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Alpe di Suisi elopement picnic in the Italian Dolomites

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A couple pose for their elopement photos at Alpe di Suisi in the Italian Dolomites. They are feeding each other on a grassy picnic setup, with snow capped mountains far in the distance.

Alpe di Suisi is one of the most famous locations in the Italian Dolomites. Not only that, but it’s also the largest alpine pasture in all of Europe, and a huge cross country ski area in the winter!

If you want elopement photos at this iconic place, this couple’s blending of urban Italian with outdoorsy chic is great inspiration. They started their day slowly getting ready in a bright, open hotel room. The rest of the day, they explored the cobblestone streets of Bolzano and its quaint street market, filling up their picnic basket with local meats, cheeses, breads and jams. A stop for coffee and a slice of pizza was a must on our way out! From there, we headed to the famous Alpe di Suisi to set up a picnic, and then ended the day with sunset near the emerald gem of Lago di Carezza.

J&D’s Bolzano, Italy and Alpe di Suisi elopement day

The morning started at Hotel Saltus. This eco friendly hotel is perched on the northern side of Bolzano, overlooking the valley. In the distance, you can see the iconic peak of Schlern — which stood like a flag marking the area where Alpe di Suisi waited on the horizon.

For J&D, it was really important that they spent a quiet morning getting ready. Hotel Saltus is an absolutely amazing hotel with a very modern, boho-chic aesthetic. I was especially impressed that their room had a curtain dividing it in two, which was perfect for getting ready separately.

Breakfast and coffee was brought to the room as the makeup artist and I helped them each get into their outfits. They even had a blind “first touch” on the balcony.

After this, D walked down to a nearby church, which they picked as their first look location on a walk the night before. I drove J in the car. Carefully, I got him in position before guiding her across the grassy lawn and down the stairs toward him.

After their first look was over, we took some fun polaroids then got in the car and headed down the mountain into downtown Bolzano. Our goal was to walk around the center plaza and pick up some coffee and treats at the local farmer’s market. It was a warm, busy morning as we weaved through the streets together. They picked out all sorts of things to pop into their picnic basket along the way.

Once they had all the food they could imagine, we headed toward the Dolomites. It was a warm summer day, with a tiny bit of rain building up into an afternoon thundershower. By the time we arrived at the cable car for Alpe di Suisi, it was beginning to sprinkle on and off. Somehow, the rain timed itself perfectly for the moments we were on the lifts, and we weren’t rained on at all!

Exploring Alpe di Suisi and Lago di Carezza

Two gondolas at the Alpe di Suisi station move past each other over tall pine trees, framing the famous Schlern peak in the background.

It does take a little bit of careful planning to get Alpe di Suisi elopement photos. During the summer season, the road up to the top parking lot is closed from 9am to 4pm to limit traffic. This means you have to take the gondola between those hours. The downside is that the gondola also stops running around 4:30. If you take it up, you have to consider how you get back down if you miss the last lift! We were a little pressed for time due to this, but it all worked out.

We hopped off the lift and then onto a smaller lift to the Panorama Hotel. This spot in my opinion has some of the best views while still staying close to the main car.

Since Alpe di Suisi is private farm land for grazing cows, we had to keep in mind we were limited to where we could go. You should not wander off the walking path here, and most the trails are carefully roped. In order to set up our picnic, we stayed on the hotel lawn — as well because the grass here was mowed.

ALSO READ: How to elope in the Dolomites for every budget

With the last car back to the parking lot leaving soon, J&D decided they would have to read their vows at our final location of the day: Lago di Carezza.

Sunset elopement vows near Lago di Carezza

Lago di Carezza is another super busy location in the Dolomites. Luckly, we arrived there later in the evening, after most people were gone. The sun was low and golden as J finished her vows in the front seat of the car. We walked down to the lake to take in the kaleidoscope scenery, with only one other person around. The light hit the peaks behind the lake and turned them a bright orange, while the vibrant greens and blues of the lake and trees contrasted. It’s one of the most colorful places in the Dolomites during a sunset like this!

