how to elope in colorado

The Ultimate Guide to planning your Colorado Mountain Elopement

So you want to elope in COlorado?

Awesome! but … now what?!

Most couples who decide to elope in Colorado are SO stoked … until they realize they have NO idea how to actually plan this thing. Sound familiar?

Don‘t worry! I know planning an elopement can be a daunting task … which is why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to eloping in Colorado!

Grab yourself a drink (I’ll have an IPA) and take a look around! I have a feeling that by the end of this you’ll be breathing a HUGE sigh of relief and knowing that this thing you’re about to do? It’s going to be epic.

best + Most epic places to elope in COlorado

In a state full of drop dead gorgeous places, coming up with the BEST places to elope in Colorado is nearly impossible! We have everything from mountains to deserts to forests and more!

Here are a few of my FAVORITE Colorado mountain elopement locations!

Crested Butte

With its colorful wildflowers, charming architecture, and scenic mountain vistas, Crested Butte is often referred to as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” providing a romantic setting for elopements. To say it is the perfect little mountain town would be a dramatic understatement! CB, as it’s known locally is far and away one of the best places for a Colorado mountain elopement! Check out my full guide to eloping in Crested Butte.

Breckenridge

This historic mining town turned ski resort offers an adorable Main Street, stunning mountain views, loads of lodging and restaurants, and lots of beautiful spots for your elopement! And because it’s just two hours from the Denver area it’s reasonably easy to get to without a long drive. Check out my full Breckenridge elopement guide.

Telluride

Telluride is the best known town in the San Juans and an awesome location for your elopement. This town is surrounded by steep canyon walls, big mountains, and waterfalls. It is one of the fancier towns in Colorado making it an awesome place for a luxury elopement (and don’t worry, “Colorado fancy” is still incredibly laid back!). Check out my Telluride elopement guide!

Boulder

Boulder is a beautiful small city located at the base of the mountains and has lots of options for elopements year round! The Indian Peaks Wilderness is situated in the mountains just above Boulder. This rugged area is perfect for couples who want a backcountry elopement and aren’t afraid to hike! It’s teaming with wildflowers and wildlife (including lots of moose!).

Great Sand Dunes National Park

When most people think of Colorado they think of the mountains but what if you could elope in the desert … AND the mountains?! I believe Great Sand Dunes National Park is the most underrated elopement location in Colorado and I will die on this (very sandy) hill!

Twin Lakes, Leadville, and Buena Vista

The Twin Lakes area is afar and away one of my favorite places in Colorado for elopements. Why? The variety of scenery you can get all in one day is second to none! Lakes, forests, rivers, alpine views, and even caves are all accessible in this area and make for stunning and varied photos. Check out my full guide to eloping in Twin Lakes, Leadville, and Buena Vista.

reasons to elope in Colorado

Why Colorado is one of the best places to Elope in the U.S.

I’m probably a little (ok, a lot!) biased but I truly believe that Colorado is one of the best places to elope in the U.S., if not the world. If you’re thinking about eloping in Colorado and looking for some good excuses, allow me to be your enabler! Here are 5 reasons Colorado is an awesome place to elope!

1 Colorado’s incredible scenery makes for a killer backdrop for your elopement

Colorado is drop dead gorgeous. The views here, y’all? They’re kind of insane. We have mountains (duh!), lakes, forests, rivers, deserts (did you know we have deserts?!), sand dunes, and so, so much more. Whatever you want (unless you want is in ocean …), Colorado can deliver.

2. You don’t need an officiant

Colorado is one of the VERY few states in the U.S. where you don’t need an officiant of any kind (or any witnesses, for that matter!) to get married. 90% of my couples “self-solemnize” which means they say their vows just to eachother with no one else running the show. It’s the sweetest, most personal way to get married and one of those things that makes elopeing in Colorado truly unique!

3. Colorado is centrally located and easy to get to

Flights to Denver are plentiful both from around the U.S. (as well as abroad). They’re typically pretty inexpensive and because Colorado is smack dab in the middle of the country, generally pretty short!

4. Killer food, good beer, etc.

Colorado has a thriving food and beer scene, even in the most tiny of mountain towns. If you fancy yourself a foodie, you’ll find plenty to keep you happy here! Have an awesome dinner, visit a brewery or two, maybe hit up a dispensary if that’s your jam … there are plenty of ways to relax in the Centennial State

5. It’s a great place to honeymoon after your elopement

Whether your idea of a dream honeymoon involves a fancy resort or hoofing it through th mountains (or some combination of both, Colorado is a perfect honeymoon location).

The Best time of year to elope in Colorado

Colorado is stunningly beautiful year round but every season has a very different vibe – and some are easier for planning elopements than others. When you should elope in Colorado largely depends on what kind of weather you hope to have and the kinds of activities you want to do!

