Nikki and Cullen’s Colorado elopement was one that perfectly illustrated the beauty of balance.
They wanted a beautiful day of exploring in a stunning location, they wanted a day where family and friends could celebrate with them, and they wanted plenty of opportunities to spend intentional time together.
Traditional weddings don’t often lend themselves to this kind of balance–but that’s what makes adventure elopements so incredibly special. Their Sprague Lake elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park was no exception to what I’ve now decided is a rule about eloping–you can truly have it all (and then some).
We began Nikki and Cullen’s elopement day at their adorable Airbnb in Estes Park. They’d chosen to get ready separately so they could experience a first-look moment right there in the heart of this lovely Colorado mountain town. Though they got ready apart, they didn’t get ready alone. Both Nikki and Cullen chose to include some of their loved ones in this intentional part of their wedding day.
We took our time soaking in the getting ready process. I captured some photos of each of them enjoying these intentional moments, made sure to snap a few photos of their unique wedding details, and anxiously waited for the rest of their adventurous day to unfold. At the Airbnb, they’d brought along one very unique detail–a dueling contract. Nikki and Cullen had drawn up a special contract they’d created that stated any disagreement they’d have in their marriage would warrant a “duel” to sort it out.
This cute, fun detail is just another example of why eloping is the way to go–they wanted something quirky and unique to them, so they brought it along and planned to sign it after their marriage license. Of course, I had to capture photos of the dueling contract (and them signing it later in the day!).
When Nikki and Cullen were ready, we ushered Cullen out to the patio of their Airbnb. This moment–their first look–wasn’t just the first moment they’d see each other in their wedding attire–it was the start of the intentional time they’d spend together on their wedding day. When they had their first look, first embrace, and first kiss, they hopped into their car. Nikki and Cullen were clear when they planned their day that they did want to include their loved ones–but they wanted plenty of time throughout their day to spend together, just the two of them.
That meant before anything happened–before their ceremony or their reception or their celebrations with their loved ones–they wanted to spend intentional, meaningful, and unforgettable time together.
We embarked on the first adventure of the day–driving into Rocky Mountain National Park to explore. Nikki and Cullen had planned to spend a good portion of the day together. They drove and explored through the 3M Curve. They hiked around, soaked in the views in several spots, and spent several hours just existing together in one of the world’s most beautiful places.
They wanted to share more than just time together–they wanted to eat a meal and enjoy their cake, too, just the two of them. We made our way over to Hidden Valley so they could unwind and relax over a gorgeous picnic full of charcuterie, bread, and wedding cake.
After spending the first half of their day in beautiful solace, it was time to begin the rest of the adventure–the family celebration. We drove over to Sprague Lake to meet their friends, family, and loved ones for their RMNP elopement ceremony. There, with Cullen’s best friend officiating, they said their vows, had their ceremony, and officially became husband and wife.
They signed their marriage license–and their dueling contract, too–to make it all official.
Before we left for the rest of the party at a brewery in Estes Park, I captured a few more beautiful moments between Nikki and Cullen.
What’s always so amazing (and so rewarding) about eloping is that couples get the chance to do things their way–that means they’re at their happiest, at their most comfortable, and feeling the most themselves.
Cullen had already mentioned he wasn’t always at his happiest when taking photos. But by the end of their elopement ceremony, he’d relaxed entirely. He wasn’t just comfortable in front of the camera; he was suggesting poses, opting for photos, and telling me when to snap.
This is always such a big moment in my book. Because Nikki and Cullen chose to be true to themselves, they felt the most themselves–and that always comes through in the memories I get to capture.
Nikki and Cullen didn’t compromise a single thing they wanted on their elopement day. And what they received was an outpouring of love, stunning views, and moments they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.