The Complete Boulder Elopement Guide: A Local’s Secrets for Planning The Best Day
Posted On | February 24, 2023
Considering having a Boulder elopement? We sure think it’s the best location in the Colorado Front Range to say your vows and get married in a way that feels adventurous as you are. Larissa of We, The Light Photography is born and raised in the suburbs of Boulder, and we want to share all our 32+ years of local secrets for planning your elopement in Boulder. Here is a complete guide for everything you need to know to plan your elopement in Boulder, Colorado.
Why Should You Elope in Boulder?
What Is The Best Time of Year To Elope in Boulder?
Should You Have a Weekend or Weekday Elopement in Boulder?
The Best Locations for Small Weddings in Boulder
The Best Locations for Elopements in Boulder
The Best Elopement Locations in The Surrounding Boulder Area
Elopement Activities in Boulder
How to Get a Marriage License in Boulder
The Best Boulder Wedding Vendors For Your Elopement Day
Next Steps To Have Your Boulder Elopement
Why Should You Elope in Boulder?
Easy Access To The Rocky Mountains
One of the biggest draws to Boulder is its location. It is only a short 40-minute drive from Denver International Airport to the heart of Boulder – plus you don’t have to do any treacherous mountain driving (especially in the winter). Nestled at the base of the Flatirons, you get to experience the awe of these large slanted sandstone rock formations that make the mountains of Boulder famous. Boulder is only a short drive from some of the best outdoor mountain activities and hiking trails.
Plentiful Amenities + Activities
Boulder is the twelfth largest city in Colorado. That means it’s not overwhelmingly large, but still has a ton of restaurants, hotels, amenities, and things to do. If you sometimes feel cramped and bored in smaller towns and want a location with more to do and plentiful options to explore, then Boulder is an excellent option.
Warmer Temperatures Than Higher Mountain Towns
Boulder is located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 5,318 feet above sea level. This means that the temperatures are warmer than most mountain towns in Colorado. While it may be a chilly 50-degree day in Breckenridge, CO in May, that same day is likely to be closer to 65 degrees in Boulder. So if you are from a warmer climate and the thought of being cold on your wedding day gives you the shivers, Boulder could be the perfect elopement location for you.
It’s Easy To Get Married
It’s fairly easy to get married in the whole state of Colorado! You are not required to have a witness or even and officiant here. Instead, you can “self-solemnize” and all you need is a marriage license from a Colorado clerk and recorder’s office to make your wedding legal. The great thing about Boulder is that because it’s not tucked deep into the mountains, it’s a very easy drive to the local clerk and recorder’s office. You can find out more about Boulder County’s Marriage License Application and how to get married in Colorado.
Lodging + Vendor Availability
Boulder is one of the larger cities located in Colorado. The benefit of this is ample options for top-notch wedding vendors to make your elopement day complete. Whether you’re in need of a hair and makeup artist, private chef, florist or baker, Boulder is serviced by an amazing wedding vendor community. There are also hundreds of lodging options in Boulder and the surrounding areas, allowing you and your guests to find exactly what you need.
What Is The Best Time of Year To Elope in Boulder
Boulder is a top destination in Colorado all year long, so it depends on what type of weather and scenery you’re envisioning for your elopement day.
Boulder Spring Elopement
Boulder is one of the best locations in Colorado to get a true spring in April-May. While many of the mountain towns are still receiving plenty of snow in the spring, Boulder’s lower elevation next to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains gives you the true springtime feels. Wildflowers pop up among the hiking trails in May and stay around until early June depending on moisture. Our favorite place to view wildflowers is the wild red poppies that appear at the base of the Flatirons! Traditionally spring-time is thought of as rainy, but with 360 days of sunshine, you don’t have to worry about spring showers in Boulder on your elopement day.
