How to Elope at Emerald Lake | Guide To Your Elopement Wedding in Yoho NP

February 10, 2022

Have you decided to elope in the most intimate, unique way with an elopement? Well, congratulations! I couldn’t be happier for you, and if you are considering Emerald Lake for your elopement, then you are in for an adventure. 

With the magical turquoise green waters, high mountain peaks that reflect on the water, waterfalls, and deep wood forests, your elopement will be filled with panoramic views, and a day you will never forget.

Emerald Lake is one of the most beautiful elopement locations not only in the Canadian Rockies but also in the world. As an Emerald Lake local elopement photographer, I have photographed many elopement weddings, engagement sessions, and secret proposals for my clients. I am excited to share all of this info with you, so let’s go to it!

In this guide, I cover:

  • How to get legally married at Emerald Lake
  • What time of year to get married at Emerald Lake
  • Step-by-step how to plan your wedding at Emerald Lake
  • Unique ideas for your elopement wedding at Emerald Lake
  • Where to stay when eloping at Emerald Lake
  • How to rent a canoe for your Emerald Lake wedding
  • …and more! 

Where is Emerald Lake?

Emerald Lake can be found in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. Emerald Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Canadian Rockies and a beautiful destination in British Columbia. President Range surrounds the lake, the largest in Yoho National Park.

On a summer day, visiting the lake is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the Canadian Rockies, not short of breathtaking views. The lake is easily accessible, and you can drive pretty much all the way to the lakeshore. 

When is the best time to elope at Emerald Lake?

The magic of Emerald Lake is that each season brings its own sense of unique and ethereal beauty to each season.


The summer season is one of Emerald Lakes’ busiest and peak seasons. Factor in the warm summer haze as you look out onto a lake that is absolutely vibrant under the sun and nature bursting all around you as it is in full bloom. The summer season in Emerald Lake also comes with a large range of activities that you and your loved ones can engage in as you get ready for your special day. These activities include:

  • Canoeing
  • Sightseeing
  • Nature Walks
  • Hiking
  • River rafting and more!

The best part about summer is that you can really see where Emerald Lake gets its name from. In the summer, the water of the lake shines in breathtaking emerald colour. The lake’s colour is caused by a reflection of the glaciers that are high up in the mountains and tilted towards the lake.

It’s not hard to see why summer is no doubt the busiest season for Emerald Lake


Spring is an off-peak season for Emerald Lakes, but it is beautiful nonetheless. With milder temperatures, fewer crowds, and more space, later springtime in Emerald Lake can be just as beautiful as the summertime. Although Emerald lake thaws out earlier than most of the iconic lakes in the Canadian Rockies, you should still wait until the end of May or the beginning of June, if you want to see that famous turquoise blue water.

If you want a smaller group of loved ones watching you say your vows as a gentle breeze drifts in and out, then spring is the season for you. From the nature and hiking paths to the canoeing of the lake (remember to come in June or later if you want to witness the vivid blue colour), the spring season is perfect for those looking for a more laid-back ceremony with cool temperatures as nature begins to bud, starting anew as you start a new journey with your partner.


Fall is the perfect season to elope in if you want to enjoy the crisp mountain air as it rustles through the changing colours and leaves of the nature around you. Immerse yourself in the love and bond you share with your partner against a backdrop of fall colours that range from green to golden, and the light sprinkling of brown coupled with the fresh and blue illumination the lake provides.

Fall is already much cooler than summer, and it provides the perfect landscape to create an ambiance of renewal and strength. Your relationship forges a new path into marriage, it is flawlessly mirrored by how nature is entering into a new season itself.

Some years we can get a big dump of snow already in mid-September. That can create some serious magic when paired with the beautiful blue lake. Every year is slightly different, but the Emerald Lake usually starts to freeze over in November and gets plenty of snow before that.


Winter together with spring is the quietest time at Emerald Lake which only adds up to its magic. The white backdrop of snow, coupled with the sparseness of the trees, gives the landscape an ideal image of cleanliness, pureness, and innocence. Indeed, canoeing is out of bounds, but you can engage in snowshoeing in its place instead or explore the nearby frozen waterfall.

Forge your way through the snow and enjoy the beautiful sight of both the mountain and the lake by wearing the right attire and donning some snowshoes as you brave the unknown. A beautiful backdrop is breathtaking behind you as you brave the cold and wander into the unknown, hand in hand with your partner and loved ones. After (or during) your elopement, you can enjoy the outdoor bonfire or hop into the hot tub.

Emerald Lake is perfect no matter which season you choose, but if you are looking for time to elope with less foot traffic, it would be best to get eloped at the following times:

  • Sunrise and Sunset: The only thing that would make your special day more perfect is the way the sun radiates off of you as you say I do. Getting hitched at either sunrise or sunset is perfect for avoiding the rush of crowds while still maintaining the privacy that you want.
  • Tuesday-Thursday: An excellent way to ensure that you get a little bit more privacy you want is to get married during the week from Tuesday through Thursday. Many people take off long weekends or visit this ideal location from Friday until Monday. If you are looking to avoid as many people as possible, then the best choice would be to get married during these days.

