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San Juan Mountain Elopement

 head due north

Adventure always looks a little bit different to every couple out there. So, naturally, every adventure elopement is unique, too–defined specifically by each couple’s own definition of exploration, adventure, and thrill. 

For some couples, adventure on their wedding day means climbing into a 4×4 vehicle to find a spot that’s just for them, nestled into the wilderness somewhere they’d never reach otherwise. For couples, adventure just means experiencing a new place together–soaking in a new view, enjoying a quiet picnic in a pretty place, and sitting on a dock together as the sun comes up. 

But for some couples, like avid hikers Harriet and Mathew–two New Zealand Natives with a thirst for exploration–an adventure elopement meant that exploring by foot was always going to be their first choice. 

Harriet and Mathew’s San Juan elopement is everything you picture when the words adventure elopement come to mind–breathtaking views, sweeping scenery, and a balanced blend of stunning wedding attire and necessary hiking gear. 

A couple hikes up the mountain for their elopement ceremony during their San Juan mountain elopement.

A bride and groom pose as the alpenglow comes up during their san juan mountain elopement.

Harriet and Mathew had one of those iconic, classic adventure elopements that helped to really put adventure eloping in general on the map. And while I always tell couples that adventure should look however you want it to (and I genuinely mean it), I will never deny that I’m a sucker for an iconic hiking elopement–especially when the couple is 100% obsessed with hiking. 

The beautiful thing about Harriet and Mathew is that adventure is one of the bloodlines of their relationship. Whether it’s a beautiful hike in New Zealand, a trip to the Canary Islands (where Mat proposed), or working in the United States together, the two of them are down to do anything and everything together. 

So when these two hikers and adventure lovers said they wanted a stunning spot to elope and explore, the San Juan mountain range was the most natural (and rewarding) pick. 

Their July elopement was supposed to bring all the things that make Colorado summer so stunning–jagged mountains, fields of vibrant wildflowers, and enjoyable mountain temperatures. Harriet and Mat were supposed to elope at the very end of July, but as Colorado often does, she threw us a little curveball–massive buckets of rain. 

But just as I suspected would be the case, Harriet and Mat were ever the pivoting champs, willing and excited to push their day off just a bit so they could experience the full beauty of a Colorado summer elopement in the San Juans. 

On the day of their elopement, we all met up at the trailhead at 3 am. A sunrise view at the top of the summit was an important part of their day together, so an early wake-up call to make that happen was no problem at all for anyone. 

As we hiked up in the dark and the quiet, we quickly realized we’d all fallen victim to one of the most joked-about tropes of hiking–All Trails had lied to us about the actual distance of the hike. Our 4.5-mile round-trip hike quickly turned into closer to six miles, but these two hiking partners had no problem with the adjustment–they often hike 20-25 miles for fun, so a few more on their elopement day was only going to elevate their experience. 

One of the biggest requests from Harri was to snap some beautiful moments of their wedding day at the top of the mountain as the sun came up, so we made sure to scurry up quickly. As the sun began to rise, we found a spot for the two of them to separate and change into their wedding attire so their first look could happen among the gorgeous alpenglow. 

Their first look moment was one shared just between the two of them, miles up a mountain as the pinks and golds of the first sunlight stretched around them. Moments like these feel like pure perfection–as if they could stay in your soul forever. 

But the special thing about adventure elopements is that these moments–the ones that feel unique and impossible to feel more than once in a lifetime–actually happen over and over again the entire day through. 

After their first look, Harri and Mat adventured around the mountainside, taking in the vastness of it all and soaking in an incredible sunrise. They’d decided on a beautiful alpine lake for their private vows, but they weren’t in a rush. Every moment they spent on the mountain felt intentional–as if time slowed down just for them to absorb every second as wholly as possible. 

A bride and groom trek to their elopement location as they explore the San Juan mountain range on their elopement day

A bride and groom look out over an alpine lake as they experience their San Juan mountain elopement.

The hike to their elopement ceremony spot continued. As the sun shone down on the mountain, Harri and Mat saw first-hand what makes a Colorado summer so remarkable–the breathtaking and seemingly endless fields of Colorado wildflowers. 

Harri’s favorite color–yellow–was on full display. Every few steps, it seemed like a new bouquet of bright yellow flowers popped up just for her. We stopped and enjoyed the fields of flowers more times than I could count, each of us fully embracing that Colorado mountain magic. 

When we arrived at their elopement ceremony spot, they found a perfect place overlooking a turquoise alpine lake to share their personal vows together. After more exploring and adventuring around, they both settled into a beautiful spot to pour over the lovely letters their friends and family had sent along for them to enjoy on their wedding day. 

Although Harri & Mat planned to have a bigger, more traditional wedding with their family and friends back home in New Zealand a few months from this date, the outpouring of love, encouragement, and support for their elopement was truly touching. 

The rest of their elopement day was saturated with everything that Colorado brings to summer elopements,  love, pops of bright wildflowers, and epic adventures. And this lovely couple deserved every beautiful moment they experienced on their elopement day.


Join the Facebook Community, Mindful Elopements, filled with free resources, free videos, engaging conversations and questions, and other couples that are exactly like you, in the same place, trying to book an adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer.



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Alex, Coastal Elopement

"We loved our experience having Marcela as our elopement day photographer.

What was even more special about our experience was her ability to set us at ease months before our day. Through constant communication leading up to, and during, the day we got eloped. Her personality is that, in just four days time, we felt as if we've known her for years. 

Ah, but you're wondering about her photos. We loved every thing about them especially the raw emotion captured in many of the shots."

Caitlin, Alpine Lake Elopement

"My husband and I have been trying to put into words how simply amazing working with Marcela was.

From the start we could tell she truly cared about us, our relationship, and our story. She asked us so many questions, valued what we wanted, and kept up with the ever changing plans that came along with planning a wedding.

She made us feel so comfortable, made us laugh till we cried, and captured our true wholesome love for each other."

"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!"

Lauren, Sand Dunes 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!"

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