How to elope to the Dolomites in 2024 - The ultimate elopement guide
A guide to planning your elopement in the Dolomites step by step. Every bit of information you might need to know before you say ‘I do’ from an insanely beautiful viewpoint at Seceda, Cadini di Misurina, Tre Cime or somewhere else! If you are looking for information on where to stay and where to go during your elopement, how to make your 'I do’ legal and more: this is the guide to read!
The difference between a wedding and an elopement/what is an elopement
In short, is ‘eloping’ something as running away to get married, or that’s what you will find in dictionaries. But for us, eloping is an experience: travelling with the person you love most and marrying that person at an epic location you chose. It’s all about you two; not about others. You can do it all by yourselves, but can also invite your nearest and dearest. There is no need to arrange (often expensive) locations to hold your ceremony, reception or party. Therefore eloping is a great way to do it in a totally different way! We go deeper into the meaning of eloping in this blog : What does eloping mean
Eloping is about the memories and experiences around saying your vows. How cool is it to hike to the ‘ceremony location’, have amazing photos and hike around for the rest of the day? What about paragliding later in the day to see an amazing sunset, or skiing your way down if you get married in winter?!
Why Elope in the Dolomites?
As said above; the Dolomites are great for eloping! The area is so versatile. Do you want me to sum up a couple of things? Let’s go!
The Dolomites give you plenty of possible walking routes. From a beginner-level hike to a multiple-day hike, it can all be done!
Skiing in winter
As most of the mountains in the Dolomites are above 2000 meters, you are quite certain of snow falling from somewhere at the end of November until the half of march. This gives an amazingly unique experience for your elopement! If you love skiing or snowboarding, consider marrying in the snow! In that situation, you can get down the mountain by board or skis. Do you want to enjoy the winter wonderland during your elopement? The Dolomites are a fantastic place to go to!
Adventurous mountain sports
The Dolomites are a great place for a lot of mountain sports. What do you think about mountain biking, abseiling, climbing, paragliding or walking on Via Ferrata? Even for the most non-adventurous person, there are a lot of options! Hikes in the Dolomites differ from hard to easy and even mountain biking is possible for people with no steel stamina levels, because of electrical bikes! 😉
Can you get legally married in the Dolomites?
Yes, you can get married in Italy as a foreigner! You have a couple of options.
A symbolic ceremony
Requires little to no paperwork and is what most couples go for. For this kind of ceremony, you get married in your home country and share your vows with your lover during the ceremony in the Dolomites. You can hold your ceremony during the elopement with an officiant, or you can decide to ‘do it yourselves’.
A civil/religious ceremony
This is slightly more difficult, but not impossible! You’ll need a couple of things for the civil ceremony:
- Birth certificate
- Divorce papers (if applicable)
- An Affidavit (Dichiarazione Giurata)
- Declaration of intention to marry (Attorney notorio)
If you want to marry before the catholic church (the most prominent religion), you’ll need a couple more things:
- certificate of baptism
- Certificate of the first communion
- Certificate of confirmation
- Proof of premarital course attendance
- Declaration or formal letter with your local bishop's permission to marry abroad
- The original prenuptial inquiry form
These things can change from church to church, so ask the church or priest of your choosing if eloping in a church is what you choose!
Can lgbtqia+ couples elope in Italy?
Unfortunately, Italy does not recognize same-sex weddings. Even when you are an Italian citizen and got married abroad, it is not accepted as a relationship status when you get back from your elopement or wedding in another country. Hopefully, this changes fast! In the meantime, you do have the possibility to do a symbolic marriage (and get married officially in your home country) or choose to elope in the Austrian alps.
How to get to the Dolomites & travel tips
There are three airports close to the Dolomites: Innsbruck (Austria), Verona and Venice. These have arrivals mostly coming out of Europe, if you have an intercontinental flight from the USA, Australia or Asia you’ll probably arrive at the airports in Munich (Germany), Venice or Milan.
