The Ultimate Colorado Elopement Guide: How to Elope in Colorado, Colorado Elopement Packages, and More!
There’s a reason Colorado is one of the top elopement locations in the United States! Learn everything you need to know about eloping in Colorado with this guide!
- The Ultimate Colorado Elopement Guide: How to Elope in Colorado, Colorado Elopement Packages, and More!
- How to elope in Colorado
- 7 Reasons why you should elope in Colorado
- How far in advance do I need to plan my elopement?
- Can I include friends and family?
- How to elope in Colorado legally
- A Colorado adventure elopement
- What is the best time to get married in Colorado?
- Choosing a Colorado elopement location
- Jaw-dropping places to elope in Colorado
- Instagram-worthy Airbnbs for your stay in Colorado
- What vendors should I have for my elopement?
- How to budget for a Colorado elopement
- Colorado elopement packages
- Other things to consider for your Colorado elopement
- Colorado Elopement FAQ
- Are you planning an 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…
How to elope in Colorado
Follow these eight simple steps to plan your Colorado elopement!
- Brainstorm ideas and begin creating a vision for your perfect Colorado elopement day
- Start researching ideas and thinking through logistics
- Start hiring vendors and booking things like lodging, transportation, etc.
- Choose a date and a location if you haven’t already
- Invite guests if you’re planning to have anyone join you two for your elopement
- Plan out details like activities, timelines, and ceremony choices
- Obtain your marriage license
- Enjoy your epic Colorado elopement day!
Review this complete elopement checklist to make sure you’re not missing anything important for your elopement!
7 Reasons why you should elope in Colorado
- The scenery will blow your mind
From the mountains, to canyons, grasslands, waterfalls, alpine lakes, forests, red rock formations, and even sand dunes, Colorado has beautiful scenery whose diversity is hard to beat. The views that we have here are simply breathtaking, and that alone makes Colorado an awesome place to have an elopement.
- You can marry yourselves in Colorado
Did you know Colorado is one of the few states that you can self-solemnize your marriage? If you’ve never heard of the term “self-solemnize,” it simply means that you and your partner can legally marry yourselves. You don’t even need a witness or an officiant! This gives you a lot of flexibility for your ceremony that you just don’t have in many other states! Check out this post to learn more!
- Your dog or cat can sign your marriage license!
Because you don’t legally need a witness to get married in Colorado, you can have your pet sign your marriage license as the witness! Who wouldn’t want a pawprint signature on their marriage certificate?
- You can get from an international airport to the mountains in under 1.5 hours
Denver International airport sits just northeast of Denver, meaning you can easily jump on the highway and be in the mountains in no time at all (depending on traffic, of course)!
- Four seasons that are all pretty magical
All four seasons in Colorado are awesome for their own reasons. Whether it be the white, snow covered landscape of winter, the wildflowers in the spring, the gorgeous sunny summer days, or the spectacular leaf-peeping opportunities in the fall, there really isn’t a bad time of year for eloping in Colorado.
- There are plenty of completely accessible locations with stunning views
If you love the idea of having mountain backdrops for your elopement ceremony, but don’t want to hike up 2,000 feet to get there, Colorado is a great place for you. There are so many places you can go that really require no hiking but you can still have breathtaking vistas (although you may be sacrificing some privacy).
- Your after party will be epic
With roughly 400 microbreweries and 570 dispensaries (and counting) in Colorado, you can be sure that your elopement celebration will be one to remember!
How far in advance do I need to plan my 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!
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!
The main difference between a wedding and an elopement is that the focus of an elopement is the couple getting married. Consider this in contrast to a modern, traditional wedding, which often focuses more on the guest experience, and physical things like florals or table centerpieces.
I have seen plenty of instances of close family members or friends who understand the couple’s vision for their elopement, and it’s great to have them present with you to celebrate your wedding day!
How to elope in Colorado legally
The 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. 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.
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.
A Colorado adventure elopement
One of the coolest things about eloping in Colorado compared to a traditional wedding is that you can spend your wedding day literally doing your favorite things.
Spend some time brainstorming with your partner about what a truly special day would look like for the two of you. Maybe you want to spend it doing your favorite hobby together, or maybe you want to try something completely new and adventurous.
Here are a few ideas to get you started! Or check out this post on adventure elopements for more planning ideas!
- Hot air balloons
- Exploring natural hot springs
- Rock climbing/Ice climbing
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?
- What activities do you want to do as a part of your elopement? (More on that in the next section!)
- Is there a certain type of scenery you just have to have? (e.g., fall foliage, snow-covered mountains)
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, most 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 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 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.
When it comes to Colorado mountain elopements, between January and March, you’re pretty much guaranteed a snowy wedding day, while November, December, and April (in some instances, even May and June) are more unpredictable when it comes to snow days.
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).
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 occur all the way through 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!
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.
Choosing a Colorado elopement location
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.
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.
As we talked about in a prior section, 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.
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.
When I work with couples on finding their perfect elopement location, this is definitely something I ask about to help narrow down the selection.
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.
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.
Jaw-dropping places 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, here are a few stunning places you can elope in Colorado.
Rocky Mountain National Park elopement
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited locations in Colorado, and has a number of beautiful sites to have your wedding or elopement. Some popular spots include Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, 3M Curve, Lily Lake, and Upper Beaver Meadows, along with several others.
It’s worth noting that you can only have your ceremony and say your vows at the 13 sites designated for weddings. The couple, as well as any vendors, can be cited by the park rangers if you have a ceremony outside of these designated spots.
However, after your ceremony, you can take pictures at any other location in the park, which leaves plenty of opportunities to explore all that Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer!
