Garden of the Gods Elopements & Weddings: The Ultimate 2023 Planning Guide
Planning an elopement or wedding at Garden of the Gods? Learn everything you need to know about getting married at this iconic Colorado location. Plus, Garden of the Gods elopement packages.
- Garden of the Gods Elopements & Weddings: The Ultimate 2023 Planning Guide
- 5 reasons why couples love Garden of the Gods elopements and weddings!
- What you need to know for Garden of the Gods elopements and weddings
- Best Garden of the Gods wedding and elopement locations
- Permits and other requirements
- Are pets allowed at a Garden of the Gods wedding?
- Choosing when to elope at Garden of the Gods
- Want the scenery of Garden of the Gods but not the crowds?
- Getting your marriage license for your elopement
- Where to have your wedding reception
- Places to stay for your Garden of the Gods elopement
- Things for you and your guests to do in Colorado Springs
- Garden of the Gods elopement photography packages
Updated: April 10, 2023
5 reasons why couples love Garden of the Gods elopements and weddings!
- Garden of the Gods is an iconic Colorado location! With stunning red rock formations, beautiful greenery, and to top it all off, views of Pikes Peak, it’s easy to understand why this is such a popular Colorado elopement location! There are so many different awesome areas where you can get married in this park, it can be hard to choose!
- There is no cost to have your wedding at Garden of the Gods and no permits are required!
- It’s also open and accessible year round! If you’re nervous about having a winter elopement in Colorado because of unpredictable access issues in the mountains, Garden of the Gods might just be the place for you.
- Garden of the Gods is also extremely accessible. So if you want an adventurous vibe but you’re planning on bringing elderly family members or others who are less active, this park is a great choice for you.
- Dogs are welcome! If having a dog-friendly elopement is important to you, rest assured that your pup is welcome at this park!
What you need to know for Garden of the Gods elopements and weddings
Of course, every location has it’s pros and cons. While Garden of the Gods is an awesome place to have your elopement or intimate wedding, there are some things you need to know!
First, it’s worth noting that there is no reservation system for the designated ceremony sites. Like many public lands, use by the public is the top priority.
Because of this, there is no exclusive use of any area even for weddings and there is no guarantee of privacy.
Parking is also limited throughout the park, so be aware of this.
In my experience, most people are respectful of couples having their wedding, but if privacy and seclusion are important for you, Garden of the Gods may not be your best bet.
Additionally, because it is such a popular spot to visit, you’ll want to plan your elopement at the least busy times of day (more on that later)!
Best Garden of the Gods wedding and elopement locations
Garden of the Gods has 6 sites designated for wedding events. In addition to these sites for your ceremony or celebration, there are lots of other areas you can explore in the park to take great photos afterwards!
Capacity: 50 people
Jaycee Plaza is one of the larger areas in Garden of the Gods park, and it also has the most parking. However, it is the first stop when visitors enter the park and for that reason, it tends to see big crowds.
For this reason, if you choose this spot, it’s crucial to pick a day and time that is not as busy in the park. Otherwise, it will be almost impossible to get any photos without others in the background.
Capacity: 25 people
Sentinel Plaza is adjacent to Jaycee Plaza. Essentially if you just keep walking a bit further down and to the right, you’ll come to this area.
I like this spot for doing a first look or couples photos, as there are a few spots you can tuck away and do photos without people in the background. You can also walk right up to the rock formations.
It is a tight fit for ceremonies though, and I highly recommend picking a day and time with fewer crowds.
Three Graces Plaza
Capacity: 25 people
Three Graces Plaza is a bit more tucked away than the first two locations on this list. It does take a little bit more walking to get here, but it’s not too far.
I like this location in terms of the setup for a ceremony and being able to gather in one spot.
Capacity: 50 people
High Point is one of my favorite locations in Garden of the Gods park, despite how crowded it can get.
It is set apart from the other locations, and takes a few minutes of driving time to get here.
From High Point you have views of both the red rock formations as well as great views of Pikes Peak.
Scotsman Picnic Area
Capacity: 25 people
Scotsman Picnic area is a great spot for either a ceremony, a reception, or both!
It is tucked away in its own little area, and there are some nice walking trails from this spot where you could go take pictures in the red rocks. But there are also some nice foothill views as you can see from the picture below.
South Spring Canyon Picnic Area
Capacity: 50 People
South Spring Canyon Picnic Area is all the way on the south end of the park. It definitely has a different vibe from the rest of the park, with more greenery and mountain views but without the red rocks.
I like this spot as it is a little bit less crowded than some of the other locations. It is only a short drive away from High Point as well.
Tips for choosing a wedding location
All of the intimate wedding ceremony locations are generally considered to be very accessible, and most have paved walkways to access them.
When choosing a ceremony location, you’ll want to consider the number of people that you are planning to invite if you’re including friends and family in your elopement.
Some of the designated ceremony locations can hold 25 people, while others can hold as many as 50 people.
If you want to have a picnic reception at the same place as your ceremony, know that receptions are only allowed at the Scotsman Picnic Area and the South Spring Canyon Picnic Area.
