Elope in Colorado - https://capturedbymarcela.com/

From brainstorming to saying 'I do"

Ultimate Colorado Elopement Guide
2021

 head due north

Imagine a wedding day focused around you and your love! That's exactly what elopements are all about. I love that elopements allow you to express who you are as a couple by getting married in a way that is authentic to you.

I have used my experience traveling, planning and photographing elopements to build this guide and it should help give you starting points to planning your epic elopement!

Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.

As you go through this process, stay true to yourself and to the vision of your celebration. Congratulations for embarking on the best adventure of your life - marriage.

What does eloping mean?

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There are a few unique things about eloping in Colorado that you’ll want to know before moving forward with your plans. But, those details are the same things that make Colorado such a perfect place to elope! Keep reading and you’ll learn how to elope in Colorado, what self-solemnization means, and what you’ll need to do to legally get married. 

5 Reasons to Elope in Colorado

Self-solemnization is super easy and cuts down your elopement planning time and costs.

 - No one except you two is required to be present and your elopement can be more private.

 - You don’t need to worry about hiring another vendor.
       - You save money.
       - You don't have to worrying about having a stranger join both of you in marriage.
       - You can sign your own marriage license.
       - You can plan a ceremony without working around an officiant’s schedule.

Colorado’s self-solemnization allowance gives couples so much freedom to do their wedding their own way! But with this freedom comes very little direction during your ceremony. It’s just the both of you sharing your vows and exchanging rings. If you want some more help with how to organize this time, let me know!

You can marry yourselves in Colorado! Yep, you read that right. Self-solemnization is the ability to officiate your own wedding. Basically, it means the state does not require an officiant to preside over your elopement ceremony, and you can sign your own marriage certificate! Self-solemnization isn’t unique to only Colorado, but this state is one of those most familiar with the process, and it can help make your elopement planning easier.

You can marry yourselves in Colorado! Yep, you read that right. Self-solemnization is the ability to officiate your own wedding. Basically, it means the state does not require an officiant to preside over your elopement ceremony, and you can sign your own marriage certificate! Self-solemnization isn’t unique to only Colorado, but this state is one of those most familiar with the process, and it can help make your elopement planning easier.

Self-solemnization is super easy and cuts down your elopement planning time and costs.

✓ No one except you two is required to be present and your elopement can be more private.

✓ You don’t need to worry about hiring another vendor.

✓ You save money.

✓ You don't have to worrying about having a stranger join both of you in marriage.

✓ You can sign your own marriage                  license.

✓ You can plan a ceremony without working around an officiant’s schedule.

1. Self Solemnization

Colorado’s self-solemnization allowance gives couples so much freedom to do their wedding their own way! But with this freedom comes very little direction during your ceremony. It’s just the both of you sharing your vows and exchanging rings. If you want some more help with how to organize this time, let me know!

Most states require a minimum of five people for an elopement to be a legally binding marriage ceremony. Most states require the couple, an officiant, and two witnesses.

In Colorado, you legally only need two people present at your elopement. I’d argue, you need three – the two getting married, plus a rad photographer ready to document the day!

Of course, if you want to invite friends and family as guests, you’re more than welcome to! However, it’s nice that you don’t NEED anyone else to be there. If it’s your preference, we can plan an elopement day where no one except you and your partner is present.

 - We can scout a location far out in the mountains where you’ll have privacy to share your vows, enjoy nature’s beauty, and spend time together without life’s typical distractions.

 - I’ll step back, take photos, and help guide you if you’re new to the area. I like to think of Colorado as a “choose your own adventure” place to get married, and that level of freedom can be exciting!

2. You Don't Need Witnesses

As a fur momma to 2 pups, I think this has to be my favorite reason of them all! Because you don't need 'real' witnesses to sign your marriage license, you can get creative and have your furry best friend sign it. Just make sure to bring an ink pad so you can stamp their paw.

If you want your pup to dress up for you amazing elopement, check out these sites for bowties, cuffs, dress and tuxes.

