Luxury Montana Ranch Weddings
With its rugged natural landscapes and vast blue skies, there’s a reason people call Montana “Big Sky Country.” Forests, meadows and mountains (the state appropriately gets its name from the Spanish word meaning “mountainous country”) grace the western part of the state, and traveling eastward, Montana levels out into wide, open plains.
The state motto, “Silver & Gold,” aptly describes the relaxed nature of Montana residents, and every town and city exudes some element of down-home charm. People from around the world enjoy traveling to Montana for its diverse beauty and fresh pine-scented air, and couples who marry here appreciate a variety of indoor and outdoor wedding venues spread throughout the state.
During warm-weather months, beautiful parks, meadows and lake shores serve as romantic Montana wedding venues—a local photographer’s paradise. Cooler weather opens up plenty of indoor options, from historic bed-and-breakfast inns to mountain lodges. Keep in mind: Local churches, theaters, museums, restaurants and hotels transform into wedding ceremony and reception locations in any kind of weather.
A large number of ranches in Montana make rustic weddings popular—couples can hold ceremonies on farmhouse lawns and post-nuptial festivities in adjacent barns. Decorations like hay bales, whiskey barrels, galvanized tubs, and string lights add to the country charm.
Montana Marriage Rates and Wedding Costs
Planning a wedding can be a lot of fun (follow our wedding checklist to check off all your to-dos), but affording it is another story entirely. No matter which type of wedding venue you choose or what type of theme fits your personalities, make sure you’ve created a budget and that you’re sticking with it. The Knot Budgeter can help keep you on track. But before you take that important step, here’s a little background info on how many couples are tying the knot in Montana, plus what you can expect to pay for common wedding costs in Montana, as reported by The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study.
Montana Marriage Stats
So how many couples are actually getting married in Montana? Turns out that marriage rates in Montana rank slightly above the national average at 7.9 per 1,000 people, and couples spend an average of 12 months planning their wedding. Just over half of Montana weddings are casual celebrations, and a mere four percent are formal black-tie affairs. On average, Montanans spend $16,201 for wedding ceremonies and celebrations—excluding the engagement ring and honeymoon—with the cost per guest averaging $152.
Montana does not require local residency to apply for a marriage license. To get a Montana marriage license, you’ll need to visit the office of the Clerk of District Court in any county and pay a cash fee of $53. You can use a newly acquired marriage license immediately, or it is valid for 180 days. Application for a marriage license in Montana requires appearance in person and the following documentation from both individuals:
- A valid picture ID, like your driver’s license or passport
- Know your Social Security number
- Know your father’s first, middle, and last name, current residence, and state of birth
- Know your mother’s first, middle, and last name, current residence, and state of birth
- Proof of divorce or a spouse’s death certificate if you are divorced or widowed
- Proof of a Rubella test for women under the age of 50
- Age Requirements
You must be at least 16 to get married in Montana, and people under the age of 18 require parental consent, approval by a judge and premarital counseling.
The Four Seasons in Montana
Because of the scenic opportunities an outdoor wedding provides, summertime is extra-popular for weddings in Montana—65 percent of Montana couples get married from June through August, as high temperatures during these months average between 75 and 86 degrees. Plan ahead: Couples should reserve popular venues at least a year or two in advance. When the weather cools a bit, though, you can’t count out fall. The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study found that 23 percent of Montanans choose a fall wedding date, when the leaves turn a brilliant shade of gold, red or brown—making for unforgettable photo ops.
Due to rainy, cooler weather in the spring, only 10 percent choose this time of year for nuptials. With average high temperatures varying between 31 and 39 degrees, having a winter wedding in Montana is not for the faint of heart—only 1 percent of couples opt for a winter wedding.
Montana Wedding Dates to Avoid
Depending on where you get married in Montana, there are some important dates you may want to avoid to make sure that your wedding guests are comfortable and can easily find a place to stay. Ask your wedding planner or venue for tips about how to avoid delays or local events that might make your wedding weekend more difficult for guests and more costly for you.
If you’re on a tight budget, try to avoid common national holidays and busy weekends that tend to inflate the cost of everything!
Helping your guests feel comfortable and welcome is one of the key ingredients to wedding success. With such a wide variety of unique wedding venues in Montana, there are so many places for a celebration that is a true reflection of your couple style while also making it fun for your friends and family. Before and after your celebration, guests can seek out local activities, like mountain biking and whitewater rafting in the summer or ice skating and skiing in the winter. No matter where or when you choose to get married, giving your guests a great experience starts with you creating your very own wedding website. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected and informed.
Whether you come from two born and bred Montana families or are bringing in relatives from all over the country (or world), embracing unique elements of the state will help make your wedding memorable for all who attend. Consider these ideas for bringing the food and culture of Montana to your wedding celebration.