Wondering how to plan an adventure elopement in Colorado? We’re here to help! As Colorado natives who have explored this state our whole lives and have planned 100+ elopements for couples in Colorado, we want to make sure you have all the information to make your Colorado elopement as adventurous as you are.
Adventure elopements are the new concept for getting married for couples who want to ditch the traditional wedding day. Do you value experiences over things? Do you sneak away on an adventure any chance you get? Do you love to try new things? Are you the couple who chooses to explore the great outdoors over a city any day? Does your favorite day involve some dirt, fresh mountain air, and incredible views? If you answered yes to those questions then an adventure elopement in Colorado is right up your alley!
Adventure elopements are for couples who…
Not at all? While there are definitely some benefits to hiking on your elopement day (like getting away from the crowds and accessing locations you can’t get to otherwise) we realize that it’s not everyone’s cuppa tea. We encourage our couples to think of the best day you can dream of! Maybe that’s trying something new and going on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Maybe it’s renting kayaks and exploring a mountain lake (like Jake and Caiti did!). Or, perhaps you are the kind of couple who wants to 4×4 to the top of a mountain pass (like Sarah and Joshua did!). No matter what, as long as you are adventurous at heart and love new experiences, we can help you plan a wedding day as adventurous as you are, hiking or not!
The cool thing about Colorado is it is pretty freakin’ awesome all year round! We photograph adventure elopements in Colorado every single month of the year. So, depending on what type of people you are and what you love to do, you’ll definitely be able to find a season that’s right for you. Below is a brief description of each season in Colorado. For more detailed information about the best month to elope in Colorado, head over to this blog post!
Winter is our FAVORITE elopement season here at We, The Light Photography! We consider the winter season November – April in Colorado. At higher elevations in the mountains, winter (and a chance for snow) can even spill over into May and June! Winter adventure elopements are great for couples who want the most privacy (trails tend to be less busy in the winter), get giddy about the chance of saying your vows in a snow globe, and don’t mind a little cold. But, keep in mind that many mountain passes and roads do close for the winter season around October-November and typically open by Memorial Day weekend. Check out Amanda and Joe’s winter elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park
Spring in the mountains of Colorado is still winter. Our snowiest month of the year is historically March. So don’t plan an April/May wedding thinking spring flowers and be surprised when it snows! When planning spring elopements in Colorado, we typically have similar suggestions to winter.
The summer in Colorado runs from mid-June through August. If you are apt to warmer temperatures, this is the best option for you. Even though down in the city temperatures can be hot and in the 90’s, when you are at a higher elevation in the mountains that 70-80 degree air is perfect! July is one of our favorite summer months for an adventure elopement in Colorado because it’s wildflower season. Do you dream of taking a hike along a trail surrounded by a field of wild columbine and bluebells? Then summertime in Colorado is for you! For couples who want to end the night roasting marshmallows over a fire, like Jake and Caiti did, early Summer is a perfect time to do that! Check out Lindsay + Frank’s summer adventure elopement in Breckenridge, CO
Fall in Colorado is September and October. Yes, November is technically still a “fall month”, but we usually start seeing snow mid to late October and November is very much a winter month in the mountains. Have you ever seen an ocean of aspen trees that turned a golden-yellow hue in the fall in Colorado? Well, gorgeous fall colors and moderate temperatures make fall in Colorado ideal for an elopement. Check out Brittany and Luke’s fall elopement in Summit County
So you’ve decided to have an adventure elopement in Colorado. Cue the celebration dance! Now, it’s time to know how to make your marriage official. The good news? Colorado is pretty much the easiest state to legally get married in! Why? Colorado is the only self-solemnizing state (besides Washington D.C.) that couples can legally marry themselves without a judge or officiant and without any separate applications or conditions. What does this mean? That Colorado is the PERFECT place to get married for couples who want to create a wedding day designed around them and not be limited by needing an officiant present.
