Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Colorado

Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Colorado: Tips to Make Planning a Breeze

Updated November 2021

Whether you’re toying around with the idea of a Colorado elopement or are already set on buying plane tickets and eloping in Colorado, this guide will get you well on your way to beginning to plan your epic day. Don’t miss the 6 steps at the end to help give you a checklist to guide you through the planning process!

Table of Contents for this guide:
Section 1: Frequently Asked Questions About Eloping in Colorado
Section 2: Things to Look for in an Elopement Photographer
Section 3: Checklist for Planning Your Elopement in Colorado

Jessica walking across red rocks while holding a camera at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Frequently Asked Questions about Eloping in Colorado

When should we have our Colorado elopement?

You can truly have an absolutely epic Colorado elopement day no matter what time of year you’re able to visit. Here is the breakdown of each season as well as some ideas of activities you can do to make the most of your day!

Spring in Colorado

Something to note that is unique to mountain locations is that spring in Colorado looks a lot different than springtime in states in other areas of the country. Wildflowers and beautiful blooms happen in the summer and spring is more of a shoulder season where you will be more likely to experience rain, snowmelt, and muddy conditions.

Some activities that would be perfect for a spring elopement in Colorado are…

  • Exploring around Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs after a fresh dusting of snow
  • Visit Steamboat Springs and stay in Vista Verde Guest Ranch, go sledding in the local national forest if there’s still snow, and soak in the breathtaking views at one of the local lakes

Fall in Colorado

Without a doubt, my favorite time of year to capture elopements in Colorado is the fall. Usually, the best time is the last two weeks of September and inching into the first week of October. Definitely an earlier fall than you get on the east coast – this article goes deeper into when fall typically hits during different areas of Colorado. Smithsonian also has a really cool interactive map for the entire United States, if you’re curious to see it!

Elopement experiences that would be perfect for a fall in Colorado are…

  • Hiking around Aspen in beautiful iconic locations, like Maroon Bells, followed by driving up to Independence Pass for the sunset followed by a cozy campfire in a national forest
  • Enjoy some time in Canon City (about 1 hour from Colorado Springs) and take the Royal Gorge train ride, adventure with a guide on a jeep tour, explore along Tunnel Drive, or enjoy a wine tasting at Legatum Cellars.

Winter in Colorado

Wintery conditions in Colorado can start as early as mid-October in mountain areas, like Breckenridge, and nothing beats winter for a cozy Colorado elopement filled with winter wonderland vibes, warm natural hot springs, and hitting the slopes if you’re feeling adventurous!

If you’re daydreaming of eloping in Colorado during the winter, you could…

  • Head to Salida and buy a lift ticket at Monarch Mountain and spend the morning hitting the slopes with your partner or take enjoy the unique experience of sledding with Monarch Dog Sled Rides followed by warming up at Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista
  • Visit Breckenridge with your dog alongside you two for a trip filled with taking the gondola together, snowshoeing up Boreas Pass, enjoying (the best) cookies at Mountain Top Cookie Shop, and enjoying the outside area at a brewery in the warm Colorado winter sun

Summer in Colorado

Want to know my favorite thing about summers in Colorado after growing up on the east coast? No humidity! Oh my goodness, what a lifesaver it is when hiking and camping to have a more enjoyable experience. In the summer I highly recommend centering your day around sunrise and morning activities because unexpected afternoon thunderstorms are super common in the summer!

Your summer elopement in Colorado could look like…

  • A day spent running around barefoot together at Great Sand Dunes National Park followed by making a campfire dinner together under the light of the Milkyway galaxy and more stars than you even knew existed.
  • Exploring around Rocky Mountain National Park from sunrise until sunset hiking to breathtaking alpine lakes, driving to the top of Trail Ridge Road, and spotting wildlife along the way.

What are the best places to elope in Colorado?

I have an entire guide covering my top favorite places for elopements in Colorado that you should definitely check out, but below is an overview of all of that to help you start your research!

Top 6 Places to Elope in Colorado:

  1. Colorado Springs: where you get the perfect mix of being close to the amenities of a bustling city without compromising access to the outdoors and countless locations
  2. Breckenridge: a mountain town that makes for an amazing elopement destination year-round (and is super dog-friendly, too)
  3. Great Sand Dunes National Park: a unique spot where you can bring out your inner child racing down the sand dunes and staring at a million stars in the night sky
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park: a well-trafficked Colorado staple with endless possibilities for exploring while eloping in Colorado
  5. San Juan Mountains: for the off-the-beaten-path lovers who want to experience the epitome of adventuring in Colorado
  6. Aspen: the fall Colorado elopement destination that can’t be beaten including the iconic Maroon Bells in the Elk Mountains

We’re coming from out-of-state, where do we get our marriage license? Do we need to find an officiant?

If you are looking into eloping, chances are that you really want something more intimate so it’s a big plus that the only thing that you need to say “I do” in the state of Colorado is you and your partner (also known as self-solemnization).

Want to know why I think Colorado is the absolute best place to elope? Your dog can put their paw print to “sign” as a witness for your wedding and it is by far the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard of!

