How to Elope in Colorado

The Ultimate Colorado Elopement Guide

Colorado eloping couple enjoying the sunrise in the alpine tundra by a lake

How To Elope In Colorado | Our Guide To Your Colorado Elopement

So you’ve chosen to elope in Colorado. First off, you’ve selected quite possibly the most epic state to elope in. Colorado is one of the most beautiful and unique places to get married, and that’s one of the reasons I chose to elope here, too. As a photographer based in CO, I know the ins and outs of how to elope in Colorado, down to the tiniest detail. You’ve come to the right place. 

As someone who specializes in photographing couples who have chosen to elope in Colorado, I’ve got you covered. Not only do most of the couples I work with choose to elope in Colorado, but it’s also where I eloped, too. I make it my business (literally), to know all about it. So let’s jump right in…how to elope in Colorado!

Best Seasons To Elope In Colorado

The Season You Choose For Your Colorado Elopement Impacts Things Quite A Bit...More Than You Might Expect!

There’s a little saying I like sharing with couples who choose to elope in Colorado: the only thing predictable about the weather in Colorado is that it’s unpredictable. And it’s something I share with all our couples who are trying to navigate the process of 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. So let’s break down these Colorado seasons.

The Pros and Cons When You Elope In Colorado In Summer or Fall

Why Elope In Colorado In The Peak Season

how to elope in Colorado | example of Colorado elopement location in the summer
couple eloping in Colorado in the summer months

Why and How To Elope In Colorado In The Summer

  • Personally, I believe summer is the best time of year to elope in Colorado. Why? Because it’s the only season when all of the high country trails (those epic ones at 12,000+ ft elevation) and many of our premiere mountain passes are accessible.
  • When you elope in Colorado in the summertime, you also get the benefit of experiencing the incredible alpine wildflower blooms. 
  • Places like CB (literally called the wildflower capital of Colorado), Telluride, and Silverton look like they came straight out of a fairytale.
  • The best time to elope in Colorado for peak wildflowers would be late July and early August, which makes summer the prime time.
  • When you elope in Colorado in the summer, it’s one of the only times of year you get to see some of our aquamarine-colored alpine lakes before they freeze over in the colder months (or in some cases, the trails close off for the winter).
  • The only downside of summer: afternoon thunderstorms at higher elevations can be common. If your photographer is local to Colorado, they’ll know the ins and outs of the weather patterns out here, and can guide you in the right direction in these situations.
couple eloping in Colorado in the fall

Why and How To Elope In Colorado In The Fall

  • Eloping in Colorado in autumn is pure magic, if you get your timing right. There’s a reason this is one of the most popular seasons for Colorado elopements.
  • Peak fall colors typically happen around September 24 in most of the mountain towns. The aspens changing color basically makes for the perfect Colorado elopement backdrop.
  • That said, you never know what you’re going to get with Colorado weather. We’ve had classic Colorado snow roll in even in the early fall (or late summer!), quickly killing all the leaves before they fully peak. A rule of thumb when you elope in Colorado: expect the unexpected, always.
  • An important note about eloping in Colorado in the fall: there’s only a small, usually 2 week time period, when we have changing leaves in the mountains. Wait too long, and the fall colors will be gone. Generally speaking, once you get into October, fall colors in the mountains begin to get scarce. 

The Pros And Cons When You Elope In Colorado In Winter or Spring

Why Elope In Colorado In The Off Season

how to elope in Colorado | example of Colorado elopement location in the winter
couple eloping in Colorado in the winter months

Why and How To Elope In Colorado In Winter

  • Eloping in Colorado in the winter can be underrated. Winter gives you that beautiful cold wonderland backdrop for your adventure elopement.
  • Eloping in Colorado in the winter gives you the chance to have a warm, cozy cabin elopement. It’s the perfect opportunity to snuggle up with your boo by the fire in your elopement attire.
  • But (and there’s always a but!), you have to be prepared for the possibility of changing your Colorado elopement date on a whim. Blizzards, avalanche debris on i70, and drivers that think their AWD cars make them invincible can make the roads kind of dicey during this season.
  • The mountains can also be uncomfortably cold during this time of year. I won’t lie, it can be a little miserable spending too much time outdoors this time of year. That’s why I only recommend eloping in Colorado in the winter if you’re fully prepared, both mentally and with the right gear, for what Colorado winters can bring your way.

Why and How To Elope In Colorado In The Spring

  • Springtime is probably best described as Colorado’s wild card when it comes to weather, which is generally why I steer couples away from this season as much as possible.
  • Our springs are known for their hail storms, which can get pretty intense. So unless you’re ok with bringing along some umbrellas and potentially ducking for cover when things get crazy (because. they likely will), I typically don’t recommend eloping in Colorado in the Spring.
  • Higher elevation areas an be erratic during the spring season. Some places can and still do frequently get hit by intense winter storms. Other Colorado elopement locations are covered in mud from snowmelt. 
  • The one benefit behind eloping in Colorado in the spring is that things are beginning to warm up. But if you’re looking for warmth, I’d recommend aiming for late spring over early spring, since the beginning of this season still brings in unexpected snow (and lots of dead and muddy vegetation). In fact, March is typically our snowiest month.