You will need to get a permit in order to have your wedding here, and the cost is $250. Rocky Mountain National Park also limits the available permits to 6 total permits per day, with a limit of 2 weddings at each site per day.
Maroon Bells is considered to be one of the most photographed places in Colorado, and for good reason! In the Elk Mountains near Aspen Colorado, the Maroon Peak and the North Maroon Peak tower over the valley below, making this location incredible for your Colorado Elopement. Check on this guide to planning your elopement at Maroon Bells!
Sapphire Point elopement
Sapphire Point is near Breckenridge, Colorado and has beautiful views of the Dillon Reservoir and the Tenmile Range.
You can reserve the Sapphire Point overlook area for 2 hours for only $110, plus a $10 reservation fee. Reservations for this location open up 6 months in advance.
It’s worth noting that this reservation does not allow for exclusive use of the area. While most people are respectful of a wedding ceremony, there’s no guarantee of privacy.
This area can hold up to 35 people. The parking area only has 22 spots, some of which may already be in use by other visitors, so carpooling is recommended!
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is an iconic Colorado location, with beautiful red rock formations and views of Pikes Peak. Check out this Garden of the Gods Elopement Planning Guide.
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!
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!
What vendors should I have for my elopement?
While you don’t absolutely have to hire any vendors to marry yourselves in Colorado, consider that it is still your wedding day!
When thinking about what vendors you want to hire, I tell clients to picture themselves in 20 or 30 years. What is the story you want to look back on for your wedding day, and what details are you picturing?
Since this is a day you only get to do once, it’s worth considering what matters to you now and what you think will matter to you in the future.
For example, while you may not care about having pictures of your wedding day now, will you care about being able to look back and relive these special moments 30 years from now? Will you care about having pictures to show your grandkids?
Here are some common vendors that couples typically consider hiring for their elopement.
- Hair and makeup
- Private chef/caterer/restaurant
If you need help finding a trusted local vendor, this is something your elopement photographer can help with!
How to budget for a Colorado elopement
Eloping is a great way to save money as compared to a traditional wedding.
In 2020, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is over $33,000! If you choose to elope, you can plan to spend much less than that in most cases.
In fact, the only required cost is the $30 marriage license. Beyond that, you can choose to spend as much or as little as you want.
Some costs that you might want to plan for include a photographer, travel costs, activities, rings, wedding attire, flowers, hair and makeup, an officiant, and your marriage license.
If you are eloping by yourselves, or with just a few people, the largest costs you will probably have will be your travel costs, your photographer, and your wedding attire.
On the other hand, if you are planning to host an elopement reception or a meal for a larger group of guests, this can add up very quickly, especially when you add in alcoholic beverages! This expense may become your largest one.
Even so, when you consider the costs of an elopement compared to the cost of a large wedding, you can still plan to spend less, while having an experience that is more meaningful to you and your partner for your special day. It’s a win-win!
Colorado elopement packages
What’s included in my elopement package?
I am fully invested in making sure every single one of my clients has the most amazing elopement day possible. That’s why I offer help in ways that most photographers don’t!
Here are just a few things that come with having me as your photographer, adventure partner, friend, and guide:
- Documenting your epic elopement day. Of course as your photographer, I’m going to make sure you have amazing photos so you can relive your special day again and again. There are so many special moments outside of just saying your vows and taking portraits. Everything from the anticipation as you’re each getting ready, the laughs when your dog does something silly like always, the tears as you share your commitment vows, or your first champagne toast together as husband and wife. As a photographer, my focus is documenting these candid and REAL moments of your day, in a natural way. No forced or cheesy smiles here!
- Custom elopement planning tools and guidance. Every client I work with gets access to customized planning tools, planning resources, and guidance to help make your elopement planning as stress free as possible. From location ideas to timeline planning, no detail is overlooked. Forget the work, and focus on having fun!
- All your photos. You’ll have access to a fully-edited online gallery of your images, which you can download in either high-resolution or web-size (for sharing on social media). You can also order printed products like albums, canvas prints, or framed prints right from your online gallery if you choose. Or share your gallery with friends and family so they can relive the experience with you!
- Travel included. All my packages include my travel, so you’re never surprised by extra fees.
Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about elopement package options.
How many hours should I get for my Colorado elopement package?
Typically, most people choose between an 8 hour, 12 hour, or even multi-day elopement package.
How many hours of coverage you need can greatly depend on what you want to do for your elopement.
Your wedding day is much more than just saying your vows and taking a few pictures. This is one of the most special days in your life, and it really is about the entire experience of your day.
That includes everything from waking up and enjoying breakfast together, getting dressed, hopping in the car and heading out for an exciting adventure, finding an amazing place to say your vows, having your first dance together, popping champagne, having an epic celebration afterwards…you get the idea!
Consider a traditional wedding, which easily lasts a full day for the bride and groom. Once you start thinking about badass activities you want to do, like hiking, jeeping, or rock climbing, it’s pretty easy to see how an elopement would be a full day!
This definitely isn’t about having an all day photo shoot. Think of me more like a fly on the wall. I’m here to help you document your dream day, so you can continue to look back on your day and relive it again and again, for years to come!
Other things to consider for your Colorado elopement
Should I have a weekend or weekday elopement?
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, such as Rocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells, or Sapphire Point.
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 liked 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.
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 elopement plans.
Colorado Elopement FAQ
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.
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!
It costs $30 to obtain a marriage license in Colorado. Everything else, such as an officiant, photographer, or wedding attire is optional!
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.
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.
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!
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 an elopement or microwedding?
I’m more than just a photographer. Helping couples create their dream day is what I do best!
Or check out more elopement planning resources…
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!