Permits and other requirements
One of the best things about having an intimate wedding or elopement at Garden of the Gods is that there is no permit required! There are some rules you should know, however, if you choose to elope here.
- All ceremony sites are on a first come, first served basis.
- Wedding ceremonies must be brief and you cannot bring in large props, tables, or decorations. You may only bring in chairs for the elderly or disabled.
- You also cannot throw confetti or rice, or release balloons or birds/butterflies.
- It’s important to follow all Leave No Trace principles, including staying on established trails.
- No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the park, even at the picnic sites.
- Park hours are from 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Are pets allowed at a Garden of the Gods wedding?
Yes! Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are kept on a six foot leash.
There is also one area of the park where dogs can roam off leash, which is south of Gateway Road, West of 30th Street, and east of the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.
Choosing when to elope at Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is a beautiful place to elope year round! The climate will be similar to the climate in Colorado Springs, since it is just northwest of the city.
In the summer, the mornings and evenings are pleasant, although it can get quite warm during the day. The summer also tends to see the most afternoon storms, which can help with cooling off the hotter temperatures.
The spring and fall are not as hot during the day but the weather and temperatures can be more unpredictable. Every year is a little different as to exactly when the seasons start to change. But normally May is when the wildflowers start to bloom.
In the winter, the area can see snow sometimes, which makes for a beautiful contrast against the red rocks. The snow tends to melt very quickly though, which can make for more days of pleasant outdoor excursions. March tends to be the snowiest month of the year!
Because of the popularity of Garden of the Gods, I always recommend a weekday elopement. It will offer you significantly less crowds and more privacy that a weekend elopement.
Time of day
Equally as important as choosing which day to have your elopement, is choosing a time of day that will offer you the best chance of privacy.
Very early mornings are by far the best time to visit the park if seclusion is important to you, and the sunrises at Garden of the Gods will knock your socks off.
If you can’t make a morning elopement work, evenings are the next best time. Mid day at the park is very busy, so I don’t recommend this time.
Want the scenery of Garden of the Gods but not the crowds?
Some of my couples love the beautiful scenery of Garden of Gods with the red rock formations and Pikes Peak in the background, but they are not thrilled about the large crowds of people you find on most days at the park. Understandably, for many couples that elope, privacy is important to them on their day!
If this sounds like you, I recommend considering Garden of the Gods Resort. While this resort is paid venue, for some couples, this extra expense is worth it!
Getting your marriage license for your 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.
Where to have your wedding reception
Picnic at Garden of the Gods
If you’re planning to have your elopement ceremony at Garden of the Gods, you have a few different options on having a reception.
If you’d like, you can have a picnic reception at either the Scotsman Picnic Area or the South Spring Canyon Area. Note that these areas are first come, first served so unfortunately there is no guarantee that they will be available when you arrive. If you choose one of these locations, it’s important to be flexible!
Picnic in Colorado Springs
If you still want to have a picnic nearby, but don’t want to take a chance on not having the place reserved, Colorado Springs has several pavilions that you can reserve.
Local restaurant or brewery
Finally, 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 some great options in the Colorado Springs area:
Places to stay for your Garden of the Gods elopement
Here are a few popular hotels and resorts in the area:
Things for you and your guests to do in Colorado Springs
If you and your guests are visiting Colorado Springs for your Garden of the Gods elopement, you’ll probably be looking for some entertainment nearby.
Here are a few ideas that you might want to consider:
- Drive to the top of Pikes Peak
- Visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
- Go for a hike or mountain bike ride
- Take a hot air balloon ride
- Ride the Royal Gorge Train
- Play a round of golf at one of Colorado Springs’ many scenic courses
Check out more ideas of things to do!
Garden of the Gods elopement photography packages
Looking for someone to help you document your special day? I’m a Colorado-based elopement and intimate wedding photographer, and I love helping couples turn their vision for their dream day into a reality!
I’d be honored to help you with photographing your elopement or microwedding. Learn more below!
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!
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 elopement partner to help you create the epic day your love story deserves!
All of my Garden of the Gods Elopement Packages include:
- 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
- Assistance with wedding permit if needed
- Cost of photo permit included
- An entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media
- The rights to print, share, and download all of your images
- A sneak peek of 5 images with 48 hours
- PLUS a 20% off discount on prints, albums, canvas art, etc. for your first order
2-Day Garden of the Gods Elopement Package
Can’t decide between a “just us” celebration, or a day with friends and family? Have both!
Includes 12 hours of photo coverage, split over 2 days.
Travel throughout all of Colorado included!
8 Hour Garden of the Gods Elopement Package
Our most popular package–for capturing memories of your entire elopement day
Includes 8 hours of photo coverage.
Travel throughout all of Colorado included!
4 Hour Garden of the Gods Elopement Package
A great choice for simple elopements at accessible locations or for short hikes.
Includes 4 hours of photo coverage.
Travel throughout all of Colorado included!
2 Hour Garden of the Gods Elopement Package
When something short and sweet will do!
Includes 2 hours of photo coverage.
Available only for “just us” elopements (no guests) on Mondays through Thursdays within 2 hours of Denver.
Bookable up to 2 months in advance.
Are you planning a Garden of the Gods 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!
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!