A bride in an offwhite dress with flowers on it, sits on a bench with her groom who is wearing a maroon suit surrounded by tall trees on their forest weddinng day.

How to Have a Magical Forest Wedding

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So, you’re dreaming of saying “I do” amidst towering trees, dappled sunlight, and the sweet scent of pine? A forest wedding might just be the perfect choice to bring your fairytale vision to life. But planning such a magical event can feel daunting, right? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll hold your hand through every step of the process, from choosing the perfect forest location to finding unique places to stay and handling all the nitty-gritty logistics. So let’s dive in and make your forest wedding dreams a reality!

Choosing the Perfect Forest Wedding Location

First things first: finding the right forest setting for your wedding. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of enchanting forests to choose from. Consider the vibe you’re going for—are you envisioning a serene, intimate affair or perhaps a wild and adventurous elopement? Look for forests that match your vision, whether it’s a tranquil woodland with a babbling brook or a sprawling forest with sweeping views.

The world is filled with enchanting forests just waiting to serve as the backdrop for your special day. Here are some stunning locations that could be perfect for your forest wedding:

  1. Hoh Rainforest, Washington: Located within Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rainforest is a lush, green oasis with moss-covered trees and crystal-clear streams. Exchange vows amidst towering ferns and ancient giants for a wedding that feels like a fairytale come to life.
  1. Redwood National Park, California: Home to the tallest trees on earth, the ancient redwoods of Northern California provide a majestic setting for a forest wedding. Say “I do” beneath the towering canopy of these awe-inspiring giants for a ceremony that feels both grand and intimate.
  1. Yosemite National Park, California: With its dramatic waterfalls, granite cliffs, and verdant forests, Yosemite offers countless picturesque spots for a forest wedding. Whether you choose to wed beside a babbling brook or beneath the towering sequoias, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.
  1. Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho: Nestled in the heart of Idaho’s Rocky Mountains, Sawtooth National Forest boasts rugged peaks, alpine lakes, and pristine forests. Choose from a variety of scenic locations for your forest wedding, from meadows carpeted in wildflowers to secluded groves surrounded by towering pines. If you’re interested in reading more about how to elope in Idaho, check out this ultimate guide we created. It’s full of tips and inspiration for your forest wedding.
  1. Bristlecone Pine Forest, California: For a truly unique wedding experience, consider exchanging vows amidst the ancient bristlecone pines of California’s White Mountains. These ancient trees, some of the oldest living organisms on earth, provide a stunning backdrop for a wedding that celebrates the timeless beauty of nature.
  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: As the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains offer endless opportunities for a picturesque forest wedding. Choose from scenic overlooks, rushing waterfalls, or secluded forest clearings for a wedding that captures the essence of the Appalachian wilderness.
  1. Coconino National Forest, Arizona: With its towering ponderosa pines, dramatic rock formations, and sweeping views, Coconino National Forest offers a stunning backdrop for a forest wedding with a Southwestern flair. Exchange vows beneath the towering red rocks of Sedona or amidst the cool shade of the forest canopy for a wedding that blends natural beauty with rustic charm.
  1. Chugach National Forest, Alaska: For couples seeking a truly remote and wild wedding experience, Chugach National Forest in Alaska offers unparalleled natural beauty. Exchange vows amidst towering mountains, sparkling glaciers, and pristine wilderness for a wedding that feels like a true adventure. Alaska is huge and there are so many stunning forest wedding locations to choose from. This guide helps with all of the logistics of planning an Alaskan elopement.

Timing Your Forest Wedding

When it comes to timing your forest wedding, both the season and time of day play crucial roles in creating the right atmosphere. Many couples opt for spring or fall weddings when the forest is alive with vibrant colors and mild temperatures. Spring offers lush greenery and blooming wildflowers, while fall boasts fiery foliage and crisp air—both perfect settings for a romantic outdoor ceremony.

As for the time of day, consider the lighting and temperature when planning your ceremony. Morning weddings can be magical as the forest comes to life with the soft glow of dawn, while evening ceremonies offer the allure of golden hour and starlit skies. Whichever you choose, be sure to have a backup plan in case of inclement weather, and don’t forget to provide ample lighting for after-dark festivities.

Places to Stay for Your Forest Wedding

When it comes to accommodations for your forest wedding, there are plenty of options to choose from, ranging from rustic cabins to luxury lodges. Keep in mind that most of the forest wedding locations are pretty remote so you might have to drive a little bit to get to them. We also recommend that you book in advance since there is limited housing around these areas, they tend to book up quickly. Here are some unique stays near each of the forest wedding locations mentioned above:

  1. Hoh Rainforest, Washington: Consider renting a cozy cabin or booking a stay at the Hoh Rainforest Campground for a rustic yet comfortable experience immersed in nature.
  1. Redwood National Park, California: Stay in a charming cottage nestled amidst the towering redwoods or book a night in a secluded treehouse for a truly magical experience.
  1. Yosemite National Park, California: Choose from a variety of accommodations within the park, including historic lodges, cozy cabins, and rustic campgrounds surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
  1. Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho: Experience the rustic charm of the Idaho wilderness by staying in a secluded cabin or booking a night at a wilderness lodge nestled in the heart of the forest.
  1. Bristlecone Pine Forest, California: For a unique and unforgettable experience, consider camping beneath the ancient bristlecone pines or renting a rustic cabin nearby.
  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: Stay in a charming bed and breakfast nestled in the mountains or book a cozy cabin for a romantic retreat surrounded by nature.
  1. Coconino National Forest, Arizona: Experience the beauty of the Southwest by staying in a rustic cabin or booking a night at a luxury resort with panoramic views of the red rock landscape.
  1. Chugach National Forest, Alaska: For a truly remote and adventurous experience, consider camping in the wilderness or booking a stay at a rustic lodge accessible only by float plane or boat.

