How to Elope in the Italian Dolomites in 2024

If you're considering eloping in the Dolomites, the stunning mountain range in northeastern Italy, prepare yourself for an epic adventure! Jaw-dropping scenery (and sometimes crazy WW1 history) awaits. 

This will be the best moment of your life.

There is some real history here from WW1. The Italians were fighting the Austrians (back then, Austria was united with Hungary). I won't go over the whole story, leave that to the visitor centers, but I'm telling you this because you will find a lot of names that have two names, and sound German. This is thanks to the Austrian occupation of the South Tyrol (Südtirol/Alto Adige) area. Most places actually have both a German and Italian name, such as Bolzano/Bozen, Alpe di Siusi/Seizer Alm, or Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee. So if you're ever confused about which name is where, just remember this interesting fact!

First, a bit about the Dolomites:

  1. The locations are endless! From Tre Cime to Cinque Torri and everything in between...it's so hard to choose because there are just too many beautiful places. Have your photographer or planner help you with choosing the right location.

  2. Book your photographer and accommodation first, because these are booked sometimes more than a year ahead! If you need vendor recommendations, your photographer should be able to help you out with those things. If you want extra planning help, then there are elopement planners out there, and they make your life super easy.

  3. The mountains in Italy are no different from mountains anywhere else in terms of weather; you just never know. Bring layers, rain gear, proper hiking boots/shoes, and have a plan B in case of a storm. That being said, they are sunnier than most other mountain ranges (on average, I'm talking), so if it's sun you're after, great choice! Also, when you've eloped, just head south for the honeymoon. Easy-peasy. 

  4. Rent a car, and be careful about what you're renting. Most of the cheap cars are manual transmission, and I don't recommend learning how to drive that on steep, curvy roads with crazy Italian drivers trying to pass you. Make sure to filter on automatic if you need that. If you end up with an electric car, there are chargers along the way, it just takes a bit of planning, but at least you get free parking! Also, do a quick google search to see if you may need an international driver's license from your country.

  5. If you choose to take public transit, a lot is possible thanks to their great train systems, but the buses are quite slow so you will need some time. They may not go to every place you want to go, so just check to see if you can get to your dream locations first.

  6. Learn some basic Italian and/or German. Get on Duolingo, bring a translator, "Italian for Dummies"; whatever works for you. Some basic phrases may come in handy because you won't always find English speakers, especially outside tourist centres. 

  7. Have cash, especially if you are hiking from hut to hut. Not everywhere takes card, even places you're SURE will because they are so touristy. Most places do, but it's very likely that you will encounter a few that won't. 

  8. If you're hiking, download an offline map like Organic Maps or Maps.Me. They will help you with pinning trail locations so you can plan your hiking routes, and even can tell you how long they will take, elevation, and water stops. Recently, I've found Maps.Me to be inaccurate for time estimations (way over estimating) so be cautious and compare with what you find online.

Now, good things to know when eloping in the Dolomites:

You can elope quite cheap in the Dolomites, or as expensive and luxurious as you want. Check out XE.com to find the conversion rates for your currency. And of course, these are totals for 2 people. They are just estimates, you can certainly find things for more expensive, and possibly even cheaper.

The luxury route for one week (by which you can go above and beyond):

  • Photographer for 2 days (different outfits, different locations, overnight hike if that's your thing) €8000+
  • Videographer for 2 days €8000+
  • Elopement planner €3000
  • Helicopter flight on one of those days €3000
  • Staying in a mix of nice/luxury hotels & glamping for 1 week €5000+
  • Flights from North America (economy plus) €2000
  • Car rental (automatic, sedan) with insurance €1200
  • Parking and tolls from Venice €50
  • Food and drinks at a mix of average and expensive restaurants €400+
  • Bouquet and boutonniere €200
  • Spa/sauna therapy €400
  • Hair and makeup €700 (single day price)
  • Elopement activities €400+

Total: €32,350+

The cheapest way to go for one week:

  • Photographer for half a day €3000
  • Camping for 1 week €420
  • Flight from North America (x2 economy tickets) €1600
  • Car rental (automatic, economy, rented in Treviso) with insurance €350
  • Going off-season
  • Parking and tolls from Venice €50
  • Food and drinks (breakfast and lunch from supermarkets, dinner at a restaurant, mostly water for drinks, no tips since they are not expected) €200
  • Elopement activities €30

Total: €5650+



Budgets for eloping in the Dolomites in 2024:

Depending on where you're coming from, I recommend flying into Marco Polo or Treviso, the two main airports around Venice. They are the closest to the Dolomites. Second option, in case the flights are really that much cheaper and worth the extra couple hours of driving, is Milan.

