Vail Elopement Planning Guide

Are you thinking about planning an elopement in Vail, Colorado? Check out this guide for information on Vail elopement locations, Vail elopement packages, and lots more!

Bride and groom getting married in front of a lake with mountain views near Vail Colorado

Reasons to consider eloping in Vail, Colorado

If you’re looking for a place in Colorado to have your elopement, Vail can be a great choice for a number of reasons.

  1. Of course the top reason to choose Vail for your elopement is the beautiful mountain views! 
  1. Every season is beautiful, making it a great place to get married year round.
  1. The downtown Vail area has an adorable European feel with lots of resorts, restaurants, and shops that make it a fun place to celebrate after your elopement or stay during your visit. 
Bride getting her dress on near her white SUV at a wooded trailhead near Vail, CO

Groom getting dress near his white SUV at a wooded trailhead near Vail, CO

  1. Vail has lots of outdoor activities! If you’re visiting the area and looking for fun things to keep you entertained, you’ll definitely find a lot to do here. Some activities to consider include: hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, rock climbing, golfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
  1. Dog-friendly options. If it’s important to you that your dog is with you for your elopement, Vail has a number of elopement locations 

Top places to elope in Vail, Colorado

Looking for the best elopement locations in Vail? Here are a few great options!

Shrine Pass

Shrine Pass is a mountain road near Vail that offers scenic mountain views. Shrine Pass starts near Vail Pass and continues until Redcliff.

Although it is a pretty rough dirt road, almost all but the lowest clearance vehicles are fine to make this drive. However, it’s important to note that Shrine Pass is only open during the summer months.

If you go at the right time, you might even catch some of the beautiful wildflowers that bloom up here.

Shrine Pass near Vail Colorado in the summer with a meadow of green grass and yellow wildflowers, with mountains in the distance

Julia’s Deck

Julia’s Deck (also known as the Mount of the Holy Cross Overlook site) is an observation deck located off of Shrine Pass near Vail. It’s a very short walk through a forest area to get to the deck.

The deck has views of Mount of the Holy Cross and can be used for weddings. Keep in mind that parking is very limited at this location. More cars could be parked at Shrine Pass summit, and then you could carpool the rest of the way to Julia’s Deck.

The deck is currently in need of a bit of upkeep, but as of summer 2021, the national forest service is planning to repaint the deck!

Julia's Deck on Shrine Pass with a brown wooden deck with mountain views and a sign that says Mount of the Holy Cross

Vail Pass

Vail Pass (which is basically just the base area of Shrine Pass) is another location that has great mountain views that are very accessible. Near the rest stop area of Vail Pass, you can walk around and explore a bit for a beautiful ceremony location.

Keep in mind that this location gets a bit busy and is right off of Interstate 70, so it can be noisy. If you’re looking for privacy, this is probably not the right location for you!

Landscape photo of Vail Pass elopement location with green grass and mountains on a sunny day

Gore Creek Bridge

The Gore Creek Bridge is a covered wooden bridge that leads to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. It is a popular spot for engagement photos and proposals. It can also be a great location to say your vows or take some photos after your ceremony!

Bride and groom eloping at their Vail Airbnb in Colorado

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are located right in the heart of Vail, and offers gorgeous garden and tree views for your elopement. It’s also a more accessible location that can be a great option in the winter time when options are more limited.

Currently they offer some very affordable small, weekday elopement packages (6 guests or less). Pricing varies by day, location, and group size. You can see more info on the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens website.

Airbnb/VRBO

Renting an Airbnb or VRBO for your Vail elopement can be a great option to get a totally private and accessible location with amazing views.

Vail in particular (as well as Breckenridge) has a lot of large rental properties that can accommodate groups and is great option for when everyone is looking to all stay in the same place.

Talk to your photographer about hidden gems for your Vail elopement location

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.

Bride and groom kissing at their elopement in Vail, Colorado

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 Vail.

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.

Vail 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!

When to elope in Vail

Seasons

I highly recommend the summer months for Vail elopements, as locations can get very limited during other times of year. Early fall can also work, but summer provides the most options!

Certain areas or mountain passes will be closed during the winter and they may not open until June or even early July in some cases.

But really, I love the summers in Colorado because of all the wildflowers and how the morning temperatures are still cool in the mountains!

If you have your heart set on a winter or spring elopement, I suggest looking into Breckenridge, Boulder, or Estes Park.

Weekend/Weekday

Because of the popularity of many Vail elopement 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.

Eloping couple holding their vow books in a golden grassy field

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. 

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. 

Couches and chairs set up on a grassy lawn in Vail, Colorado with a bar setup for an elopement reception

Where to have your Vail elopement reception

You have plenty of options when deciding how you want to celebrate your Vail elopement, whether that be just the two of you or with others.

Picnic

A picnic on the trail, at your Airbnb/VRBO, or at a local pavilion is always a great option for celebrating your elopement. 

If you’re planning to celebrate your elopement with friends and family, you can always rent a picnic pavilion at one of the local parks in Vail.

These days, there are lots of luxury picnic companies who will create a beautiful set up for you, such as Rocky Mountain Raclette in the Vail area.

Restaurant

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

If you’re looking for a great restaurant near Vail, Colorado, check out some of the options included below!

Private Chef

If you love good food but want more privacy to celebrate your marriage, consider hiring a local private chef. This is a great option if you’re renting an Airbnb or VRBO in the area. Here are a few options I recommend in the area!

Check out this elopement reception planning guide for more ideas and inspiration for your post elopement celebration!

Where to stay for your Vail elopement

Vail area rental properties, hotels, & resorts

Eloping couple kissing in front of a lake with mountains in the background in Vail, Colorado

Vail elopement photographer 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!

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 Vail 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
  • More one-on-one planning help
  • 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 24 hours
  • PLUS a 20% off discount on prints, albums, canvas art, etc. for your first order

2-Day Vail 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!

$9,500

8 Hour Vail 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!

$6,500

4 Hour Vail 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!

$4,500

2 Hour Vail 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 6 months in advance.

$2,100

Are you planning a Vail 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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