Boulder Summer Elopement
From June to August, Boulder experiences summer and much warmer temperatures. Because Boulder extends into the flat plains of Colorado, it can get pretty hot during the summer months with the average temperature nearing 90 degrees. If you love warmer weather and want to elope in Boulder during the summer, we recommend a sunrise elopement or heading a few miles into the mountains like this couple did to escape the summer heat. Check out Kinsey and Brandon’s summer hiking elopement at a trailhead in Boulder.
Boulder Fall Elopement
Boulder in September starts to cool off significantly at night, but can still be fairly hot during the day. True fall and changing leaf colors don’t hit Boulder until early October. Even though fall colors can be difficult to predict, the first three weeks of October tend to have the best chance for color. The best part about the fall in Boulder? You get to see some unique red and orange colors because of the different tree species that grow in the lower elevation compared to the high mountain areas. October and November bring much more moderate, crisp, and comfortable temperatures that are great for exploring all day long. It’s not unexpected to receive some snowfall starting in late October, but it quickly melts with the warmer days. View Audrey and Melody’s Boulder hiking elopement and Kendall and Ally’s Boulder fall colors elopement for some epic inspiration.
Boulder Winter Elopement
Starting mid-November winter arrives in Boulder with colder temperatures and the chance for snow extending until early April. Boulder is NOT the place to elope in the winter if you’re dreaming of miles and miles of fluffy white snow wherever you go. The benefit of eloping in Boulder in the winter is more accessible hikes that you don’t always need snowshoes and the whole winter get-up for and warmer winter temperatures than the higher mountain town elevations. While it may be only 30 degrees in Grand Lake in February, it’s likely to be above freezing and nearing 50 degrees in Boulder. If you want the chance to see snow, but not be stuck in it the entire time, Boulder is the perfect winter elopement paradise. View Victoria and Kacey’s stunning Boulder elopement for some winter inspiration.
Should You Have a Weekend or Weekday Elopement in Boulder?
Because the mountains near Boulder are easily accessible for several big metropolises in Colorado (including Denver), they get extremely busy on the weekends! Trailheads can be difficult to park at, adding mileage onto your hike or making it nearly impossible to access. Popular areas in Boulder, like the Flatirons, have even implemented weekend shuttle services to help mitigate crowds. For this reason we 100% recommend eloping on a weekday in Boulder so you can get the views and the privacy you desire on your wedding day.
If a weekend elopement in Boulder is your only option, it is possible to find a little more privacy by exploring lesser-known trails or eloping at sunrise.
The Best Locations for Small Weddings with Guests in Boulder, CO
Boulder County Parks and Open Spaces covers many of the desired areas to get married at in Boulder. You are not allowed to have large groups of people (we recommend no more than 8) congregate on these public lands for your ceremony. If you are looking to have a small wedding with guests you are going to want to find an established, leave no trace friendly, bookable location for your wedding ceremony. These are our favorite reservable wedding ceremony locations in Boulder, CO that allow larger groups.
Sunrise Amphitheater gives you the quintessential views over the entire city of Boulder and its surrounding foothills. It’s a popular small wedding venue in Boulder because you can reserve the space in advance, it has built-in seating (for up to 100 people), it’s wheelchair accessible and there are amazing views of the city. Located on Flagstaff Mountain, Sunrise Amphitheater is located near many other iconic and beautiful mountain areas that are perfect for taking pictures after your ceremony. The road up to the amphitheater is closed during the winter, so Sunrise Amphitheater is only available for small weddings from May 1st through October 30th. Here is more information on how to reserve Sunrise Amphitheater for your small wedding in Boulder.
If you love unique rock formations, then getting married in front of the iconic Flatirons at the Chautauqua Green in Boulder, CO is for you! The green grass park is surrounded by trees and views of the slanted sandstone formations in the background. Reservations must be made through the City of Boulder. Privacy is limited because it’s a public and popular location for enjoying a relaxing afternoon, but most people are respectful and give you your space.
