A Photographer’s Guide to Planning your Aspen Elopement

This guide has everything you need to know about planning an elopement in Aspen, Colorado, including the best places to elope in Aspen, Aspen elopement photography packages, and lots more!

Best places to elope in Aspen, Colorado

Let’s jump right in! Here are a few of the great options for your elopement in the Aspen area.

Independence Pass

Independence Pass is the route between Twin Lakes and Aspen, Colorado. It offers beautiful mountaintop views from the summit, which makes it a great place to elope!

Because this pass tops out at about 12,000 feet elevation, it can be very cold and windy at the top. Also, it’s important to note that this road completely closes during the winter months, and can close intermittently in the early summer and fall months due to inclement weather.

I typically recommend this location during the summer months (late June through mid September), and typically 10-15 people or less can fit comfortably at this spot.

Maroon Bells 

This location is considered to be one of the most photographed places in Colorado, and for good reason! Two beautiful 14ers tower over the valley below, making this location incredible for your Aspen elopement.

You’ll need to reserve the amphitheater for this location, which I recommend doing well in advance, as dates book very quickly. You can only reserve the amphitheater during the summer and early fall months.

However, the biggest benefit to this location is that it is extremely accessible and can accommodate up to 50 guests.

For more information, check on this guide to planning your elopement at Maroon Bells!

Maroon Bells in Colorado on a sunny summer day

Crater Lake Hiking Elopement

If it’s just you two, or a small group of guests that is okay with hiking, Crater Lake is a great alternative to Maroon Bells.

The views are similar to Maroon Bells, but you don’t need to reserve the amphitheather. Although it still can get a bit crowded, there are much fewer people than the accessible area of Maroon Bells. And if you go at the right time of day, there aren’t too many people around at all.

The hike is just under 4 miles long with elevation gain of around 700 feet, making it a great option for an adventure elopement.

John Denver Sanctuary

John Denver Sanctuary

John Denver Sanctuary is a small local park in the heart of Aspen. It’s a quiet spot with trees, a rock garden, a rustic bridge, and the mountains of Aspen in the background.

This location is great for small elopements and microweddings, with lots of options for photos!

You can reach out to the Aspen Chamber of Commerce for more information about planning a wedding here.

Pine Creek Cookhouse

If you’re planning to have guests for your Aspen elopement or microwedding, and want an option for everything in one place, this is the location for you!

Pine Creek Cookhouse is a restaurant set in the mountains near Aspen, surrounded by nothing but the most stunning views. you can have your ceremony on the lawn, and then move inside for your reception or celebration. They can host larger groups too, up to 160 people.

Contact Pine Creek Cookhouse for pricing and more information.

Airbnb/VRBO

Another fun idea to consider for your elopement would be to rent an Airbnb or VRBO with a great backyard or beautiful views for your elopement.

If both privacy and easy accessibility are important to you, renting a private property is one of the best options next to renting a wedding venue.

Of course, always make sure to check with the owners about your plans before booking your property. Check out this post for more info on Colorado Airbnb Elopement Venues.

Chat with your photographer about hidden gems for your elopement

Finding a location is usually the first thing couples want to do when planning their elopement or microwedding, but I’ll let you in on a little wedding industry secret…

Choosing a photographer first is actually the best thing you can do, especially if you’re planning an elopement or small wedding.

Why? Because local photographers know all the best spots! Most elopement photographers, including myself, include location help with their photography packages.

This hidden gem near Snowmass is only a short 3 mile round trip hike!

For example, when you tell me what type of scenery you want, how many guests you’re planning to have, whether you want to hike or whether you need an accessible location, etc. etc., I can help you with determining what your best options are in a given area like Aspen.

Colorado is a beautiful place, and there are literally hundreds of location options. If you hire your photographer first, you don’t have to take on the daunting task of finding a place to get married by yourself.

Aspen and the surrounding area has many more hidden gems that are perfect for a Colorado elopement, especially during the summer months. Get in touch and we can start planning your dream elopement day!

Wondering if I might be a good fit for you?

Get in touch for a free & zero-pressure elopement phone consultation!

Getting your marriage license for your Aspen elopement

How to get your marriage license in Colorado

The process for getting your marriage license in Colorado is very simple. 

You will need to go to a County Clerk and Recorder’s office. You can go to any county’s office in the state, regardless of where you are getting married.

Although some counties allow you to start the application online, you must complete the process in person.

There is no waiting period to get married in Colorado, so you can use it the same day you get it. However, keep in mind that these offices follow typical government office hours and holidays. Most offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 A.M. to 4:30/5 P.M.

The process is very quick! It will usually only take about 20 to 30 minutes and you should not need an appointment.

You must use the license within 35 days of applying for it. Then it must be completed and filed back with the County Clerk and Recorder’s office within 63 days from the date of the wedding. You can either mail it back in, or return it physically to the same location.

What do I need to bring?

  • $30 (most counties accept cash, check, or credit card)
  • Valid form of identification (e.g., passport, driver’s license, military I.D.), including proof of age
  • Social security numbers

If I live elsewhere, should I get my marriage license in Colorado?

If you are getting married in Colorado, you should obtain your marriage license in Colorado rather than your home state if you live elsewhere. This is because very few states allow you to apply for a marriage license, have your ceremony in another state, and then return home to file the license. 

The reverse is also true. If you live in Colorado, but want to have your ceremony in another state, you should apply for your marriage license in the state where you’re having your ceremony. Colorado requires you to sign your marriage license within the state.

Choosing when to elope in Aspen

Season

Choosing when you want to elope in Aspen is really all about personal preference.