Basically, you can go to any clerk and county recorders office in Colorado (definitely do your own homework ahead of time because we’re not handing out legal advice!) pick up a $30 wedding permit and you are ready to go. Most offices will give you instructions for filling out the marriage certificate. Bring your certificate with you on your adventure elopement, sign that paper after your vows and you are legally married in Colorado. All you have to do is drop it back off at the clerk and recorders office or mail it back in. The biggest thing to remember is that your marriage certificate must be returned within 35 days of applying for it! So if you head into town early and mail it back when you leave, you should be good to go.
For more detailed info on how to legally get married in Colorado for your adventure elopement head over to this post here.
You’ve decided you love the wild mountains and that Colorado is definitely the place you want to have your adventure elopement! The next step is finding the perfect place to say your vows. When choosing your elopement location there are a few very important things to consider:
Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with a huge collection of 14ers, wildlife, world-class skiing and everything else Colorado has to offer. That said, tourism is huge in Colorado. With tourism comes – you guessed it: tourists! If you want to be completely alone for your elopement, you are likely going to want to consider a longer hike or a less popular location, especially during peak tourism months. Places like Maroon Bells are constantly welcoming people to visit and if you don’t want a huge crowd for your ceremony, it’ll be a better idea for you to consider an adventure elopement with a little bit of a hike. Alternatively, you can always pick less popular locations like Grand Lake to reduce the chances of big crowds.
Dogs are often super important to my couples, but unfortunately, you can’t bring dogs with you everywhere in Colorado for your elopement! There are some parks, such as Rocky Mountain National Park, that don’t allow you to bring pets onto the trails for their safety (as well as your own). So, if bringing your dog is a deal-breaker for your elopement location, you’ll definitely want to check to see if dogs are allowed wherever you are considering. Check out this adorable Sapphire Point elopement with the couple’s husky dog.
Are you the type of person who loses their breath with the view from the top of a mountain peak? Or, perhaps you think that the middle of a forest, surrounded by giant pine trees is the most magical place. Maybe, you have always loved water and feel most at peace next to a river or lake. We urge you to really consider what type of scenery you want to be surrounded by. The good news is Colorado has pretty much every kind of scenery you can think of: valleys, peaks, lakes, forests, waterfalls, open fields, and even desert. You name it, and Colorado most likely has an option for you. (Except the ocean. we have yet to find one of those in this awesome state! View this lakeside elopement, top of the mountain elopement, unique rock formation elopement, gorgeous open field elopement, or the best of all worlds elopement.
With all the beauty that the Colorado Rockies have to offer, there are actually some locations that are inaccessible during the winter months. Locations such as Independence Pass and Trail Ridge Road close because of the snow and ice and are only available during the summer and early fall months. Other locations, such as Maroon Bells, are flooded with tourists in the fall seeking a peek at the changing aspen leaves. If you’re unsure about which month to elope, here is a blog post that walks you through every month of the year in Colorado and which is the best month to elope.
We love utilizing the internet to find elopement locations, whether it’s on the research side or on the social side of scouting. Google is a fantastic tool for scouting elopement locations, especially Google Maps with street view and Google Earth Pro. I love using these tools because they’re constantly being updated and they help with planning out timing of elopements with sunrise and sunset. Social Media is another incredible asset for anyone trying to decide on where to elope – especially on Instagram! We recommend looking up hashtags, such as #locationWedding or #locationElopement that way you can see what it actually looks like in photographs. Pinterest is another valuable social media that serves as a search engine for scouting the perfect elopement location! Aside from Google, there are some amazing hiking and trail websites that you can use for research. Those include:
Many of those websites also have Trail Apps for your phone, in addition to CoTrex. Finally, utilizing travel guides is always a wise research method. We personally love to use:
Our average elopement coverage is six to eight hours. Yes, this means we get to spend some time together! No, this does not mean it’s an all-day photoshoot. We typically only spend about two hours on portraits of you two. The rest of the time is spent getting ready, traveling to/from your ceremony location, getting you actually married, and includes any activities you’ve planned to make your wedding day feel like you two. Even though we only spend about two hours on your couple’s portraits, we want to make sure they are the best dang pictures you’ve ever had of yourselves! One key factor in getting you drop-dead gorgeous photos is lighting. As a photographer, we know the importance of lighting and when the best times of day are to capture that magical “golden hour” light.
