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Ultimate Planning Guide for Eloping in Stanley, Idaho

Stanley, Idaho: a mountain lover’s paradise! Located at over 6,000 feet, this rural mountain town is one of my favorite places to photograph elopements in the entire state of Idaho. This place features jagged rocky peaks of the Sawtooth Mountain Range, and it is truly unforgettable. If you’re looking for more information on how to elope in this rugged location, look no further! In this guide I’ll cover everything you need to know to elope in this mountain town. 

a couple eloping and saying vows in front of snow covered sawtooth mountains

If you’re looking for even more information on eloping in this gorgeous gem state of Idaho, I have a blog going over even more stunning locations and information perfect for planning your elopement in the state of Idaho - all from a local!

Table of Contents:

Why You Should Elope in Stanley Idaho

If you love being outdoors, Stanley is known for its hikes, lakes, and rugged beauty. People from all over travel to Stanley to experience its pristine beauty. If you’re wanting an adventure elopement, why look any further than this outdoor-lovers playground? There are endless ways to adventure for your elopement here. We’ll get into some awesome things you can do for your elopement here soon!

Where is Stanley Located?

Stanley is located in Custer County in South/Central Idaho, about 3 hours Northeast of Boise.

Nearest Towns to Stanley

  • Boise, ID (~ 3 hours)

  • Sun Valley/Ketchum, ID (~ 1 hour)

  • Twin Falls, ID (~ 3 hours)

  • Idaho Falls, ID (~ 3.5 hours)

Nearest Airports to Stanley

  • Boise (BOI) - about 4 hours southwest of Stanley

  • Sun Valley (SUN) - 1 hour and 30 minutes south of Stanley

  • Idaho Falls (IDA) - 3.5 hours east of Stanley

Best Times of Year to Elope

You really can’t go wrong with eloping in Stanley any time of the year. Stanley’s busy season runs from about late-May to early September. If you plan to visit or elope in the off season, it’s still doable, you’ll just have to plan extra and account for the weather and certain closures. Which leads into the best times of year to elope in Stanley!

  • Summer/Fall: This time of year is the most popular time to visit. Hikes are melted off, the local restaurants are open, the scenery is stunning, and you will have the most accessibility for activities and hikes during this time.

bride and groom hiking a trail with her dress having dirt along the bottom

Early June is one of my favorite times to visit because the Sawtooth's are still snow covered, but lower elevations have wildflowers growing and the temperature is perfect. Weather can still be fickle during this time with potential rainstorms, but that makes everything so fresh and pristine!

Later into the summer, like late July/August are when some of Stanley’s most iconic hikes are available since they have finally melted off. A lot of these hikes aren’t available for commercial photography, so you’ll have to pick locations within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) or the other national forests in the area.

*Note: each national forest has its own set of rules and regulations for eloping, reach out for specifics regarding your exact elopement location.

Going into fall, this is also one of the most perfect times to visit the area. The summer crowds have gone down, and the scenery and weather is still immaculate. Hikes are still melted off, awaiting their first snowfall of the season.

You can expect snow as early as September here because of the higher elevation, so keep that in mind when planning your visit. Some of the local restaurants may be closed for their fall break, so be sure to plan around this as well. Fall will offer you those golden hues, and cooler temperatures.

  • Winter/Spring: Though this time of year is Stanley’s off season, there’s still lots of activities you can plan to do during this time!

Winter has some of the region’s best views for snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, and more. There are places available to rent equipment for activities like this in Stanley itself, or you can also head down to Sun Valley for a bit more availability for winter activities and amenities. Only the main highway through Stanley is plowed in the winter, so everywhere else you will either have to trek in by foot, or snowmobile.

Hot springs are also one of the most popular attractions in this area of Idaho.

Spring in this region is still going to remain snowy and wet until late-May to early June. Because of the higher elevation, you’ll get wildflowers in more into June/July. These off seasons do have lots of privacy since there aren’t any crowds around this time of year, so you will get that intimacy in some of the more popular areas.

Where to Elope in Stanley

There are easy-access, gorgeous areas where you can still get the jaw dropping views of the Sawtooth's! So if you wanna bring family with you for your elopement, you can still have them come and not miss out on those views. I’ll talk about some of my favorite places for photos, but if you book an elopement with me, you’ll receive a full list of my favorite locations in Stanley that are perfect for photos!

Locations To Elope in Stanley:

  • Stanley Lake - Stanley Lake is my absolute favorite! Stanley Lake offers you incredible views of McGown Peak. There is an absolutely stunning campground located here and beach access. My favorite time to visit this lake is at sunrise!

an eloping couple saying vows at sunrise at stanley lake

an eloping couple at stanley lake in idaho

  • Redfish Lake - Redfish Lake should be on your bucket list if it isn’t already! The Sawtooth peaks tower over the lake. You can get some of the most epic views of the mountains by renting a boat from Redfish Lake Marina and taking it out on the lake, as you go around the bend a whole new view of mountains opens up and it’s insanely beautiful! 

a couple kissing on the beach of redfish lake idaho

views of the sawtooths from a redfish lake pontoon boat

  • North Shore Picnic Area is another great stop to check out while you’re there. Redfish Lake offers areas for larger group sizes for your ceremony.

