Must Read Guide to Grand Lake Elopements & Microweddings

If you are planning an elopement or microwedding near Grand Lake, Colorado, then you have to check out this guide! It has everything you need to know!

Groom holding bride in his arms at their Grand Lake elopement in Colorado

Top Reasons to Elope in Grand Lake

I consider the Grand Lake and Granby areas to be very underrated compared to some of the more popular tourist spots in Colorado such as Vail and Breckenridge. Here are some of my top reasons to elope in Grand Lake:

  1. Laid back mountain vibes – The Grand Lake area is gorgeous and has amazing mountain views similar to some of the more popular spots in Colorado. But unlike those places, Grand Lake has a very laid back vibe, and is a great option for couples wanting a more casual wedding.
Couple kisses while standing on top of a rock with mountains in the background near Grand Lake, Colorado
  1. Proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park (West entrance) – Everyone knows how amazing Rocky Mountain National Park is, but what many people don’t know is that the West side of the park is so much less crowded! The vast majority of visitors enter through the East side in Estes Park, which is why I love visiting the West side of the park from Grand Lake. When you elope in Grand Lake, you can very easily carve out some time for photos in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  1. Beautiful any time of year – Another reason to consider getting married in Grand Lake is that you can have your ceremony any time of year. Summer, winter, and anywhere in between are all beautiful in this town. 
  1. Accessible or hiking options – While the locations I’ve listed here in this guide are accessible, there are some amazing options near Grand Lake for hiking elopements, or other adventure elopement activities such as backpacking, kayaking/canoeing, snowmobiling, and more! 

Learn more about Grand Lake, Colorado

Grand Lake is a small mountain town about 45 minutes north of Winter Park, Colorado. After being discovered by some hunting parties in the mid 1800’s, the town was settled in 1867. It was originally a mining outpost, but today is mainly a tourist destination.

Bride and groom embracing each other at their Grand Lake elopement

At 8,369 feet elevation, this town sits at the West entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, making it a great place to stay for park visitors or for those wanting to just adventure around the town.

There is a large lake (Grand Lake), lots of shops and festivals year round, tons of hiking and biking trails for the summer, and plenty of resorts and lodges to stay in. Grand Lake is known as the “Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado,” so this is another fun activity to keep you entertained.

In October 2020, a large fire (the East Troublesome Fire) started and spread rapidly, becoming the second most extensive fire in Colorado history and causing a lot of damage in the Grand Lake area. The fire destroyed around 300 homes. Despite this, the town of Grand Lake is rebounding and is as great a place as ever to visit.

Best places to elope in Grand Lake, Colorado

Here are some of my favorite spots for elopements and microweddings in and around the Grand Lake area.

Point Park

Point Park is owned by the United States Forest Service and co-managed with the town of Grand Lake. The park has a dock/lawn area that can be used for elopements and microweddings, although a reservation is required. There are great mountain views at this location in addition to being right on the lake.

It’s important to note that alcohol, tents, and pets are not allowed in the park. Also, note that parking is limited at only 7 parking spaces plus 2 handicap spaces, so carpooling may be required. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

As mentioned previously, one of the best things about eloping in Grand Lake is its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park’s West entrance. 

Although Rocky Mountain National Park only allows weddings to be held in its designated ceremony locations which are all on the East side of the park, you are allowed to take photos anywhere in the park. This means that you can take a quick trip into Rocky Mountain National Park and get some great photo opportunities at Trail Ridge Road or some other hidden gem locations (like the one in the photo below!) on the West side.

Check out this guide to Rocky Mountain National Park Weddings for more info!

Couple holds a Just Married sign after their wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park

AA Barn

The AA Barn is a historic barn and lot located on Arapaho National Forest land that can be reserved for small elopements. Currently the rate is $100 for a day reservation and group sizes are limited to 10 people. Dogs must also be on a leash at all times and amplified music is not allowed. 

Berthoud Pass

Berthoud Pass is about a one hour drive from Grand Lake, and is only recommend for small elopements, but it is a great option to consider if you need more accessible options. There are excellent mountain views right from the parking area.