Baxter Boo
Posh Puppy Boutique
Funny Fur
David’s Bridal

3. Your Dog Can Sign Your License

Colorado isn’t just all-day hikes and exhausting 14ers (though those adventures are wonderful in their own way), there are many easily accessed views, lakes, and elopement locations perfect for couples of all skill levels. Reach out and I’ll help you find the perfect Colorado elopement location for your dream outdoor wedding!

Colorado has SUCH a diverse landscape. We have snow-capped mountains, turquoise alpine lakes, sand dunes, canyons, wildflower meadows, hot springs, arches, and canyons!

With 4 National Parks, 8 National Monuments, and 3 National Heritage Sites, Colorado has limitless elopement locations. You could choose to say your vows on a mountain top, or go hiking all day to reach an alpine lake where privacy is cherished and the world feels all yours. Or, you could elope in Great Sand Dunes and friends who see the photos will think you got married in Morocco!

4. The Epic Locations

Because of Colorado's diverse landscape, there are so many different elopement activities you can do.

You can also go brewery hopping, horse back riding, and sky diving. You can take a nap in a hammock in the middle of an Aspen grove (my hubby and I did this)! There are rivers to go white water rafting and hot springs to soak in. You can take a helicopter tour. You can go rock climbing or canoeing. We have dog sledding, snowmobiling, mountain biking, fishing, ice skating, hot air ballooning, snow shoeing, ziplining. You can explore caverns or check out wine country. You can take a ride on trains or simply enjoy an outdoor meal while soaking the views.


5. Endless Activity Ideas

There are so many absolutely breathtaking locations in Colorado. I’m especially passionate about helping couples find hidden gems for their elopement. In fact I have a detailed list of over a 100 amazing locations! As you choose where to elope in Colorado, consider the activities you want to take part in during your elopement.

Colorado Elopement Locations Considerations
 - Do you want to go for a hike? Would you rather drive somewhere?
 - Are you more drawn to an open field, Aspen groves, lakes, mountains, canyons?
 - Do you like running barefoot in the sand, or would you prefer the feeling of grass underfoot?
 - Maybe you want your dog to act as Best Man or Maid of Honor, and a pup-friendly trail is a top priority.

Permits
Almost EVERY location in Colorado requires a permit and they can take anywhere from 5 mins to 5 months to obtain. Some of these permits are free and some cost $300. While this may be surprising, it’s a lot less than what most venues cost and the money supports the land that we all love! If you’re unsure if a location requires a permit, you can reach out to a ranger in that district. Better yet, get in touch with me and I’ll help answer all your questions. Even more, I include permit costs in all of my elopement packages!

Leave No Trace
Wherever you choose to elope in Colorado, you’ll be sure to have an adventure! But in order to keep Colorado beautiful please make sure to follow all Leave No Trace Principles. As an adventure wedding and elopement photographer, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you! These seven principles help reduce the impact of our natural spaces and protect the wild places we love so much!

Below, I’ve listed my top 10 favorite Colorado elopement locations and detailed what you’ll need to know to elope at each. Wherever you choose, it’ll be beautiful! 

There are so many absolutely breathtaking locations in Colorado. I’m especially passionate about helping couples find hidden gems for their elopement. In fact I have a detailed list of over a 100 amazing locations! As you choose where to elope in Colorado, consider the activities you want to take part in during your elopement.

Best Places to Elope in Colorado

Want more details of each location (best time of year, permit info, nearest city)? Read my post on the top 10 Colorado elopement locations.


 - Do you want to go for a hike?
 - Would you rather drive somewhere?
 - Are you more drawn to an open field, Aspen groves, lakes, mountains, canyons?
 - Do you like running barefoot in the sand, or would you prefer the feeling of grass underfoot?
 - Maybe you want your dog to act as Best Man or Maid of Honor, and a pup-friendly trail is a top priority.

Permits
Almost EVERY location in Colorado requires a permit and they can take anywhere from 5 mins to 5 months to obtain. Some of these permits are free and some cost $300. While this may be surprising, it’s a lot less than what most venues cost and the money supports the land that we all love! If you’re unsure if a location requires a permit, you can reach out to a ranger in that district. Better yet, get in touch with me and I’ll help answer all your questions. Even more, I include permit costs in all of my elopement packages!

