I get asked by brides all the time, “What is the best month to have a wedding in Jackson Hole?” The short answer is, there isn’t one! At least not just one… There are a lot of great months to plan an amazing wedding here, it just depends on what you are looking for!
By and large, historically most couples choose to get married in Jackson during the summer months. Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park are absolutely stunning in the summer so that comes as no surprise. Summer in Jackson also offers a ton of different recreation (and non-recreation too ;-) options for couples and their guests to enjoy–everything from simple sightseeing and wildlife tours to endless hiking and biking trails, from gorgeous lakes to paddle board or canoe on, to scenic float trips and heart-racing whitewater rafting trips… There really is something here for everyone. And even if some of your guests are not very “outdoorsy,” we have world class restaurants to enjoy, a cute downtown to stroll around, some eclectic shopping and a diverse art scene. The weather in the summer tends to be warm (in the 70s and 80s) during the day and then cools off again at night (which makes for great sleeping!) And since we are in the mountains, it rarely gets “too hot.” We usually only have about two weeks around the end of July where I wish it wasn’t warming up quite so much during the day.
Traditionally the two busiest months in Jackson for both weddings and other visitors to come have always been July and August, but that season has been getting stretched on both ends in the past few years and for good reason. My personal favorite months in Jackson are June and September when town is not quite as busy and the weather is a little cooler. It can still be nice and sunny and warm during those shoulder months, but you can also head out on a mountain bike ride or hike during the hottest part of the day which I really like. But the tricky part about trying to plan a wedding in the mountains is that you can never guarantee what the weather will bring. You could have an absolutely gorgeous day June 5th or September 30th, or you could have a hail and snow storm on July 15th, you just never know.
The biggest thing to consider when picking your wedding day in Jackson Hole in my opinion is how adverse weather would affect your stress level. Are you the type of person that would get really tense and anxious if there was even a threat of rain on your wedding day? Or are you a couple that thinks a sprinkle of rain on your wedding day is good luck? Would you be overjoyed if you actually got a few flakes of snow floating down on you as you exchanged your vows or would you be utterly horrified? There is no right or wrong answer, it is just really important that you are honest with yourself because there are definitely months where there is a greater risk of adverse weather conditions than others. Of course, some of those months that are riskier also have the potential for great rewards as well… but the rewards are definitely not worth the added stress if you think that you would be worrying about the weather for the months, weeks, and days leading up to your wedding.
[As a side note : from a photographer’s perspective, having some weather roll through on your wedding day can make for amazingly dramatic photos and it also can add some extra excitement and emotions to the day! Some of my favorite weddings have had guests huddled under umbrellas or all leaving their dinner plates to walk outside to witness a beautiful rainbow–though I imagine wedding planners probably are not as fond of the exciting weather as photographers might be!]
The second thing to consider when choosing your wedding date here is how hearty are your guests? Would your friends and family show up at the ceremony with stylish umbrellas and go home raving about how adventurous your wedding was? Or would they be devastated to have to trek through a little mud? Can you bundle Grandma up in warm clothes and a blanket if it is cold or wet, or would she probably elect to watch safely from the car?
I don’t want to scare you with talk about bad weather, I just think it is good to consider the “what if”s before you make a decision on locking in a date. The truth is, we actually have a majority of sunny days here in Jackson during the summer months and chances are weather won’t be an issue.
For what they are worth, here are my completely subjective opinions on the risks and benefits of the different spring, summer, and fall months here in Jackson :
- April through the middle of May : don’t even think about it. Rain, mud, snow, a combination of all three? Most locals try to get of town for at least a quick vacation during the “off season” and that is why…
- Last two weekends of May through the middle of June : This time of year is definitely riskier weather-wise and still can be pretty cold, but it also can be gorgeous and warm. The earlier in the season, the bigger gamble on weather conditions. But in my opinion, this window is often the most beautiful time to see the Tetons. I love that there can still be a significant amount of snow on the mountains up high well into June and that the valley can be lush and green and *fingers crossed* littered with amazing wildflowers at the same time. It is also before prime-time tourist season hits, so town is usually quieter and your guests might be able to get better rates on some of their lodging, tours etc. It can still get pretty chilly at night, so it could be fun to gift your bridal party with some cute wraps or warm accessories and maybe heat things up with a bonfire or fire pit and some late-night hot toddies at your reception.
- Middle to end of June : Can be the same as above, or it can be full-on summer (see below for July/August). It just depends on the year.
- July and August : Sunny and warm/hot. There is always a possibility of late afternoon thundershowers rolling through, but they usually don’t last very long. July and August are probably your best chance for a clear day, but it can also be quite hot so perhaps consider scheduling your ceremony for a little later in the afternoon or picking a shadier spot to have your ceremony if it is going to be outside. To beat the heat, you could also provide your guests with fun, summery, hydrating drinks when they arrive at the ceremony or have sun umbrellas and hand fans that people can grab as favors (these make great props for photos too!) A positive side affect of the hotter mid-summer days is that nights tend to stay a little warmer if you are planning an outdoor reception. The downsides to July and August are that they are the busiest tourist months so rates and occupancies for rooms, restaurant reservations etc. will be at their highest and hardest to book. The national park will also be more crowded (but I have to say it really doesn’t get that bad if are willing to get a reasonable amount off the beaten path.) One other consideration is that in August we can often get smoke from local wildfires or even smoke coming down from Canada or over from California. On the positive side, it can diffuse the light beautifully and make for incredible sunsets, on the negative side, it can occasionally get so bad that it obscures the mountains completely.
- September : September at its best can still be warm and summery, but without as many crowds. Temperatures usually are back down a little so you don’t have to worry about it being overly hot even during the middle of the day, but nights are starting to get chilly again (though temperatures on a whole have been warming up slightly due to global warming.) At some point in September it starts shifting into more “fall-like” weather, but you can never count on when that will happen here. Once it does shift, the leaves on the trees can be magnificent (though that can be pretty short lived as one big storm can rip all the leaves off of the trees…) I love fall days when the sun is warm on your skin, but the light breezes keep you cool.
- October and November : There is a chance that the first half of October can still be pleasant, but it can also be cold and dreary. As for pretty much all of November and into the beginning of December, I would say see my comments above for “April through the middle of May”… or to recap, don’t even think about it.
There is also the option of having a fabulous winter wedding in Jackson if you are snow lovers like myself! I love, love, love winter weddings, but I am going to have to save that for a separate post :-)
The most important thing to remember is that whenever and wherever you choose to have your wedding it will be great, how can it not be?