When a couple gets married, they make a beautiful promise to each other to blend their lives together. For a lot of couples, though, that decision isn’t one that they’re making for only the two of them. For some, the day they get married is the day they make a promise to blend their two beautiful families into one.
And that was exactly what Jess and Cody did during their autumn elopement day in Colorado. Jess and Cody’s day was marked with a lot of things–intense adventure, a one-of-a-kind celebration, amazing photos (that I still think about to this day), and of course, a beautiful promise to each other. But I think what sets their day apart so much in my mind was the way they committed to more than just each other, but to their new family–one that consisted of the two of them, Cody’s two sons, and Jess’s daughter.
On the day of their elopement, I met up with Jess and Cody at their Airbnb in Crested Butte. It was September, and even though autumn in the mountains can be unpredictable, there’s something you can usually rely on up at this altitude–amazing, jaw-dropping Fall colors. Beautiful gold aspens could be seen all over–something we’d see all day and somehow never get used to.
When I arrived at their Airbnb, I captured a few of the most special getting-ready moments I’ve ever seen. Jess and her daughter got ready together, perfecting their wedding day looks side-by-side, while Cody and his two boys also got ready together, making sure their suspenders were centered just right.
Each and every member of the family added the last-minute touch, pulling on their customized shoes before heading out for their first look–a pair of black vans with the wedding date and their shared last name embroidered on the back.
Normally, a first look is a moment shared between the bride and the groom–it’s a meaningful moment to soak in the first time they lay eyes on each other in their wedding day attire. It’s meant to be the official beginning of their day together, a giant step into their commitment, and a huge sigh of relief that they finally get to see each other.
But for Jess and Cody, this moment meant more than that. They wanted this moment to be about their family, not just the two of them. So, for their first look, all members of the family were involved. Cody and his two sons stood out on the patio of the Airbnb, patiently awaiting Jess and her daughter to tap them on the shoulders.
That first look moment was one that I’d never forget. Seeing the whole family rush into each other, hugging with excitement, is exactly what I believe elopements are about–making the moments you care most about last just a little bit longer.
We all climbed into our cars and headed up the mountain to their elopement ceremony spot. With just under ten guests, they wanted a place that was beautiful and accessible–something they didn’t have to all hike to in order to watch. They weren’t against an epic adventure, though; that’s something they were saving for after the ceremony.
Jess’s dad walked her down the trail to a mountainside river. There, she and Cody–and all their kids–stood together as they said their vows. Cody and Jess shared their promises to each other from their own handwritten vows. But they didn’t stop there. For them, this day was about more than just blending their lives together–it was about blending their families.
And that meant Cody and Jess had more vows to make and promises to keep–but this time, to their children. Cody shared his promises and vows with Jess’ daughter; Jess did the same with Cody’s sons.
They even had all three kids sign their marriage licenses as witnesses, another beautiful and meaningful way to include them in their decision to blend their families.
But for as much as their wedding day was meant for their family as a whole, it was also important for Jess and Cody to celebrate their marriage together, just the two of them. After the ceremony, their loved ones took the kids, and Jess and Cody started off on an adventure meant only for them.
That’s when their elopement day turned into a Colorado waterfall adventure elopement.
One of the things I loved most about Jess and Cody was that they were willing to do something absolutely crazy with me. They’re both active and love doing things outside, so when I told them that I wanted to hunt down a stunning waterfall in Crested Butte (that might be a little intense), they were both more than game.
We started down a long dirt road that ended up being far longer than I thought (and filled with cows we had to shoo off the road to keep going). When we got to the parking area, we also realized the hike down was going to be a little more epic than we’d anticipated. But Jess and Cody were totally down for the adventure of it all–and when we finally got to the waterfall, it was more than worth it.
We spent the afternoon exploring the waterfall. Jess and Cody ditched their shoes to run around in the water, soaking in every moment of having this stunning, hidden Colorado waterfall all to themselves.
They probably could have stayed there forever, playing in the waterfall among the pops of golden trees on their wedding day. But we had to get back into town–Jess and Cody had one more big adventure planned for their Colorado elopement day.
When we arrived back in town, we headed straight for the tattoo shop–it was time for Jess and Cody to add more than just rings to their fingers; they were adding tattoos. The artist sketched up some tattoo ring designs while Jess and Cody played a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who’d get their ink first.
Jess–who lost the game–went first, and she sat like a champ. Cody was a little more anxious but sat well, too.
At the end of the day, Jess and Cody’s elopement was unlike any other I’d ever been a part of. Sure, they were willing to take an epic adventure to a hidden Colorado waterfall. They rolled with the punches when the hike was a little more intense than planned. And they even got matching tattoos as the perfect end to the day.
But ultimately, none of those things were the end-all-be-all of what made their elopement day special.
What made their elopement day so perfect was their commitment to making it about what mattered to them–their family, their love for each other, and their commitment to chase adventure, whatever it looks like, together forever.
Check out their Elopement Album!