  • Little Redfish Lake is also an option to explore as you’re heading towards Redfish Lake!

  • Stanley Pioneer Park - Pioneer Park is also one of my top spots to see and photograph in Stanley! The park is located right in the town of Stanley, and offers amazing 360 views of the mountains. There’s a disc golf course, picnic tables, bathrooms, and walking trails. This would be a perfect spot for a ceremony, a picnic, bridals, or a reception! Information for booking this area can be found here.

a couple sitting at a picnic table at stanley pioneer park

Locations You Can’t Elope

As I mentioned before, commercial photography permits can’t be obtained in wilderness areas. You’ll have to stick to the SNRA or the other surrounding national forests. Again, each national forest has its own set of rules and regulations, and I can help you look into information regarding permits for these areas.

Photo of SNRA map from Sawtooth Society Trail Maps

photo of sawtooth national recreation area map

Elopement Permit Information

Permits are required in the SNRA, and permits should be submitted at least 60 days in advance. Permit prices differ for how many people are present, but they can range from $50-$250+. You’ll want to have your timeline finalized with your photographer and/or planner since the permit coordinator usually needs to know every activity you plan on doing in detail.

Idaho Marriage License Information

Can You Get Married if You’re Not an Idaho Resident?

Absolutely! Almost all of my couples come from out of state to get married here.

Are Witnesses Required?

Idaho is one of the easiest states to get married in because Idaho doesn’t require any witnesses! You will still just need a registered officiant to sign off on your license for you.

How Much Does a Marriage License Cost?

Approximately $30 in cash. Obtaining the license on a weekend may cost more, so going in during the week to get one is best!

How Long is the License Valid For?

There is no expiration on the license, though it should be used within the year.

Is there a Waiting Period?

There is no waiting period, so you can get married the same day you acquire the license.

What Documents Do I Need to Bring?

First off, you’ll need to appear together at a county office. You’ll just need to bring about $30 in cash, and you’ll need an SSN. Then you’ll need one of these documents to provide proof of age and identity: driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, or a state issued identification card.

Reception/Venue Options 

Having a reception/venue space is great if you want a group of guests with you for either a ceremony or reception, and/or a place to have your guests hang out while you’re out adventuring! Here's some options in the area:

Airbnb's or VRBO’s are also a great option to have for a post elopement dinner if the rental allows events! They also make a great place for your guests to hang out while you’re out adventuring.

Places to Eat in Stanley

Stanley offers some amazing local food that is perfect to refuel with before or after any adventure! Check out these local restaurants:

cake from stanley suppr club and charcuterie board on a picnic table at stanley pioneer park

Best Places to Stay

Local Lodging in Stanley

Pet Friendly Lodging Options

Airbnb's Near Stanley

Here’s some incredible Airbnb’s you can rent for your elopement in Stanley! I’ll list some options down below, and here's why you should rent an Airbnb for your elopement.

a bride in her dress on a deck at sunrise overlooking the sawtooth mountains

Elopement Activity Ideas

  • Relax with some food on the water with an Appetizer Cruise

  • Camp at one of the many campgrounds in the area

  • Soak in a Hot spring: Boat Box Hot Springs, Kirkham Hot Springs (1 hour outside Stanley), Valley Creek/Snake Pit Hot Springs, Mountain Village Resort, Sunbeam Hot Springs

  • Hike one of the many available hiking trails

  • Snowshoe to Redfish Lake

  • Snowmobile with Smiley Creek Lodge

  • Rent a Pontoon boat on Redfish Lake with Redfish Lake Marina

  • Fly fish on the Salmon River

  • Horseback riding with Redfish Lake Corrals

  • White water raft on the river

  • Have a picnic with a mountain view

  • Bring your dog along for the adventure

a couple sitting in a hot springs with a view of the sawtooth mountains

Check here for more fun adventurous activity ideas for your timeline!

Stanley Idaho Elopement Vendors 

Since Stanley is pretty rural, most vendors will have to come from Sun Valley area or Boise. But many of the vendors from these areas do travel to Stanley, so you can still get things like your cake, florals, hair and makeup artists!

If you're coming in from out of town, there are limited vendors you can hire. There aren't a ton of options in Stanley, but the nearby town of Ketchum/Sun Valley has more options for vendors like hair stylists, makeup artists, and florists.

a hairstylist doing a brides hair at an airbnb

If you still can't find what you're looking for, Boise is 2-3 hours away and some companies can deliver. You could also probably meet in the middle so the delivery cost isn't so high.

There are some tips you can keep in mind to make the process smoother, such as ordering wood flowers so they won't wilt by the time you are ready, or keep in mind flowers can be ready to go for a few days if they're kept cold. You can order pre-made floral bouquets as well, and they come in a cooler. Usually bouquets can be put together before the blooms open, so in the few days until you arrive, they won't be bloomed out.

a bride holding a fake flower bouquet by a creek

As for food, you can also order dessert ahead of time, and have it delivered to you if you don't order locally. There are some restaurants in Stanley that offer desserts as well. If you aren't a fan of cake, it will be easier to order something like custom cookies, and bring them with you! (I’m obsessed with personalized sugar cookies)!