What licenses and permits will you need to get married at Emerald Lake

Marriage License

As far as your marriage license goes, you can apply and pick up your license in Golden, BC or anywhere in British Columbia. The small mountain town of Golden is about 55 minutes drive west of Emerald Lake and it is the closest place to Emerald Lake to obtain it. The license cost is $100 and is non-refundable.


Unless you are planning to book Emerald Lake Lodge as your wedding venue, you will need to get a Kootenay/Yoho National Park wedding permit to have your ceremony performed within the Emerald Lake (or anywhere else in Yoho National Park).

It is free to apply for the wedding permit. I recommend sending the filled form at least one month before your elopement – you have to mail it ahead of time or drop it off in person in Lake Louise.

The wedding permit is you will need only for the ceremony so if you want to take portrait photos at Emerald Lake you are off the hook. 

There are two options you have if you want an outdoor ceremony at Emerald Lake:

  1. Book your ceremony spot directly with Emerald Lake Lodge
    • Pros: 
      • You won’t need a wedding permit
      • You will have the ceremony spot only to yourself
      • There are indoor facilities you can use should the weather not be agreeable
      • You can have more than 20 participants
      • You can have the chairs
    • Cons 
      • You will have to pay to rent the ceremony spot
      • There are only two outdoor spots you can choose from
    • TIP: You can choose between Viewpoint and the Cilantro Patio. Viewpoint is my favourite as it offers amazing views of the lake and is far more private. Cilantro Patio is close to the main parking lot and you will have a lot of tourists eyeing you there.
  2. Anywhere around Emerald Lake: 
    • Pros
      • You won’t have to pay the venue fee
      • You can choose any spot around the lake to get married
    • Cons
      • You will need to get the wedding permit
      • Even with the wedding permit, you won’t have the exclusive right to an area
      • Maximum of 20 people in your group are allowed
      • You’re not allowed chairs

Can I rent a canoe for my Elopement Wedding at Emerald Lake

Emerald Sports & Gifts rent canoes in the summer. They usually operate from June to October.

The canoe rental is $75 per hour, with each canoe holding up to three people. This is great if you want to bring your elopement photographer on board for some amazing canoe wedding photos. Or your dog. The boathouse is open on a first-come, first-served basis. They can close for weather reasons without any further notice so it is always good to have a plan B (that is also why I always have a plan C ready for my clients).

You are also welcome to bring your own canoe. That way you can enjoy paddling across the lake during sunrise or sunset without any time restrictions. I can hook you up with the right people to rent the canoe, wink wink.

What activities are there around Emerald Lake?

Choosing Emerald Lake for your elopement destination is not just about the beautiful lake views and mountain peaks. There is more than enough to do for you and your partner to have the time of your life!

Let’s discover the amazing activities in the area you can do:

  • Hiking (May-October): Hike through the world-famous Burges Shale fossil finding hike. 
  • Waterfall chasing (June-October):  Visit the second tallest waterfall in Canada, the Takakkaw Falls nearby
  • Helicopter tours (all year): Enjoy the view from above with helicopter tours in Golden, British Columbia. Or why not opt for doing a Helicopter Elopement Wedding and spend the morning canoeing at the lake and enjoying the sunset up in the clouds?
  • Whitewater rafting (mid-may through mid-September): Book a river rafting trip at the world-class Kicking Horse River for the ultimate adventure.
  • Dog sledding (December-April): Have you experienced a dog sled ride? If not, then you are in for a treat (pun intended). 
  • Horse riding (all year): Have a beautiful guided horseback riding tour through the mountains.
  • Skiing (November-April): Hit the slopes at Lake Louise Ski Resort or less busy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with your love for a wild winter adventure.
  • See the wolves in their natural environment: Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre near Golden is a very special place run by people that are passionate about promoting wolf conservation. You can walk next to real wolves and learn a lot about why we need to protect them.

Steps to planning your elopement at Emerald Lake

Now that you have ditched the idea of a traditional wedding, you can get started on making your dreams a reality by planning your Emerald Lake elopement. Before getting into the timeline of planning and booking, ask yourself the following:

  • Who is coming to your big day: Do you want a romantic “just us” experience, or do you want your closest loved ones along for the ride? There is no wrong way to elope – with or without friends and family. Narrow down your guest list so you can make reservations accordingly. 
  • Choose the time of the year: Are you going for a winter wonderland theme or want to enjoy the blue water? You might even consider a spring fantasy in the woods. Know the time of year and weather that suits you as a couple the best.
  • Decide on your activities: With so many amazing adventures you can have for your Emerald Lake wedding, knowing what you want to do with your time will help your planning process. 

Let’s take a look at the steps to plan your elopement at Emerald Lake:

Book your Emerald Lake wedding photographer (4-18 months out)

Now that you have a vision for your elopement, it is time to book your elopement photographer. That’s where I step in! This should be the first person you hire. Not only do I know the BEST spots to elope that will suit your preferences, but I have a wealth of valuable information. With my elopement planning guide, you will have everything you need to make this day as special as you envisioned. In addition, I know all the vendors in the area to pull off the perfect elopement in Emerald Lake. 

