The Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Colorado

Learn more about eloping in Colorado with this complete guide.

Lesbian couple eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Updated: December 16, 2020

How to elope in Colorado

The legal process of getting married can seem daunting, but I’ve laid out all the steps for you here to make it easy!

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. Most offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 A.M. to 4:30 or 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
Bride and groom embracing at their Colorado elopement in Boulder

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

If you are eloping 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.

What else should I know?

  • In Colorado, the legal age to get married without parental consent is 18. If either party is age 16 or 17, a parental consent form is required to be signed by both parents.
  • There is no blood test requirement to get married in Colorado.
  • Both parties are required to be present at the Clerk and Recorder’s office to obtain a marriage license. If one party cannot be present, then an absentee affidavit must be completed.
  • It’s a good idea to obtain certified copies when you file your completed marriage license with the County Clerk and Recorder’s office. This makes legal stuff like name changes easier, and it helps to have a few copies handy in general.

Check out this post for information on self-solemnizing your marriage in Colorado!

Bride sitting in the back of a truck putting on hiking boots for her elopement

Choosing a location when eloping in Colorado

There are almost infinite options when it comes to choosing a location for eloping in Colorado. It can be hard to narrow it down sometimes!

Here are some factors you should consider when you are looking for the perfect place to say your vows.

Accessibility

The first accessibility consideration you’ll want to think about is how far you are willing to travel from where you live or what airport you’re flying into. 

Even though Colorado is not a particularly large state, it can take much longer than you’d think to cover those miles when you’re traveling through the mountains. If you have guests, consider how far they are willing to drive too.

The second consideration is whether you want a location that is accessible via 2WD vehicle, or whether you’re willing to hike or go off road to get to your location. 

Colorado has lots of options, though you will typically find more seclusion at locations that are more difficult to access. This is not always true, however. For example, Colorado’s 14ers are wildly popular and get more crowded every year.

Season

All of the seasons in Colorado are truly awesome. However, if you have a particular location in mind, make sure it’s accessible in the season you want to get married. 

Private elopement in front of red rock formations at Garden of the Gods

Scenery

Of course the scenery you want to have for your elopement will determine your location options!

Some people dream of a Colorado mountain elopement. Others love the idea of a Great Sand Dunes National Park elopement. Or maybe you like the idea of alpine lakes, or red rock formations, or forests of pine and aspen. 

Privacy

When choosing a location, consider how comfortable you will be with people (or sometimes, lots of people) around. In general, more remote locations will offer you more seclusion. 

This is another reason I strongly recommend talking to your photographer about finding a location. Most of the popular locations, while very beautiful, will also be crowded. Elopement photographers spend a lot of time scouting locations and can help you find those more private, hidden gems. 

Guests

If you’re having friends or family (or pets) join you for your Colorado elopement, you’ll need to consider their abilities and preferences. 

While you may love the idea of an 8 mile hike into the mountains, some of your guests may not be on board. You may have to alter your location idea list to fit your guests’ needs if it is important to you that they attend.

Ideas for where to elope in Colorado

The factors I listed above should give you a head start with finding an elopement location that is just right for you. But if you need some ideas, check out this list of the best places to elope in Colorado!

Instagram-worthy Airbnbs for your stay in Colorado

Traveling to Colorado for your elopement and need a beautiful Airbnb for your stay? I’ve browsed hundreds of Colorado listings and these are some of my favorites!

Colorado Treehouse & Other Unique Airbnb Rentals

Photos above from Airbnb listings. Please note that some links above are associate links, and I may earn a small fee if you book using these links, at no additional cost to you. However, all opinions and favorites are my own!

FAQs when Eloping in Colorado

Eloping couple kissing at Garden of the Gods in Colorado

What is the best time to get married in Colorado?

Colorado is beautiful year-round, so there’s never a bad time for eloping in Colorado!

That said, your personal preferences may lead you to choose one season over another!

Be aware though, the weather in Colorado is notoriously unpredictable. It can be sunny and 70 degrees one day, then dump a foot of snow the next day. If you have an adventurous spirit and a flexible attitude, then it’s nothing you can’t handle!

Questions to consider

  • Will the Colorado elopement location you want be open and accessible at that time of year? Keep in mind that certain locations are not accessible in the winter, and summer in the mountains may start later than you think!
  • How comfortable are you with cold weather? Hot weather?
  • What activities do you want to do as a part of your elopement?
  • Is there a certain type of scenery you just have to have? (e.g., fall foliage, snow-covered mountains)

Summer (June-September)

Ahhh Colorado summertime–definitely my favorite season in Colorado! The days are warm and sunny, but once you get up at higher elevations, it is not too hot at all. If you’re not crazy about cold weather, then summer is the right time for you!