Golden hour, while not technically an hour, is the time just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun is low in the sky. On most days during this time (with the exception of super cloudy days!) the lighting is absolutely DREAMY! It has a very soft, dream-like quality that creates gorgeous portraits. This glowy light limits harsh shadows and can help make skin look extra smooth and creates warm, vibrant colors in your images.
Since sunrise changes daily, the best way to figure out what time to start your sunrise session is to look up sunrise in the time zone of that location for the day of your session. We always like to start about 15-30 minutes before sunrise to make sure we are able to get into the perfect position to catch the alpenglow on east-facing mountains and the first glow of the sun. So, if you are planning a sunrise first look or sunrise ceremony, plan to spend some time directly after that focused on your couple’s portraits before we lose that golden light.
Just like sunrise, sunset changes each day as well. We like to time your couple’s portraits to end just after the sun disappears over the horizon. After true sunset time, we may hang out for an additional 10-15 minutes to see if the clouds will light up hues of pastel pinks and orange for a gorgeous photo op. Be aware that in the summer months in Colorado, sunset may not occur until 8:30 or 9:00 pm at night depending on the location! Because this timing is late to go to dinner, many of our couples opt for a picnic or brewery/restaurant earlier in the evening to celebrate before heading out for your couple’s portraits.
Yes! There are a few factors that can come into play when determining when the lighting will be best. The two biggest ones that we run into are locations in the mountains and foothills, and the weather. Mountains can block the sun significantly later in the morning and earlier in the evening than locations with unobstructed views.
When this happens, one of our favorite tools to use to determine exactly when the sun will make its appearance or disappear for the day is Google Earth Pro. Unlike its cousin, Google Earth, Google Earth Pro is a FREE application that must be downloaded to your desktop. It allows you to pull up a 3D version of the location you’re shooting at, enter in the date and time you’re considering for your elopement (be sure to pay attention to time zone!) and see exactly where the sun will be throughout the day!
The other factor that changes the golden hour is the weather. Obviously, if there is a heavy layer of clouds in the sky, the sun will not shine through enough to get that golden light. Don’t fret! That even, gorgeous lighting is also some of our favorite because creates flattering light, we can photograph in pretty much any direction we want (instead of being directed by the direct sun), and colors turn out much more realistic and true on a camera.
While we’re always prepared to shoot in any lighting scenario (and often do when shooting weddings!), we love to set our couples up for the best experience possible and be able to give you photos that are reflective of what you see on our website and in our galleries, which includes choosing a time with the most flattering light. When the sun is high in the sky or directly overhead, it often creates dark shadows on people’s faces, causes a lot of squinting (that sun can be brutal on the eyes!), and is not as flattering. Although we heavily push for sunrise/sunset photos, if mid-day is the only time available, while not ideal, it’s not the end of the world! We’ll simply find a source of shade to shoot under to help soften the light (trees, bushes, or buildings can all work great!)
You likely chose to elope because you wanted to create a day that felt more authentic to who you two are. You may also have chosen to not have a traditional wedding because of all the stress and planning that goes into a big wedding day. Elopements are definitely more simple in their nature, and you don’t have to pick out tiny, meaningless details like centerpieces, but below are some tips for what you consider when planning your elopement:
Yes, you decided to plan an adventure elopement in Colorado! Now what? Here are the first things you need to get in order before our elopement day:
It’s finally here – the day you’ve been planning and dreaming of for a while now. Here are some tips to make it go smoothly:
You did it! You did the only thing that mattered – got married to your adventure partner for life! Congrats! Now it’s time to soak it all in. Many couples plan to stay in Colorado for a few days to a week afterward to soak in the post-marriage bliss. Consider turning your trip to Colorado into a honeymoon afterward. Road trip to see a different part of the state (we love Garden of the Gods and Great Sand Dunes National Park). Stay in a fancy mountain resort like Devil’s Thumb Ranch or Mt. Princeton Resort and live it up with room service, a spa treatment or a soak in the hot springs after a hike.