Stone Shelter is located on the summit of Flagstaff Mountain and is available for groups of up to 100 people. The road to the summit is closed during the winter, so you can only reserve the Stone Shelter from May 1st through October 30th. With easy access, wheelchair accessibility, a covered shelter for inclement weather and/or reception, and beautiful views close by, Stone Shelter is an ideal small wedding location that can be reserved through the City of Boulder. View Jenny and Mac’s Stone Shelter wedding in Boulder, CO.
Halfway House is located halfway up Flagstaff road (hence the name!). It has a stone patio that overlooks a grassy meadow and views of the Flatirons. It can be reserved ahead of time through the City of Boulder and is not available from Veteran’s Day through New Year’s Day. If you like more mountain views, this location is perfect for you, although be aware that you can hear some of the traffic driving by. View Charlotte and Kaustub’s ceremony and celebration at the Halfway House in Boulder, CO.
The Bluebell Shelter wedding location requires a three-quarter mile hike along a dirt road. The shelter has covered seating for about 15 people and a small outdoor amphitheater with mountain views of Boulder. It can be reserved in advance through the City of Boulder and is one of the few rental locations that is available all year round. This is a perfect location for the couple who wants to get a little away from the road, but still have an easily accessible wedding ceremony location.
The Best Locations for Elopements in Boulder, CO
If you’re getting married just the two of you or with a small group (8 or less), these are our favorite locations for your elopement in Boulder.
Eldorado Canyon State Park Elopement
With trail options galore, a river that runs through the canyon, and a hot destination for rock climbers, Eldorado Canyon State Park is sure to please the outdoor couple looking to elope in Boulder, CO. If you love water and big cliffs and are looking for something different than the traditional mountain views, then this state park if perfect for your elopement. View Jeni and Andy’s small elopement in Eldorado Canyon State Park.
This Waterfall Near Boulder
Located about 20 minutes from Boulder, CO is this stunning waterfall that exits year-round (many of Colorado’s waterfalls dry up in the fall and don’t return until the melting snow in spring). Whether you want to view it’s frozen glory in the winter or it’s gushing flow in the summer, this waterfall is a perfect location for your Boulder elopement. Be sure to get there right at sunrise because it can get crowded! View Giedre and Brook’s Boulder elopement where they visited this waterfall!
This Short Hike in Boulder
With just a short half-mile hike from the trailhead, this is one of our favorite, undiscovered elopement locations in Boulder if you’re eloping just the two of you. If you’re willing to hike further there is endless changing scenery and options for beautiful mountain views and a unique perspective of the flatirons. View Kinsey and Brandon’s engagement session at this secret location.
Lost Gulch Overlook Elopement
Lost Gulch Overlook is one of the most popular elopement locations in Boulder because it is very easy to access, has a big rocky outcropping and stunning views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This elopement location in Boulder also gets extremely busy because of that. If you are looking to elope at Lost Gulch Overlook in Boulder, we suggest doing it at sunrise. If you are set on sunset and want similar views with a much more private setting, we suggest checking out our next secret location below (hint, it’s our favorite in all of Boulder). If you want more Lost Gulch Overlook inspiration, check out Kaylen and Dylan’s anniversary session there.
Our Favorite Hidden Overlook in Boulder
If you love the views of Lost Gulch Overlook but don’t want to invite 30 tourist and weed-smoking college students to your elopement day, we have a secret spot that is our favorite elopement location in all of Boulder. This spot does require a hike, but we promise that it is 100% worth it! From May 1st through October 30th when the road up to the Flagstaff Summit is open, it’s only a short 15-minute hike to reach this secret overlook. In the winter months (October 31st – April 30th) the hike is a little longer, about 45 minutes. With stunning mountain views, incredible rock outcroppings and tons or privacy, this secret elopement location in Boulder is our absolute favorite! Check out Audrey and Melody’s hiking elopement at this location.
