of year for your Idaho elopement are crowds, travel costs, vendor costs, accommodations, and permits!

This was a hard one to narrow down! Idaho is brimming with spectacular landscapes, from desert dunes to snowy mountains to lush rainforests, and you really can’t go wrong no matter where you elope. But to help you get started on finding your dream Idaho elopement location,  I’ve gathered a list of 10 of the best, most beautiful places to elope in Idaho! Hopefully you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on this list, but if not, I’ll be more than happy to give you more ideas & help you find your dream spot once you’re booked with us.

If you can never decide between luxury and outdoor adventure, then welcome to the place where you can have it all: Sun Valley, Idaho! This little resort town is located in south central Idaho near the town of Ketchum, and is the perfect mixture of bougie & outdoorsy: you’ve got access to a stunning ski resort that offers fabulous spa services and cozy accommodations, and all the while there’s nearly 200,000 acres of natural beauty around you in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. Just a few miles north of Ketchum are the Boulder Mountains, which are actually Idaho’s beautiful contribution to the Rocky Mountains of the western US—and man, are they the most breathtaking elopement backdrop you could ask for. Any spot where you have views of the Boulder Mountains and the rugged mountain wilderness is a perfect spot for an elopement, in my opinion!

Eloping in Sun Valley also means you have access to some of the best hot springs in Idaho, thanks to the fact that Idaho used to sit on top of the Yellowstone Caldera. What could be more romantic than tying the knot at a beautiful location, and then heading to a natural hot spring to relax, recharge, and take in the excitement of the day? Sounds like a dream day to me! Two of the best hot springs in the Sun Valley area are Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs & Easley Hot Springs, both of which would be amazing ways to end the night of your elopement (or maybe even visit at sunrise if you want to escape the crowds!). I also recommend checking out Bald Mountain, which is right next to Ketchum, if you’re looking for some epic mountain adventures or skiing opportunities in the winter.

Sun Valley Idaho Elopement

Stanley is probably one of the top destinations in Idaho for outdoor adventure, located at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains right along the Salmon River. It’s an absolutely spectacular town to elope in, with pristine views of the mountain range, even more natural hot springs, yummy local breweries, and outdoor recreation galore! Oh, and did I mention the multiple pristine alpine lakes in the area that are waiting & ready for you to admire? 

Stanley is perfect for couples who want to be out in nature, with easy access to plenty of opportunities to explore, but who would also love to spend time in a charming, vibrant downtown area, and check out all the local hangs. 

Here are some of the best things to do & spots to hit in Stanley for your elopement:

One of the most popular lakes in Idaho has got to be Priest Lake, which is located in the northern part of Idaho near Spokane, Washington. This lake is popular for a reason—known for its super clear and clean water, and endless access to adventures, it’s a beautiful spot to visit year-round whether you’re eloping alone or with family/friends (it’s also very kid-friendly)! You should absolutely take advantage of the natural beauty and recreation the lake has to offer; maybe head out on the water on a boat for your ceremony, or sleep under the stars at a campground on the lakeshore the night of your elopement! There are SO many ways to experience and explore Priest Lake whether you’re looking for a real adventure, or you simply want to lounge around on the beach and enjoy the views. If you’re looking for those quintessential PNW views with mountains, trees, and water, then Priest Lake will be a dream come true.

If you’re picturing a drier location for your elopement with more of a desert vibe, the Table Rock area is a fun and unique one! The highlight of the area is, well, Table Rock, which is a mountain pillar located in the foothills, with beautiful views of the Boise area and Treasure Valley. This is a super cool location for couples who are looking for a moderately-challenging hike, as the trail to get to Table Rock itself is almost 4 miles round trip, with an 882-foot elevation gain. But if you’re not really wanting to sweat through your clothes or put in a ton of effort on your elopement day, don’t fret—you can also just drive to the top of Table Rock! Either way, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the area; just keep in mind that it can get pretty busy when the weather is nice.

P.S. This trail is dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your pups along!

You may be shocked to learn that Idaho not only has some of the most beautiful alpine landscapes in the PNW, but we’ve also got some of the coolest sand dunes. I know, I know—Idaho? Sand dunes?! In fact, Bruneau Dunes State Park actually has the tallest single-structured sand dunes in all of North America. Wild, right? The Bruneau Dunes make for an absolutely epic location for adventure elopements, with vast desert views, glistening sand galore (duh), and even lakes located at the foot of the dunes. How awesome would it be to go sandboarding down one of these dunes on your elopement day, complete in your elopement attire and all? Then you could stay until the sun goes down and look up at the night sky through the telescopes at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory—magical, I tell you. Dogs are allowed here, too, so you can explore this incredible landscape right alongside your four-legged pal(s)! 

Since the dunes are part of an Idaho state park, you’ll need to pay the park entry fee and be sure to follow the park rules & regulations.

Thousand Springs is another one of Idaho’s state parks that provides a phenomenal backdrop for elopements, with panoramic canyon views, rugged cliffs, and deep valleys. Divided into six units, each of which has its own unique advantages. This park offers super unique geology, including the main feature (and the park’s namesake): the spring that literally cascades out of the canyon, into bright blue pools! It’s such a cool and unique waterfall to witness, and is definitely one of the biggest reasons that this part of southern Idaho has been nicknamed the “Magic Valley.” Outdoorsy couples will obviously LOVE Thousand Springs and its many opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and even cross-country skiing! Be sure to budget for the park entry fee, too.