How Can You Choose The Best Season to Elope in Colorado?

If we’re picking favorites, I’d say summer and fall are my 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 so classically “Colorado” sound perfect to you, eloping in the summertime is going to be a great option. Like I said, to elope in Colorado in the summertime is to have the entire state accessible to you. And that isn’t something you can say pretty much any other time of the year. 

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, where the summer heat makes the sand way too hot to walk on, but winter is too bitingly cold.

If you’re still undecided and need more info and how to elope in Colorado in the different seasons, I’ve written a guide to the best months to elope in Colorado as well. 

You've Chosen A Season For Your Colorado Elopement. What's Next?

Now You Can Jump Into Choosing Where To Elope In Colorado!

Colorado has pretty much every landscape you could want. Once you’ve narrowed down your preferred season, you can dig deep into figuring out where to elope in Colorado.

Think about the types of landscapes that really speak to you. Do you want wide sweeping views of the mountains? Or do you love the idea of eloping on North America’s tallest sand dune? Or would you rather have an elopement ceremony in the foothills? Maybe there’s a trail in the Rocky Mountains that you and your partner love to hike. 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 photographer, who can help you figure out a more concrete location for your Colorado elopement. 

The Secret To Finding The Best Places to Elope in Colorado

The main piece of advice I’d give when it comes to figuring out how to elope in Colorado and where you should do it: talk with your photographer. Why? As a Colorado-based adventure elopement photographer myself, I’m always on the lookout for the best places throughout Colorado for our couples to elope in. If I’m not hiking the trails in person, I’m scouring the far corners of the web to find the best places to elope in Colorado. 

I make it my business to be on the lookout for hidden gems that make for epic ceremony spots for your Colorado elopement. A local photographer will be able to show you places in Colorado that go beyond the beaten path. They’ll be able to direct you those special spots that you won’t find from a quick search on Trip Advisor or generic “top 10” blog posts about Colorado.

To get you started, I’ve included a few general locations that are great to consider if you’re thinking about eloping in Colorado.

Best Places to Elope in Colorado

Beautiful, Epic Colorado Elopement Locations

Colorado eloping couple dancing in the woods at sunset

Eloping In The Classic "Ski Towns" Of Colorado

Ski towns like Aspen, Breckenridge, and Keystone are some of my favorite Colorado elopement locations. I’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 during your Colorado elopement ceremony, and the cool thing about these areas is there’s a wide range of trail difficulty levels, so there are epic elopement spots for experienced hikers and newbies alike.

Eloping In The San Juan Mountains

The San Juan Mountains are in a league of their own. If you’re wondering how to elope in Colorado with a backdrop that almost feels like you’re in a different country altogether, look to SW Colorado. 

The San Juans are dotted with the most gorgeous glacial lakes, wildflower blooms, and fall colors that will blow your mind. Take a peek at Telluride, Silverton, and Ouray to begin your search.

Eloping In Great Sand Dunes National Park

Frankly, I believe Great Sand Dunes National Park is the hidden gem of Colorado elopement locations. It’s not usually the spot that comes to mind when you think “Colorado,” but I 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 to the west. I actually eloped here, so I can speak personally about what an epic location it is for a Colorado elopement.

Eloping In Gunnison National Forest

If you’re looking to elope anywhere near CB, there’s a pretty good chance you’re wanting to elope somewhere in Gunnison National Forest. If wildflowers and epic mountain views for miles are high priority for you, look no further than Gunnison National Forest. This is your spot.

Some of my favorite hidden gems are in the Gunnison National Forest, including epic secret waterfalls and some of the most stunning alpine lakes.

Logistics of How to Elope in Colorado

From Permits, to Which Days Are Best, to What Time of Day You Should Eloping During

how to elope in Colorado | example of sunset elopement with couple dancing in an alpine meadow near Estes Park

Acquire The Needed Permits To Elope In Colorado

It’s almost a given: if you elope in Colorado, you’ll need to get a permit. The good news? Elopement permits are a lot less expensive than what you’d be paying for a wedding venue in Colorado. 

On the more expensive end, you’re looking at around $850 for an elopement permit to reserve a location. And on the lower end, around $100. 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 in Colorado you want to elope, chat with your photographer about what permits, if any, are needed. They’ll point you in the right direction and show you who to chat with to finalize your permit where you can apply for one. 

When in doubt on whether you need a permit to elope in Colorado at your chosen location, always contact the ranger station, and get a response in writing. That way you can have proof in case you get approached by a ranger on your elopement day.

how to elope in Colorado without crowds | couple eloping on a hiking trail at sunrise on a weekday

What Time Of Day Is Best To Elope In Colorado?

Plan Your Colorado Elopement Around the Sunrise or Sunset

When I chat with our couples about their Colorado elopement timelines, I usually recommend two times of day to have their elopement: sunrise and sunset. Why? There are two key reasons. 

