The Ultimate Guide to Emerald Bay Weddings

Should you choose to completely disregard my advice on all the reasons why you should hold your Emerald Bay wedding by boat, then I am still here for you, albeit perhaps a bit begrudgingly.  It is the hard truth that although picturesque, getting married or eloping at the top of Emerald Bay comes with significant challenges.  You might think that an intimate wedding with less people provides less stress, but I can tell you with certainty (as can Chris and Stacy) that it does not.

Emerald Bay is famous for a reason: it’s grand, its beautiful, it’s a natural wonder that is one of the most photographed places in America. That being said, it is far from intimate and depending on the time of day you have selected, could be the opposite of picturesque (see previous blog post about lack of sunsets).  Still dedicated to an Emerald Bay Elopement?  Read on my friend.

Challenges you should consider when planning an Emerald Bay Wedding

Emerald Bay is more than just a place; it’s a story etched in time. It’s got rich history. It’s got amazing grand views. It’s got mesmerizing water. It’s got parking problems. It’s got tourists galore. It doesn’t have bathrooms. It has a strict and complicated permit process. Rugged peaks? ✔️ Planning headaches you didn’t anticipate? Check check check.

While Emerald Bay’s allure used to lie in its seclusion, gone are the days where it feels quiet and remote. Over tourism of the last decade has created a scenario where on even the most off-season day, Emerald Bay has its share of parking problems.  Stacy and Christopher thought they had escaped this problem by chartering a bus for their guests to arrive by, but the bus was so large (so that they could have a bathroom for their guests) that it also had nowhere to park or turn around.

Seasonal Considerations when planning an Emerald Bay wedding

The seasons significantly impact the ambiance and logistics of your Emerald Bay wedding.  Although summers offer warm weather and abundant sunshine, I prefer the skies on a shoulder season day: filled with contrasting clouds and a chill in the air as Stacy and Christopher were graced with.  Winter poses an additional challenge: although winters transform the bay into a snow-covered wonderland, it also means that the road itself and the wedding ceremony area could be closed completely due to road closures from avalanches.  You will need a backup plan.

Legalities and Permits

To make your Emerald Bay wedding official, you’ll need to navigate the legalities and obtain necessary permits. The best way to ensure this is hassle-free is to go through a reputable wedding planner and officiant like Christa Deane from Mountain High Weddings. There are a limited number of local officiants who are permitted to hold weddings at the Emerald Bay Overlook.  Some of them (like Christa) are amazing. Some of them are quirky.  Some of them are questionable. Want to skip this process entirely? Head my suggestions and hold you wedding in Emerald Bay by boat!

In the end, Stacy and Christopher’s Emerald Bay wedding was dramatic and beautiful, but not without challenges.  We intended to hold family formals at Valhalla Estate near Camp Richardson before the ceremony, but thunderstorms had a completely different plan for us.  An overlook near their rented condo provided us with the perfect backdrop and weather window in between showers. You know what they say about rain on your wedding day…who the f are they anyway?

Are the views worth the hassle? There’s an awful lot of folks who think so in the world. If you’re looking for an Emerald Bay elopement photographer, I have more information about elopement coverage here.