Betasso Preserve Elopement
Located about 15 minutes up Boulder Canyon, Betasso Preserve is a wonderful hiking area perfect for your small elopement. With rolling hills, mountain and city views, and a much more peaceful and private setting, Betasso Preserve is perfect for the eloping couple who wants to get away from the city. Our favorite thing about this location is its diversity. We love the towering trees, rolling meadows of tall grass and views. Check out Kellee and Joe’s engagement session at Betasso Preserve.
Artists Point Elopement
With easy access, pockets of stunning views, and a rocky outcropping, you can’t go wrong with the Artist Point elopement location in Boulder. It can get a little busy here because of its easy access and mountain views are visible through the trees, but is still a great option if you want easy access and more privacy than Lost Gulch Overlook. The road up to the Flagstaff Summit where Artist Point is located is closed from October 31st through April 30th. During those winter months, you can still hike up the road to access Artists Point and have even more privacy.
The Best Elopement Locations in The Surrounding Boulder Area
If you’re getting married just the two of you or with a small group (8 or less), these are our favorite locations for your elopement in the larger surrounding Boulder area.
Lost Lake is a moderate 4-mile round-trip hike located about 40 minutes outside of Boulder. With stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, wildflowers that pop up in July and the chance to see a moose, it’s a perfect elopement location for the adventurous couple. The trail gets busy on the weekends though, so we highly suggest having your wedding during the week to avoid crowds. You can also choose to stay in the nearby town of Nederland if you want a slower, low-key vibe.
Located just 50 minutes from Boulder, Brainard Lake is a stunning area to visit all year long and perfect for your elopement. You can paddleboard, picnic, set up your hammock and hike during the summer. Winter months bring lots of fresh snow for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Just be aware that the road up the Brainard Lake closes in the winter, so you have to hike a trail or the road for 2.2 miles to access it. If you are planning to elope at Brainard Lake in the summer or fall they do require entry reservations. Entry reservations can be made fourteen days in advance on recreaction.gov. View Kaitlyn and Pat’s Brainard Lake elopement for all the inspiration!
With some of the most stunning lakeside mountain views close to Boulder, CO, Lake Isabelle will not disappoint as your elopement location. Lake Isabelle is located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area and requires a 2.1-mile (one-way) easy hike. It is accessible via the Long Lake Trailhead and only during the summer and fall months (mid-June through mid-October). You are required to have an entry reservation for the Long Lake Trailhead that you can make fourteen days in advance on recreation.gov. Lake Isabelle is technically a reservoir so it can get low (or nearly dry) in the fall months. It is hard to know if or when this will happen, so safer to stick to the summer months if you love the idea of getting married next to an alpine lake. Check out Jenny and Josh’s Lake Isabelle elopement for more inspiration!
Located about 45 minutes outside of Boulder is Gross Reservoir. This fantastic mountain lake is perfect for the couple who wants to truly soak in all the outdoors on their elopement day. With hiking, fishing, picnicking, hammocking, and paddleboarding, there are endless activities you can do before or after you get married. You are required to have a permit at Gross Reservoir if a photographer will be capturing photos of you, but we promise it’s worth it!
Caribou Ranch Open Space
Caribou Ranch Open Space, located in Nederland, CO (only a 30 minute drive from Boulder) is an awesome quiet spot for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing. There is a beautiful loop trail that takes you through forest, open fields and around the old DeLonde homestead. It is a great historical location and you can read along the way about the Switzerland Trail and the train system that went through the area, as well as the history of the homestead. It has a unique and long history from the original homesteaders to a horse ranch with Arabian horse breeding and where films were made to the land purchase that renamed it Caribou Ranch. The ranch was also used for a period of time as a recording studio for bands such as U2, Elton John and many others. The park is closed from April 1 through June 30th to protect bird migrations and elk calving.
