How to Elope in Colorado

Our Guide to Eloping in Colorado

Colorado eloping couple dancing in the woods at sunset

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

When it comes to eloping in Colorado, you can’t really go wrong. One of the reasons I love this state so much (and why I’m so proud to call it home) is because we pretty much have it all out here in Colorado. 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 an elopement photographer who specializes in photographing couples who have chosen to elope in Colorado, I’ve got you covered. Not only do most of our couples choose to elope in Colorado, but it’s also where I eloped, too. This state is near and dear to my heart. All of that being said, 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 to 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 The Summer and Fall

Why Elope In Colorado In THe Peak Season

How To Elope In Colorado In The Summer

  • Personally, I believe summer is the best time to elope in Colorado. Why? Because it’s the only time of year 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. 
  • And one of my favorite reasons why I love it when couples elope in Colorado in the summer? It’s the only time you’ll get to see some of our aquamarine-colored alpine lakes!
  • The only downside of summer: afternoon thunderstorms at higher elevations.

How To Elope In Colorado In The Fall

  • To elope in Colorado in the fall…ahhh what an experience. Fall is where this state becomes pure magic. 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.
  • Back to the weather, though. Like I said, you never know what you’re going to get. 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.

The Pros And Cons When You Elope IN Colorado In The Winter and Spring

Why Elope In Colorado In The Off Season

How To Elope In Colorado In The 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.
  • Buuuuut (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. In fact, i70 is shut down right now as I’m typing this sentence, due to a snow storm.
  • 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.

How To Elope In Colorado In The Spring

  • Springtime is probably best described as Colorado’s wild card when it comes to weather.
  • It’s known for its 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.
  • 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.

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 just oh 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. 

Ok, You've Chosen A Season For Your Colorado Elopement. Now You Can Jump Into Choosing Where To Elope In Colorado!

With the exception of the ocean, 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.

Take a moment to thing 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 by a lake in the foothills of the Front Range? Think about what Colorado landscapes you’re excited about. 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 elopement photographer, who can help you figure out a more concrete location for your Colorado elopement. 

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 Colorado elopement 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 know this is one of the most important steps to figuring out how to elope in Colorado, so I’ve got you covered.

Your Colorado elopement photographer will be able to show you places in Colorado that go beyond the beaten path. They’ll be able to direct you to hidden gems that’ll make for the perfect backdrop for your Colorado elopement.

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

Where To Elope In Colorado

Most Beautiful Places In Colorado To Elope

Eloping In The Classic "Ski Towns" Of 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. 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.

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 The San Juan Mountains

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 epic mountain views for your Colorado elopement, we’d say one of the few mountain towns in the San Juan Mountain range would be perfect. Take a peek at Telluride, Silverton, and Ouray to begin your search.

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 view for miles are high priority for you, look no further than Gunnison National Forest. This is your spot. 

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. Especially on our public lands. Colorado is notorious for requiring elopement permits. 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 $700 for an elopement permit. 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 elopement photographer about what permits, if any, are needed. They’ll 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 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 Colorado elopement day.

What Time Of Day Is Best To Elope In Colorado?

Best Times Of Day To Elope In Colorado

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? 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 during, 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.

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.

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 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…

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. Trust me, 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 I made when picking up our marriage license for our Colorado elopement (these are the things nobody tells you!).

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. 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!

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

Unlike some states, like Washington, 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.

Self Solemnization: One Of The Coolest Things About Eloping In Colorado

Did You Know That If You Elope In Colorado, You Don't Need An Officiant Or A Single Witness Present?

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 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.

Things To Do When You Elope In Colorado

Elopement Activities Other Than Your Elopement Ceremony

Elopements have changed a lot these days, and for the better! They’re no longer viewed as quick, secretive ceremonies and rather viewed as adventurous, one-of-a-kind experiences that also happen to include saying vows and signing a marriage license.  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 hiking up 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.

Need More Info On How To Elope In Colorado?

As An Elopement Photographer Who Specializes In Helping Our Couples Figure Out How To Elope In Colorado, I've Got You Covered.

Get your hands on our Ultimate Elopement Guide, that goes over the entire process of planning your adventure elopement, whether your planning to elope in Colorado or somewhere else. I 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.

Not sure how to share your plans to elope 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.

Still want some more details on the different seasons here and which one might be best for your elopement in Colorado? I’m chatting all about seasonality and each season’s pros and cons for an elopement, too!

P.S. As an adventure elopement photographer based in Colorado, I pride myself on not just documenting your elopement, but helping you navigate the little details as well — like helping you figure out where to elope in Colorado and what mountain towns are best. I’m here to help you figure out how to elope in Colorado. I’ve been in your shoes with our own CO elopement, and that’s why I’m in this industry in the first place. I want to help.

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