Eloping in Boulder
So—you’re thinking about eloping in Colorado, huh? I am so here for that. If your mind is immediately jumping to eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park, I don’t blame you (love, love, love RMNP)—but I’m here to drop some serious knowledge on you in this Boulder elopement guide.
Here’s a quick spoiler alert to give you a heads up about this astonishing state—Colorado is one of the most amazing spots you can pick for an elopement because it has so much to offer.
Whether you love winter sports (snowboarders, snowshoers, and backcountry ski people, this is the spot for that) or you’re a sucker for gorgeous mountain views (who isn’t?) or you love a surprisingly southwest vibe (yep, CO has that, too), Colorado is overflowing with beautiful spots to say I do.
One of those killer spots in Colorado? The beautiful city of Boulder. If you’ve never been to Boulder, you’re probably tempted to think that it’s just another college town set against a gorgeous mountain backdrop—but oh boy, friends, that perception is the very tip of the iceberg. Friends, we’re about to dive deep into everything you need to know about eloping in Boulder, Colorado—buckle up, it’s about to get awesome.
The Top Reasons to Elope in Boulder
Ok, so, I’m going to do my best to not go off on some serious tangents because I could endlessly shout about the hundreds of reasons that Colorado is a must-elope spot (I actually dive into that a little right here in my Colorado elopement guide).
Instead, I’m going to narrow it down to my top six reasons that couples should elope in Boulder—because Boulder brings a lot to the table that other cities in CO can’t always offer.
Tons of Beautiful Outdoor Spots
Boulder isn’t comin’ to play when it comes to outdoor adventures. The Open Space and Mountain Parks Department in Boulder protects over 45,00 acres of open space land, over 150 miles of maintained trails, and over 60 parks in the city—it’s not just about the Flatirons here (though, those are killer, too).
Access to all Kinds of Adventures
Biking, hiking, snowshoeing, off-roading, hot air ballooning, paddle boarding, rock climbing—the list goes on and on. The best part about Boulder is its accessibility to all things adventurous. The only restriction? The time of year you decide to elope. Otherwise, Boulder is an open book for adventure—anything you desire, it’s basically got you covered.
Food, Glorious Food
Don’t even pretend delicious food isn’t part of the elopement journey. Here’s what Boulder brings to the table that other mountain towns might lack—food. Boulder is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from some serious mountain views, but it’s also a badass city, which means the food is freakin’ legit. So legit, in fact, that Bon Appetit dubbed Boulder “America’s Foodiest Town” in Feb of 2021.
I’m going to hardcore dive into this later in the post when we chat about regulations, permits, and rules, but here’s a little spoiler for you—you and your partner can handle the ceremony yourselves. AKA, you do not need an officiant or witnesses to make your marriage official. That’s right—if you want to elope just the two of you (sans any type of official or witness), your marriage is legally legit. P.S., you can have your doggo sign your marriage licensed and it still counts. So, yeah, self-solemnization for the freakin’ win over here.
Yep—in Boulder, your doggo can sign your marriage license and pretty much go anywhere with you. From hiking trails and outdoor spots to breweries, restaurants, and venues, Boulder is just as wild about your pup as you are. One stroll through town or on a trail will show you that Boulder is basically the doggo-capital of Colorado.
City Amenities at Your Fingertips
Boulder is an amazing location for a couple seeking the ultimate balance of outdoor solace and city convenience. Want to elope somewhere in the epic mountains and open space? Do it—then come back down into the city (a quick trip) and stay in a gorgeous Airbnb, visit a ton of killer breweries, and eat incredible food. You can even host an amazing post-elopement party or reception in town following your private elopement ceremony in the mountains. That balance of great outdoors and modern convenience? It seems too good to be true, but it’s not—that’s just how badass Boulder is.
The Best Boulder Elopement Locations
Here’s something I know for certain—most couples are looking for the perfect-for-them balance of views, adventure, and intimacy on their elopement day. This list I’m about to drop on you has all of that (and more) so covered. Check out these amazing Boulder elopement locations:
Lost Gulch Overlook Elopement
This is one of the most popular locations to elope in Boulder. It’s super accessible and has amazing views—and TBH, don’t even get me started on the sunsets here. Popularity combined with beauty means this place can get really busy. To help with the flood of visitors Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) has limited elopements to weekdays and put a cap on the number of guests you can bring.