Still searching for a place to say their vows, we headed up the trail. I walked ahead on an old logging trail and found a peaceful spot with great views just as the sun was setting. J changed into heels and perched on the stump of an old pine tree, flat and smooth from time.

There, they shared the quietest moments of the day, read their elopement vows, and exchanged rings.

To end the day, I had one more surprise for them. A month before their elopement, J’s childhood friend reached out to me and asked if I would print off some handwritten letters for them. A group of their closest friends had written little letters of encouragement and blessing, which I packed away until the perfect time.

Once their vows were finished, they sat together on the stump in the growing twilight, reading them. It was a lovely surprise, and the perfect, calm end to their marathon Alpe di Suisi elopement day.

ALSO READ: Dolomites elopement inspo for every season

Important notes for locations like Lago di Carezza and Alpe di Suisi

  • These locations go by two names — one Italian, one German. You may hear Lago di Carezza called “Karersee” and Alpe di Suisi, “Seiser Alm.” They are the same!
  • You cannot go near or in the water at Lago di Carezza. There is a big wooden fence surrounding the lake and going past it is forbidden.
  • Accessing Alpe di Suisi by car can be complicated. The road is closed between 9am and 4pm unless you have a hotel reservation along the road.
  • You cannot walk through the field at Alpe di Suisi. You must stay on trail.
  • The gondola up to Alpe di Suisi runs from 9am to 4:30pm.
  • Both these locations are very busy, so don’t expect privacy.

What J&D have to say about their Alpe di Suisi elopement:

A couple stand posing for portraits on their elopement day. They are standing in an open, grassy alpine meadow in Alpe di Suisi, with mountains in the background.

“We were looking for an elopement experience that allowed us to tap into our outdoorsy and adventurous side while staying true to our urban spirits, always in search of great food and even greater coffee. We chose The Dolomites not only for for its picturesque mountain-scapes but also for its closeness to Bolzano and its unique Italian Alps architecture.

After talking with a few potential photographers, we chose Mariah because we felt an instant connection with her. We were impressed by her portfolio but it was the first zoom call that sold us as we knew we wanted to spend the day with someone fun, someone that understood what we were all about. We never wanted our special day to feel stressful or too curated, so from the beginning it felt like she was the right fit to help us feel present and in the moment.

The day was incredible! We were able to achieve everything we wanted and so much more. Got ready at the wonderful Hotel Saltus, had fun first touch and first look sessions, grabbed espresso and pizza in town, took a ride up the lifts to Alpe di Siusi, went for a small hike around Lago di Carezza to our sunset vow exchange on two tree trunks, and finally closed the day by reading love notes from our family and friends. We couldn’t tell you our favorite parts because we enjoyed every second of it. Looking back at our gallery it really tells the story of our day exactly how we experienced it.

From the planning sessions to the audibles on the day, Mariah made sure we were going to all the places that captured the vibes we were looking for. There was a lot of effort put in to the details of our elopement and they were all captured in such a beautiful way. We were also pleasantly surprised with a number of very creative and unique action shots.

To anyone looking for a fun, talented and easy to get along with photographer for their elopement…. MARIAH WAS GREAT!”

— Jen & Dustin, Dolomites, June 2023

Looking for a *local* elopement photographer for the Dolomites?

Hi! I’m Mariah. I am an elopement photographer based along the Italian and Austrian border. I specialize in intimate destination weddings and adventure elopements all across Europe.

I’m originally from the U.S., so I’m also the perfect bridge between cultures on your elopement day!

I truly want you to have the most relaxing and fun experience possible.

If you and your partner are looking for something low key and adventurous, then I know the places, the vendors and the areas for you.


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More images from this Alpe di Suisi elopement:

A couple pose for their elopement photos at Alpe di Suisi in the Italian Dolomites. They are standing smiling at each other on a grassy picnic setup, with snow capped mountains far in the distance.


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