You’ll want to consider the type of scenery you want, as well as the specific location where you want to elope. You’ll also want to consider your preferences for colder or warmer weather.

Many people coming from out of state are surprised to learn how short the “summer” season is in the Aspen area (or other mountain areas of Colorado).

Typically mid-to-late June through August is considered the summertime. It still can get quite chilly at night, but it can also be very warm during the day. The wildflowers typically peak in July, and they are absolutely beautiful in the Aspen area.

The early fall months can also be so gorgeous, and typically the leaves are changing in the mid to late September timeframe, although this varies every year. It’s impossible to know exactly when peak fall foliage will be, since it can vary quite a bit.

If you want to have the most location options, I highly recommend a date from very late June or early July through mid-September. Outside of these months, I typically recommend either a more traditional venue that will be accessible or if you do want to consider some of the fall/winter locations that are available during this time, to make sure your plans are very flexible!

Lots of locations are closed or just extremely difficult (if not impossible) to access during the winter (which may last from October through June here!), including Independence Pass and the road to Maroon Bells.

I typically don’t recommend the spring months in the mountains here in Colorado as this time of year is very unpredictable. All that snow melting at this time of year (typically April-May) means mud on the trails and extra ice on the roads.

Weekend/Weekday

Because of the popularity of many Aspen locations, I always recommend a weekday elopement if at all possible. It will offer you significantly less crowds and more privacy than a weekend elopement.

Time of day

Equally as important as choosing a weekday elopement over a weekend elopement, is choosing a time of day that will offer you the best chance of privacy. 

Early mornings are by far the best time to elope if seclusion is important to you. If you can’t make a morning elopement work for you two, evenings are generally the next best time. 

Where to have your Aspen elopement reception

Here are a few different options you have for celebrating your Aspen elopement, whether that be just the two of you or with others.

Table settings with rustic orange napkins, wine glasses, greenery, and white candles at an Aspen elopement

Picnic

A picnic at a local park is always a great option for celebrating your elopement, especially if you’re planning to celebrate your elopement with friends and family.

Some popular parks near Aspen Include the East Maroon Portal Picnic site, the John Denver sanctuary, and Wagner Park.

Restaurant

Another option would be to make a reservation at a nearby restaurant for your reception. Many restaurants have a private event space option. You could also consider having your reception at a nearby distillery or craft brewery!

Here are a few restaurants near Aspen and Snowmass Village that I recommend!

Private Chef/Catering

Finally, if you love good food but want more privacy to celebrate your marriage, consider hiring a local private chef or ordering catering. This is a great option if you’re renting an Airbnb or VRBO in the area.

Places to stay near Aspen

Aspen elopement photography packages

I’m more than just a photographer…I’m here to help you have the best day ever!

Based on my experience, especially with elopements and microweddings, couples need more than just a photographer.

Unlike with a traditional wedding, you may not have a venue coordinator or wedding planner helping you think through logistics, locations, or all the little details that really add up!

But here are just a few of the ways I can help you, all included with my custom elopements:

  • Elopement & Micro wedding VIP Planning Guide exclusively for Wild and Found couples
  • Questionnaires to help you through the planning process
  • Personalized location assistance
  • Local vendor recommendations
  • Logistics help and a custom timeline
  • Gear and day-of checklists customized for your day
  • More one-on-one planning help

I don’t just show up and take photos on your day. I’ll be here for you every step of the way. 

I know you have a lot of choices when it comes to picking a photographer.

What makes me different is that my number one goal is to be here for YOU–not just as your elopement photographer… but as your adventure partner, friend, and guide to the epic day your love story deserves!

The Ultimate Full Day Aspen Elopement Package

The best choice for capturing memories of your entire elopement day, from getting ready through celebrating with friends and family.

Includes 12 hours of photo coverage.

Personalized assistance with locations, local vendor recommendations, custom planning tools, checklists, and more. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

You get an entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media.

Includes the rights to print, share, and download all of your images.

Travel included!

$9,000

Half Day Aspen Elopement Package

Best suited for covering the highlight moments of your elopement day.

Includes 8 hours of photo coverage.

Personalized assistance with locations, local vendor recommendations, custom planning tools, checklists, and more. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

You get an entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media.

Includes the rights to print, share, and download all of your images.

Travel included!

$6,600

Mini Aspen Elopement Package

A great choice for simple elopements at accessible locations.

Includes 4 hours of photo coverage.

Personalized assistance with locations, local vendor recommendations, custom planning tools, checklists, and more. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

You get an entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media.

Includes the rights to print, share, and download all of your images.

Travel included!

$4,400

I’m more than just an Aspen elopement photographer!

Helping couples plan their dream day is what I do best.

Get in touch and let’s chat about your vision!

Or check out more elopement planning resources…

A complete guide to Airbnb Weddings and Airbnb Elopements in Colorado
Fluffy rottweiler mix dog wearing a pink and white flower collar
Couple hugging each other on their hiking wedding in Colorado
Elopement Photographer Kim from Wild and Found Photography

Hi I’m Kim, a Denver, Colorado based photographer specializing in Adventure Elopements in Colorado and worldwide! Photographing couples on the most special day of their lives is a true honor for me. But I’ve made it my mission to take it one step further than that. When you work with me, you’re getting more than just a photographer. I’m here to help you with all of the planning resources you need to have the most amazing elopement day ever! That includes everything from assistance with location ideas, timeline planning, and lots more free resources. So you can forget the work, and focus on having fun!

Aspen elopement guide cover photo

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