Stanley Elopement Vendors

- Hairstylists:

- Makeup Artists:

- Florists:

- Officiants:

- Food and Desserts:

- Planner:

All Day Timeline Examples

12+ Hour Stanley Elopement Timeline

5:30 am to 6:00 am: Getting Ready Photos at the Cabin

6:00 am to 6:15 am: Drive to Stanley Lake

6:15 am to 7:45 am: First Look, Ceremony, Vows, and Bridals

7:45 am to 8:15 am: Drive From Stanley Lake to Trailhead

8:15 am: Start Hiking Trail

8:15 am to 11:45 am: Hiking Bridals on the Trail

12:15 pm: Arrive at Stanley Supper Club for Lunch and Cake

12:15 pm to 2:15 pm: Eat Lunch and Cake, Change into Swimsuits For Hot Springs

2:15 pm to 2:20 pm: Drive to Hot Springs

2:20 pm to 4:30 pm: Soak in Hot Springs

4:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Go Back to Cabin to Freshen Up for the Sunset Appetizer Cruise

5:00 pm to 5:15 pm: Drive to Redfish Lake to Check In for Cruise

5:30 pm: Check In

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm: Sunset Appetizer Cruise

a couple kissing on a picnic blanket at an overlook in stanley idaho

10 Hour Stanley Elopement Timeline

8:00 am: Arrive at Cabin

8:00 am to 9:45 am: Take Photos of Breakfast, Getting Ready, and First Look at the Cabin

9:45 am to 11:00 am: Drive to Trailhead from Lowman

11:00 am to 2:30 pm: Hike trail

2:30 pm to 2:50 pm: Drive to Overlook for Picnic Lunch

2:50 pm to 3:55 pm: Picnic Lunch in back of 4-Runner

3:55 pm to 4:15 pm: Drive to Stanley Lake

4:15 pm to 5:15 pm: Bridals at Stanley Lake

5:15 pm to 5:35 pm: Drive to Hot Springs

5:35 pm to 6:00 pm: Take Photos at Hot Springs

Final Planning Tips

  • Since Stanley has such a small population, a lot of the restaurants are locally owned. So during certain times of the year, they aren’t open. Some restaurants take a fall break, and some close completely for winter.

  • Stanley is known for being one of the coldest places in the winter. Make sure to bring layers (base layer, fleece, then puffy coats/outer jacket) and wool socks will help you to stay warm. Hand warmers and foot warmers would be ideal as well. They also make peel and stick ones to use under your layers. Pick wedding attire and accessories to help keep you warm.

  • If you haven’t experienced high altitude before, it can make you feel a little sick when you first arrive. Arrive a few days early and allow your body to acclimate. There are altitude sickness pills you can get as well.

  • If you are driving in/renting a car upon arrival, make sure to bring a high clearance, 4WD vehicle. Use this website to check road closures and conditions. Also keep this in mind when picking an Airbnb and vendors coming from Boise if eloping in the winter.

Stanley Idaho Elopement Photographer

Having photographed a couple of elopements in Stanley, I can very much say that this spot is one of my top spots to elope in the entire state of Idaho! It is perfect for any adventure, mountain, and alpine lake lover. I have found so many beautiful spots for photos, and Stanley is just one of those towns that you must visit at least once in your life! There isn't a shortage of amazing things you can see and experience here!

elopement photographer standing with couple on the beach of stanley lake at sunrise

Stanley Elopement Packages and Pricing

If you're curious about the elopement services I offer for eloping in Stanley Idaho, here are the things included in those elopement packages!

↠ Booking Gift

↠ 72 Hour Turn-Around Time for Sneak Peek Images

​↠ Day of Elopement Gift

↠ Beautifully Edited Final Images

↠ Access to High Quality Print Products

↠ Free Phone Consultation or Zoom Call​

↠ Timeline Creation

↠ Leave No Trace Guide

↠ 30+ Page Planning Guide

↠ Vendor Recommendations

↠ Unlimited Planning and Assistance

↠ 6 Week Turnaround Time for Full Elopement Gallery

↠ Travel & Accommodations are Covered for Photographer

Click here to see pricing and more info! I can't wait to hear from you!

I hope this blog post on how to elope in Stanley was insightful for you to plan your elopement here! I love working with my couples to not only photograph their day, but to help them create an unforgettable experience in the outdoors. Let's plan your elopement in Idaho together next!

This ultimate planning guide for eloping in Stanley Idaho is filled with some great info and ideas for your elopement in Stanley! Save the image below to Pinterest so you can reference this blog later on!

Need more Stanley elopement inspiration? Check out these full blog posts from these elopements in Stanley!

pinterest pin for the ultimate planning guide for eloping in stanley idaho


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