Last but not least, answering the question of where the heck to get your marriage license?! If you’re coming from out of state, you’ll definitely need to obtain a Colorado wedding license when you arrive, whether that be in the city that you fly into or the area that you two are staying in and are having your elopement in. Definitely research the county office and see what current policies are regarding making appointments in advance!

P.S. I’ve had a few couples running into accidentally making appointments for El Paso, Texas instead of El Paso County in Colorado Springs (for example) for marriage licenses so make sure to double-check that you’re choosing the right county in the right state!

We aren’t hardcore outdoorsy and just love the beautiful views, are there places for us?

There are limitless places for you two to have your elopement day without doing a crazy adventure and sweating through your wedding attire! Although there are plenty of more hardcore activities out there, I’m much more of a roadside-adventurer and slow-and-steady hiker and I can help you two find all of the amazing places that’ll take your breath away and require a short walk, if anything!

Jessica walking across red rocks while holding a camera at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Things to Look for in a Colorado Elopement Photographer

As a photographer who specializes in helping couples eloping in Colorado have their day captured, there are some things that I have seen from experience that are super important to the couples I work with and make a world of difference.

When looking for an elopement photographer, some good questions to consider and maybe even ask them are…

  • How do they help you plan a day that feels uniquely true to you two and your relationship?
  • Are they available for communication throughout the planning process to help you with anything you need and questions you may have?
  • Do they provide you with guidance on getting any necessary permits for your ceremony?
  • Are you required to cover the cost of any photographer-specific permits or is that covered in their package fee?
  • Is travel throughout the state of Colorado included in their packages? If not, what expenses can you expect to pay?
  • What gear do they photograph couples with, more specifically if they carry multiple camera bodies and write to two card slots as a time as a preventative backup?
  • How is the final gallery of images delivered to you and do you have a full print release for personal use or do you have to order prints through your gallery?
  • Do they have plenty of reviews that point to positive experiences that couples have had with them?

Remember, having someone to be present and to capture such an intimate occasion for you to share with your loved ones is a big deal! As you’re looking at photographers to capture your elopement, my biggest advice is to follow your heart and to really pay attention to who makes you feel at ease and who you connect with. It’s okay if you have to email a few to choose one that feels right.

Two vow books sitting on a rock next to a vibrant bouquet for a Breckenridge Elopement.

Checklist to Plan Your Colorado Elopement

Step 1: Sit down together and think through the following questions to really reflect on what means the most to you as you start this exciting planning journey:

  • What was it about a traditional wedding that didn’t feel aligned with the two of you and the experience you wanted to have?
  • How do you want your elopement day to feel?
  • Think to the future and close your eyes… you have an album of photos from your elopement day in your hands and you’re reliving your day… what words / emotions come to mind when you think of what you want those photos to look like?
  • When you initially decided on Colorado as the state for your elopement, what sorts of landscapes and activities really stood out to you most? Were there any particular locations that really made you feel stoked?

Step 2: Based on the answers to that last question, decide what time of year you would like to have your elopement in Colorado (and what you’re comfortable with budget-wise) for your day.

You don’t have to have a date set in stone when you move forward to step 3, but it’s helpful to have a general idea like “Summer” or “early October”!

Another thing that you really want to plan out after intentionally thinking about the day you’re hoping to have is how much you’re comfortable spending on your trip, your photographer and/or videographer, and if you want to include any other vendors in your day. I have a blog post detailing the cost of eloping to help give you a general idea of what a good budget would be.

Step 3: Land on a photographer and pick a date on the calendar!
Reach out to a photographer (or photographers) that you connect with and have an introductory call to learn more about working with them and ask some questions (and look out for someone you jive with). Once you find “the one,” coordinate a date with them, sign the contract, and let the fun begin!

Step 4: Decide on the perfect location for your elopement
Your photographer or planner should be able to help guide you through this process, but if you need any ideas, don’t hesitate to check out my guide on where to elope in Colorado to get a headstart on the process!

Step 5: Book lodging, flights, rental cars, and reach out to other vendors

This is kind of a combo check box for you to book things as needed! Elopement photographers are also great resources for local vendors that they (or their industry friends) have had good experiences with and are almost always happy to help let you know if the Airbnb you’re looking into will have good lighting for photos (or even to show you some of their favorites).

Step 6: Relax and prepare for your best day ever

There have been countless times when couples have arrived in Colorado only to text me realizing that they didn’t buy any vow books or that they totally failed to pack an undershirt for their dress shirt – don’t sweat it. I have a great blog post outlining the general gist of what to pack for your elopement day – be sure to bookmark it and reference it before you head to the airport or hit the road!

I’d love to help you along your journey of eloping in Colorado!

As a photographer who specializes in helping couples just like you elope in the Rocky Mountains, I would be stoked to for you to be one of the couples I help in the upcoming year. Please reach out to me through my contact page and I will gladly send you my elopement pricing and packages and schedule a call with you to share more about the experience of working with me!