Sunrise Amphitheater Elopement
Sunrise Amphitheater is a rentable location that is generally available from May 1st- Oct 31st. You can check availability on the Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks’ website. It’s ideal for a couple looking to tie the knot with guests, but it’s also a great spot for anyone who wants to have a location without hikers in the background. It has beautiful views of the pine trees, open sky, and gorgeous sunrises from the east—that’s where it gets its name. The three-hour rental fee is $400 for non-residents and $300 for residents of Boulder, CO. The one-hour rental fee is $150 for non-residents and $100 for residents of Boulder.
Artist Point Elopement
Artist Point is located pretty close to Sunrise Amphitheater right on top of Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder. This spot is ideal for small elopements with few or no guests. It can also be rented from OSMPs from about May – October. It’s surrounded by more trees, so you’ll have more privacy than an area like Lost Gulch. There are a few sections where the trees clear and offer some great views.
Brainard Lake Elopement
Brainard Lake is about an hour’s drive from the city, but it is worth it if you are looking for a perfect outdoor wedding location. Here, you will get spectacular views with access to the high mountain lakes. It is a better venue if you are an adventurous couple looking for something unique. The road to Brainard lake is only open from about late June to mid-October. The parking lot also fills up pretty quickly, so I always encourage my couples to head there early.
Lake Isabelle Elopement
There is no better spot for sunrise elopement than Lake Isabelle. The alpine glow on the mountains is worth the 2-mile hike and early morning start. The venue treats you to unforgettable memories and stunning views of gorgeous waterfalls, mountains crests, and waterfalls. Here you will also have the opportunity to have that breathtaking sunrise in the backdrop of your wedding pictures.
Chautauqua Park Elopement
Are you looking for a place to roam while taking those memorable wedding photos? Chautauqua Park has 26 scenic acres, with 58 historic cottages that give you everything you need in a wedding. Not only that, but the National Historic Landmark also gives you breathtaking views, picturesque settings, and unparalleled landscape for your backdrops. This location is also part of OSMP and requires a permit. There are also restrictions on the available days and times to hold a ceremony. Be aware that this is also a popular and busy area and no matter when you go, you’ll most likely see hikers and get a lot of ‘congrats!’ yelled your way.
NCAR Trail Elopement
The National Center for Atmospheric Research is one of the most famous outdoor wedding venues in Boulder, Colorado. It is a perfect venue for sunrise and sunset weddings and provides the most stunning views ever. You can access the trail easily from the parking lot.
Eldorado Canyon Elopement
Possibly the cutest drive to a state park I’ve ever taken. This gorgeous state park is a popular destination for rock climbers and is full of towering sandstone cliffs. The South Boulder Creek also winds its way through the park and offers some scenic spots for a picnic. In the winter, this park is also great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Flagstaff Mountain Elopement
Located close to downtown Boulder, this mountain has amazing views of the city below. There are so many different trails to explore. Honestly, the drive alone is beautiful but the views from the top are incredible! Because of its location and amazing views, it does get busy and crowded. The best time for an elopement here is during the week at sunrise.
Lost Lake Elopement
Lost Lake is a two-mile hike to one of the most striking alpine lakes in Colorado. It’s a really great option if you want to avoid crowds and enjoy a beautiful hike along the way. You’ll see Middle Boulder Creek, a waterfall, cascades, wildflowers, and meadows during this hike. In the winter this is another great spot if you want a cross-country skiing or snowshoeing elopement.
Here’s one quick disclaimer: Just like with any city or state, there’s not always a free-for-all elopement situation going on. AKA, it’s not always possible to just pick a spot and elope (this gets a little more complicated, too, if you’re planning on having guests at your elopement). Don’t get me wrong—the limits are pretty rare, but they do exist, which is why it’s crucial to check first!
Have a spot in mind for your Boulder elopement? Lay it on me. I can help you decipher permits, restrictions, and more—and get you that much closer to picking the perfect-for-you-place to elope in Boulder.
Let’s Talk Seasons: The Best Time of the Year to Elope in Boulder
Boulder—and most parts of Colorado in general, actually—offers something that very few other states can claim—pretty much beautiful weather year-round, all depending on what you’re into.
From warm and beautiful summers where wildflowers dot the mountains to snowy-but-sunny adventures in the dead of winter, Colorado truly just brings it when it comes to weather.
