So you think you may want to elope in Colorado … but you don’t know how to get started? You’re in good company! Colorado is one of the best places in the U.S. to elope for a lot of reasons! In this article we’ll talk about those reasons and then talk about some more details about eloping in Colorado!
As an elopement photographer who has spent the last 5+ years helping couples plan elopements both in Colorado and around the world, I know a thing or two about what makes elopements epic, easy, and unforgettable. Hopefully my knowledge of how this all works will help you along the road to your perfect Colorado elopement!
Before we talk about the HOW’s of eloping in Colorado, let’s talk about WHY these mountains are the perfect elopement location!
5 Reasons to Elope in Colorado
#1 I Mean, the Scenery is Kind of OK
Ok, this one is probably pretty obvious but HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PLACE?! There is no way around the fact that Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. (unless you hate mountains, rivers, and waterfalls in which case I really can’t help you!). There is a reason that Colorado is a wildly popular vacation destination for outdoorsy people. The mountains (and altitude) will take your breath away.
#2 No Need for an Officiant
Colorado is one of just a few states in the country where you don’t need an officiant or witnesses of any sort to make your marriage official. This is awesome for couples who are eloping because it means you can literally get married with just the two of you (and hopefully a photographer to capture it all!). It makes planning easier, leaves you with more money to spend on things that matter, and lets you have a truly private ceremony if that is what you are going for!
#3 It’s Easy to Get to from Just About Anywhere
Denver has a big airport with direct flights to just about anywhere in the U.S. and many places in Europe. Once you make it to Denver its just a couple hour drive to your little slice of mountain paradise! Obviously Colorado is a big state and not everything is that close to Denver but a 2-3 hour drive from the airport gets you to places like Rocky Mountain National Park, Summit County (Breckenridge), and Vail!
#4 Have you Tried Our Beer?!
Maybe it’s just me but I think mountains and craft beer go together like … mountains and craft beer. Colorado’s craft beer scene is booming and our brewers make some of the best beers in the country! I have a long list of my favorite breweries across the state (which I’m always happy to share!) but rest assured that just about everywhere you go you’ll find a friendly brewpub with happy bartenders serving up some delicious drinks. Don’t like beer? We have wine and spirits too, I promise!
#5 Life is just BETTER in the Mountains
Maybe its the thin air (or legal weed) but it seems like people in Colorado are just … happier. Active days spent playing in the mountains are capped with long, slow nights next to a campfire. The people are laid-back, the dress code is super casual, and everywhere you go you get the feeling that life is just damn good.
Ok, so now that I’ve convinced you that you should probably elope in Colorado, let’s talk about how to make it happen!
How to Elope in Colorado
As far as the legalities go, the state of Colorado makes it SUPER easy. What’s can be a little more complicated (and a ton of fun!) is figuring out the logistics and how to make your day perfect! Hopefully this Colorado elopement checklist will make things a little bit easier.
Find An Elopement Photographer or Planner
The best place to start planning a Colorado elopement is by finding a local planner or photographer who can help you along the way. Most photographers who specialize in elopements wear many hats – including that of elopement planner. A good elopement photographer can help you with everything from picking a date, choosing an epic location, finding any other vendors you may want (hair and makeup, etc.), and navigating any permit requirements. This is where having someone who knows what they are doing (whether that’s me or someone else!) is a HUGE asset!
Choose a Date
As you may have guessed, Colorado weather varies WILDLY based on season. We have warm, sunny summers and cold and snowy (but also sometimes “warm” and sunny!) winters. If you have a specific date in mind, awesome! We’ll start there and plan your elopement around it. If your date is flexible we’ll help you pick a date based on the types of things you want to do and our seasonal weather.
Decide Where to Elope in Colorado
Colorado is a big state full of jaw-dropping scenery of all types. While we are obviously best known for our mountains, we also have deserts (yes, really!), sand dunes, and beautiful towns. Want to be on top of a mountain? Want to Jeep into the backcountry? Want to be close to Denver and its airport or are you willing to drive a ways from the city? These are all important things to consider and where a good photographer or planner will help a TON. If your photographer doesn’t do this, you will have to do a little more legwork – just be sure to choose wisely. Your elopement location is one of the most important things to consider when planning your elopement. (Pssst … need more help with this? I have a whole article on the best places to elope in Colorado!)!
Plan your Elopement!
This is where things get really fun! You’ve chosen a date and a location and now its time to make this day all about you and the things you love! On the photo front I always plan elopements around either sunrise or sunset (for the best photos!) but beyond that the sky is the limit! Want to go dogsledding or skiing as part of your day? Let’s make it happen! How about hiking to an alpine lake and having a picnic after your ceremony? Let’s do it! This is also the time to bring on any other vendors you may want. While a lot of my couples have their hair and makeup professionally done, get flowers, etc. that is all TOTALLY up to you! Your photographer/planner can help you with all of this!
Get a Marriage License in Colorado
Colorado doesn’t require any waiting period or witnesses to get married – you can literally have your dog sign your license with its paw! You will need to pick up a marriage license at the county clerk’s office during their operating hours. Easy peasy!
Have the Best Damn Day of Your Life!
This day isn’t about anyone’s expectations or even about the photos – it’s about the two of you getting married and having an incredible, meaningful experience in a beautiful place. Take your time. Savor it. It will go by SO FAST and all that will be left is the photos.
Print Your Photos
Speaking of photos, as a photographer I’d be remiss if I didn’t strongly encourage you to print your photos. You’ll get so many photos back from your day and it would be a shame for them to languish on a hard drive. Print them. Hang them on your walls. Put them in an album. Make sure you have them in a form that you will want to pull out over and over again. If your photographer doesn’t offer prints or albums, print them yourself through a quality lab. I promise that 10 or 20 years down the road you will be SO grateful you did it!