How to plan your Colorado Elopement

a couple dancing in the mountains in crested butte

Pick a location  

One of the many things that make eloping so special is that you get to make it just what you want without any outside influence! What’s most important to you when you picture your wedding day? How do you like to spend your time? What areas are meaningful to you as a couple? Do you love being in the mountains on the ski slope, what about the water… want to get married on paddleboards? Are you looking for an adventure or do you want something simple? I’ve had couples get married on bodies of water, mountain passes, national parks, ski towns, and courthouses! VRBOs are great for getting ready photos and some also have ceremony sites on the property. (check out River Crest Cabins)

The sky is the limit when you are planning your elopement. Consider what location feels true to who you are! I’ve seen it all and whether you are planning a mountain adventure or a backyard ceremony, I’d love to talk through ideas with you.

A bride and groom snuggle together with their dog after eloping with their dog.

Know the permitting process.

Most vendors can help you with this, but know before you go! Rocky Mountain National Park has a very strict permitting process. (In fact, permits are sold out already for 2021. As long as you get a photography permit you can still do photos in the park, just no ceremony inside the park.) Boulder Open Space also requires a reservation for the ceremony sites and a permit is required for your photographer to shoot anywhere on Boulder Open Space land. The fines are steep and you don’t want to deal with getting a ticket on your wedding day. The bottom line, know and understand what the permitting process is if you plan to get married on public land. Make sure you are working with professionals who are experienced and informed. Please respect our public land and take this seriously.

A bride and groom pose for the camera after eloping in a courthouse in Denver.

Have a plan B

We are still in a pandemic. If you are traveling to Colorado know the laws in the state, county, and city. Have a plan B. There can be closure if you are eloping on public lands or if there is a wildfire (I’ve had to deal with both in 2020!). “Plan B” should be part of the planning process when you are planning your elopement. The opportunity to have some flexibility in your plans might be helpful if there is a roadblock. Also, keep any vendors in the loop to make sure they are not caught off guard if you need to make a change.

a couple dance in the grass in boulder during their engagement session.

Decide how you want to be married   

In Colorado you can self solemnize, meaning you can marry yourself. Your dog can be your witness. You can skip having a witness. My daughter was assisting me last year and got to be a witness. You can keep it simple, you can have a friend marry you, you can hire a professional. I’m happy to make recommendations if you are looking for someone to support you with your actual ceremony. Most importantly, get the license (during covid you may need to make an appointment). Sign the license. Send the license. 

a groom kisses his brides hand following their wedding at the Greenbriar Inn in Boulder

Think about the details.  

Flower crown? Rings? Toast after? Signage? fun shoes? Bring your dog? Meaning rituals? Personalize your elopement by adding details that are important to you. Make it special and make it all about you.

a couple enjoys a beer together after eloping on Loveland Pass

Choose a photographer who has experience.

This feels important to me. I have a lot of couples who come from out of town and I love acting as an expert for them. I am happy to recommend locations, vendors, and talk to you about every detail. If you are new to Colorado there is a lot of value in working with a local who knows what to expect seasonally and has experience with planning. A few helpful tips: microspikes are helpful in the colder months or at a higher elevation. Popular tourist locations may not have parking available on weekends. The sun drops quickly behind the mountains, it’s best to consider that if you want a sunset ceremony! 

a couple elopes in the snow at devil's thumb ranch

Consider the following when picking a date.   

Traffic. Weekdays are SO much less stressful than a weekend. Car and foot traffic is always an issue in the mountains on a weekend. 

Weather. Colorado weather is crazy!!! It can change dramatically and this could affect your plans.   

Seasons. What’s important to you? Love fall? Hate being cold? Want to wear a dress that is light and flowy? Consider a summer date!

Make it a vacay. Make a reservation for dinner after. Take a few days off. Soak it in by making a vacation out of it. With all the money you are saving by not throwing a huge party, hopefully, you have an opportunity to splurge a little bit. 

a couple holds hands through the aspen trees after their elopement

Communicate to your friends and family.   

Some people may be put off about not being there. Assure them that your photographer will take amazing photos and turn them around quickly for you. (and be sure that your photographer is down with a quick turnaround of at least some). Many couples plan a party with friends and family after eloping. This is a great way to celebrate with your loved ones while keeping your actual ceremony private and intimate.

Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer

Documenting in Colorado & Beyond

 

caroline@colvinphotos.com

720-937-1881

Follow me on Instagram! @carolinecolvin_weddings