This flexibility is wonderful, but raises an important question when it comes to planning your elopement—when exactly is the best time of the year to elope in Boulder?
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for when to have your Boulder elopement—the best time of the year all depends on what you and your partner love, what you want to do on your day, and how you want to feel, too!
Fall in Boulder (September—November)
An absolutely EPIC time to elope in Colorado. Leftover temps from summer are cooling down, the leaves are starting to change, and snow is going to be possible at higher elevations. If you’re planning to elope in Boulder to capture Fall colors, you might want to plan toward the end of September to the beginning of October (when the leaves are at their peak!). The aspens will change colors right around this time, lighting up the mountains with a beautiful red, orange, and yellow glow! Toward the end of October and early November, mountain passes and high-elevation areas might start to close for the season (because snow is the real deal here).
Winter in Boulder (December- April)
If snow activities, tons of beautiful white stuff, and low temperatures are your vibe, then a Boulder elopement might be perfect for you! I highly suggest planning a winter elopement if you’re looking for a hybrid in-city-in-nature wedding and don’t plan to do a ton of hiking, because most mountain passes will be closed and unpredictable weather (like avalanches) can close important mountain highways! That being said, if you love to ski and snowboard or are seeking a cozy, winter wedding at a beautiful in-town venue, winter might be the perfect time for your elopement!
Spring in Boulder (May-June)
Like most Spring seasons, May-June in Colorado is very transitional—AKA, it can be a little finicky. You’ll likely still see some snow, freezing temps, and maybe even some rain, but the weather can change daily. Spring is a double-edged sword—it’s a gorgeous time to elope when the weather is right because things are starting to open, it’s less crowded, and the beautiful mix of winter and almost-summer is truly captivating. But it can also be tough—I always suggest a plan B (and C) for Colorado Spring elopements (just in case the weather turns).
Summer in Boulder (July-August)
Wildflowers, warm weather, and plenty of sunshine! Summer in Colorado is all about hiking, camping, off-roading, and adventure. While you still might see snow up at the tops of mountains, this is the time for all the comfortable outdoor adventuring. Mountain passes are open, trails are ready to be hiked, and camping season is on—if you love being warm, soaking up sunshine, and doing all the outdoor things (without being packed down in heavy jackets), Colorado summer is for you.
*BOULDER ELOPEMENT PRO TIP*
No matter what season you plan to elope, always bring layers—Colorado can throw some unpredictable weather your way, so it’s best to be prepared for anything!
The How-Tos & Paperwork: Boulder, Colorado Wedding Permit Details
Remember earlier when I mentioned restrictions and rules? This is the part where permits come into play.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, eloping in Boulder has its perks, and the paperwork and permit stuff is actually a big part of that—Colorado has pretty flexible marriage license rules, will likely grant a permit to elope in most outdoor spaces, and makes it easy to understand the details of acquiring a marriage license.
Location Permits & Fees
Many spots in Boulder (and everywhere else, too) might require specific permits in order for you and your partner to elope. This doesn’t mean you can’t elope somewhere you want—it just means you’ll need to apply for a permit or license ahead of time, get approved, and perhaps pay a fee to make sure your elopement plans are good to go with the city, county, or state.
The good news? When it comes to permits, I can help.
If you’re not sure if your dream location needs a permit, I got you covered. If you don’t know where to apply for a permit, I got you covered. If you’re totally confused about the whole permit thing in general—I got you covered there, too.
The important thing to remember about picking the perfect location for your elopement is to do some research—the last thing you want to do is end up skipping the right paperwork and permitting info.
Wedding Permits & Paperwork
Here are a few quick things you should know about getting married or eloping in Boulder—yep, it’s paperwork and permit stuff, but it’s definitely necessary if you want to get your marriage license in Boulder for the day of your elopement.
- Marriage licenses must be used within 35 days of the issue date in Colorado
- You don’t have to get your marriage license in Boulder—marriage licenses can be obtained in any county no matter where you choose to elope
- No witnesses are necessary—no officiants, either (we’ll get to that in a second)
- Licenses cost $30 in Boulder
- There’s no waiting period—AKA, if you want to get your license, get married, and turn it back in all in the same 24 hours, that possibility is all yours.
- Boulder is currently handling their marriage licensing online—visit the county’s site to get more info about scheduling your appointment.
