elope in colorado

Elope in Colorado: How to Have an Adventurous and Memorable Wedding Experience

If you’ve been wondering what it takes to elope in Colorado, this guide will help you plan an adventure that will result in incredible memories. Our goal as Colorado elopement photographers is to help you create an amazing experience. The better your experience, the more incredible your photographs, it’s a win-win.

Colorado elopement locations are numerous, and from hiking trails to the perfect mountain town, you’re sure to find a good fit. Whether you’re looking to elope on one of the epic mountain passes or at the ski resort, there are plenty of places accessible year round. But if you’re planning an elopement instead of a traditional wedding, you shouldn’t actually search for popular elopement locations, not if you want something stress free and unique.

That’s why this post is less about finding the perfect location. Instead, I recommend you find a local elopement photographer to recommend an elopement location that isn’t quite so findable on google. This post is about the ups and downs of the wedding adventure when choosing to elope in Colorado.

why elope in colorado

The main reason to elope in Colorado is to have an adventurous and memorable wedding experience. After working with couples for over a decade we’ve learned that Colorado has the ability to take your breath away. An adventurous elopement is memorable and certainly something you won’t forget.

Colorado is a popular elopement destination and for good reason, gorgeous photos are an obvious takeaway. We have alpine lakes, mountain views, aspen trees, and more. In fact, if you tell your family you’re eloping in Colorado they might show up. As Colorado elopement photographers, we’ve seen many elopements turn into micro weddings.

An elopement or intimate wedding can certainly be less stressful and less expensive than a traditional wedding. But there’s no reason for it to be less memorable. In fact, without all the details and vendors, and complicated logistics, a Colorado elopement might be the right mix of memories (only the good ones.)

elope in colorado adventurously

choose a base camp

Colorado has some memorable mountain towns you can use as base camp for your adventurous elopement. You can base in Estes Park near Rocky Mountain National Park or check out a cute town like Crested Butte. Don’t overlook simple ideas like Idaho Springs which are bound to be less crowded. From a base camp in Eagle or Summit County, you can access the surrounding mountains year-round.

Once you narrow down the region or mountain range, you can look deeper at exact locations. But the base camp will be where you plan your accommodations and meals. Think beyond just the elopement ceremony to the entire weekend.

Colorado is popular in the summer months so don’t overlook the winter months or even a shoulder season like early October. Starting in early fall, some of the popular places for Aspen colors can get overrun so you might have to be willing to go in the morning or off the beaten path.

what you need for a colorado elopement

If you are planning to elope in Colorado there are a few things that you need. You’ll need to get a Colorado marriage license and potentially wedding permits. Depending on your location selection and time of year, permits can be easy or hard to obtain but the costs are often minimal.

You might need a permit for your ceremony site or reception location or you might need a photo permit. Make sure you look into these details as it’s the one potentially complicated part of elopement planning. The next thing to book is accommodations as things can get expensive depending on what mountain town you’re planning for.

From there, you make your own rules. Photography is a must in my biased opinion and then after that, you can decide if you need flowers, cake, a stylist, an officiant, musicians, or anything else. Imagine your perfect day and then set about planning it.

how elope in colorado

planning to elope in colorado

Whether it’s a sunrise elopement ceremony on one of the mountain passes or a small family gathering in the forest, we love helping plan Colorado mountain elopements. We’re here to support you in the planning process and happy to assist with things like location scouting. We can even answer your questions like: Can I get married on a mountain?

One of the things we love about elopements is that there are no rules and no expectations. Your wedding day can be whatever you want it to be. You can get ready together, you can pick any time of day, and you can wear hiking boots under your wedding dress.

From selecting Colorado elopement locations to finding the right balance between eloping and a traditional wedding, we have a lot of experience crafting unique plans for one-of-a-kind couples. Be sure to download our free wedding planning guide, it’s all about setting your priorities.

What do I need to elope in Colorado?

Eloping in Colorado has never been easier! You can even self-solomize, check out the Colorado state website for more details on getting a Colorado marriage license and performing a marriage. Depending on your elopement location you might need a permit for the ceremony or photography but most places are making it easier to find that information.

