As destinations weddings go, you can’t beat Alaska, with picture-perfect backdrops at every turn, friendly residents that enjoy sharing the state with visitors, and off-the-chart experiences like seeing grizzlies in the summer or the northern lights in winter. Alaskan weddings can be rustic, extravagant, and all points between, depending on the venue and your vision for the perfect event.
A wedding in Alaska does have its challenges. We recommend planning 12 to 16 months in advance, not only to book a venue, but to give your guests time to plan their own trip around the wedding. Logistics can be tricky, especially if you choose a more remote location for your ceremony. Certain lodges can only be accessed by plane or boat. Those on the road system can be up to five hours from Anchorage. Fortunately, you can rely on local experts to help you create the wedding of your dreams.
When to Get Married
There are two seasons when an Alaskan wedding makes sense: summer or winter. Late May to early September coincides with the highest tourist season, with July being the busiest time. In summer there are plenty of choices for lodging, activities, and of course, fresh Alaskan seafood on your menu. Winter weddings, while less popular, can be very magical and romantic. Snowy vistas create a bright landscape, pink alpenglow gleams on the mountainside, and cheery fireplaces invite you in from the invigorating cold.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most popular days for weddings in Alaska, with possibilities for mid-week weddings if weekends are booked.
Where to Get Married
The choice of venue is somewhat dictated by the size of your wedding party and guest list, as well as your preference for the season (not all venues are open in winter) and remoteness of your location. All lodges and hotels have helpful lists of preferred vendors to help you make choices about photography, catering, flower arrangements and entertainment.
Hotels & Resorts
Large Alaska hotels and lodges are typically on the road system, open year-round, and offer dining, accommodations, and beautiful on-site (or nearby) locations ideal for your ceremony. Get married on the beach at Homer’s Land’s End Resort, or on a mountaintop terrace at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. Anchorage has its own great views, especially from the top of the Captain Cook Hotel, a popular choice for local weddings. In Fairbanks, your party can explore 30 acres of landscaped grounds and a bird sanctuary at the Wedgewood Resort.
Intimate Wilderness Lodges
Smaller wilderness lodges are usually family owned and operated, and are well-suited to more intimate gatherings. Expect great hospitality and the ability to customize at retreats such as the Kennicott Wilderness Lodge in McCarthy, Knik River Lodge in Palmer, Alaska Heavenly Lodge in Cooper Landing, Taku Glacier Lodge in Juneau, Ridgewood Lodge in Halibut Cove near Homer (ideal for intimate weddings with a max group size of 12 including Bride & Groom) and Turnagain View Lodge near Girdwood.
The options for non-lodge based locations are as limitless as your imagination. They require more coordination on your part, but are extremely flexible and can help stretch your budget. You pick and choose the ceremony location, lodging, and dining options. For smaller weddings, local restaurants like Glacier Brewhouse and Sullivan’s Steakhouse offer banquet rooms. Some venue examples in or near Anchorage are Crow Creek Mine, Eagle River Nature Center, and Kincaid Park Chalet. In Southeast Alaska, Juneau’s Glacier Gardens offers a profusion of colorful hanging floral displays among a lush rainforest.
For a simple but awe-inspiring event, perfect for an adventurous elopement story, hop aboard an Alpine Air or Tanalian Aviation helicopter that can set down just about anywhere, from icy glacier to wildflower meadow or remote tundra. Choose the perfect spot on Prince William Sound for your exclusive ceremony, and then partake in kayaking, hiking, and bear-watching for the rest of the time, fueled by gourmet meals prepared by your on-board chef. For a shorter cruise with more than 100 guests, Kenai Fjords Tours offers a private boat, dining and a beautiful ceremony location on Fox Island in Resurrection Bay.
Like any wedding, you can go all out or find ways to cut costs. A venue will typically run between $4,000 and $15,000. Catering, photographer and entertainment are separate costs unless part of a lodge or hotel package. Smaller budget items for the actual marriage license ($60) and marriage commissioner or officer of the court to marry you ($25) are arguably the most important! A local planner can give you realistic estimates based on your preferences for when and where you’d like to get married in Alaska.
Alaska’s natural beauty will complement the romance captured in your wedding photos. A local photographer will know how to work with the unique quality of light in Alaska to produce stunning images. Depending on your venue, you could have oceanfront views (Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge), manicured gardens & rustic buildings (Crow Creek Mine), and glaciers (Hotel Alyeska; Seward Windsong Lodge near Exit Glacier.) Ask your venue for photographer recommendations. Or, browse social media! Searching easy hashtags like #alaskaweddings will bring up local photographers. It may also inspire other aspects of your day.
Alaska law says that you can be married by anyone – resident or non-resident – as long as they get a marriage commissioner certificate. This means you can ask a relative to officiate, or even arrange for your pilot or other Alaska-based lodge staff to help out in this capacity.
Once you’re in Alaska to exchange vows, it makes sense to stay and spend your honeymoon here as well. Romantic, adventurous and fun locations abound.
Getting from “You’re What???” to “Can’t Wait!”
When you tell people you’re considering an Alaska wedding, you might get your fair share of, “It’s so far!”, “It’s too expensive,” or “I won’t be able to go!”. Getting your friends and family from disbelief to gung-ho fans could take some time. But the burden doesn’t have to be on you to plan your guests’ vacations. Encourage them to get in touch with us! We don't plan weddings, but we do work with a local itinerary specialist here in Alaska who can recommend a custom itinerary for your guests around your wedding events.