If you're engaged and contemplating a beautiful, low-stress, memorable wedding experience for you and your fiance (maybe a few family members too!) then place Colorado at the top of your list of destinations!
Colorado is one of my favorite places in the U.S. to visit and photograph! I've driven across the state now 4 times and can attest to the beauty no matter the season. The scenery within Colorado is also very diverse! With the snowy mountain tops and glacial lakes of the Rockies, desert-like canyons of the Colorado National Monument, stunning waterfalls, and even sand dunes, you're sure to find a dreamy destination and once in a lifetime experience that you'll remember for years to come. That's why Colorado, in my opinion, is one of the best states in the U.S. for an elopement!
If you've never visited Colorado before and you're considering a more intimate wedding day, this is a wonderful opportunity to create memories together somewhere new, fun, and exciting. And if you have been there before, then you know what an amazing experience it would be to have such an important milestone in your life there! The biggest question for people who are from out of state is "where to begin??" Read on and I'll help you get started!
Where in Colorado Should We Get Married?
We'll start with my favorite part - where to get married! As I mentioned, there are so many amazing types of scenery, but choosing a destination isn't as easy as choosing a waterfall or mountain top. Consider how far you'd like to drive from the closest airport if you're flying in. How much of a walk or hike are you up for? If you're having guests, do they have mobility restrictions and can they walk/hike far?
Think about the weather too! June - September are the most popular months to be married in the mountains of Colorado. You and your guests can take a gondola lift to the mountain tops during these months, and the mountain roads are pretty clear of snow, but you may still see snow, even in the hottest months. In the southern and western parts of the state, it can be much hotter, so spring and fall are great options.
You may think of a house rental with an amaaazing view (click here for a list of Colorado's best Airbnbs for weddings!) or a unique, private venue. The state's National Parks and state-run parks are also popular options, but in the summer months can be crowded with visitors, so a more private location within these parks is important to consider. With so many options, I understand that it's difficult to narrow down the perfect spot for your ceremony, but no worries! I'm here to help scout out the perfect location for the two of you. All couples who book their elopement with Wild North Weddings are given a questionnaire to help with location selection as well as securing the permits necessary.
Locations I Love
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Eldorado Canyon, Boulder
Rocky Mountain National Park
White River National Forest
Sapphire Point Overlook, Dillon
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle
Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction
Dinosaur National Park
Making it Legal
The state of Colorado requires you to file for your marriage license at any county courthouse a few days in advance in-person before you're able to have the actual wedding (and must be used within 35 days). The cost for this is $30. If you're coming in from out of state, be sure to plan to arrive ahead of time for this purpose. To perform the ceremony you'll need to hire an officiant (I'm happy to send a list of recommendations!) or you can have a self-uniting ceremony! Colorado is one of few states that allow this tradition and does not require a witness signature (though you can have your dog sign as a witness!). This is a lovely, and meaningful alternative, so if it interests you make sure you ask how that could look and sound! It also opens up the possibility of a family member or friend officiating the ceremony for you.
Additionally, I'm an ordained minister, so if necessary I'm able (and happy) to help you with this as well, while still documenting the day. Or, if you're coming from out-of-state you can apply for the license in your home state and have your legal ceremony at the courthouse there before you leave. Then have your meaningful ceremony at your destination.
How to Dress
A lot of this depends on location and weather, however, the outfit you dream of is never out of the question! You can wear something simple, luxurious, light, heavy, cost-efficient, or expensive! Refrain from choosing something too tight and that also allows you to sling a backpack over. For colder weather and high altitudes, you will want to bring cover to keep warm. Nude colored or fleece-lined leggings are a great idea for under dresses as well. And don't worry about having to trudge around in the wild in your outfit. You can hike to the location in your wedding attire or change upon arrival if you're concerned about comfort or keeping your outfit clean. Beware though - you will get dirty one way or another! Though I imagine a couple planning an adventure wedding won't be concerned with dirt and tears.
Appropriate footwear is important too! Hiking boots are all the rage on the trails in Colorado, and if it doesn't really go with your vision I invite you to bring shoes of your choice to change into upon arrival for your ceremony. There are a number of items you normally wouldn't think to bring to a wedding day, but fear not - Wild North Weddings couples receive a packing list with suggested items tailored to your wedding day so you won't be lost.