Once June rolls around, you start to see much more greenery and lush landscapes emerge. In July the wildflowers really hit their peak.

While you will find more crowds during this time (though your elopement photographer can help you find a more private location!), you’ll also find the most options for your elopement location. This is because by mid to late June, almost everything has opened up again.

Do keep in mind that afternoon thunderstorms in Colorado are no joke. They are highly unpredictable and very dangerous (due to lightning strikes). The general rule of thumb is that you need to be back below the treeline absolutely no later than noon during the summer months (especially July and August), so keep this in mind if you plan on having a hiking elopement.

Fall (September-November)

Fall is a very pleasant time of year to get married in Colorado, as the air gets crisper and the weather starts to turn. 

If you’re lucky enough to plan your elopement during the peak of the leaves changing, you will have some unforgettable photos! Keep in mind though that it’s impossible to predict exactly when the leaves will turn as this varies from year to year.

September does tend to be very crowded as the leaf peepers come out in full force on the weekends! Definitely consider a weekday elopement and/or a sunrise elopement during this time of year (more on weekday elopements in a later section of this article!)

Also keep in mind that mountain passes start to close in October, so this may impact your location options!

Winter (November-April)

Winter in Colorado is absolutely beautiful, especially once the snow has blanketed the mountains. If you’re adventurous enough to brave the cold weather, the winter months can also offer you more privacy than the summer months in many areas.

March is the snowiest month in Colorado, and because of this there can be more frequent road closures. Keep this in mind if you’re worried about having to change plans due to weather!

Denver and the other low-lying surrounding areas see much less snow and have more sunny winter days than the mountains.

Also be aware that several mountain passes close during the winter months (such as Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and the road up to Maroon Bells).

Lesbian couple standing on a frozen lake with mountains and pine trees in the distance

Spring (March-June)

While much of the United States is starting to celebrate winter melting into spring in March and April, Colorado doesn’t always follow suit! Snow days can happen even in June. 

That said, the temperatures definitely start to rise and much of the snow begins to melt! Keep in mind that this melting snow can lead to some muddy trails (and even trail closures due to mud).

Although there can be quite a bit of unpredictability with Colorado springtime, if you want to still find some snowy areas but with warmer temperatures, spring is the season for you!

Colorado climate

While Colorado’s climate can vary greatly throughout the state, the overall theme is dry (i.e., low humidity) with lots of sunny days (over 300 each year)! 

Learn more about the climate of different cities in Colorado here.

Climate data for Denver Colorado

Source: U.S. Climate Data

How far in advance do I need to plan my Colorado elopement?

While elopements generally require much less planning than a traditional wedding, there is still some planning involved!

The average time spent planning an elopement generally spans anywhere from 4 to 10 months, but you can really plan your elopement as quickly as over a couple weeks or spend as long as you want.

The time it takes to plan really depends on several factors, such as what you want to include in your Colorado elopement, when you want to get married, if you are traveling to your elopement destination, and your own schedule with how much time you can or want to spend planning your elopement.

Remember that if you ever get stuck, or if you just plain hate doing research, you can always hire professionals to help you. 

As an elopement photographer and guide, I spend quite a bit of time helping my clients choose their perfect location, planning a timeline for their day that is just right for them, and answering any other questions they may have. 

In fact, one of my favorite parts of my job is helping clients turn their fuzzy vision for their elopement into concrete plans so they can have the most epic elopement day ever!

Review this complete elopement checklist to make sure you’re not missing anything important for your elopement!

Can I include friends and family?

Of course you can! I am a firm believer that YOU get to make the rules for your wedding day, so you can do whatever you want! In fact, I have a whole post about including friends and family in your elopement!

If you have people (or dogs!) that you want to be there with you when you make that lifelong commitment to your partner, then you should absolutely include them!

Eloping couple running in a field in front of mountains at sunset in Colorado

Is a weekend or weekday better for eloping in Colorado?

I always recommend opting for a weekday when eloping in Colorado if possible.

Sometimes a weekend elopement is the only option due to work schedules or for the convenience of the guests. But overall, a weekday elopement will offer you a better wedding day experience for several reasons.

The main reason I recommend weekday elopements is that you will have significantly more privacy than a weekend elopement. There will most likely be less traffic to get to your location, and believe me, traffic in the mountains is not something you want to be stuck in on your wedding day!

You’ll also have more options for reserving locations on public lands that require a reservation.

A bride walks toward her groom at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park on a sunny day

What do I do if the weather gets bad?

As I mentioned earlier, the weather in Colorado is notoriously all over the place. It is really difficult to predict what the weather will be like even a few days in advance, much less weeks or months in advance.

The best ways to handle unpredictable weather in Colorado is to have backup plans and a flexible attitude.

While there’s no way you can account for every situation (I’m looking at you COVID-19), having a back up plan in place is usually a good idea in case there is a weather issue or unexpected closure.