The first is that this is prime-time when it comes to lighting. You get that lovely, warm, golden light you just can’t get at midday. 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.

The second reason is that sunrise and sunset tend to be less crowded, which means you can have more privacy during your ceremony. I highly recommend talking with your photographer about which time of day they recommend for your specific location, as someone who is local to Colorado will be able to guide you in the right direction.

Why To Elope In Colorado At Sunrise

  • Sunrise elopements in Colorado are an excellent option for summertime elopements. Afternoon thunderstorms are super common at higher elevations in the summer, and they can get dangerous. Sunrise is ultimately the most predictable time of day, weather-wise.
  • Eloping in Colorado at sunrise gives you a chance to escape the crowds and have your elopement location to yourselves, since the trails typically aren’t busy that early in the morning.
  • Sunrise elopements are awesome if you’re planning on have a full-day Colorado elopement experience, because you basically have the WHOLE DAY ahead of you to do whatever you two want!

Why To Elope In Colorado At Sunset

  • The main perk behind sunset elopements in Colorado is that you don’t have to wake up super duper early, but you can still get that warm, glowy, golden light.
  • If you’re bringing guests along with you for your Colorado elopement, sunset elopement ceremonies are great, because they don’t require your guests to be up before the sun.
  • Tied to the point above, though, you could totally opt to have a sunrise adventure with just you and your partner and then regroup around sunset time with your family and friends for an intimate Colorado elopement ceremony in the late afternoon/evening.

Craft Your Elopement Day Timeline

Your Timeline Will Give You The Blueprint For Your Elopement Day

Once you’ve narrowed down whether you’re eloping at sunrise or sunset, reach out to your photographer about crafting your Colorado elopement timeline. They should be able to walk you through the entire process and create the timeline for you, based on the activities you want to incorporate into your day.

Personally, I love creating elopement timelines. It’s one of my favorite part of the elopement process. To get started, you’ll want to think about activities you want to incorporate into your day.

What Do You Want Your Ceremony to Look Like?

How much time do you want for your ceremony (I see elopement ceremonies last, on average, between 10 – 30 minutes)? Do you want to have a friend or family member come up and say a few words? Do you want to read personalized vows? Would you like to incorporate a handfasting ceremony?

Do You Want to Incorporate Food and Drinks Into Your Day?

Do you want to have a couple summit beers at the top of your hike? Would you like to enjoy a little picnic by an alpine lake tucked away in the Colorado Rockies? Are you dreaming of sipping on hot cocoa by a campfire? Do you need to bring along trail snacks and beverages and incorporate snack breaks into your hike?

Are There Any Special Activities You Want to Incorporate Into Your Day When You Elope in Colorado?

Whether it’s hiking, taking a canoe out onto a lake, stand up paddle boarding, when you choose to elope in Colorado, there are so many epic activities you can bring into your timeline.

Whether it’s soaking in a secret hot spring near Telluride or hiking up to your favorite mountain overlook, elopements allow you to customize your Colorado elopement in a way that you wouldn’t get to with a traditional wedding. How you choose to elope in Colorado is your unique decision to make. You have permission to dream big!

couple showing how to elope in Colorado by signing their Colorado marriage license

Getting Your Marriage License For Your Colorado Elopement

What You Need To Know About How To Elope In Colorado And "Making It Legal"

One of the best perks of choosing to elope in Colorado is just how easy it is to take care of the legal details of eloping. Colorado makes things crazy easy, 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…

It's Best To Fill Our Your Colorado Marriage License Application Online Before Heading To the Clerk & Recorder's Office

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. Fill out your application online beforehand.

Your Colorado Marriage License Must Be Picked Up On A Week Day

I always recommend giving yourself at least a few days before you elope in Colorado to come pick up your marriage license. 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. You and your partner will need to bring your photo IDs and $30 with you.

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!

Your Colorado Marriage License Can Be Used The Moment You Get It

Unlike some states that require a waiting period before you can 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.

How to Elope in Colorado, Without An Officiant Or Any Witnesses

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 officiants on the officiant line on your Colorado elopement day. 

I have an article where I 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.

Additional Resources on How to Elope in Colorado

So You Can Navigate The Process of How to Elope in Colorado With Ease

how to elope in Colorado | couple eloping on hiking trail in the Front Range

Curious about how much it might cost you to elope in Colorado, compared to having a traditional, big wedding out here? Our guide to the price of eloping breaks down all the little details.

Not sure how to share your plans to elope in Colorado with your friends and family? I 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? I break that one down for you as well. Need help finding an epic dress to hike in? I’ve got a guide on that too.

P.S. I document elopements all over our great state of Colorado, and believe in helping my couples navigate the little details of the elopement process — like helping you figure out where to elope in Colorado and what mountain towns are best. There’s nothing I love more than helping my couples figure out how to elope in Colorado. Interested in working with me? Click the button below to get in touch, or head over to my packages page to see how we can craft your dream Colorado elopement.

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