Renting a car during winter can be daunting. It is very difficult to find a car with winter tires. They will give you chains upon request (free with some companies, not with others), but if you don't know how to put them on, you may have to watch a Youtube video as they won't know how either. Also, in case you didn't know, you can only drive 30km/hr with chains, so they can be very inconvenient. 

Because of this, it's possible that renting in the Dolomites is better as they have more winter tire availability. The more north you go, the more likely they can help you out. You can rent cars in any of the main cities, such as Bolzano, Trento, Cortina d'Ampezzo, and Merano. Bolzano and Trento have the most rental options, and due to the extreme temperatures in Bolzano, it is the most likely place that you will find winter tires.

The prices will be more expensive in the mountains, as are most things, so it's also good to keep that in mind. Renting a car in Treviso, for example, can be as cheap as €10/day for a manual transmission. So you just have to weigh your options with the time of year you are going, and see what's best. Don't forget to get insurance, driving in Italy is probably not like driving back home!

More about transportation in the Dolomites:

The Dolomites are always a great places to be, this is why I chose to live here. But for those wanting the best of the best, I personally recommend September and October. 

September you start getting less crowds. Most huts are still open, roads have no risk of being closed, kids are in school. The weather is still warm enough that you don't need to wear a jacket during the day (though perhaps at night, and no matter what, always bring a jacket in the mountains). 

October gives you those stunning autumn leaves. They contrast so beautifully with the blue lakes and green trees, it's really something special. The crowds will be even less, and slowly things are starting to close. If you time it right, you can get the last bookings of huts (aka rifugio or hütte), and you are still quite likely to get sunny days. You do need to be a bit more cautious about weather, it's true, but to me the beauty that autumn brings is worth it.

Late June is also not such a bad time to be there. The huts are starting to open, the weather is certainly warm enough, and the crowds haven't hit quite yet. Keep in mind; this is Europe, people are everywhere, it's not like going in the backcountry of Canada/America or the outback in Australia. It's hard to truly get away from everyone. 

July and August have great weather, too warm sometimes with the every worsening heatwaves. Things are very crowded, it's harder to find accommodation and tickets for activities. It's not that I don't recommend this time of year, I do, but you do need to book things ahead of time and be prepared for crowds. Sunrise and sunset can sometimes avoid the people.

December-February is perfect if you want a winter-wonderland wedding. Snow is almost guaranteed (you never know about anywhere these days) and you can rent ski-in-ski-out chalets. The winter huts are super cute and cozy, and you just want to grab your tea, sit by the fire, and gaze at the pristine landscapes from your window. And, if you've rented a private hut, you might have a sauna built in! Not to mention, the winter activities are endless. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, regular skiing/snowboarding, ski touring (very big here), snowball fights, gondola rides to insane peaks, ice skating...etcetera!

March-early May + November I don't recommend. May is not too bad and you can get some nice wildflowers (careful if you have bad allergies), but the other months are really not ideal for weather, things to do, and open huts. That being said, they are the cheapest months to go. So if you're on a budget, look into it, and I can help you plan what's best to do that time of year.

Best time to go to the Dolomites:

There are so many options. Many are what you would normally book, a hotel or Airbnb, but you can book some really cool places here.

You've got some choices of mountain huts (rifugi in Italian or hütten in German, plural forms), mountain chalets, spa hotels, and camping/glamping. Some examples: Rifugio Antermoia, Alpina Dolomites spa hotel, and Camping Olympia Cortina (find glamping pods if you scroll down).

Being the adventurous person I am, I recommend trying out a mountain hut or two. You can stay in them as you're hiking from location to location, or some are located at the beginning/ends of hikes. They can be in the middle of a mountain/ski run and you need to take a gondola (or hike) to get to them. They can be anywhere, really!

The mountain huts vary between being private (more AirBnb style) and open to host from 10-30 people sometimes. In those, you can usually book a dorm room or choose to stay in a private room. They are super cozy and you usually have incredible views from them. They will offer you full board or half board, which just means they will supply you with dinner, breakfast, and a packed lunch, or just dinner and breakfast. If you have meal requests, like being vegan or gluten-free, they will often accommodate your requests. But you do need to tell them well in advance! Some places will have these as staple menu items, though.

