So you’ve decided to elope in Colorado? GOOD CHOICE! Now the fun begins!! Planning a Colorado elopement can be challenging and if you don’t know where to start you are in good company. While every elopement is a little bit different, this Colorado elopement checklist will help get you started!
Colorado Elopement Checklist
Planning an elopement may be a million times easier than planning a traditional wedding but there are still some important things to consider. While the only thing you really NEED to get married in Colorado is a marriage license and someone to marry, there are definitely other things you should consider to make this day as easy and awesome as possible!
1. Find an awesome elopement photographer or planner
Your first step in planning an elopement in Colorado should be to find a photographer or planner (or photographer who is also a planner!) to help you through the process. A good, experienced elopement photographer will be worth their weight in gold in helping you pick locations, decide on a date, and hammer out any logistical issues. I promise I’m not saying this because I AM an elopement photographer – it really is that important! So find someone awesome who you trust to help you along the way.
2. Choose your date and location
If you haven’t already chosen a particular date and location, now is the time to do it! If your dates are open, talk to your photographer/planner about when would be best for you. I ALWAYS recommend choosing a weekday so maximize privacy and minimize looky-loos! Once you’ve chosen your date, work with your photographer to pick a specific location. Everyone does this a little differently but regardless of how you get there, your photographer will help you find the perfect spot!
3. Book lodging/flights/etc.
Assuming you will be traveling for your elopement, the next step will be to book your lodging, flights, etc. Colorado has a booming tourist economy and TONS of options but the sooner you do this the better chance you’ll have to find the perfect place to stay! Pro tip: For people coming in from lower elevations I ALWAYS suggest getting here a day or two early to get used to the elevation! Altitude sickness can put a big damper on your day!
4. Book any other vendors you want
If you are wanting to get hair and makeup done, get florals, have a private chef, or anything else, this is the time to find and book them! Your photographer can help make recommendations on people they have worked with who they think you will love!
5. Get the dress/suit/rings/gear/etc.!
I’ll cover all of the actual “things” you need below but this is a really good time to start rounding up the physical items you’ll need for your elopement (and possibly figuring out how to get them to Colorado – I’ve had many couples send me dresses and things to take to their elopement!).
6. Figure out how to get your marriage license
Colorado is literally one of the easiest places to get married – you don’t need an officiant, there is no waiting period, and you definitely don’t need any kind of blood test! What you DO need to do is go to the county clerk’s office in the county where you will be getting married on a weekday during business hours. Sometimes you may need an appointment – figure this out in advance
7. Write your elopement vows!
Some people do this well in advance but others do it the day of their elopement. There is no right or wrong way to do this but it always helps to at least start thinking about what you want to say before the big day!
8. When you get here …
Check into your hotel or airbnb, make sure any special items make it, get your marriage license, and then … relax!!! Go for a hike, grab a beer, enjoy the scenery, get a massage, whatever you want to do! You made it – now just enjoy it!
9. Have the best damn day of your life
When the big day rolls around let go of any expectations and stress and soak in every damn moment. This is why you’re here!
Colorado Elopement Checklist – what you need for your adventure elopement
While the only thing you REALLY need for your elopement is a marriage license and someone to marry you, there are certain items that will make your day feel more special, keep you safe and comfortable, and make for epic photos. This Colorado elopement checklist is going to cover all of those things! Obviously there are things on this list that won’t apply to every elopement (you probably won’t need snowshoes in August!) but these are really good things to at least ask yourself (or your photographer) if you will need. Weather in the mountains can vary dramatically over the course of a day – it’s always good to be prepared!
Where to Buy Elopement Gear
I am a huge fan of supporting small local businesses – but I also live in an area with a WEALTH of gear shops. I know that’s not the case for everyone. If you are ordering gear online I highly recommend ordering through REI. Why? A lot of reasons, but especially for their very generous return policy (having an REI membership is worth if for this alone – and that’s before you include dividends, 20% off coupons, etc.) which allows you to return your gear for up to a year if it is not working for you. There is no better way to know if that pack or those boots are going to work for you without actually trying them out – REI makes it easy and risk free. They also stand for so many of the things I stand for – including supporting women in the outdoors and environmental initiatives. I’m a big, big fan of REI.
Please note: Some of the following links are affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase using one of the links, I’ll receive a small payment at no additional cost to you. This has NO impact on what is on this list – these are the actual items that years of experience have taught me work awesome for elopements!
Adventure Elopement Footwear
Since footwear is one of the things I get asked about most often, we’ll start there! What to wear on your feet for your elopement will largely depend on what you are doing (hiking?snowshoeing? exploring a beautiful place with no hiking required) and your style. Even if you want to change into fancy shoes at some point I always recommend people bring a pair of rugged, comfy shoes!
Here are some of my favorites:
Danner Boots – These are spendy but they are such classics! If you want to splurge on boots that will look awesome (I’m partial to the red laces!) AND get the job done for hiking, these are awesome. They have more styles than just these so take a look around and see what you like best!
Oboz Sawtooth are the boots I hike in! They are comfy and have plenty of support for your foot and ankle
Kodiak Surrey II Boots – These are my go-to boots for winter adventures. They are supportive, insulated, and super comfy. And they’re adorable! I LOVE these boots!
Sorel snow boots – For winter elopements or very cold days, you can’t go wrong with these! They are SO CUTE and so warm and comfy. I’ve had the same pair for 7 years and many of my brides wear a pair of Sorels for winter elopements. They’re awesome!
SOCKS are super important too! If you are going to be in a cold climate (like Colorado or Iceland or … a lot of places) I definitely recommend wool socks. Smartwool and Darn Tough socks are my favorite. They’re pricey but they are SO cozy and they will literally last you forever. I’ve had a few pairs for over 10 years!