At all airports, you can rent a car to make your way to your chosen spot for the elopement! Public transportation does run in this area from the airport to most mountain villages, but it is most often not easy and handy. We do recommend renting a car because most of the mountain roads are so sooooo pretty to drive on (and creepy sometimes) and it is a lot comfier to travel by car than by public transport (think: taking a break when seeing a pretty spot or having a little chill moment if you’re experiencing car sickness).
Also a great idea: rent a campervan or buy a lightweight tent and sleep on top of mountains overlooking the starry nights… So pretty and romantic!
When is the best time to elope in the Dolomites?
All seasons are pretty in the Dolomites and all have their charm. We wrote a summary for you to make your decision, ‘cause we can understand that having to choose a season to elope in the Dolomites is a hard choice!
Runs from the end of November to the end of March and is often filled with snow! If you are a Winter Wonderland and Christmas lover, this is your season! A lot of the villages in the Tyrol area will have Christmas markets which are usually very cute and cosy. Eloping in the wintertime is romantic and heartwarming 😉
You can choose to have a skiing elopement: hit the slopes and stop at a perfect spot to tell your lover how much you love him/her/them! Cuddle under a wool blanket, drink some glühwein, eat Christmas cookies and enjoy the snow!
Keep in mind: the weeks around Christmas and New Year a lot of the vendors will have some sort of break to be with family and friends. Accommodation is a bit expensive around that time, but it is soooo worth it with all the cosiness!
From April to late May the temperature rises a little bit and snow melts away. This is a shoulder season in the Dolomites: sometimes it will be hot and the other day it will snow! April and May tend to be two wet months as it rains a lot. That causes slushy snow up in the mountains and ski lifts are often closed. Do visit the mountain passes and valleys in the season, because there it will be green and pretty! It is also not very busy around this time because it is not a touristy season. Days will get longer at the end of spring, ski lifts will open and hiking trails will be available again. If you want to elope in a not touristy place and on a hiking trail, this is your season!
In June the summer starts in the Dolomites! Mountain cabins open up, ski lifts open with a summer schedule and villages organize activities which take care of the buzzing noise of happy people on the streets! Weather-wise, this is the season where you would have the most chance of a sunny elopement, even though there often will be summer storms in the afternoons and evenings. In some higher parts of the mountains, there will still be some snow.
Summer is also the busiest season in the Dolomites, so we would recommend skipping the month of August (and late July) because that is when most European countries have their summer break. Most refúgios will be booked far in advance for the weekends and hotels will be super expensive, and a lot of hiking routes will be crowded with people. In August the storms will pick up a lot of times in the afternoon and they are pretty unpredictable; one moment the weather will look fine and a minute later a thunderstorm is rolling in. You surely wouldn’t want to be high up a mountain then! September is the month that closes the season ‘summer’. It often is still warm, but at night the temperatures can drop to the freezing point!
A lot of accommodations and services will be open until mid-September, after that they close to prepare for winter. In summer, it is wise to wake up before the sun comes up, as you often have the whole place for yourself!
This season is - again - a shoulder season for the Dolomites. Refúgios and ski lifts start turning business over to the winter season to receive guests for skiing. It is a slow season; it won’t be packed with tourists and a lot of services will be closed. But don’t stack away your ideas to elope at the beginning of autumn, because it will still be very pretty! During this time of year, the beautiful phenomenon of ‘enrosadira’ will be visible: a deep red glow on the rocks of the alps like they are on fiyaaaaa! 🔥 Days are becoming shorter and shorter every day, so sunrise is at a more decent time than in the summer 😉
Best elopement locations in the Dolomites
You can find pretty spots on every corner of a mountain pass in the Dolomites, but here are our favourite places to elope or visit after your elopement!
Lago di Braies (Pragser See)
In the Dolomites, you can find loads of beautiful blue mountain lakes, but this special Instagram hotspot called ‘Lago di Braies’ can be found in the area of Prags and in the neighbourhood of Bozen. It is situated at 1496 meters in height and lies in the middle of a lot of mountaintops. You’ll find a whole row of wooden boats in the lake, which you can rent during the day.