Pick the date and location (4-18 months out)

What kind of backdrop do you want for your photographs? You might prefer the wooded green forests above the rest. Do you prefer the beautiful spring blooms or stunning snow-capped mountains? Choose the season, the time of year, and the location that would make this day perfect. 

Book your place to stay (4-18 months out)

Once you know where you want to get married, it is time you look for the best place for you to stay. Do you prefer a hotel room or a cozy log cabin? The accommodation around Emerald Lake is pretty limited so the sooner you book it the better.

Contact the officiant (4-18 months out)

Don’t forget the officiant! There are two options for marrying in Canada – a religious marriage service or civil marriage service. You will need a recognized religious official to perform a religious marriage service or an officiant to perform a civil marriage service. Since Emerald Lake is located in British Columbia, you will need a BC marriage commissioner to perform your marriage ceremony and sign the certificate. Field and Golden are the closest places you can get a BC commissioner.

Or you can skip having the officiant whatsoever, get your marriage certificate in your country/province, and have a symbolic ceremony with a vow exchange. Some of my couples love the simplicity of it.

Find wedding attire items (3-12 months out)

This is the fun part! When choosing your elopement attire, there are some considerations to make. First, what is the weather like? For instance, even in summer, the mornings and evenings in the mountains are cool, and you should bring a shawl or jacket to keep warm. What material should you wear or should you have a train? Some materials are difficult to move in, and a train will tear and collect leaves and twigs. 

Your wedding attire needs to be comfortable, easy to move for climbing rocks, and weather appropriate. Don’t forget sunscreen and hiking boots! 

Book hair and makeup (3-12 months out)

Just because you are having an elopement in a magical outdoor wonderland doesn’t mean you don’t have to look your absolute best! So, book a hair and makeup artist and strut your stuff along Emerald Lake like the power couple you are. They can come to you from Banff or Canmore if you’re staying at Emerald Lake.

Book your florist (3-12 months out)

Book your florist for the boutonnieres, and bouquet, and make the flower arrangements if you have a reception or afterparty.

Get a wedding permit (2-5 months out) 

Get all the legal mumbo jumbo out the way and apply for your location permit 2-5 months before your Emerald Lake elopement. 

Obtain your marriage license (2 days – 2 months out)

You will receive your marriage license the same day that you apply, and you will have 90 days to get married. Be sure to bring your IDs along for the application process.

Organize witnesses (1-2 months out)

If you are getting married with loved ones around, then it’s the perfect opportunity to ask two of them to sign the witness line. But, if you are eloping alone, don’t sweat it! I can sign as a witness, and a vendor or passerby can sign too.

Best places to stay for your Elopement at Emerald Lake

Staying in the Canadian Rockies is not cheap, and you will pay more for the location. But with careful planning, you can enjoy luxurious and comfortable accommodation at more reasonable prices.

Emerald Lake Lodge

Few places in Canada can match Emerald Lake Lodge’s unique blend of authentic rustic luxury and natural beauty. It’s all there: a fantastic setting, breathtaking views, and cabins with fireplaces. The lodge offers an outdoor hot tub, a fire pit with views of the lake, two restaurants, as well a kayak/canoe rental dock.

The lodge is “electronics-lite,” meaning the rooms are devoid of devices. WiFi is limited in Yoho National Park, and there’s no cellphone reception at the lodge. Without the distractions of WiFi, your cell phone, or television, you can focus on reconnecting with nature and your loved ones.

Cathedral Mountain Lodge – Field, BC

On the Yoho Valley Road, just outside of Field not far from Emerald Lake, lies this charming lodge. Beautiful cabins with views of the surrounding mountains are well-decorated, include a fireplace, and are well-equipped. The restaurant uses organic and free-range ingredients to prepare regional cuisine.

There is, however, one crucial factor you need to be mindful of when planning your elopement and considering accommodation. Cathedral Mountain Lodge is a seasonal summer property that operates from late May until early October.

Post Hotel & Spa – Lake Louise, AB 

The Post Hotel & Spa, located in Banff National Park, offers a great combination of value, comfort, and convenience. They aim to be your “home away from home,” with great food, idyllic views, and friendly staff.

Temple Mountain Spa is their on-site spa, offering beauty, therapy, health, and wellness. A comprehensive range of massage therapies, body and facial therapies, and aesthetic services are available, ranging from therapeutic to luxurious.

Cedar House Chalets – Golden, BC 

Golden is a popular stopping point on the way when driving to Yoho National Park from the west, and Cedar House Chalets is always an amazing option for lodging if you want to unwind and reconnect.

Elopement and Wedding Packages at Emerald Lake

It’s time to start planning your elopement wedding at Emerald Lake! If you need someone that will help make your Emerald Lake elopement dreams come true, I’d love to help. You can view my Elopement and Wedding Packages at Emerald Lake here

Get in touch with me and schedule a free consultation call or receive a more detailed pricing guide for your Emerald Lake Elopement.