Logistics of Getting Married in a Forest

Now let’s talk logistics. Planning a forest wedding comes with its own set of challenges, but with careful preparation, and our help, you can ensure everything runs smoothly on your big day. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

Permits and Permissions:

Depending on the location, you may need permits or permissions to hold your wedding in a forest area. We’ll help you research the requirements and obtain any necessary permits well in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.


Consider the accessibility of your chosen location for both you and your guests. Will there be adequate parking? Are there wheelchair-accessible paths for elderly or disabled guests? Keep these factors in mind when selecting your forest wedding location.


Check what amenities are available at your chosen location, such as restrooms, electricity, and potable water. If necessary, arrange for rentals or alternative solutions to meet your needs.

Weather Contingencies:

Prepare for the unexpected by having a backup plan in case of inclement weather. Rent a tent or canopy to provide shelter, and have umbrellas or ponchos on hand.

By taking these factors into account and planning ahead, you can ensure your forest wedding is a magical and memorable occasion.

Sample Budgets for Your Forest Wedding

Planning a forest wedding can be a dreamy and enchanting experience, but it’s essential to have a clear budget in mind to ensure your vision becomes a reality without breaking the bank. Below, we’ve outlined sample budgets for you at various price points, from low-tier options for those seeking a more budget-friendly affair to top-tier budgets for those looking to indulge in luxury amidst the trees.

These budgets cover essential aspects such as photography, accommodations, flights, hair and makeup, florals, cake, videography, and even a fun activity to add that extra touch of magic to your special day. With these samples as a guide, you can tailor your forest wedding plans to suit your preferences and financial means, ensuring a memorable celebration amidst nature’s breathtaking beauty.

1. Low Tier Budget:

  •    – Photographer: $4,200
  •    – Accommodations: $500 (2 nights in a modest cabin or Airbnb)
  •    – Flights: $800 (for two people, economy class)
  •    – Hair and Makeup: $300 (for the bride)
  •    – Florist: $500 (simple bouquet, boutonnieres, and a few floral arrangements)
  •    – Cake: $200 (small, basic cake)
  •    – Videographer: Not included
  •    – Fun Activity: $200 (guided kayaking tour or similar activity)
  •    – Total Budget: $7,700

2. Middle Tier Budget:

  •    – Photographer: $5,200
  •    – Accommodations: $1,000 (2 nights in a comfortable cabin or boutique hotel)
  •    – Flights: $1,200 (for two people, mid-range seats)
  •    – Hair and Makeup: $500 (for the bride, including trial)
  •    – Florist: $1,000 (custom bouquet, floral arrangements, and decor)
  •    – Cake: $400 (medium-sized, custom-designed cake)
  •    – Videographer: $1,000 (basic videography package)
  •    – Fun Activity: $400 (private horseback tour or similar)
  •    – Total Budget: $10,700

3. Top Tier Budget:

  •    – Photographer: $6,200
  •    – Accommodations: $2,000 (2 nights in a luxury forest lodge or upscale rental property)
  •    – Flights: $2,000 (for two people, premium seats)
  •    – Hair and Makeup: $800 (for the bride and bridal party, including trial)
  •    – Florist: $1,500 (elaborate floral arrangements, arch, and bouquets)
  •    – Cake: $800 (elaborate, multi-tiered wedding cake)
  •    – Videographer: $2,000 (premium videography package with drone footage)
  •    – Fun Activity: $1,200 (private helicopter tour or similar)
  •    – Total Budget: $16,500

These budgets are estimates and can vary based on factors like location, vendor pricing, and personal preferences. Adjustments can be made to fit within your specific needs and priorities.

Your Forest Wedding Photographers

In case you read all the way to the bottom and don’t know who we are, we’re Becky & Brian of Scenic Vows! Working with us is like embarking on a journey through the captivating realms of love and nature. As photographers, we strive to capture the raw essence of your connection amidst the breathtaking landscapes that Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, California, and Alaska offer.

But it doesn’t stop there; Becky, also an officiant, adds a personal touch by crafting heartfelt ceremonies tailored to your unique story. We’re not just about snapping photos; we’re about curating an unforgettable experience. Planning your forest wedding becomes a seamless adventure with us by your side, as we offer guidance and support every step of the way. With our passion for elopement photography and dedication to creating magical moments, your forest wedding day is bound to be nothing short of extraordinary.

We offer several different elopement packages based on what you want to do for your elopement day. You can check those out on the Info page on our website and if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, no worries! We’re here to help you figure that out. The best thing to do would be to head over to our contact page and fill out the form so we can set up a time to jump on a Zoom call and chat about it all!

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