Having said that it’s an Instagram-perfect picture spot, but it also happens to be pretty busy. In the morning the wooden boats will line up perfectly over the lake and the water will be flat to act as a mirror. In the mornings, long before sunrise, a lot of people (mostly photographers) will join each other in waiting for the perfect spot at the boathouse until the sun comes up. After 9 o’clock it will get very busy with tourists and that is why in high season they will close up the three parking lots after that time until 4 pm.
You can’t take photos on the dock of the wooden boathouse, but if you want to you can rent two boats for a 7 am takeoff; 1 for you as the couple and 1 for us, the photographers. That will cost you €150. Renting a boat during the day is also possible! For an hour it will cost you €35 and you can’t reserve your spot. It is also possible to walk around the lake; it will be a small 3,6km walk which will take you an hour and a half to 2 hours.
Lago di Braies will not be our first recommendation as an elopement location, due to the touristy situation. We recommend going here after you say ‘I do’ because the lake is STUNNING!
Lago di Sorapis
Another beautiful mountain lake is Lago di Serapis. Located 2000 meters above sea level, getting to the lake is quite the hike! The hike will be 14 kilometres and is labelled as medium to hard for the difficulty. This is because the hike will have some steep spots, some places with rocks and a couple of metal cables on the side of the path to keep it accessible.
The icy blue colour of the lake originates from the fine gravel from the rocks and the light in the water.
This lake is, just like Lago di Braies, very busy with tourists. Even at sunrise and sunset. We do recommend visiting Lago di Sorapis because of its beauty, but in our opinion, you won’t have a quiet and private spot for saying your vows for instance. Having said this, it IS a must-see place in the Dolomites and is very pretty for photos!
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen) / Cadini di Misurina
These are the three famous peaks in the Dolomites! If you Google ‘Dolomites’, the first photo you will see is one of the Drei Zinnen. Therefore, it also is a very touristy place. When we visited this place for the first time, we had to wait to go up the mountain pass! They do close down the road if it is too busy, they will place fences on the road and.
It did pay off that we were kinda cheeky and went up the pass because we were on location around 4 pm and saw a lot of cars coming down the pass. And we were lucky: they let us in! You will have to pay to get in, but it’s €30 well spent. The hike itself is fantastic; you can walk around the three peaks and it could be considered a family hike (if you take the right paths, what we didn’t do… oops!). The smallest hike is around 7 kilometres and will take you somewhere between 2 to 2,5 hours.
We did a wild camp in the parking lot because we wanted to see the sunrise on the peaks, and that was also a very good idea to dodge the busloads of tourists! So we do recommend considering wild camping here! On the evening of our arrival, we visited Cadini di Misurina: the prettiest viewpoint of the Dolomites! From the viewpoint it is not a very difficult hike; around 45 minutes is accompanied by stunning views. You probably will only walk a small part of this hike to arrive at Cadini di Misurina, because it ends in a via Ferrata (klettersteig). You absolutely can continue the hike if you have your Ferrata gear ready!
On our first holiday to the Dolomites, Tim had the wish to wild camp on the famous mountain Seceda and it was AMAZING. The cable car ride is a little expensive with €35 for a trip up and down, but it’s so worth it! The other option is to hike to the top of Seceda, which is 6 kilometres (that doesn’t sound very far, but the height difference is 950 meters). It will take you a couple of hours to get to the top. And for some people there is a third option: rent a helicopter!
The hikes on Seceda are awesome as well; they’re heavy but so pretty! We even saw edelweiss, a very rare and protected sort of flower. It’s prohibited to pick them. On Seceda you will have pretty views on either side of the mountain. Because it is easily accessible for most people, this won’t be a place to have a very intimate elopement experience during the daytime. During sunrise or sunset, it will be quiet because most people are not able to reach the top of Seceda without a cable car. Then this place is a lot better for an intimate experience! If you don't shy away for a night camping and going back to the very basics, this is the place we recommend to go!