Below, I’ve listed my top 10 favorite Colorado elopement locations and detailed what you’ll need to know to elope at each. Wherever you choose, it’ll be beautiful! 

Great Sand Dunes National Park is the perfect Colorado elopement location for desert lovers! In the spring, you can hike out to patches of wildflowers growing amongst the dunes, discover locations where snowy mountains are backdrops to sandy ceremonies, or find yourself on Mars at places where you’ll see nothing but sand as far as you look.

Elope at Great Sand Dunes National Park

RMNP is certainly the first place that comes to mind for many couples considering a mountainous Colorado elopement. For those who obtain permits, it’s the idyllic wild location you might be looking for! However, the increasing popularity of RMNP as a wedding location has led the park to become more restrictive. If this is where you want to elope, reach out to secure your permit immediately!

Elope at Rocky Mountain National Park

The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a beautiful bit of wilderness just south of RMNP. It makes a perfect place to elope for its accessibility, various hiking trails, and incredible backdrops. Depending on how secluded you want your elopement to be, Brainard Lake would make the perfect start-off point for a day hike or the perfect place for an early morning elopement on the shores of the lake.

Elope at Brainard Lake

Loveland Pass is a high mountain pass at nearly 12,000 feet, and one of the highest passes to remain open all winter. In the summer, this makes for a popular mountain scenic drive, and in the winter this area is popular for all levels of snow sport.

Elope at Loveland Pass

The picture of pristine Colorado wilderness, Lake Isabelle is a perfect elopement location for couples willing to make the trek to this beautiful alpine lake. A bit harder to reach in the winter months, Lake Isabelle will not disappoint you with its stunning mountainous backdrop, blue waters, and pine trees. Camp there and wake up for a sunrise elopement in the summer – you’ll be amazed by the alpenglow turning mountains bright orange!

Elope at Lake Isabelle

Dillion Reservoir is located in Dillon near Silverthorne and Breckenridge and has amazing mountain vistas. You can even rent a sailboat and set sail at sunset and say your vows on the water. There is even a pavilion that can be rented at the Marina for those who want to elope with some guests.

Elope at Dillion Reservoir

Emerald Lake is located near the quaint alpine town of Crested Butte. Not only is this lake accessible by car (so you can avoid getting too hot and sweaty during a hike) but it also has the most adorable red canoe that is free to use. In the springtime, the area is COVERED in wildflowers, and in the fall, the trees engulf the landscape in beautiful yellows and oranges.

Elope at Emerald Lake

Bridal Veil Falls is an amazing location is nestled in Telluride. The 365-foot waterfall at the end of the box canyon is the largest waterfall in Colorado. It’s easily accessible by a high clearance 4WD (preferable a Jeep style vehicle) and is absolutely STUNNING in the fall. There are also so many other amazing views located nearby!

Elope at Bridal Veil Falls

This secret location is easily accessible by car. There is an adorable little bridge at the end of this short, easy hike. There is also a spot for enjoying a picnic, cut a small wedding cake, or celebrate with some champagne.

Elope at Secret Location 1

This secret location is up a rocky, steep drive that is not for the faint of heart. But the views are so worth it! It’s located in between two gorgeous mountain peaks and overlooks a valley. It also has a small alpine lake and campsites that make it a perfect location for multiday elopements.

Elope at Secret Location 2

Colorado continues to surprise me with its beauty year-round. Knowing when to elope in Colorado often depends on what activities you want to do during your elopement. You can enjoy a warm July elopement surrounded by wildflowers and sunshine or a crisp colorful September elopement spent sipping on hot cider or even a snow-capped winter elopement spent snowboarding down a mountain after exchanging your vows!

 - Narrowing down when to elope in Colorado also depends on the location you have in mind.
       - There are many beautiful mountain locations that are inaccessible during the winter season because
         of snow.
      - In the springtime, we also have avalanches that can cause road closures making the location you had in
        mind now impossible to get to.