But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the most important part about your wedding day is not any of the details like whether it rained, or whether you had to rearrange the schedule a little bit. 

The most important part is getting married to your life partner! Don’t let the stress of these road bumps impact how special your day is! In that way, a flexible attitude can be the most important tool in your box for having the most amazing wedding day experience possible.

What vendors should I have for my elopement in Colorado?

While you don’t have to hire any vendors to marry yourselves in Colorado, many couples do since it is still your wedding day!

Here are some common vendors that couples typically consider hiring when eloping in Colorado.

If you need help finding a trusted local vendor, this is something your elopement photographer can help with!

Bride and groom kissing in front of red rock formations

Should I be worried about altitude sickness?

If you’ve never been to Colorado or at high altitude, it’s very hard to predict how your body will react. Altitude sickness can hit even the most athletic people.

Symptoms of altitude sickness include dizziness, headaches, vomiting, feeling tired, and trouble sleeping.

Fortunately, symptoms are generally mild, and there are several things you can do to help prevent or alleviate altitude sickness.

  • Give yourself time to acclimatize! Take it easy for the first day or so that you are at altitude. When you’re planning to spend your time up in the mountains, spending a day or two in Denver first (which is at 5,280 feet) will help your body ease into the altitude.
  • Drink tons of water, both before and after you arrive.
  • Monitor your alcohol consumption, as this will exacerbate symptoms of altitude sickness. Those couple of drinks are also going to hit you a lot harder at elevation.
  • If you’re very concerned, you can get a prescription from your doctor for altitude sickness medication (i.e., Diamox) that will help prevent altitude sickness.
  • Finally, you can also buy bottled oxygen at local stores in the mountains if you feel you need it.

What should I know about my winter elopement in Colorado?

Elopements in the winter can be quite the adventure in Colorado!

Being prepared for any type of weather or situation is extremely important at any time of year, but especially in the winter.

I highly recommend warm layers when dressing for your winter elopement. Always bring a warm jacket, warm socks, and consider extras like gloves, mittens, or earmuffs.  Fleece-lined nude leggings are a great option to wear underneath a wedding dress. 

I also recommend hand warmers, toe warmers, and body warmers to my couples, as these can make a huge difference. In fact, I always bring extras with me in case my couples need them.

Always consider having a backup plan in case weather or road closures impact your plans for eloping in Colorado.

Bride and groom kissing and holding each other close

What do you need to elope in Colorado?

The only thing you need to elope in Colorado is to obtain a marriage license. Everything else (photographer, epic location, wedding attire, flowers) is optional! To obtain a marriage license, you and your partner need to fill out the application at a County Clerk and Recorder’s office. It costs $30, and you need to bring a valid form of identification and your social security numbers.

Can you get married the same day in Colorado?

Yes! There is no waiting time to get married in Colorado, which means that as soon as you receive the marriage license at a County Clerk and Recorder’s office, you can sign it and be legally married!

How much does it cost to elope in Colorado?

It costs $30 to obtain a marriage license in Colorado. Everything else, such as an officiant, photographer, or wedding attire is optional!

Is it cheaper to elope or have a wedding?

It is usually much cheaper to have an elopement compared to a wedding. The average wedding costs over $33,000 in the United States. Elopements are typically half of this cost, or even less.

Do you need an officiant to get married in Colorado?

Nope! One of the awesome things about getting married in Colorado is that it is one of the few places that you can marry yourselves! It’s called self-solemnizing and this means that you don’t need either an officiant or any witnesses.

Where can I elope in Colorado?

You can elope anywhere you want! Colorado is one of the few locations where you can marry yourselves (it’s called “self-solemnizing”). That means if you want to, you and your partner can go up into the mountains by yourselves and declare yourselves legally married! 

Can you get married in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Yes you can! Rocky Mountain National Park has 13 different designated sites where weddings can be held. The designated sites are 3M Curve, Alluvial Fan Bridge, Bear Lake Nature Trail, Copeland Lake, Harbison Meadow Picnic Area, Hidden Valley, Lily Lake Dock, Lily Lake Trail, Lily Lake Southside Picnic Area, Sprague Lake, Moraine Park Visitor Center Amphitheater, Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater, and Upper Beaver Meadows.

Are you planning a Colorado elopement or microwedding?

I’m more than just a photographer. Helping couples create their dream day is what I do best!

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

Get more elopement and microwedding info here!

Or check out more elopement planning resources…

A complete guide to Airbnb Weddings and Airbnb Elopements in Colorado

Step by step tutorial on creating a flower collar for your dog for your wedding
Ideas for eloping with friends text over photo of eloping couple in a field
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!

Bride and groom standing on a rock in front of Colorado Mountains

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