What it means to elope has come a long way in recent years! Long gone are the days of short vow ceremonies followed by a few cheesy pictures. Modern elopements are more like itty bitty destination weddings (with zero guests) and they are SO much more than vows and a portrait session! Most of my elopement couples spend 8-12 hours with me and we put together a day that exceeds their wildest dreams! But what exactly do you DO with all that time? Saying your vows is just one part of the adventure – here are some unique elopement ideas to make your Colorado elopement extra special!
1. Go for a hike as part of your day
Whether you’re hiking to your ceremony site or hiking just for fun, including a hike as part of your day is a great way to see some beautiful places and work up an appetite for all that cake and champagne!
2. Want to elevate your hike? Rent a pack llama!
If you’re trying to figure out how to haul a dress up a mountain (or just think this sounds like fun – I’m with you!!), renting a pack llama to be a part of your day could be an extra special touch. Go ahead and tell people it was your officiant – in Colorado your dog’s paw print can legally sign your marriage license so I don’t know why a llama couldn’t too!
3. Visit a hot spring
Whether your prefer a developed hot spring or one that is high and wild, there is a hot spring for everyone in Colorado! A few local favorites are Dunton Hot Springs and Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Want to go au naturel? Check out Valley View Hot Springs!
4. Tackle a Via Ferrata
Via ferrata is Italian for “iron path”. A via ferrata is basically a series of cables that you clip into as you traverse mountain cliffs on rock and rebar. It’s high adrenaline while also being relatively safe. One of my couples took their entire 12-person wedding on the Telluride via ferrata as a part of their day – it was a blast!
5. Go dogsledding
Looking for a unique elopement ideas for the winter? Go dogsledding! If you happen to be a fellow dog lover, book yourself a dogsled tour and take to the open snow! You’ll have the furriest and cutest (and probably loudest!) wedding party of all time!
6. Visit a brewery, distillery, or dispensary
Folks in this state know how to kick back and relax and it’s evidenced by the sheer number of places you can grab a craft beer or bomb local whiskey. Whether you want to sit on a sunny patio and sip an IPA or sample Colorado’s most popular cash crop, there is a way to incorporate it into your day.
7. Invite some friends and family
Who says you have to go it alone?! If the idea of leaving your people behind is holding you back, go ahead and bring ’em! There are no hard rules about what constitutes an “elopement”. Do what is right for you!
8. Bring your dog – and have them sign your marriage license
One of the benefits of eloping is that it is WAY easier to bring your dog to your elopement than it would be to bring it to your big church wedding! Puppers can make the best wedding guests and here in Colorado they can even sign your marriage license with their paw print!
9. Try something new
What better way to start your marriage than with a new adventure. Want to learn to fly fish? Ride mountain bikes? Ski? Make it part of your day! Spend the morning hours doing something fun to get you all jazzed up for your “official” celebrations later in the day!
10. Go for a hot air balloon ride
Get a whole new perspective on this beautiful state – from the air! Take a sunrise hot air balloon ride. You can say your vows while you’re up there or just enjoy the scenery – either way, it will be unforgettable!
11. Rent a Jeep or RAZR and go explore
Get off the beaten path by renting an off road vehicle and go explore! Jeeps and RAZRs are always the first thing I recommend to couples who want to get into the backcountry for their elopement but don’t want to hike. Plus, they are a BLAST!! They’re also a great way to bring guests who may not want to hike!
12. Stay out to watch the stars
If you’ve never seen the Milky Way (or if you’re lucky, a comet!) on a dark night in a largely uninhabited place you are in for a REAL treat! Pack some warm blankets and yummy beverages and watc the stars rise over the mountains. I’ve done this with a bunch of my couples and it always ends up being one of my (and their!) favorite memories.
Pro tip: If this is really important to you I always suggest planning your elopement for a night on or around the new moon for the darkest skies possible!
13. Celebrate with a bonfire
Is there anything more Colorado than ending the day with a bonfire? Cuddle up, toast some marshmallows, and celebrate the fact that you DID THE THING in this incredible place! Note: Fire bans are common in the summer and have various restrictions depending on their severity so be sure to check this before you light those logs!
14. Have an Epic Picnic
Whether you plan and shop for it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, a picnic can be a perfect way to spend a beautiful evening in the mountains! Lay out a blanket in a pretty place and toast to your new marriage and the adventures you’ll have!
15. Hire a private chef
If you’re not into the picnic thing (or it will be too cold to spend hours just chilling outside!), hiring a private chef to make dinner at your AirBnB can be a PERFECT end to the evening. I’ve found that a lot of my couples have big plans to go to a fancy restaurant after their elopement but end up just wanting to chill – this gives you the option to have an amazing meal …. in your pajamas (if you want)!
16. Do a first dance
About half of my couples choose to do a first dance as part of their elopement (and they get to do it without the eyes of all those guests on them!). Bring a little bluetooth speaker, load up your favorite song, and dance on top of that mountain! Dancing is always a good idea.
17. Check out some waterfalls
Despite being a pretty dry place, Colorado has a good number of waterfalls, many of which can be accessed without a long hike. Waterfalls are magic year round (including when they’re frozen over in winter!) and they make for stunning photos! (P.S. If you REALLY love waterfalls, I’d highly suggest thinking about eloping in Iceland where you can’t swing a cat without launching it into a waterfall!)
18. Go backpacking
If you’re really up for an adventure and want to get married in a backcountry spot (especially if you want to do it at sunrise!), backpacking is a great option. One of my favorite memories of all time was shooting an itty bitty backpacking wedding and waking up to the bride and her two friends putting on their makeup by headlamp in a tent. Obviously this isn’t for everyone but if this sounds like something you’d love to do, you can ABSOLUTELY do it! And it will be awesome.
19. Get tatted
Whether you’re getting your wedding rings tattooed, adding the coordinates of your ceremony site permanently to your body, or doing something more in depth, what could be a more lasting experience for your elopement day than getting tattooed together?!
20. Rent a yurt or go glamping
Love the idea of backpacking and camping but don’t really want to do it on your elopement day? Glamp it up! Rent a yurt (or go glamping) to serve as home base for your elopement.
Need help incorporating these unique elopement ideas into your day? Get in touch!
As an elopement photographer I live and breathe this stuff and have years of experience coming up with unique elopement ideas for my couples – and helping them figure out how to make them happen! I’m here for you! 🙂
A quick note! While these unique elopement ideas are focused on Colorado specifically, they’d also work really well in a lot of other adventure-y kind of places!