 - Learning more about each month and season will also help you know when to elope in Colorado.
      - Colorado is crowded with tourists at different times of the year.
      - If your heart is set on a timeframe that falls during this busy season, consider having a weekday
        elopement or even a sunrise elopement.
      - This will help ensure more privacy and intimacy during your special day.
      - If you’d rather not worry about that, elope during one of our ‘off’ months when we aren’t as busy.

Weather in Colorado
An important fact to note about the weather in Colorado, is that it is erratic. Storms can roll in out of nowhere and while it might be sunny and warm in the metro area, there could be a blizzard in the mountains. In 2019, it snowed so much that people were skiing on the 4th of July!

My elopement day was supposed to be on June 17th but that day was a continuous torrential downpour. We ended up rescheduling for the next day which was filled with blue skies and sunshine. But even in mid-June, it was 31 degrees on the top of the mountain at sunrise.

That being said, I STRONGLY encourage you to always wear layers no matter when you choose to elope in Colorado. It’s always better to be able to take off a layer and be comfortable than to wear too little and be cold and miserable.

No matter when you elope in Colorado, you’re bound to have an amazing time! Each season offers something unique and special. To make the most out of your elopement, make sure to research the time of year you want to elope. For up-to-date information click here!

This seasonal guide should help give you a better idea of when to elope in Colorado.

Colorado continues to surprise me with its beauty year-round. Knowing when to elope in Colorado often depends on what activities you want to do during your elopement. You can enjoy a warm July elopement surrounded by wildflowers and sunshine or a crisp colorful September elopement spent sipping on hot cider or even a snow-capped winter elopement spent snowboarding down a mountain after exchanging your vows!

Best Time to Elope in Colorado

Want to learn more, and see a full breakdown of every month? Read my post on the best months to elope in Colorado.


- Narrowing down when to elope in Colorado also depends on the location you have in mind.

- There are many beautiful mountain locations that are inaccessible during the winter season because of snow.

- In the springtime, we also have avalanches that can cause road closures making the location now impossible to get to.

- Learning more about each month and season will also help you know when to elope in Colorado.

- Colorado is crowded with tourists at different times of the year.

- If your heart is set on a timeframe that falls during this busy season, consider having a weekday or even a sunrise elopement.

- This will help ensure more privacy and intimacy during your special day.

- If you’d rather not worry about that, elope during one of our ‘off’ months when we aren’t as busy.

Weather in Colorado
An important fact to note about the weather in Colorado, is that it is erratic. Storms can roll in out of nowhere and while it might be sunny and warm in the metro area, there could be a blizzard in the mountains. In 2019, it snowed so much that people were skiing on the 4th of July!

My elopement day was supposed to be on June 17th but that day was a continuous torrential downpour. We ended up rescheduling for the next day which was filled with blue skies and sunshine. But even in mid-June, it was 31 degrees on the top of the mountain at sunrise.

That being said, I STRONGLY encourage you to always wear layers no matter when you choose to elope in Colorado. It’s always better to be able to take off a layer and be comfortable than to wear too little and be cold and miserable.

No matter when you elope in Colorado, you’re bound to have an amazing time! Each season offers something unique and special. To make the most out of your elopement, make sure to research the time of year you want to elope. For up-to-date information click here!

This seasonal and month-to-month guide should help give you a better idea of when to elope in Colorado.

Pros
Winter elopements in Colorado are great if you want to cozy up by a crackling fire. It’s also a great time to check out some of our alpine lakes that freeze over. Our winters are filled with fresh powder the caps the mountains. You won’t have to worry about dreary, wet weather. Most winter days are filled with blue skies and sunshine. (Did you know Colorado has over 300 days of sunshine per year?)

Cons
During the winter season, many of the mountain roads are closed. This limits the number of locations that are accessible. Depending on which month you want to elope, the mountains can be busy with ski enthusiasts. The days are also shorter meaning less daylight to photograph in (but if you’re planning a sunrise elopement, this also means waking up later!)

Winter Colorado Elopement

Pros
We have some beautiful, warm, golden tones in our sunshine during these months. We also don’t have too many tourists. Your best place to elope in Colorado during the springtime is southern Colorado, especially at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This desert area is still cool and it’s the perfect time to enjoy the sandy dunes while also avoiding the heat of summer.