Elopement Activities in Boulder, CO
Boulder is home to a plethora of outdoor activities and is known as a mecca for mountain fun. Whether you want a more relaxing day or an adrenaline rush, here are our favorite activities in Boulder that you can do on your elopement day.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
If you have always dreamed of doing something new and exciting on your elopement day, consider doing a sunrise hot air balloon ride with views of the Boulder Flatirons. Fair Winds Balloon Flights is a great local hot air balloon company that operates right outside Boulder, CO.
There’s no shortage of hiking trails in for all skill levels in and aroud Boulder. Known as a mecca for health and fitness, Boulder hiking trails are well marked and managed for the best hiking experience. If you are planning a hiking elopement in Boulder, plan to bring a backpack with plenty of water, food, layers of clothes, a rain jacket, sunscreen, and first aid kit.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Some couple love being on the water and if your looking for a fun water activity in Boulder for your elopement day try stand up paddleboarding (SUP). McIntosh Lake in Longmont and Gross Reservoir just in the mountains of Boulder are our favorite less-busy locations to stand up paddleboard. You can rent a rigid SUP at Boulder Nordic Sports or an inflatable SUP on friendwitha.com.
If you want to spend more time in the mountains on your elopement day without extreme activites, picknicking is the perfect way to soak in the views and your newly formed marriage. Pick up your favorite treats at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods for a homemade picnic or head a little south to Wander & Graze for a premium charcuterie board to-go.
Grabbing a Pint
Colorado is a mecca for craft beer and Boulder has no shortage of amazing breweries to try out to toast to your marriage. Here are our favorite breweries in Boulder:
There’s something nostalgic about spending the evening roasting s’mores over a campfire, reminicing about your favorite part of your elopement day as you watch the stars come out. If a camping elopement in Boulder is up your alley, there is plenty of dispersed camping near Nederland, Gross Reservoir and Sugarloaf Mountain. If a bathroom and fire ring is more your style check out Rainbow Lakes Campground and Kelly Dahl Campground in Nederland. If glamping for your elopement sounds fun, WeeCasa in Lyons rents out tiny houses in the foothills or A-Lodge in Boulder rents cabins with jacuzzis (can we get a heck yes?!).
Boulder is home to rock climbing enthusiasts and is the perfect place to get some climbing in on your elopement day. Some popular areas for rock climbing are Flagstaff Mountain and Eldorado Canyon State Park.
If you love the thrill od two wheels underneath you, you can definitely include mountain biking on your elopement day to celebrate! Some popular spots for mountain biking in Boulder, CO are Nederland and Betasso Preserve for trails and the Valmont Bike Park for single-track.
Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing
The mountains just outside of Boulder provide a snowshoe and cross country skiing oasis for eloping couples in the winter. Our favorite areas for these winter wedding activities are Nederland and Brainard Lake Recreation Area. You can rent snowshoes and cross country skis at REI or Neptune Mountaineering.
May through June (July in the higher elevations) you can find plentiful of Colorado wildflowers in Boulder. You can’t go wrong with most hikes in the area during this time, but we especially love the wild red poppies that often pop up at Chautauqua Park in Boulder.
Tubing Down Boulder Creek
If you’re looking for a fun and wet activity to cool off on your summer elopement day in Boulder, tubing down Boulder Creek is an experience you’ll never forget. Depending on the month, it can be a more exhilarating or peaceful ride. Check out this guide on tubing Boulder Creek for information on when, how and where.
How to Get a Marriage License in Boulder, CO
While you can get your marriage license from ANY county in Colorado, Boulder is located in Boulder County.
Couples can “self-solemnize” and all you need is a marriage license from a Colorado clerk and recorder’s office to make your wedding legally binding. Because of this, Boulder County allows your pup to sign as a witness with their paw print!
In order to get your marriage license in Boulder County, you will need to submit an application online and schedule an online video call for ID verification. After your appointment, your marriage license will be mailed to you. They can only mail licenses to Colorado addresses, so if you are coming from out of state you need to contact the recording office at 303-413-7770 for alternate options.
