Glacier National Park Elopement Photography, Montana
Wedding Photographer: Charleton Churchill
Adventurous couple, Brent and Emily, called me and wanted an adventure elopement somewhere in the mountains. Their desire was to hike and stand on a peak overlooking beautiful scenery. They wanted a wedding ceremony with close family away from the crowds. They wanted something epic and beautiful. I typically explore and photograph couples for a few days on my wedding adventures, but this couple simply wanted an epic ceremony with some beautiful photos. After the ceremony in the following days, their plans were to hike and explore on their own as a united family. As a result, Montana was chosen as the adventure destination and we started planning.
I arrived a little early to hike myself, scope out locations for the future couples, and just to explore Glacier National Park. I stayed at Many Glacier Lodge the first night and met people over food sharing stories. What I found interesting is that many of them had encounters with grizzly bears. One of the couples had run into a grizzly along the trail within 20 feet or so. They had to walk backwards along the trail for about 15 minutes as the bear followed their pace. They even collected other hikers behind them until the group size grew too large for the bear to continue. I saw a few grizzly bears my first day there, but they were busy eating plants.
The next day I hiked near fifteen miles, mostly with a couple I had just met on the trail. They were good people and conversationalists. Not only were we beat up after the trail with blisters, but I would hike the same trail again the next day with my wedding couple. My couple saw the video I posted and loved the area. We had contemplated other trails, but this looked great to them for a private ceremony.
I woke early the next morning to meet them for the hike before sunrise on the “Going-to-the-sun-road. We were all in good spirits and having conversation along the trail. After eight miles, we arrived to our iconic location, taking a break, and preparing for the ceremony. Even though it was hazy from the California fires, along with the harsh lighting from the dominating high noon sun, it was still breathtaking. Brent had his two daughters along and Emily, her two sons. They all took part in the ceremony, dressed up, and ushered in each other. Once Brent saw Emily in her wedding dress, he became emotional. Their first priority was to pray, intertwine hands, and show their completeness and commitment as a family. It was powerful.
They then exchanged vows and rings overlooking the lakes and mountains around us. Their kids watched with anticipation as tears formed. Thankfulness overwhelmed my heart because I was present to witness and capture this unique family’s moment on top of a mountain. I just can’t believe I get to do this with people. After the ceremony, Brent walked over and held his two girls snug for a long time, taking in the moment. Even I was caught up.
We then took a few family photos, captured some bride and groom photos at the top, then prepared to return down the mountain. I had mentioned to the Emily that my brides don’t ever hike very far in a wedding dress and usually change before hiking in or out, even though I did have a Yosemite bride hike to Vernal Falls and back. Emily took that as a challenge to hike the entire eight miles back in her wedding dress, which she accomplished. By the time we reached the trail head, everyone was toast and wiped out.
Our trip was short, but successful. I hope to return to Montana for more wedding and elopement adventures, as there’s more to see and photograph. Congratulations to Emily, Brent, and their awesome family.