**Currently booking through fall 2023!**
If you're anything like me the idea of getting married with your dog there is unfathomable. They're not just pets – they're FAMILY (even if they're the only family invited to your elopement)! As a Colorado adventure elopement photographer and certifiably crazy dog lady I completely understand why couples choose to have their dogs at their weddings (heck, my husband and I insisted on having our dog at ours back before it had become sort of normal!).
Having your best friend along can come with unique set of considerations – but don't worry, I'm here to help you out! Let's talk about how to elope with a dog in Colorado!
Eloping in Colorado with your best friend*? This guide is for you!
*no, your other best friend! (A/k/a your dog!)
Short answer? Oh my God, yes!
Is Colorado dog friendly?
Colorado is one of the most dog-friendly states in the U.S. and that is evidenced by JUST. HOW. MANY dogs there are! With tons of trails, thousands of acres of open land, and lots of pet-friendly lodging, Colorado is a perfect place to elope with your pooch!
Dog Friendly Elopement Locations in Colorado
Breckenridge is absolutely beautiful and SUPER dog friendly! Think big mountains, beautiful lakes, and a bustling mountain town – all just two hours from Denver airport!
Crested Butte is known for it’s killer mountain biking and endless wildflowers. It’s surrounded by stunning scenery and one of the most adorable little mountain towns you’ve ever seen!
Telluride + the San Juans
The San Juan mountains are far and away the most beautiful part of Colorado – they’re also FAR and AWAY! The long drive is worth it for blue lakes, jagged peaks, and few crowds.
Buena Vista / Twin Lakes
This is one of my FAVORITE areas for elopements that are close-ish to Denver and it's also super dog friendly! Explore caves, creeks, two big lakes, and the Continental Divide!
Boulder / The Indian Peaks Wilderness
If you want to be SUPER close to Denver but still high in the mountains, the Boulder area (and the neighboring Indian Peaks wilderness are perfect. This is a place where you will want to hike to get away from the crowds but if that's up you alley, it's perfect!
Can your dog sign your marriage license in Colorado?
I know it may be hard to believe but in Colorado it is perfectly legal for your dog to “sign” your marriage license with it's pawprint. While you don't need a witness or officiant to get married in Colorado, why WOULDN'T you want your dog to sign your license?!
Cute witness or CUTEST WITNESS EVER?!?!?!
While there are tons of places in Colorado that I recommend for an elopement with a dog, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is NOT one of them. Honestly, because of the large crowds and strict rules about where elopements can occur, I don’t really recommend eloping in RMNP to anyone!
The National Parks have very strict rules about dogs in the parks which generally confines them to parking lots. Unless your dog is a service dog, they can’t go on the trails.
The good news about all of this is that Colorado is FULL of places that are pet-friendly AND elopement-friendly.
Can you bring your dog to Rocky Mountain National Park?
Should you bring your dog to your elopement?
This is probably one of the first things to consider when planning an elopement with or without a dog. A LOT of couples ask my thoughts on the subject but I always tell them that they are the ones who know their dogs best! Does your dog travel well? Is it friendly? Is it at least reasonably well-behaved (no judgement here – one of our pups is a maniac!)? Will it enjoy being there or will it find the whole thing to be stressful? These are all important considerations to ask yourself before you decide to bring your dog to your elopement!
For the sake of this article, let’s say that the answer is YES – here’s now to elope with a dog (and not lose your mind while doing it)!
How to Elope With A Dog
Step 1: Choose a Dog Friendly Location
One of the first things you’ll want to consider if you decide to bring your dog to your elopement is WHERE would be a good place for them. Some parts of the U.S. are just generally more dog-friendly than others and some dogs do well in certain climates. Travel is another HUGE concern so you should pick a place that is easy to get to (most dogs don’t enjoy flying ….). That means that Hawaii and Alaska, both of which are incredibly popular elopement locations, are generally out. Not to worry – the U.S. is a giant country with tons of options! Because national parks typically have really strict rules about dogs I generally recommend going a different route for couples who will be bringing their pups. Fortunately there is TONS of public land that isn’t part of a National Park and have incredible views that make for epic elopements!
As a Colorado elopement photographer, I’m a little biased but I think Colorado is the BEST place in the U.S. to elope with a dog – we’ll talk about that later on!
Step 2: Book a Dog Friendly AirBnB or Hotel
If you chose the right part of the country for your elopement you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding dog-friendly lodging. AirBnBs always seem to work best for people traveling with pets (or small children!) but there are also plenty of dog-friendly hotels as well. Just make sure your pup will be welcomed wherever you stay!
Step 3: Find vendors who are as crazy about dogs as you are!
It’s a sad fact that not everyone loves dogs (I KNOW. Crazy, right?!?!?!) but fortunately there are tons of people who do! Before you book a vendor it’s always good to know how they’ll get along with your pooch before you show up on your elopement day! You don’t want the big day to be the time you find out that your photographer is scared of dogs or that your makeup artist starts sneezing immediately at the slightest hint of dog hair! Making sure your elopement team is on board with the pups will help make everything go a whole lot smoother!
Step 4: Pick a Ceremony Location
When picking a ceremony location its helpful to consider what the area is like, what the weather will be like at the time of day you are getting married, whether there is likely to be other people or animals around, and how your dog will handle all of it. An experienced elopement photographer will be able to help you out here – lean on them for advice!
Step 5: Plan Dog-Friendly Activities (or have a backup plan!)
This is the fun part! What do you love doing with. your dog? If your pup loves to swim, make a stop at a lake or river a part of your day! Does your pooch like to hike? Awesome! Hike to your ceremony spot! It’s also a really good idea to think about if there are parts of your day that you DON’T want your dog to be a part of. I’ve had couples plan their day so their pup is there for part of it and then with a friend or dogsitter for the other part. It’s all doable with a little planning!
Step 6: Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Eloping with a dog is a lot like life with a dog – often it’s incredible, occasionally it’s a little stressful, and often things don’t quite go as planned. It’s ok – just roll with it. When my husband and I got married our beloved black lab knocked over a vase full of flowers right as we were about to walk down the aisle. Glass and water went everywhere and our small handful of guests gasped and expected me to be horrified. But all I could do was laugh (after we made sure her paws were safe from the glass)! To this day it’s still one of my favorite memories from our wedding!
If you’re wondering how and where to elope with a dog, this article hopefully got you started on your path! If you have ANY questions or need more help – and want to get it from someone who is probably as crazy about pups as you are – hit me up! I’m happy to help! Just be warned that you’ll prooooobably get more pictures of your dog than you will of yourselves. I’m kidding. Mostly. 😉
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