What Do You Do All Day?
There are so many possibilities! It's your wedding day, so this day should be tailored to what you want from it. Below is a list of possibilities you might enjoy!
Brunch together or with your guests
Jeep tour of the back mountains
Kayaking across a glacial lake
Hike for a sunrise or sunset view
Visit a brewery or winery
A UTV adventure
Visit a hot spring
A gondola lift ride to the top of a mountain
A hot-air balloon ride
An evening dance in front of the campfire
Dinner cooked at your rental by a private chef
A horseback ride
A sleigh ride
Relax in the hotel as long as you'd like!
Book Your Vendors
Often for elopements, the photographer is the first vendor booked (and the only one!) but what's next after that? Decide if you'd like a videographer to document the day as well. Choose a florist to help create the perfect bouquet (see my article here about elopement bouquets!) and the type of dessert you'd like to celebrate with afterward! Decide what you'd like to do for dinner. In my last list, I mentioned a private chef at your Airbnb rental, which is a wonderful option for guests who want to avoid crowds, have a private dinner together, or avoid rental fees for groups. I have never had a bad experience with food in Colorado, and I love the diverse selection of cooking styles the food-scene has to offer in its towns!
Again - don't feel overwhelmed with the idea of having to do all of this research! Our elopement couples will receive all the help they need in securing recommendations for other vendors that will help make the day amazing.
Traveling to your destination is kind of an important part of planning! Denver Intl. is the largest of the state's 14 commercial airports, so there's a good chance that where you'll be flying in from. The airport is fairly easy to navigate and located within close proximity of many hotels. There are ample Ubers and Lyfts to take you to and from wherever it is you need to go after you arrive. Travel hack: if you reserve a car from a rental company that's not at the airport you can save big money! Additionally, if you're an Amazon Prime member you can save 30% on your rental and you get 10% back in the form of an Amazon gift card (link to their Prime partnership page)! I've done this a few times now and it's been a game changer. If you're planning to hit the back roads of the mountains, make sure you call the rental company location after booking and request a 4x4. This was a life-saver during my last elopement! The roads on the maps of Colorado look like normal roads, but in reality many of them are not maintained and can be muddy or snow covered.
As I mentioned before, the drives across the state and from North to South are both absolutely breathtaking! So don't be afraid to choose a ceremony location with a long distance from the airport. You'll enjoy the ride! However, the weather can and will change drastically within an hour drive so you'll need to pack accordingly. I've worn snowboots and shorts within 24 hours of each other, so you gotta be prepared! If you need help deciding what to bring I'm happy to offer advice. I've been there in the spring, summer, and late fall and so I can tell you what is and is not necessary (though I'm an overpacker so I might tell you to bring everything!).
Airbnbs and Vrbos are my new favorite way to stay out West (ask me about the Earth Ship in Taos! lol). I've found boutique motels on there that were absolutely charming (and dog friendly!), and homes designed by interior designers that were cozy with all the accommodations of home. The small guys tend to be more thoughtful than the chains, so I'm happy to support them when I can. You can also find hotels and lodges for lower rates than on their websites. I saved $100/night on my last trip in the ski town of Avon just by booking through Airbnb.
Choose Wild North Weddings to Document Your Day!
Our $3,000 Colorado Documentation Package Includes:
Up to 10 hours of documentation
Planning assistance - including location selection, help with permits, custom timeline building, and vendor recommendations.
An online gallery and high-resolution image downloads
A print release allowing you to have your photos printed at your discretion.
All travel fees and photo permits if necessary
A new wedding BFF, back-up officiant, and life-line to help you craft the perfect day!
Let's Talk! Fill out the contact form below to ask questions or start planning the beginning of your greatest adventure!
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Wild North Weddings is an elopement and adventure wedding photographer documenting weddings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Denver, Colorado, Vail, Colorado, White River National Forest in Colorado, Moab, Utah, Arches National Park, Utah, Sedona, Arizona, Glacier National Park, Montana, Grand Tetons National Park, Montana, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Taos, New Mexico, Zion National Park in Utah, Arcadia National Park, The Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Smokey Mountain National Park, Shenandoah National Park, the Pacific Northwest, and more!