Jackets for Colorado Mountain Elopements
Even in the summer, temperatures in the mountains can get a little chilly, especially if you are going to spend any time above treeline. I always recommend bringing a warm jacket. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a heavy winter jacket but it should be something that will keep you warm if the temperatures get cold! Obviously there is a really good chance that you already have a jacket but if you are looking for a new one, or want to get an idea of the kind that would be perfect, here are some suggestions!
Patagonia Nanopuff – In the town that I live in it seems like every other person (including me!) has one of these jackets – there is a REALLY good reason for it. They are SO versatile. I wear mine year round – from chilly evenings and early morning in the mountains to hiking in the snow. They are incredibly versatile, which makes them awesome for… just about everything!
Cotopaxi – These are probably a little bit warmer than the Nanopuff which makes them an excellent option for colder weather (fall into winter) elopements. I LOVE the retro stripes and colors and think they would pop really well in photos! I will be getting one of these as my next puffy for a change of pace!
Fjallraven – I’m not-so-secretly obsessed with all things Scandinavian and Fjallraven is no exception. I got one of these jackets at the beginning of winter 2020 and I’m obsessed with it. This is a heavier, wool-lined jacket that is excellent at keeping out the elements without feeling too bulky. Yes, they are spendy but the quality of these jackets makes them worth every penny. Fjallraven has plenty of other options as well including some badass parks, so take a look around and see what you like!
Staying warm and comfy starts with a good base layer. If your dress shows any skin it will be harder to wear a baselayer on the top but almost everyone can rock one on the bottom to keep their legs warm! The best baselayers are made from wool (I’m partial to wool) or synthetic materials – NO COTTON! I’d suggest opting for neutral colors as they will blend in better under white dresses.
Smartwool – I’ve already mentioned my love of wool and Smartwool is the one I go to most often! I LIVE in these things in the winter and they last forever! The wool is soft and not itchy at all and best of all it doesn’t get smelly (which means no stink when you’re all cuddled up at your elopement!). I’m also a HUGE fan of their socks. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Smartwool. 100% worth the money!
Icebreaker – Icebreaker is another of my absolute favorite wool base layers. Definitely check them out!
Adventure Elopement Backpacks
How large of a backpack you’ll need will depend on how much you are carrying and how far you are hiking. If you aren’t going to far from the car you can probably get away with just a tote bag but if you are hiking at all I definitely suggest having something more comfy. When choosing a size of backpack think about all the things you may or may not be bringing – along with basics like your rings, vows, and marriage license, you’ll definitely want some space for hiking related stuff (jackets, headlamps, microspikes, water, snacks, champagne, blanket, etc.). Your photographer may have extra room in their pack for some of your stuff (I always seem to end up playing pack mule!) but you definitely want to make sure you’re prepared as well!
Here are a few backpacks that I really love for elopements!
Gregory – Gregory makes some of the best hiking backpacks around. They’re super comfy and rugged and should last you forever.
Topo Designs – Topo Designs is a Colorado-based company who makes awesome, colorful packs. I especially love how these show up really well in photos!
REI – REI’s branded packs are awesome because they are super high quality while also being a little bit more affordable than some of the bigger outdoor brands.
Headlamps + Lights
If you are going to be out after dark (or doing any hiking close to dark – it’s always good to be prepared!) I’d definitely make sure that either you or your photographer has headlamps! I always bring extras to elopements but I’d check with your photographer! You don’t want to be stuck out in the dark!!
If you and your partner are both going to bring headlamps and you may stay out for star photos I alway suggest getting the same headlamps. Having two lights with a consistent temperature and brightness will make photos much easier!
Microspikes or YakTrax
Microspikes and YakTrax are devices you slide over your shoes to give you traction on slippery surfaces. I prefer Kahtoolah spikes to Yak Trax because I feel like they provide better grift while also staying on your feet better. They’re also more pricey. If they’re out of your budget, YakTrax are a good alternative. This is another thing I’d recommend checking with your photographer about – I always bring them to elopements where they may be needed.
Other Items You Definitely Want to Bring (and probably already own)
- snacks (or even better, a picnic!)
- a blanket (I’m SUPER partial to Pendleton blankets and the way they look in photos – this could be an awesome excuse to splurge on a blanket that will last a lifetime! We have one of the National Park blankets in our house and two of the camp blankets in our camper van. I’m obsessed!)
- Meds (Ibuprofen, tylenol, pepto, gas-x, antacid, etc.)
- First aid kit
Hopefully this Colorado elopement checklist helped you get a better idea of the things you may need o(or just want!) to bring to your elopement! If you have any questions or need help making this thing happen, get in touch!
Non-Hiking Related Items for your Elopement
I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest some other things that I’ve found have really added to my couple’s elopement experiences (and photos!!)! My couples tend to be HUGE fans of handcrafted, unique items – which means that whenever I’ve asked where they got something the answer was almost always Etsy! If you are looking to add some awesomeness to your elopement, here are some ideas:
A cute vow book can make a HUGE difference in how your ceremony photos look! Don’t read your vows off your phone!! Here are some awesome ones to check out.
Whether you attach your sign to your backpack or set it next to you during your ceremony, a cute sign is an awesome way to mark the date and they make for great photos!
While you can definitely do a traditional bouquet, a lot of my couples have gone the non-traditional route with dried flowers, wood flowers, or even crystals!
These are PERFECT for picnics in pretty places! Not only do they keep your food off the ground, but they look awesome in photos too!
Whew! That was a lot!! Hopefully this Colorado elopement checklist will help get you started on the path to having an incredible elopement!
Hopefully this Colorado elopement checklist got you started on the path of planning your own elopement! Need more advice on planning your Colorado elopement? Check out these guides:
How to Elope: A Guide for the Curious and Confused
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