Cons
Springtime in Colorado is pretty much anything but spring. We have VERY erratic weather during this time. Honestly, Colorado spends these months completely confused and unable to decide if it’s supposed to be winter or summer. Somedays we’ll get 2 feet of snow and the next day it will be 85 degrees and sunny. When it snows, we get a lot of heavy, wet snow. We also get hails storms during this time. On the warmer days, the snow melts quickly causing muddy trails and avalanches. It’s not to say an elopement can’t happen in the springtime, it’s just really hard to plan around because of the unpredictable weather.

Spring Colorado Elopement

Pros
This is such a beautiful time in Colorado. The weather is bright and sunny, the wildflowers are blooming, the days are longer. Our summer months are our only guaranteed snow-free months out of the year. Colorado is also a very dry state meaning there is very little humidity. All the mountain roads are finally open, meaning we have access to so many more gorgeous locations! This time of year also offers more activities like horseback riding, rock climbing, and swimming.

Cons
With all this amazingness comes lots of people who want to take part in it. We are very busy with tourists during the summer, making it harder to have an intimate elopement. To avoid that, consider eloping during the week or at sunrise.

Summer Colorado Elopement

Pros
Colorado is covered in jaw-dropping fall colors during these months. Most of the state is full of oranges, yellows, and reds. The weather also starts to cool down and is much milder, making it easier to plan an elopement.

Cons
The window of fall colors doesn’t last long and varies by elevation. The higher in elevation the earlier the fall colors. Because of the beauty of the landscape, we also have lots of tourists during this time. It’s almost impossible to have a spot for yourself on the weekends. Again, consider a weekday or sunrise elopement. The mountain roads also begin to close at the end of fall in anticipation of the winter snow.

Fall Colorado Elopement

Let's chat about your elopement

Amy, Forest Elopement

"Instead of telling us how to pose or interact with each other, Marcela gave us prompts that seemed simple but made a huge difference.

She asked us to talk about our first date. We discussed the weirdest things we loved about each other (which made us laugh) and how we could fulfill each other’s love languages. Amy and I played games with each other and Marcela captured the energy that happened naturally between us.

I love this shoot because it perfectly captures the love we share. It’s incredible to see that love and admiration encapsulated in a photo! Thank you for this!"

Chris, Anniversary Session

"The photos we just got back from Marcela are giving me CHILLS!! They are absolutely stunning!!!

She did SO MUCH more than just photograph us — she created special moments that I’ll cherish forever. She encouraged Con & I to genuinely interact & share intimate moments together. She prompted us to tell each other things that we love about one other, ways that the other person inspires us, & how being together has positively changed us.

It was more than just a beach shoot. We ended up giving each other precious, heart melting encouragement & that makes these photos all the more treasured to me."

Andrea, Red Rocks Elopement

"We had a pre-meet with her before the big day which definitely helped me feel more relaxed going into the wedding day. She gave us great suggestions and things to think about to be ready with on the wedding. On the day of she showed up early to help scope out the venue. She was creative to try and pull extra joy into our photographs.

When I look at these photos I see more than just beautiful images. I feel the moments that Marcela helped us experience and the connection we had.

I can't thank Marcela enough! We will treasure these moments forever!"

Lauren, Sand Dunes Elopement

"We loved every moment of the day she helped create. Marcela was the perfect photographer for our adventure elopement! She worked tirelessly to make our adventure into marriage happen after our first options were snowed in! Great Sand Dunes felt like the perfect unique place for two Floridians who met in the mountains.

She made us comfortable to be ourselves throughout the whole day while making her job look effortless and fun. Our cheeks hurt from smiling, laughing and a few tears.

Marcela captured every precious moment! Her photography is absolutely stunning every way! I highly recommend Marcela for your elopement or wedding!"

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My business is rooted in inclusivity, equality for all, and the inarguable truth that love is love. I am whole-heartedly and endlessly committed to capturing and celebrating your love regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

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