As a photographer who specializes exclusively in elopements and small weddings (and who calls Colorado her home), I make it my business to find the best locations and venues for our couples’ small weddings. And honestly, Colorado is probably the best state in the US when it comes to finding epic locations for your adventure elopement or small wedding. I’d argue that Colorado is quite possibly the capital of adventurous elopements and small weddings in the US, and there’s certainly no shortage of affordable wedding venues in Colorado for your outdoorsy gathering. So I’m breaking down our favorite small wedding venues in Colorado for your adventurous day.
Colorado’s counties do an awesome job of making public lands available as elopement and small wedding venues. Our state understands that so many couples want to adventure in the great outdoors on their wedding day, so they’ve set aside ceremony sites in various mountain towns exactly for this purpose. And the best part? The views from these locations rival even the prettiest of venues out here in Colorado, and they’re much more affordable too.
Most of the time, yes, small wedding venues in Colorado will require a permit or reservation. But it ultimately depends. Several sites require you to reserve both the location and a set time slot (like Sapphire Point Overlook and our national parks). You’ll want to place your reservation as soon as you can, since these locations are some of the most affordable wedding venues in Colorado and are in really high demand.
If you’re looking for a small wedding venue in Colorado for an elopement with a super tiny (or nonexistent!) guest list, you have more options and there are places you can elope that either require a small permit fee or sometimes no permit at all. Essentially, your options include free outdoor wedding venues. If your total headcount exceeds 10 people, though, I typically recommend renting out a designated small wedding venue ceremony site, since the logistics with larger groups are more complicated.
If your small Colorado wedding venue or location requires a permit or reservation, I recommend doing so as soon as you decide you want to get married there. Just be aware that some of the small wedding venues in Colorado don’t open up reservations until about 6 months in advance (and for some spots, once they open up, they’re reserved within minutes).
That said, if you’re looking to elope in a national park, I recommend getting that permit submitted ASAP to ensure you get the location and time slot you want (with some of the parks, the reservations don’t open up at a set date, so you’re in luck there!). Pro tip: before reserving, consult your elopement photographer for what time slot you should reserve your venue for. They will have the best advice on optimal times of day for your ceremony.
When it comes to beautiful locations and epic views, these are our favorite spots in the state of Colorado for small weddings and elopements. And they also happen to be some of the most affordable small wedding venues in Colorado too.
I don’t think there’s anything more classically Colorado than eloping on your favorite mountain pass. Personally, I believe these high alpine roads make for some of the best small wedding venues in Colorado, particularly for adventure elopements. A lot of these passes have epic trails you can adventure on, and the 4×4 passes allow you to have a more rugged adventure on your wedding day, away from the busier mountain towns.
When choosing a Colorado mountain pass as your small wedding venue, you’ll want to look into whether a permit is required. These mountain passes typically run through national forest land, and each forest has its own requirements for weddings and events, even if they’re small in size.
That said, some national forests contain some free places to get married in Colorado, depending on your group size and the specific national forest’s rules. Always consult with a ranger before making your plans, though.
Speaking of national forest land, Colorado’s national forests make for some of the most affordable Colorado wedding venues, with undoubtedly some of the best views. A lot of these national forests also contain wilderness areas that are perfect for tiny elopements. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to look into permit requirements for these areas. Personally, national forest weddings are some of my favorites, because of how many off-the-beaten path locations you can choose from.
And another thing to keep in mind when it comes to national forest weddings: most wilderness areas have a group size limit. For example, the Indian Peaks Wilderness doesn’t allow groups larger than 10, and that includes your photographer and any other vendors tagging along! That said, not every national forest or wilderness area will require a permit (be sure to check with a ranger first, though!), making these places part of a small group of free places to get married in Colorado.
Colorado is home to four of our nation’s national parks, and boy do they offer a variety of epic views for your small wedding or elopement. Rocky Mountain is one of our most popular small wedding venues in Colorado, but it’s important to note that they have designated ceremony sites where you have to have your ceremony, even if it’s just you and your partner attending.
Some of the parks ceremony sites also tend to get a good bit of foot traffic from park visitors. If you’re looking for a more secluded small wedding venue or elopement location, I recommend looking into Colorado’s other national parks. They’re just as epic, but have a lot less visitors. Personally, I love Great Sand Dunes NP. It’s where I eloped, and I’m a big believer that it’s just about one of the coolest national parks in the country and an epic small wedding venue.
When having your small wedding in one of Colorado’s national parks, you’ll definitely need to apply for a wedding permit. Before submitting your permit, consult with your photographer about the time frame you should be asking for. Their familiarity with the parks will be a big help in making sure you pick the best times!
If you’re looking to have an intimate wedding versus an elopement, Sapphire Point is a great option for a small wedding venue in Colorado. There is minimal hiking, which makes this spot easily accessible for friends and family who aren’t outdoors-people.
It’s also centrally located near several mountain towns, meaning you can get mountain views and still enjoy what the towns have to offer.
However, if you’re looking to elope rather than have a small wedding, I’d avoid this spot, as it gets a good bit of foot traffic from other hikers, which is something that eloping couples tend to want to avoid.
Reservations for Sapphire Point open up 6 months in advance, and they can typically sell out for prime time slots within the first few minutes (and sometimes even seconds!) of becoming available. So if you want to have your small wedding here, I recommend choosing a weekday, which is also a good way to avoid the crowds that tend to congregate here.
Also, you’ll want to decide on this spot more than 6 months out to ensure you get the date and time you want. I don’t recommend this small wedding venue for last minute elopements largely because you’re essentially choosing one of the “left over” time slots, and those are not usually at good times, lighting-wise.
As a Colorado-based elopement and small wedding photographer, II pride myself on more than just documenting your Colorado wedding day, but helping navigate the details as well — like helping you figure out the perfect time of year for your small wedding or finding you the most affordable wedding venues in Colorado. I’ve been in your shoes with my own elopement in Colorado, and that’s why I’m in this industry in the first place. I want to help.
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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