Berthoud Pass covered in snow on a sunny day

A local Grand Lake resort or lodge

Grand Lake is known for its many resorts and lodges, and many of these offer wedding options. Here are a few to consider in Grand Lake and nearby Granby:

Airbnb/VRBO

Another idea to consider for your elopement would be to rent an Airbnb or VRBO with a great backyard or beautiful views for your elopement. Grand Lake, as well as the surrounding towns of Granby, Tabernash, Fraser, and Winter Park, have a lot of large, beautiful rental properties with great views.

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.

Family gathers around a bride and bride saying their vows at a backyard elopement microwedding in Colorado with mountains in the distance

Chat with your photographer about hidden gems for your Grand Lake 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.

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.

Grand Lake elopement & microwedding locations

Getting your marriage license for your Grand Lake 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.

Woman smiles at her partner in a high alpine mountain setting near Grand Lake, Colorado

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.

Best time of year to elope in Grand Lake

Grand Lake is absolutely beautiful at any time of year, but you may want to choose a specific season based on your preferences for weather/temperature and scenery. I’ve outlined a little information about each of the seasons in Grand Lake.

Summer in Grand Lake

Summer in Grand Lake is beautiful, with warm or even hot temperatures during the day. It can be a little chilly at night though. In the mountains, the summers are somewhat short. Expect to start seeing warmer temperatures during the month of June, and July/August are the more traditional summer months. You can also expect the possibility of frequent afternoon showers in the summer.

Fall in Grand Lake

September marks the start of fall in Grand Lake, and you’ll likely start to see the leaves change in the middle and later parts of this month. The temperatures will start to drop and you may see a snow day as early as September. As fall goes on into October and November, expect higher chances of snow and colder weather. Overall, however, the shoulder seasons (Fall and Spring) can be more unpredictable weather-wise.

Couple getting married in Rocky Mountain National Park with a mountain background

Winter in Grand Lake

Grand Lake is a beautiful spot for a winter elopement! Expect to see snow on the ground during the winter months, but if you want the highest chance of a snowy day for your elopement, March is your best bet. March is the snowiest month of the year here in Colorado.

Spring in Grand Lake

Spring time (April and May) is my least favorite time of year for Colorado elopements. The weather tends to be unpredictable, but also this is known as “mud season” when the snow is starting to melt but nothing has dried yet. Roads are also more difficult to navigate due to icy conditions when snow melts during the warmer day temperatures but then refreezes at night.

Couple walks along a trail in Grand Lake, Colorado in their wedding attire

Weekend vs. Weekday

Because of the popularity of many Grand Lake 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 Grand Lake elopement or microwedding reception

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

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.

The town of Grand Lake offers several options for reserving picnic pavilions, including Heckert Pavilion in Town Square Park, Gene Stover Lakefront Park, and the Community House in Town Square Park (which is an indoor space with a full kitchen available).

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!

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 Grand Lake

If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Grand Lake, here are some great options!

Elopement activities in Grand Lake

One of the biggest reasons I love elopements as compared to traditional weddings is that they give you the freedom to do literally anything you want for your wedding day.

Myself and my partner did a helicopter elopement in Alaska, and it was the best day ever. 

Excited couple with Just Married sign jumping up and down at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Here are some ideas of activities you could do in and around the Grand Lake area.

  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Ice fishing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Ice Skating
  • Kayaking
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • White water rafting
  • Horseback riding
  • Off roading (in 4×4 vehicle or ATV)

I strongly encourage my couples to think outside the box, consider what types of activities they enjoy doing together, and discuss whether to include some kind of activity for their adventurous elopement day.

Grand Lake elopement & microwedding 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!

Couple hiking on a gravel trail among tall grass for their elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Ultimate Full Day Grand Lake 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.

$9,000

Half Day Grand Lake 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.

$6,500

Mini Grand Lake 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.

$4,500

Are you planning a Grand Lake 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…

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!

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