For the most up-to-date information about getting your marriage license in Boulder County visit the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s website.
The Best Boulder, CO Wedding Vendors for Your Elopement Day
The Best Boulder Wedding Florists
Need a bouquet, boutonniere, or flowers for your hair for your Boulder, CO elopement? Here are our favorite florists that serve the Boulder area:
- Boulder Blooms | Based in Boulder, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Sturtz & Copeland | Based in Boulder, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Rose Bud Thorn Florals | Based in Boulder, CO
- Fiori Flowers | Based in Boulder, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- A florae | Based in Longmont, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
The Best Boulder Wedding Officiants
Even though self-solemnization is legal in Colorado, some couples still opt to have an officiant for their elopement ceremony to make it feel more official. If you are in need of a wedding officiant for your Bouler elopement, here are our favorites that serve the area:
- Small Circles Ceremonies | Based in Boulder, CO
- Wandering Honeymooners | Based in Fairpay, CO
- NearlyWed Coaching | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned, LGBTQ+ Employees
- Colorado MicroWeddings | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Elevate Wedding Officiant | Based in Denver | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Phil Gallagher | Based in Breckenridge, CO
The Best Boulder Hair and Makeup Artists
Don’t want to do your own hair and makeup on your wedding day? Here are our favorite hair and makeup artist vendors who serve the Boulder area:
- Wise Artistry | Based in Boulder, CO
- Make Faces | Based in Boulder, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Amy Merritt Hair & Makeup | Based in Boulder, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Colorado Bridal Company | Based in Longmont, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Bridal Glow Wedding Services | Based in Estes Park, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned
- April Joy Beauty | Based in Loveland, CO
- Rotella Beauty | Based in Northern CO
- Luis Pizarro Beauty | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned | Makeup Only
- Cate Hair Makeup | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned
- Raquel Chacon Beauty | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned, LGBTQ+ Employees
- Wild Brides Backcountry | Based in Denver, CO
The Best Boulder Bakeries For Your Small Wedding or Elopement
What’s a wedding day without something sweet? If you are looking for a bakery for something sweet to celebrate your elopement, here are our favorites in the Boulder area:
- Kim and Jake’s Cakes | Based in Boulder, CO
- Boulder Baked | Based in Boulder, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees | Vegan and Gluten-Free Options
- La Momo Maes Bakery | Based in Longmont, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned, LGBTQ+ Employees
The Best Caterers in Boulder For Your Wedding Day
Want to bring your wedding food to you and have a fun and unique experience? Try out one of these catering options near Boulder, CO:
- Brazi Eats | Based in Fort Collins, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned, LGBTQ+ Employees
- Wander and Graze | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- GB Culinary | Based in Longmont, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
The Best Boulder Wedding and Elopement Planners
If planning even a smaller wedding feels overwhelming, there are still people to help! You don’t have to do it alone. Here are our favorite wedding and elopement planners that serve the Boulder area:
- Prisma Events | Based in Centennial, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Carver Coordination | Based in Windsor, CO
- Mountainside Events | Based in Fort Collins, CO | LGBTQ+ Owned, LGBTQ+ Employees
- Colorado MicroWeddings | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Urban Events | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
- Intuitive Wedding Doula | Based in Broomfield, CO | Mindful emotional, logistical, and energetic support for the couple and their families
The Best Boulder Musicians For Your Wedding Day
Music makes a special day even more memorable. If you’re looking for live music for your elopement day in Boulder, here is our favorite vendor who does that:
- A Music Plus | Based in Denver, CO | LGBTQ+ Employees
Ready To Elope in Boulder, CO? Next Steps!
Meet Larissa + Bailey! As two born and raised Coloradoans who have photographed over 200+ couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of wedding day that is just as adventurous as you are. We use our experience and knowledge to craft a different kind of wedding day that feels completely authentic to you. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Book your Boulder elopement photographer today!
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