- BECAUSE OF COVID – Colorado will only mail a license to an address in CO, so you either need to have that figured out (might I suggest a P.O. box) or pick it up in person (or I can receive it for you—I live in CO)
Everything You Need to Know About Self-Solemnizing
Colorado has already proven to be pretty chill about the paperwork part of getting married, but I’m about to drop one of my fave things about CO rules and regs—in Colorado, you can self-solemnize, AKA, you don’t need witnesses or an officiant to make your marriage official.
In other words, a marriage can be performed by the couple themselves—no judges, no court magistrates, and no authorized religious officials, and no authorized public officials.
Every state has different rules about what “counts” for an official wedding—often, you’ll have to include a witness or two and have an authorized person perform your marriage ceremony. But Colorado? They’re chill—they’re all about couples doing the damn thing all by themselves.
*BONUS TIP* Because self-solemnization is a thing and witnesses aren’t needed, you can TOTALLY let your pup sign your marriage license with their little paw dipped in ink. Seriously, it can (and should) be done.
Need an alternate plan? Handle all of your paperwork before or after your actual elopement day—there’s no reason you absolutely, 100% have to file your marriage paperwork on the day (or the days leading up to) your Boulder elopement. If the paperwork stresses you out, handle it before your day or after—all that matters is that you get married! The marriage license and paperwork can come later.
The Top Elopement and Wedding Venues in Boulder
Searching for a beautiful wedding venue that fits your perfect day? You’ll def want to check these out. They’re great for couples who want to keep some traditional features in their Boulder elopement.
Flagstaff House is ideal for couples looking for a nontraditional setup for their elopement. This fine-dining restaurant has gorgeous views of the famous Boulder Valley, and I’m willing to bet you’ll also love the multiple outdoor terraces that overlook Boulder City. It’s a perfect location if you want to step away and have couples portraits near Chautauqua or Lost Gulch.
This location is surrounded by gorgeous local artwork and amazing views of the Flatiron mountains. The gallery is also flooded with natural light during the day. This location is also near sunrise Amphitheatre and you can hold your ceremony there and come to the Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery for your reception.
This Museum is located in the historic district of Boulder and is flooded with bright warm light during the day. The brick walls and white accents add rustic elements to your beautiful wedding. The Museum is also filled with unique contemporary art for your guests to enjoy.
Best Air BnBs in Boulder
If you’re thinking about eloping in Boulder and want to make the most out of your trip, I suggest staying in a local Air BnB. There are lots of hotels in Boulder, especially near the downtown area, but I’d highly recommend that you book an AirBnB for your stay instead. There are a few benefits to booking an Air BnB over a hotel. Most Air Bnbs come stocked with your basic needs (this is great if you plan on hosting your celebration there). There are also plenty of Air BnBs that are able to accommodate more guests. Not only will the place feel more like a home but you’ll have more space to get ready without seeing each other. There is usually better lighting for getting ready photos, and more space to celebrate the day than a small hotel room.
Boulder is a popular destination location and the Air Bnbs can fill up quickly. If you’re looking for a home large enough to accommodate your whole family or a bigger group of guests, book as soon as possible as the best options disappear first.
I’ve scrolled through every AirBnB listing in the Crested Butte area, looking for the cutest homes to recommend to my couples. The result is a shortlist of beautiful homes, from small cabins to luxury mountain estates, that would all make a wonderful place to stay for your elopement vacation.
Looking for a Boulder Elopement Photographer? I’m Here for You
Is Boulder the perfect fit for your dream elopement? Have some ideas you want to run by me? Friends, I’m here for that (and you!). I’m ready to talk about all the Colorado options and help you celebrate your real, raw, and authentic love in a way that’s true to who you both are—nothing else matters when on the day you’re choosing your partner for the rest of your lives.
So, let’s chat! If you’re vibin’ with me and want to talk Boulder, let’s do this damn thing—reach out to me ASAP and I’ll get back to you in a jiff. I’m so ready to help you plan your unique, intentional elopement in a beautiful Boulder location.
P.S., want a little extra elopement guidance? Check out my elopement guide right here for a comprehensive look at elopements and how to craft your perfect-for-you day.
I'm Marcela! I'm an Elopement Photographer here to help you plan a deeply connective and intimate elopement of your dreams!
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