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  • Writer's pictureJuno Kim

All about Helicopter Elopement

We sat down with Erin Velander, the elopement planner of Alaska Destination Weddings LLC to talk about helicopter elopement. Helicopter elopements have been very popular (along with helicopter surprise proposals and glacier weddings), especially during the pandemic years. We wanted to share information and advice from the professional. Thinking about elopement, especially via helicopter? Please read on.

Hi Erin, please introduce yourself and what you do for our readers. I'm Erin Velander. I own and operate Alaska Destination Weddings. We specialize in outdoor and adventure style elopements for couples who are looking for something slightly less traditional for their wedding day. I've been involved in planning weddings and events for the better part of almost 20 years and found this niche almost 7 years ago. I quickly fell in love with elopements after doing just a handful of them!

Photo: Relic Photographic

Helicopter elopement, helicopter weddings, and wedding photoshoots became hugely popular within the last few years. Why do you think that is? I think this is due to a few factors. Within the last 10 years I've seen the cost of a traditional wedding grow exponentially, and many couples don't have the means or desires to spend what it costs to put on a big wedding anymore. I also think social media and access to photos have caused this idea to become more readily visible to so many more people. Eloping and adventure weddings are no longer something that you don't see very often, and it's become a lot more commonplace and people have really warmed up to the idea after seeing how amazing it can be. I also think there has been a large shift in people valuing experiences over material things. Many of our couples are doing this for them, for the once-in-a-lifetime experience they're having, and their focus is 100% on living in the moment. The overall consensus is that they have decided to invest in an adventure, and a wonderful honeymoon in Alaska to follow.

Photo: Relic Photographic

What is something that makes the couple decide to get married on a glacier? The adventure! For many couples, this may be the first (and last) time that they'll ever experience being on a glacier. It is such an otherworldly and personal experience, and most couples are looking for something extremely non-traditional. Are elopements actually becoming more common or is it we’re just hearing more about them because of social media? Yes, I do believe they are becoming more common. Although the definition of elopement has changed and probably does not look like what other generations think of them as. Social media has played a huge role in this. As I mentioned above, access to seeing how an elopement or glacier wedding looks is much more readily available. And social media has created a movement of travel and extreme outdoor activities in a way I've never seen before. There are endless hashtags for traveling, eloping, and adventure weddings.

Photo: Relic Photographic

A helicopter wedding sounds exciting but how do the logistics work? How big are they usually? Is it difficult to get all guests flown out? There are quite a few logistics that go into planning a helicopter wedding. One of the biggest factors clients don't realize is weight, or how heavy the passengers and gear can be. Helicopters are extremely weight sensitive, and things like a photographer's gear, wedding bouquets and even wedding dresses can weigh a lot more than you'd imagine. Another factor is timing, and making sure the entire day is planned around departures and allowing enough time for getting hair and makeup done and drive time for the couple. I typically do all of the back-end planning and my couples have it pretty easy on the day of. My behind-the-scenes job involves a lot of driving, picking up flowers and cakes, and coordinating with all of their vendors to ensure we have more than enough time for the day to feel as relaxed as possible.

I specialize in elopements that are just the couple, and typically no guests. I know that other planners in Alaska have provided helicopter weddings for up to 50 people, and this involves a lot of pre-planning, shuttling and ensuring that guests have proper gear and footwear to keep warm while out on the glacier. If the planning is done correctly, having a larger group flown out can go very smoothly.

Photo: Relic Photographic

Some couples opt for a photo shoot on the glacier. Do I need to bring my own photographer? How far in advance should I plan something like this?

All of our couples bring along a photographer for their glacier wedding. It is definitely worth the investment to have such an incredible experience documented in a way that you will cherish forever. I highly highly recommend having a professional wedding photographer who is experienced in shooting in Alaska. Lighting can be extremely tricky on a glacier, and our endless sunlight in the summer months can also make photos a challenge. Our couples tend to book fairly far in advance, but anywhere from 6 months to 18 months is what I recommend. What’s your favorite part of a helicopter + glacier wedding? Experiencing the adventure with our clients. It is absolutely amazing to share in the joy and excitement of how incredible and meaningful this experience is for couples!

Photo: Relic Photographic

Do you ever get to go out on the glacier or do you just do the planning? If you’ve been, what are your impressions of the experience? Yes, I act as the officiant with most of our glacier wedding packages. It's hard to put into words how this experience feels. It's incredible and overwhelming (in a good way) all at the same time. Seeing the sheer magnitude and power of nature from the air, and then also being able to step out and explore it in-person is such a gift. Alaska still blows my mind every time I get to be a part of a glacier wedding!

Photo: Relic Photographic How's your experience with Alaska Helicopter Tours planning for the weddings? I love Alaska Helicopter Tours! They are so accommodating and truly care about the clients and vendors that they work with. I love that this is a locally owned and operated business, and working with them makes you feel like you're part of the family.

Any advice for couples who are planning for a helicopter + glacier wedding in the future? Ensure you've done your research on the time of year that you're hoping to visit Alaska, and also ensure you have proper clothing and gear to be comfortable. Our weather is very unpredictable, and I always recommend leaving a buffer of 1-2 days after the wedding just in case weather changes plans.

There you have it. We hope this information-rich post is helpful for couples who are planning for helicopter elopement. Thanks Erin, and Relic Photographic for all the stunning photos!

Email us today at to discuss helicopter rentals for weddings or any other romantic event you want to plan. Alaska Helicopter Tours can make your special day truly unforgettable!

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