Elopements can be simple and you don’t need much, we’ve seen couples book a cozy airbnb, make reservations for a celebratory dinner, or even invite friends for an after-party. Think about how you want the day to be.

What is the best time of day to elope in Colorado?

Colorado hiking trails can be crowded and the sun can be bright so the best time of day to elope in Colorado is in the early morning or evening. Think about sunrise or sunset when the light is beautiful and romantic for your photographs but all the other tourists are either still sleeping or eating dinner.

What is the best time of year to elope in Colorado?

Colorado is a great place to elope any time of year depending on your priorities and if you’re looking for snow, wildflowers, or fall colors. Be aware that while you might think March is Spring it’s actually still winter in the Colorado Rockies. Once you choose what season you want to elope in, you’ll need to plan for those conditions.

colorado elopement photography

how to prepare to elope in colorado

If you’re going to elope in Colorado, we have a few suggestions. Colorado weather is unpredictable. Embrace it and enjoy it!

When your elopement becomes an adventure, you must be prepared for rain, snow, hunger, and thirst. Expect wind, rocks, and rough terrain. Consider those things when planning your hair and your footwear.

Colorado elopements can be easy to access or more remote. Determine your definition of a great location and communicate it with your photographer so that you know what you’re getting into. Also, since you’re eloping and therefore aren’t on a tight schedule, consider planning around beautiful sunrise or sunset light. Not only will it enhance your photos but most hiking trails are less crowded at the beginning or end of the day.

planning for a winter elopement

I thought I should expand a little for those of you that are planning a winter elopement. Winter elopements can be breathtaking, adventurous, and memorable. They can also be challenging.

Access becomes a problem so winter elopements limit your elopement location options. However, you can always consider a ski resort where you have incredible access via the chair lift. Other winter elopement locations might require snowshoes or at least big boots.

I love a good winter wonderland but the reality is that it’s cold. Wear something warm, bring layers, and take breaks. It’s also worth considering that March can still look like winter on the mountain passes and in the mountain towns without being quite as cold as December.

eloping off the beaten path

If you’re going to elope in Colorado and your ceremony site is off the beaten path, there are a few more things you can do to prepare. For example, hiking trails are generally well-marked and you can even get a time estimate for how long it might take you. I suggest planning a little extra time for photos and especially if you’re going to change clothes.

There are some awesome alpine lakes to consider but be aware that the alpine lakes will look different at different times of the year. Water can also mean mosquitos so don’t forget the bug spray. If your ceremony site is at an alpine lake or high in the tundra, take the time to learn how to care for the environment too.

Don’t bother wildlife, stay on the trail, and walk on rocks rather than the fragile alpine tundra. Your elopement day is special but you can have an epic day while respecting the environment and your photographer can help you find an elopement location that’s suitable to your goals.

dealing with altitude on your wedding day

Colorado altitude can be no joke. The last thing you want is a massive headache on your wedding day. When you’re looking at the best places to elope, make sure you’re looking at the best places to elope for you specifically.

Loveland Pass for example is easy to access with incredible views so you can get epic photos without having to hike very far from the car. But Loveland Pass is 11,990 feet above sea level. I’ve had out-of-towners feel not-so-great at Loveland Pass and we had to relocate to a back-up plan.

Similarly, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is 12, 183 feet. If you’re going to be at altitude on your wedding day, like up on Trail Ridge Road, make sure you take the time to acclimatize. Stay hydrated and take your time.

colorado elopement

best places to elope in colorado

If you scrolled here just for this, sorry, I am not actually going to tell you the best places to elope in Colorado but feel free to reach out for my favorite locations. If we put a label on them, then they won’t be as special and everyone else will be there. We suggest going off the beaten path, finding somewhere secluded and undisturbed.

Even though places like the Maroon Bells, Chautauqua Park, and Sapphire Point are breathtaking, one of the joys of eloping in Colorado is not seeing anyone else. My favorite locations are the ones where my couples can celebrate their colorado elopements without all the tourists as uninvited witnesses.

