When it comes to eloping in Colorado, you can’t really go wrong. One of the reasons we love this state so much (and why we’re so proud to call it home) is because we pretty much have it all out here. Landscape-wise, Colorado is one of the most epic and unique places in the US. And while we’re definitely known for our beloved Rocky Mountains, you can get everything from desert sand dunes to alpine lakes to open fields as far as the eye can see. So if you’ve been wondering how to elope in Colorado, you’ve come to the right place.
As elopement photographers who specialize in photographing couples who have chosen to elope in Colorado, we’ve got you covered. Not only do most of our couples choose to elope in Colorado, but it’s also where we eloped as well. This state is near and dear to our hearts, and frankly we believe it’s the best state in the US to elope in (sorry, not sorry). All of that being said, let’s jump right in…how to elope in Colorado!
There’s a little saying out here in Colorado when it comes to the weather and seasons: the only thing predictable about the weather in Colorado is that it’s unpredictable. And it’s something we tell all our couples who are trying to figure out how to elope in Colorado. Every season has its pros and cons, but there are some general things you’ll want to note when planning to elope in Colorado. Let’s break down these seasons, bit by bit.
If we’re picking favorites, I’d probably say summer and fall are our top picks when it comes to eloping in Colorado. Late summer and early fall are just jaw-droppingly beautiful and make for the perfect times of year to plan your Colorado elopement.
If eloping at super high elevations and having those expansive, breathtaking mountain views that are just oh so classically “Colorado” sound perfect to you, eloping in the summertime is going to be a great option. Like we said, to elope in Colorado in the summertime is to have the entire state accessible to you. And that’s not something you can say pretty much any other time of the year. I’ve heard stories about a lot of people who come to Colorado for the winter sports and stay here because our summers are genuinely unlike anything else.
Eloping in Colorado in the fall is also pretty hard to beat. If fall colors aren’t super important to you, this is still a great season if you’re looking to elope in a place like Great Sand Dunes National Park, where the summer heat makes the sand way too hot to walk on, but winter is a bit too bitingly chilly.
Like we said earlier, Colorado has it all. With the exception of the ocean, we have pretty much every landscape you could want. So once you’ve narrowed down your preferred season, you can really dig deep into figuring out where to elope in Colorado.
Take a moment to thing about the types of landscapes that really speak to the both of you. Do you want wide sweeping views of the mountains? Or do you love the idea of eloping on the country’s tallest sand dune? Or would you rather have an elopement ceremony by a lake in the foothills of the Front Range? Think about what Colorado landscapes sound exciting to you. Maybe there’s a trail in the Rocky Mountains that you and your partner love to hike or bike on. That’s a great place to start.
Once you have a few general ideas on where you’d like to elope in Colorado, you can bring these ideas to your elopement photographer, who can help you figure out a more concrete location.
The main piece of advice we’d give when it comes to figuring out how to elope in Colorado and where you should do it: talk with your Colorado elopement photographer. Why? As Colorado-based adventure elopement photographers ourselves, we are always on the lookout for the best places throughout Colorado for our couples to elope in. If we’re not hiking the trails in person, we’re scouring the far corners of the web to find the best places to elope in Colorado. We know this is one of the most important steps to figuring out how to elope in Colorado, so we’ve got you covered.
Your Colorado elopement photographer will be able to show you places that go beyond the beaten path. They’ll be able to direct you to the perfect little hidden gems that’ll make for the perfect backdrop for your Colorado elopement.
To get you started, we’ve included a few general locations that are great to consider if you’re thinking about eloping in Colorado.
While Aspen, Breckenridge, Keystone, and the other ski towns are typically known for their winter sports, these locations also the perfect Colorado elopement locations. We’d argue that they’re even better in the summertime and fall than they are in the winter. There are plenty of trails and hidden gems where you can escape the crowds and have the Rocky Mountains to yourselves.
Frankly, we’re big believers that Great Sand Dunes National Park is the hidden gem of Colorado elopement locations. It’s not usually the one that comes to mind when you think “Colorado,” but we think it should be. This place, which houses the tallest sand dune in the entire United States, feels like you’ve escaped into the deserts of Morocco. You’ve got the Sangre De Cristo mountains on the eastern side of the dunes and the wide open desert landscape to the west. We actually eloped here ourselves, so we can speak personally about what an epic location it is for a Colorado elopement.
Ahhhh the Alps of Colorado. The San Juan Mountains are something next level. They have a bit of a different look to the mountains you find near the Front Range. The San Juans are dotted with the most gorgeous glacial lakes, wildflower blooms, and fall colors that will blow your mind. If you’re looking for mountain views, we’d say one of the few mountain towns in the San Juan Mountain range would be perfect for your Colorado elopement. Take a peek at Telluride, Silverton, and Ouray to begin your search.
If you’re looking to elope anywhere near Crested Butte, there’s a pretty good chance you’re wanting to elope somewhere in Gunnison National Forest. If wildflowers and epic mountain view for miles are a high priority for you, then look no further than Gunnison National Forest. This is your spot.
It’s almost a given: if you elope in Colorado you’ll need to get a permit. Whether it’s one of our four national parks or a state park or any of our open spaces, Colorado is notorious for requiring wedding permits. The good news? The elopement permits are A LOT less expensive than what you’d pay for a typical wedding venue out here. On the more expensive end, you’re looking at around $300 for an elopement permit. Not bad, right? Plus, your money goes to supporting these gorgeous lands that you enjoy when you go out hiking, climbing, biking, and back country skiing.
Once you know where exactly in Colorado you want to elope, chat with your elopement photographer about what permits, if any, are needed. They will be able to point you in the right direction and show you who to chat with/where you can apply for the elopement permit. When in doubt on whether you need a permit to elope in a specific Colorado location, always contact the ranger station. They’ll be able to let you know. Try to get a response in writing, if you can. That way you can have proof in case you get approached by a ranger on your Colorado elopement day.
