When Emily and Ryan first started planning their wedding, they thought they’d go the traditional route. As they added names to the guest list and started figuring out the details, they quickly realized that something didn’t feel right.
To them, planning a big, traditional wedding felt like they were doing something for everyone else–it didn’t seem like they were planning a day solely to celebrate their love. In the middle of planning, they decided to change things up. They wanted something smaller. They wanted something more intentional. And they wanted something adventurous–something that fit who they were as people and as a couple. That’s how they decided on their Lake Granby Colorado elopement at Arapahoe National Forest.
When we started planning their elopement day, both Ryan and Emily wanted me to understand that it was important for them to have intimacy and privacy as well as time with their family and friends. We came up with a beautiful solution and ended up splitting the day so that they never had to compromise.
On the morning of their wedding day, I arrived at their Airbnb. Emily and Ryan had decided they wanted a first look, so they chose to get ready separately with their friends and family surrounding them. They soaked in these slow, morning moments as they put on their attire and got ready for the biggest adventure of their lives.
When it was time for their first look, we directed Ryan to a room in their Airbnb. With his back turned to the wall, he patiently awaited for Emily to tap him on the shoulder, spin him around, and show him her wedding day attire. You know–the totally typical first look moment.
He did get that traditional tap on the shoulder. But when he spun around, he didn’t see his beautiful, soon-to-be-wife in a beautiful white gown–he saw one of his friends dolled up in a wedding dress, waiting for their first look.
Did Ryan expect it? Absolutely not. Was it a hilarious moment that helped bring a little levity to an emotional day? Of course. Ryan was a great sport–but we didn’t make him wait too much longer for his first look with Emily.
We turned him back around, and this time when someone tapped his shoulder, it was Emily.
They embraced, looking at each other in wedding-day awe. First looks are, in my opinion, always a beautiful idea. It can be a big, beautiful gesture, or a silly, break-the-ice thing–but no matter how you look at it, it results in a once-in-a-lifetime moment. You don’t get a first-time-seeing-your-spouse-on-their-wedding-day moment back–it’s important to cherish it, embrace it, and soak it all in.
Emily and Ryan had spent the morning surrounded by their loved ones, but when it was time for their ceremony, they chose to have a more intimate, secluded moment. They got in the car with their officiant (and myself, of course), and we drove to their elopement location–Granby Lake, Colorado.
We found the perfect spot for them on the side of the lake, where the water gently lapped against the shore’s edge. As they set up for their ceremony led by their officiant, I began documenting their day. When Emily started her vows, though, I kept hearing her say the word “moose.” I thought, at first, this was a cute pet name she had for Ryan. And being a bit of a distance away, it took me a moment to figure out what was going on. Emily wasn’t calling Ryan moose; she was shouting, “moose!”
Leave it to Colorado, right? A big moose started walking along the shore right through their ceremony. Of course, we put the ceremony on pause, got out of the way, and gave the moose plenty of space to pass by. That’s one of the spontaneously exciting things about adventure elopements–you can plan all you want, but in the end, you’re outdoors. Anything can happen!
After we let the moose pass safely, Emily and Ryan finished their vows and started exploring the lake. They set up their hammock and cuddled in close, enjoying the beauty of the lake in front of them. They brought some picnic food–something light and delicious they could snack on for extra energy.
When it was time to pop champagne in celebration, we made a quick realization–we’d all forgotten to bring it along. The good news? Like they’d learned with the moose, elopements are all about spontaneity and improvising.
Emily and Ryan were great sports–they toasted their KoolAid Jammers drinks in celebration!
As the sun began to sink lower in the sky, Emily and Ryan snagged their Kokopeli rafts, blew them up, and started exploring the lake by water. A perfect Colorado sunset ended their amazing day.
What I loved most about their day wasn’t the views, the adventures, or even the rogue moose–it was Ryan and Emily’s commitment to each other and to making their day about them. They love their family and friends and wanted them included, but they didn’t want to miss out on a private, special experience just for the two of them.
Creating a day like that–one where they could have it all–is the reason elopements are so unique and beautiful in the first place.