That being said, your options are endless. There is everything from popular places like Rocky Mountain National Park as well as less known places in the National Forests. If you want iconic views from one of those more classic destinations, take that into consideration and try to choose a less popular date or time of day.

In general, if you determine what your goals are for the experience of the day that will guide you and we are here to advise you on the best places to elope. We often act as tour guides showing you our favorite locations and allowing you to enjoy the experience. Whether you’re thinking the luxury of Aspen and Telluride, the convenience of Evergreen and Golden, or more like Vail and Breckenridge, we can help you plan and execute an amazing elopement day.

Eloping the Rocky Mountain National Park

I do want to talk a little more about eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a popular choice for eloping in Colorado, and for good reason. And luckily, I think Rocky Mountain National Park is going a great job of managing interest.

They make the permit process straightforward and easy to understand, even if it does mean that you need to plan ahead. Check out the Rocky Mountain National Park website for everything you need to know about getting married there. Well, you also need to know that it can be windy!

Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to plan your elopement day because with the permit process, you can guarantee that you’ll at least have your ceremony site to yourself even if you might see couples taking photos in the park elsewhere. Rocky Mountain National Park also makes it easy for photographers to get photography permits and all photographers need one so make sure your photographer is on top of that.

don’t forget about the elopement ceremony

Sometimes people are focused on picking the perfect location for great photos and they forget to think about the elopement ceremony. The ceremony is the moment when you say “I do” and make whatever other promises you plan to make. If you’re planning to elope in Colorado, don’t forget about the ceremony.

It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate like a wedding ceremony but you can at least take a deep breath standing together at your chosen ceremony site. You can look out at the views, the alpine lakes or the aspen trees that you’ve chosen as the setting for your love story. And you can give that perfect location deeper meaning.

Do you know what the perfect Colorado elopement location is? It’s the one where you stood, hand-in-hand, surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, and made a promise of love. Sure, it’s great to have some great photos for social media but it’s more important long term to remember what the point of all this is.

elope in colorado

your memorable experience

You’ve decided to go against the grain. You’re breaking rules and creating your own traditions. Perhaps you’re in the mood for adventure or quality time with your best friend as you say “I do.” Maybe you haven’t decided to elope in Colorado yet but you’re interested in testing the waters.

Hopefully, this post gave you some practical tips on how to elope in Colorado. But perhaps more importantly I reminded you to focus on the love and adventure of your elopement whether you’re in hiking boots or high heels.

Remember, the perfect elopement location isn’t about what goes viral on Instagram. It’s about what spreads love in your heart. Sure, I’m always looking for epic landscapes for our couples but what I really want is for you to have a memorable experience.

colorado elopement packages

Lastly, I want to talk about Colorado elopement packages. Since your elopement day is likely much less expensive than traditional wedding day you can get more bang for your buck. Again, consider those winter months or weekdays when things are less crowded and popular.

My advice when it comes to Colorado elopement packages is to make sure that you’re focused on the experience and that you get something tangible after the day. You can do a one-hour elopement with the digital files but I highly suggest splurging on a 3-4 hour Colorado elopement package that comes with a printed wedding album. If you’re going to elope in Colorado, make sure you have something physical to look at and remember the fun you had.

When you elope in Colorado it’s bound to be an adventure. That can be the simple adventure of getting here or it can be a hike to an alpine lake or mountain pass. Decide your priorities, values, and the experience you want to have so that you can customize your Colorado elopement accordingly.

About the author – Colorado elopement photographers

I am Brenda Bergreen, one half of a husband and wife photography team specializing in Colorado wedding photography and videography and outdoor photography. Be sure to reach out if you’re looking for an elopement photographer or two! We also offer video add-ons.

As a Colorado elopement photographer, I’d love to help you elope in Colorado or meet you somewhere else in this beautiful world from our home base in Evergreen. Check your date and let’s get to planning your perfect colorado elopement photography.

Download our free Wedding Planning Guide on how to prioritize your planning! Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help!

In the meantime, remember to…

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