When we chat with our couples about their Colorado elopement timelines, we usually recommend two times of day to have their elopement: sunrise and sunset. Why? This is prime-time when it comes to lighting. You get that lovely, warm, golden light you just can’t get at midday. And with Colorado having an average of 300 sunny days a year, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of that gorgeous light when you elope here.
Once you’ve determined which time of day you prefer to elope in, chat with your elopement photographer about crafting the specifics of your elopement day timeline. They should be able to walk you through the entire process and create a Colorado elopement timeline for you. There’s no reason why you should have to sort that out on your own!
One of THE BEST perks of choosing to elope in Colorado is just how dang easy it is to take care of the legal details of eloping. Colorado makes things much simpler than many other states, which is one of the reasons why so many couples love Colorado as an elopement destination. Whether you’re local to the state or you’re traveling, there isn’t much work you have to do when acquiring, signing, and returning your marriage license. But here are the detail you do need to know…
The last thing you want is to show up to one of Colorado’s many Clerk and Recorder’s offices, stand in line, get to the front, and have them ask you if you’ve filled out the online application yet. Trust us, it’s not worth stepping out of the line, going to one of their computers, and then waiting all over again. And I’m telling you from personal experience. This was the same exact mistake we made when picking up our marriage license for our Colorado elopement (these are the things nobody tells you!).
We always recommend giving yourself at least a few days before you elope in Colorado to come pick up your marriage license. For starters, getting it taken care of early means it’s one less thing you have to worry about before your Colorado elopement. But you’ll also note that the license will need to be picked up on a weekday during your local Colorado Clerk and Recorder’s business hours (be sure to check online to see what those hours are, because they may vary across the state). All you and your partner need to bring with you are your photo IDs and $30.
One thing to note: your marriage license has to be signed within 35 days of you picking it up and returned within 63 days. So don’t hold onto it for too long after you elope!
Unlike some states like Washington that require a waiting period before you can actually use your marriage license, Colorado allows you to use it as soon as possible. You could, in theory, pick up your marriage license in the morning and elope in Colorado that afternoon.
Yes, you heard that right. Colorado is one of a select number of states in the US that allows self solemnization. This is basically where an eloping couple can “marry themselves.” You essentially sign as your own witnesses and on the officiant line on your Colorado elopement day. We have an article where we talk all about Colorado self solemnization, if you want more details on it. But it’s definitely a unique experience that you can get when you choose to elope in Colorado.
Elopements have changed a lot these days, and for the better! They are no longer viewed as quick, secretive ceremonies and rather seen as an adventurous one-of-a-kind experience that also happens to include saying vows and signing a marriage license. Adventure elopements have become couples’ way of taking a step back and deciding that they’d like their wedding day to be about more than just fancy decor and a strict, stuffy timeline. And Colorado has been one of the leading states in this movement of couples taking their wedding days back and doing things their way.
So many couples are choosing to make their Colorado elopement day “their own” by incorporating fun activities together that they likely wouldn’t be able to do if they were having a more traditional wedding. Whether it’s soaking in a secret hot spring near Telluride or rock climbing to your favorite mountain overlook. Don’t think of these as “wedding activities”; rather think of them as exciting activities you’d do if someone gave you a completely free day to do whatever you wanted in Colorado. At the end of the day, how you elope in Colorado is your decision and no one else’s. You can dream as big as you want. That’s what happens when you make the bold decision to break traditional elopement rules and make your own.
Get your hands on our Ultimate Elopement Guide, that basically goes over the entire process of planning your adventure elopement, whether your planning to elope in Colorado or somewhere else. We talk about everything from how to figure out what your elopement budget should go towards to sorting out what you need to pack with you. This is the exact checklist we used to plan our own elopement in Colorado and the one we use to help couples in Colorado and beyond plan their elopements. Feel free to print out this guide and keep it close as you go through everything on the checklist.
If you’re not sure how to share your plans to elope with your friends and family, we also have an article all about sharing the news of your elopement plans with them and helping them jump on board.
Trying to figure out which shoes you should be wearing on your adventure elopement day? We break that one down for you as well.
Still want some more details on the different seasons here and which one might be best for your elopement in Colorado? We’re chatting all about seasonality and each season’s pros and cons for an elopement, too!
P.S. As mountain elopement and adventure wedding photographers based in Colorado, we pride ourselves on not just documenting your elopement or small mountain wedding, but helping you plan out all the little details as well — like helping you figure out the perfect time of year for your Rocky Mountain elopement. We’re here to help you figure out how to elope in Colorado. We’ve been in your shoes with our own elopement, and that’s why we’re in this industry in the first place. We want to help.
Sure, we pride ourselves in taking killer photos of killer people in killer places, but we’re firm believers that your adventure wedding photographer should be so much more than that. They should be a resource and guide to you during the whole adventure elopement planning process. And they should be able to provide you the information you need to know when you’re sorting out how to elope in Colorado.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
The Colorado Rockies are our home. We know these mountains like the back of our hand, and we love helping our couples plan their Colorado adventure elopements. Our land is your land, peeps. so let’s get you mountain married!
We specialize in photographing small adventure weddings in the great outdoors. We believe small weddings empower couples to be themselves on their wedding day, which is what makes us so honored to be a part of them. There’s nothing better.
We like to say we’re adventurers first, photographers second. Which frankly, is what we think makes us good at what we do. We live and breathe the outdoors lifestyle, and we make sure our adventure wedding photos show off your adventurous side too.
Not everyone loves tradition, but that doesn’t make your adventure wedding or elopement any less important.
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