Alpe di Siusi
Ah, the green hills in the valley in front of a tough rock formation called Sassolungo (which is one hell of a pretty hike and place itself, I’ll write about it down under)! A wonderful place to have your elopement, I would say so. In the meadows, you can easily find a spot for your intimate wedding and after you said your “I do’s” you can step straight into a cable car which will bring you up to one of the mountains surrounding the valley of the Seiser Alm. There are a lot of super pretty hikes here and some good Alpine huts that serve the most delicious local dishes! With Austrian, German and Italian influences, the food is rich and very tasty: speck and knödel are eaten a lot here!
Val di Funes
Val di Funes is also known as Villnöss. It is, again, a picture-perfect spot in a quiet valley on the foot of the Puez-Odle massif. The spot has several picturesque churches, amongst them is the San Giovanni Church (in German: St. Johann). At sunset, the massif turns bright red because of the sun. It is a phenomenon we already wrote about: the enrosadira and this spot is known for it! Do know that this spot is usually quite crowded with sunrise and sunset. They made a viewpoint for tourists and photographers. It is a great place to watch the sunset, but if you want to take pictures here, it is probably not the best place to go.
You can’t go inside this church or get married in it, but you can walk in front of this church for a donation of €4. It is prohibited to walk in the grass field in front of the church, sadly.
You can however walk or drive a little bit further to visit the St Magdalena church, also in Val di Funes. This is the perfect photo spot for your elopement! Here, the enrosadira also will be very present at times during the sunset. On the panoramic road in front of the church, you’ll have the most amazing spots! The road overlooks the pretty valley of Funes and in summer the meadows will almost all be covered in wildflowers! In short, if you want an amazing backdrop for your photos (and you both don't shy away from a couple of other photographers), this is an amazing place!
This mountain pass has the weirdest cable cars I’ve ever seen and the hardest hike I ever did (okay, we need to clarify that we were not used to any hiking at that point 😂). The hike itself starts with a cable car where you have to stand up all the way (it is also known as a ‘coffin lift’ to make things even weirder).
After you get to the top, you will see a beautiful (and steep) descent with far-in-the-distance Refugio di Vicenza visible. The first few hundred meters of this hike the ground will be full of gravel. After the Refugio, the path will be more clear and from here you can find beautiful spots with amazing views to say ‘I do’! There are three ways to do your hike at Sassolungo. You can either walk around the rock formation or hike up the mountain and descend with the cable car or ascend with the cable car and descend by foot. Do you want a hike that is a bit longer and a little more challenging? This is a great one!
Nassfeld / Presseger See (Austria)
Yes, this location is in Austria, but it lies on the border with Italy! The Italian name is Passo di Pramollo. Ski lifts open in Summer and in Winter and in these high seasons it will be busy with tourists, so we advise you to go in the shoulder seasons! Though it is not as busy as most areas in the Dolomites. If you want to learn to ski, this is an easier area to do so. Cross-country skiing is also a sport that is practised a lot here. The Nassfeld ski resort has almost 100 kilometres of slopes for skiing and cross-country skiing. Do you want to enjoy some sun during your ski adventure elopement? Nassfeld is known as a very sunny place to go to!
What do you do after you say yes?!
There are So. Many. Options! In the above text, you probably found the word ‘hike’ a lot and that is what most people will do in the Dolomites. The hikes here are INCREDIBLE. We, Tim and I, always say that the mountains in the Dolomites are rougher than they are in Austria, for an instance. There, the hills are softer and won’t have as many rocks as the Südtirol area has. The views differ from every side of a mountain and they never bore.
A very popular activity to do in the Dolomites is doing a via Ferrata! This is a mountain route that is equipped with ladders, cables and bridges. You will need equipment such as carabiners, an energy absorber, a climbing harness and a helmet. For some via Ferrata routes, you will also need headlamps, crampons and an ice axe. If this is an activity you'd like to do, it is recommendable to do this with an instructor to guide you through the paths.