If you're keen on it or on a budget, you can also bring your tent and camp in designated areas. There are many off-limit ares, so don't camp anywhere that isn't an official campsite, otherwise you could end up in some trouble.

Glamping is also a big thing here. There are some really cool mini A-frame cabins (just with beds, nothing else), yurts, and canvas tents that you can stay in. You can sometimes choose to get certain meals included here too, cook yourself, or eat out.

I've never been much of a hotel person myself, but if you are staying in a hotel, I highly recommend Paradiso.Pure and La Vimea. Not only are they beautiful and cozy, but the food is just jaw-droppingly amazing! They are vegan/vegetarian hotels, so you can also say you got to minimize your footprint and booked ethical accommodations during your trip. They host intimate weddings as well, in case you were unsure if you wanted to elope or invite some guests along.

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Accommodation in the Dolomites:

You've got a lot of choices on things to do here. Whether you do it during your elopement/wedding, or before or after, that's up to you. But keep in mind, some of these things can certainly be combined with saying your vows and/or your photo session!

So, you can:

  • Hike (from hut to hut, multi-day)
  • Book a helicopter tour
  • Go snow shoeing
  • Skiing/snowboarding/ski touring
  • Eating! Because you are in Eat-aly after all
  • Book a private chef for an amazing meal in a field with a view
  • Do some hot and cold therapy (saunas and cold water dips)
  • Rock climbing
  • Via ferrata
  • Boat rides (such as sunrise on Lago di Braies)
  • Gondola rides to the most breathtaking views
  • Mountain biking
  • And I'm sure there's many more things to do!

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Activities you can do in the Dolomites during your wedding, elopement, and/or honeymoon:

So, here's your to-do list:

1. Research and Choose a Location
: The Dolomites offer numerous breathtaking locations for your elopement. Research different areas such as Cortina d'Ampezzo, Val Gardena, or Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and consider factors such as accessibility, scenery, and available amenities.

2. Hire a photographer and planner before any other vendors: They are the first to get booked up, along with venues if you're saying your vows there. Photographers will help you with itinerary creation for the day, locations, packing lists, and those sorts of things. Planners can provide guidance on permits, logistics, and vendor recommendations, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience. Emphasis on stress-free ;)

3. Choose a Season: I've already told you what you need to know, so choose a season, or month, and chat with your photographer/planner about a specific date.

4. Book transportation: If you're renting a car. Public transport can be booked closer to the date, but I still recommend booking any trains/buses from out of the country (or from far Italian cities) at least a month in advance.

5. Hire Other Professional Services: Whatever you haven't hired yet, don't leave it too last minute! You can book a videographer, florist, hair and makeup, decorators if you have a venue, stationary designer + printer, private chef, tour guides, and whatever else you need.

6. Check Legal Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the legal requirements for getting married in Italy. Contact the local municipality or consulate to understand the necessary documents, timelines, and any specific regulations. Hot tip: get married at home, make everything in Italy symbolic and ceremonial. It will save you a lot of grey hairs!

Lago di Braies elopement

7. Plan the Ceremony and Vows: Decide on the details of your ceremony, any rituals, or any unique elements you want to include. Consider the surroundings and the natural beauty of the Dolomites to inspire your ceremony "design". With the epic backdrop, you probably won't need much, or anything at all! But it is important to include things that are dear to your heart, whether it's something physical or it's the words that come from deep within your heart.

8. Invite family and friend for a video call: If you've really been dreaming of eloping, but still want your family and friends to be present, make sure everyone has a link to a video call you will put on. Get an e-sim and make sure you get a plan with enough data for the call to last! 

9. Enjoy the Experience: On your elopement day, take the time to soak in the beauty of the Dolomites. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and celebrate your love in this breathtaking setting. Get emotional, get crazy, and marry that partner of yours! 

Remember to consult with local professionals who can provide specific guidance based on your chosen location in the Dolomites. They will be able to assist you with the intricate details and ensure a seamless elopement experience amidst the majestic mountains. Again, stressing the whole "stress-free" part, it's really a huge weight off the shoulders!

The Italian Dolomites give you some of the most stunning views

Breathtaking views await...

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Are you interested in going on a well-documented adventure with me? Then fill out the form with any questions you have or send me an email. I do my best to reply within 48 hours, although I could be out shooting a session or hiking in the mountains with no reception, so I do apologize for potential delays in my response. The best way to get in contact is definitely here or via direct email!