Summer Elopements in Colorado

Summer in the mountins is BEAUTIFUL! Warm sunny days give way to cool night and the options for adventure are endless. If you want to make hiking a BIG part of your day, I’d recommend late summer or early fall as lingering snow can sometimes make early summer elopements more challenging

Fall Elopements in colorado

Fall is a transitional season around here – it’s also one of my favorites! The weather in fall is usually mild, the aspens are gold, and a lot of the tourists are gone. By mid October we’ve typically transitioned out of fall and into something more like winter … BUT because the snow isn’t deep yet, this is a great time for a hiking elopement that may have some snow on the ground!

Winter elopements in Colorado

In case you haven’t heard, winter is kind of a big deal around here. If you want to ski or are dreaming of cozy cabin vibes, this is your season! Winter is long and gorgeous in these parts! It’s a perfect time of year for a dogsledding or snowshoeing elopement. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that the opportunities for adventure end!

1. Choose your Colorado Elopement Photographer and Planner

Your photographer will help you with every step of this process so its always good to bring them on early! Yes, I’m a little bit biased but trust me when I say were here to help make everything easier!

2. Choose your elopement location

You and your photographer will work together to come up with location ideas that fit your vision for your elopement. Want to elope on top of a mountain? Go for a long hike? NOT hike at all? All of those things will come into play to help us choose the perfect spot!

3. BOOK LODGING AND ANY OTHER VENDORS

Once you have a general idea of where you’ll be eloping in Colorado it’s time to build your dream team! Your photographer will recommend any other vendors (florals? hair and makeup? a heli tour?) that you want.

4. Secure any necessary permits

If a permit is required for your location, now is the time to get it. Elopement photographers are pros at this kind of thing and can help you figure out whether you need a permit and who you need to talk to get one!

5. HAVE THE BEST DAMN DAY OF YOUR LIFE!

This day is all about the two of you (and those views!) so take the time to soak it all in. I promise it’s going to be better than you ever imagined!

Colorado elopement laws

There are two main things to consider when thinking about Colorado elopement laws. The first is what is required to get legally married in Colorado. I’ll get into more detail about that below but just know this: Colorado elopement laws make it SUPER easy to get married here because you don’t need an officiant OR witnesses!

The second thing to know about Colorado elopement laws is that some locations require a permit. What you need to get married in Colorado varies wildly depending on where you are eloping (in a national park? state park? national forest …?)! I always recommend working with an experienced elopement photographer/planner to make sure you are checking all those boxes!

Self-solemnizing elopement ceremonies in Colorado

What is self-solemnization and how does it work?

Colorado is unique in that a couple does not need anyone to “marry” them. In Colorado a couple can simply say their vows to each other and call it good! This is called “self-solemnization”.


90% of my couples choose to go this route. Most say that they love the idea of having their ceremony be TRULY private with just the two of them. It also makes it possible to be supremely flexible with timelines and locations on your elopement day!

Check out Some Examples of Real Self-Solemnizing Colorado Elopements:

Madi + Taylor

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Marisa + Jared

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Jordan + ISaiah

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Colorado Elopement Timelines

What happens at a Colorado Elopement?

The beauty of eloping is that you get to make the rules and do literally WHATEVER YOU WANT. The tricky part about all this? The options are so weide open that it’s hard to know where to start. While every couple does things a little differently, a typicaly elopement say, at it’s most basic will usually involve some combination of:

Getting ready
First look
Ceremony
Celebration (champagne, first dance, picnic, etc.)
Lots and lots of photos!

Beyond those things, a lot of couples choose to include other activities that they love into their day. This can include big adventures (like rock climbing or kayaking) or much smaller and cozier ones (like curling up next to a fire or having a private chef make dinner).

Want some inspiration? I have a whole post on 20 Unique Ideas for your Colorado Elopement!

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free places to elope in colorado

If you are looking for free places to elope in Colorado you are in luck! This is a state that has thousands and thousands of acres in public land on which you can elope for free or for a very minimal fee.

The catch? It’s hard to know where all of these places are and permits are required for many of them! This is why it is always super important to work with a photographer/planner who knows the ins and outs of the permit process and can help you find the best free places to elope in Colorado!

how much does it cost to elope in colorado


Your Colorado elopement can be as lux or budget friendly as you want it to be

The cost of eloping in Colorado varies WIDELY depending on what you want for your day.! An elopement that is just a quick vow exchange followed by a photoshoot will be much less expensive than a longer and more involved day.

Most of the couples I work with are eloping because they care deeply about having a day that is stress free personal to them, not because they are necessarily trying to save money. I’ve helped couples have $6k elopements (where the majority of that is for photography!) and I’ve helped couples have $30k+ elopements. It’s all about deciding what is most important to you on your elopement day and prioritizing those things!