Bordering northeastern Oregon and western Idaho, Hells Canyon is a breathtaking piece of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. It boasts the deepest gorge in North America & dramatic views galore. This ten-mile wide canyon is the type of place that’ll make you feel so, so tiny and insignificant—but also so reflective and inspired, which is just the kind of place you want for your elopement day! No matter how you choose to explore these 600,000+ acres of rugged wilderness (via hike, drive, bike, or horseback ride), the tranquil and awe-inspiring canyon views will create such an amazing environment for your special day.

Alt  nontraditional couple Idaho canyon elopement

Did you know that the Grand Tetons aren’t only located in Wyoming—and that part of the range actually spans into multiple cities in Idaho? Known as the “quiet side of the Tetons,” these are without a doubt some of the most spectacular mountain views you’ll get in the entire state. There are SO many ways to explore the beautiful Teton Valley of Idaho, and you’ll likely get more space to yourselves than you would on the Wyoming side of the mountains. So take advantage of it! Visit the scenic Palisades Reservoir for beautiful lake & mountain views, or head to the towns of Driggs or Tetonia for your elopement getaway. One of the best ways to experience the Tetons from Idaho is to go horseback riding through the valley, and can you just imagine how incredible that would be after you and your partner tie the knot? Talk about romance! Even if you simply go on a scenic drive through the area on your way to another part of Idaho, the landscapes are so, so worth it.

I also wanted to throw in an Airbnb recommendation if you’re looking for a cozy place to stay with views of the Tetons: this beautiful, western saloon-inspired cabin in Tetonia! It would be the perfecttt little mountain retreat for a western-style elopement—or honestly for any kind of elopement. I’m completely obsessed with this one-of-a-kind cabin, which is located on a spacious 10-acre property in Tetonia with breathtaking sunsets, views of the Milky Way on clear nights, and easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation & adventures nearby. The inside of the cabin is just as magical as what’s outside, boasting a romantic fireplace, a relaxing saltwater hot tub, and an outdoor firepit for when you want to cozy up & enjoy the crisp mountain air!

Idaho Grand Tetons boho elopement

The closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re in Hawaii in Idaho is definitely Craters of the Moon, a national moment made up of these crazy cool laval flows, cinder cones, and sagebrush. Most people who aren’t from Idaho have NO idea that it exists and honestly, I don’t blame them—this place is not what you imagine when you think of Idaho. This otherworldly location is known for its moon-like craters (hence the name), located in central Idaho in the Snake River Plain. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a super unique and breathtakingly beautiful place to elope that will make you feel like you’re on a whole other planet—plus somewhere that offers plenty of hiking trails along the lava fields and lunar-esque landscapes! 

Last up on this list are the Boise Foothills, if you’re looking for somewhere that’s not too far outside of the city, but still offers stunning landscapes and natural beauty. Encompassing around 80,000 acres north of Boise, these foothills are extremely picturesque, with miles and miles of interconnected trails, rolling hills, dry brush, and lots of wildlife. We shot an engagement session at the foothills with one of our awesome couples this past year, and the wide-open landscape was just beautiful; their engagement photos look like they belong on a postcard! Take a look at their blog post here to see more photos of this awesome spot near Boise. Bogus Basin is one of our personal favorite destinations in the area!

Hi loves, Natalie here—your resident Idaho elopement photographer, lover of all things weird, and curator of epic adventures. It’s my biggest passion in life to document love in all its forms, especially when it means I get to hang out with incredible couples in epic places. I hope that, after all that information, you’re feeling excited about all the possibilities that Idaho has to offer for your elopement, and that you’re ready to get started planning the day you’ve been dreaming of for so long! 

I know just how challenging it can be to not only find a photographer whose work you love, but one who you fully trust to guide you through the process; that’s why I offer my years of planning in addition to photography to make sure you feel confident the whole way through. You are unique, your love is unique, so your elopement should be too—take a look at my Idaho elopement packages and pricing here, but know that we can absolutely create a custom package for you too. Then when you’re ready to start the fun, fill out my contact form here (don’t be shy—give me all the deets!), and we’ll make some magic together!

Idaho elopement in boise foothills

May 28, 2024

Ultimate Idaho Elopement Guide: Where to Elope, Permits, & More

Let's do this thing

I literally have no words. Natalie is so amazing and talented, and not to mention how kind she is. She has outdone herself! My pregnancy has actually been pretty hard, so it actually brings me to tears to have such beautiful photos to remember it with. I am so so grateful for these beautiful keepsakes.

- Emma

Natalie and her husband are amazing! My hubby does not enjoy taking photos. Natalie was able to make us feel at ease and have fun with our session. She went above and beyond! I was expecting the typical sit here, pose this way, smile, click. NOPE! She asked us intimate questions about our lives. She played music that we love. She created an atmosphere and a mood that made our anniversary photos an experience. We are so thankful for the memories she helped us to create. Also her unique artistry in how she photographed us. I’m in love with the results. Thank you Natalie and Nate 💖

- Alisa

- Madie