Mountain biking is also very popular. Many cable cars will have a service to bring your mountain bike up the mountain, so you can descend it on the many paths. Don’t have such good stamina? You can most often also rent an electric mountain bike. Helps with the steep ascends 😉
In winter, the Dolomites are the place to be for skiing or snowboarding. Whether you’re a beginner or you know your way around snowsports, this mountain range has slopes for everyone! And even if you’re not a person for winter sports, the Dolomites gives you plenty of options; visit a Christmas market for instance, or take a sled down a slope!
Where to stay during your adventure elopement in the Dolomites
Here you have a couple of options. Do you want to have a luxurious stay, or are you okay with a more primitive way of sleeping? The Dolomite region has a lot of wellness hotels for that five-star stay, but you can also consider renting a van or a camper and wild camp on the side of the road, or even more primitive: take a light tent with you and sleep on top of mountains under the stars!
Another well-known way to stay in the Dolomites is sleeping in Rifúgios. These are the mountain huts that are located on hiking routes. They offer a stay for travellers and often cater a simple and most often traditional dinner and breakfast. Sleeping is often possible in a room that you share with other people. Some rifugios do have the opportunity to rent a private room.
This rifugio is probably the best-known one in the Dolomites area. It is located next to the parking lot on the mountain pass of Tre Cime. From here, you can start your hike around Tre Cime or you can go your way to Cadini di Misurina. It is possible to eat at the rifugio, they normally serve the typical foods of the area. If you want to stay here, you have the option to have a half-board stay or just an overnight stay.
Rifúgio Lavaredo - Tre Cime
Just halfway through the hike around Tre Cime, you will find another rifúgio. This one also offers a half board or just an overnight stay. Here you can choose to stay in a private room, or a shared one. If you want to rest during your hike, this is also a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. One important thing we learned on our way stopping here: have some cash! They won’t accept credit cards or debit cards.
Want to treat yourself to some wellness and luxury? Do book your stay at this hotel! On its roof, you will find a beautiful infinity pool with a panoramic view of the mountains. The hotel was established by a family with the idea of creating a home away from home. This place offers the beauty of the area, wellness and some quiet time and some quality culinary delights!
Hotel Hurtmühle-Kronblick - St. Lorenzen
If you are looking for simplicity, an Austrian-looking hotel which serves homemade foods: this is the hotel for you. Breakfast is served daily with local products (and with oat milk cappuccino when we visited!) and dinner is based on Mediterranean and south Tirolian influences. The hotel has a sauna and a saltwater pool in summer. If you want to keep fit, they also have a small fitness room! In the winter you can stay here and ski in the area around the hotel.
Hotel Lago di braies - Lago di Braies
Want to have an exclusive stay at the most insta famous lake? Have a stay in the hotel of Lago di Braies! The hotel has a panoramic view over the lake and the mountains behind it (and it looks like the hotel from Dirty Dancing, I think. More people seeing that?). When staying at the hotel, there is a parking lot for your car so you can always park there (the regular parking closes in high season during the biggest part of the day). The lake is a perfect place to start a lot of hikes as it lies very central. In winter, you can choose to hike, do some cross-country skiing or go on a normal ski adventure!
Dolomites adventure elopement packages
We are Tim Wouters Photography and we specialize in adventure elopement and intimate wedding photography. We help you plan and enjoy elopements and small weddings all over the world. To learn more about us you can click here and to learn more about our packages you can check here. Below you will find a short summary of what you can expect when booking Tim Wouters Photography for your elopement.
DOLOMITES ELOPEMENT PACKAGES – PRICING
- A personalized custom experience
- Location and tips advice
- Vendor & accommodation recommendations
- Custom timeline
- Permit assistance
- Unlimited planning assistance
- Adventure buddies and a new friend
To summarize, you can find frequently asked questions about eloping in the Dolomites underneath:
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