Here are a few sample breakdowns of budget-friendly and luxury elopements. Most couples end up somewhere between these two, picking and choosing what is most important to them and what hey want to splurge on!

affordable colorado elopement budget

$2500 – Photographer (1-2 hours)

$30 – Marriage License

$300 – 2 nights at budget AirBnB

$30 – Flowers (DIY bouquet)

$0 – Hair and Makeup (DIY)

$300 -Dress

$300 – Suit

$50. Simple Picnic + Drinks

TOTAL: $3510

mid-range colorado elopement budget

$8000 – Photographer (8 hours)

$30 – Marriage License

$500 – 2 nights at nice AirBnB

$200 – Flowers

$500 – Jeep Rental

$300 – Hair and Makeup

$2000 -Dress

$800 – Suit

$200 – Dinner at Restaurant

TOTAL: $11,830

luxury colorado elopement budget

$10,500 – Photographer (All day)

$30 – Marriage License

$1200 – 2 nights at fancy hotel

$500 – Flowers

$800 (private tour, sleigh ride, dogsledding, etc.)

$500 – Private Chef

$300 – Hair and Makeup

$5000 -Dress

$1000 – Suit

TOTAL: $19,830

all inclusive elopement packages in colorado

When you think of a destination elopement many people think of all-inclusive elopement packages that are typically provided by a resort or the like. While this is definitely an option here in Colorado, it’s not one that I recommend if you truly want a personal experience.

Elopements have come a LONG way since the days of running away to Vegas. Today you have SO many more options for how you do this thing. I alway suggest to friends to avoid those all-inclusive packages and go their own way!

Start with booking a photographer/planner who will help you get all the details locked in and then recommend other vendors for you to work with! It will still be super easy but you’ll know that you’ll be having a day that is truly YOU and you’ll get to choose the vendors and types of experiences you truly LOVE … not just what is included in the resort package!

1. Pack warmer clothes than you think you need

This one is really big and really important! Colorado can be pretty chilly – not just in winter, but year round. While summer temperatures, during the day, tend to be pretty warm in most mountain towns, that can change quickly if the weather turns, the sun starts to go down, or you go up in elevation. You don’t necessarily need to plan on wearing as super warm dress or suit but definitely be sure to have layers, ideally cute ones, that you can throw on! Nude leggings under dresses work really well and a cute wrap will be a welcome addition (whether than an annoyance!) in photos.

2. plan on your dress getting dirty

Adventure elopements are not the time to be obsessed with keeping your dress pristine! Your dress will likely get dirty (how dirty it gets is somewhat up to the location and weather – and somewhat up to you!). Most of my clients see ending the day with a dirty dress as a badge of honor. It’s part of the adventure elopement experience. 🙂

3. Wear shoes you can actually hike in

Even if you’re not going for a long hike there is a good chance that you’ll be moving around on uneven terrain. This is not the time to wear heals (although feel free to throw them in your bag for photos!). Comfy shoes with good traction (like hiking boots) are a really good option. Nothing will put a damper on your day quite like twisting an ankle during your first look!

Pro Tip: this goes for the guys too! I can’t tell you how many times my brides have worn comfy boots but grooms have worn fancy dress shoes – with zero traction! Remember, you can always change shoes during the day!

4. choose clothe syou can actually move in

When it comes to eloping, being able to actually move and breathe in your wedding clothes is the name of the game! There is a good chance you’ll be climbing on rocks, or tip-toeing across streams and you don’t want your dress to hold you back! Long trails look awesome in photos and are often not a huge problem – what IS a problem is a dress that makes it harder to lift your leg high, bend over, etc. Having said all that, you should definitely wear what you want!!

6. have a plan for hiking with your dress

If your elopement involves a hike (remember, it doesn’t HAVE to involve a hike if you don’t want it to!), have a plan for what you are going to do with your dress. DO you want to wear it while you hike or change into it when you get there? How will you carry it? These are all good things to think about when choosing your dress!

Wondering how to hike with your elopement dress? I have a whole article on that here.

do you need a permit to elope in Colorado?

The answer to this is very much “Maybe”.

Whether you need a permit depends on where you are eloping and how many guests, if any, you are having.

The national parks, city and county open spaces, national forest, BLM, and Wilderness areas all have different requirements for whether you need a permit and how to get one – and it’s not even uniform across all of the same types of land (e.g. the requirements are different in Rocky Mountain National Park compared Great Sand Dunes National Park). It is all HIGHLY specific to who owns the land you are eloping on.

Your elopement photographer can help you navigate all of this (we’re experts in this stuff!). This is one of the reasons it’s extremely useful to work with a photographer who specializes in elopements!! You DON’T want your day ruined with a ticket or getting kicked out in the middle of your ceremony!

ready to start planning your colorado elopement?

Get in touch! Your adventure begins when you fill out the contact form below! I can’t wait to meet you and help you plan your best day ever in the mountains I call home!