As you’re finding your groove as newlyweds, here are a few things to consider for after your wedding day:
Your wedding day is YOUR day. It’s not your mom’s or your best friend’s day. It’s exclusively a day to celebrate the commitment you two are making to each other (and no one else). With that being said, you get to have complete control over who (or who doesn’t) get to witness that moment. Because you said “screw you” to tradition, you get to decide what feels most authentic to who you two are on your elopement day – including guests.
The coolest thing about having an adventure elopement in Colorado is that you get to do it your way. You literally get to choose which traditions you want to keep in your clothing (like a suite and tie) and which traditions you want to break (like choosing a black instead of a white wedding dress). When it comes to dressing for your elopement day the #1 rule is it feels like you two and a fun way to celebrate your love!
If pants appeal to you on your elopement day remember that the perfect suite doesn’t have to be black. This is YOUR day and feel free to express your favorite colors, patterns and self through what you wear. Don’t be afraid to think outside the traditional box. Consider different colors, patterns and textures. You don’t have to wear all the same color suite. You can mix and match colors and materials.
Most importantly, be sure whatever you choose is easy to move around it. Try out walking up stairs (you’ll likely do a little bit of hiking on your adventure elopement day in Colorado) sitting on a chair and on the ground. Bend over to tie your shoe. These are all important to make sure you’ll be comfortable and soak up all your wedding day has to offer without hiking up pants or splitting a seam.
If you are down to get a wedding dress dirty and compete in the best dirt ombre competition then you are our couple! Since you will likely be having an outdoor elopement in the mountains of Colorado, here are our best tips. There is almost always a breeze in the mountains and dresses with lighter and flowy fabrics pick up that wind beautifully and make for some epic photos. When you’re trying on dresses, give it a twirl, pick it up and see how it flows and make sure you’re comfortable that you could spend a whole day exploring in it.
If you are planning a longer hike for your adventure elopement in Colorado, you may want to pack your dress in your backpack and change at the top. Be sure to skip heavy beading, stiff corsets and layers upon layers of poof to make packing your dress easier.
We may argue that your shoes are THE most important attire on your wedding day – especially because you chose to elope in a freaking epic location in the Colorado mountains. The last thing you want is cold feet or a blister because you didn’t wear the right shoes.
If you are planning to hike for your elopement, you will definitely want to skip the flats and wear a durable hiking boot. We love a bride in a dress and boots. Don’t worry, not all good hiking boots look like hiking boots – there are some cute options out there as well! We love Danner, REI, and Sierra Trading Post for finding great hiking boots. Just be sure they are supportive, don’t rub weird and are waterproof for creek crossings and mud puddles.
If you are not hiking for your adventure elopement you still may want to consider just wearing hiking boots still. Although it’s not as necessary if you are not clocking miles on your elopement day, hiking boots are an all-around comfortable, sturdy shoe that will serve you well. If you’re not into wearing hiking boots, be sure that the shoes you choose don’t have a heel, have good tread on the bottom (no slick, plastic bottoms), and are waterproof.
If you are planning an adventure elopement in Colorado anytime from October through mid-May, you are definitely going to want to layer up to stay warm and cozy on your elopement day. Trust us when we say your day and snapping epic photos in the mountains will be much more enjoyable if you plan for the following:
As you are gearing up for your wedding day, you want to make sure that you have all the essentials to make your day go smooth.
We believe in creating a wedding day that feels 100% like you two. You chose to get married in a way that allows you to throw the traditions you don’t like to the side and create a day centered around celebrating who you two are as a couple. This means you don’t have to do any of the standard wedding day things (like getting ready separately or tossing your bouquet) and you can create the best darn day you can dream of!
Here are some ideas on how to make your adventure elopement in Colorado feel unique!
You’re here! That means you are serious about planning an adventure elopement in Colorado. The last step is to actually make it happen! We are here to help. As two Colorado natives who have photographed 200+ couples in over 100 locations across Colorado we are ready to make your dream elopement day happen. Yes, we are photographers, but we are also your pack mule, your best friend, your planner, and your guide to having the best dang day in Colorado. If you love new experiences and want to kick wedding tradition to the curb, then reach out to us and we’ll help you start planning a wedding day as adventurous as you are. Now, let’s do the dang thing!