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Sunrise Mountain Elopement

 head due north

Often, it’s in the moments during an elopement that don’t go according to plan that I get a sneak peek into a couple’s true chemistry. 

When things have to change, when weather rolls in, when it’s colder than we might have anticipated–those are the times I get to look on at them in full wonder as they take things in stride, lean on each other, and have the best damn day ever regardless. 

Sierra & Kaylie’s sunrise mountain elopement in Colorado managed to blend all the things they loved the most into one beautiful package–intentional time together, an epic hike, and a stunning area. 

But it also brought with it a few surprises, some changed plans, and some pivoting. The most beautiful part of it all? It wasn’t the view; it wasn’t the challenge of the hike; it wasn’t the sunrise peaking over the mountain vistas–it was seeing Sierra & Kaylie’s love for each other prioritized over everything. 

Two brides hike up a mountain to catch a sunrise for their Colorado elopement.

When I met them at their trailhead in–quite literally–the middle of nowhere Colorado, the sun wasn’t due to rise for hours. They’d picked an incredible hike that was somewhat challenging, but we knew it would be rewarding in the end. The main mission of the day was to hike up to an alpine lake nestled in the mountains, hoping they’d catch the soft alpenglow at the top and have their intimate ceremony, just the two of them, as the sun rose around them. 

Sierra & Kaylie hiked up in the dark, decked out in their hiking gear, stopping every few moments along the way to curl up close and snap some star photos of the two of them. Already, the day was chillier than we thought it might be, and as we continued to climb higher, the promise of a warm day seemed out of our grasp. Still, we hoped for the sun’s warm glow when it rose to thaw everything out for us. 

When we got to the top, the sun was rising–the world around us was bathed in a soft, blue-gray light–the hour that comes before the sun is high enough in the sky to paint it those beautiful pastel colors. 

Sierra & Kaylie got ready together but turned their backs to each other, saving a few of the last-minute wardrobe changes and getting-ready moments for a first look right then and there. As they stood back-to-back on a blanket with the alpine lake behind them, they clutched hands–each staring in the opposite direction. 

Two brides stand back to back, waiting for their first look during their sunrise mountain elopement.

Two brides hug each other close after their first look at their sunrise mountain elopement.

They peeled off their outer layers–just for a moment–and had their first look right there in the blue hour, in the shadow of a mountain. 

Their first look, though short, was nothing but sweet–they piled layers back on to warm back up before exploring the lake in search of the perfect ceremony spot.

On the shore of the lake–fighting the chill–they huddled close and shared their private vows with each other. They soaked in this moment together, eventually adding a few layers back in while they continued their intimate ceremony. The sun continued to rise, and with it, the clouds rolled in. 

The temperatures continued to dip, and the promise of a mountain storm seemed to loom uncertainly overhead. 

But Sierra & Kaylie weren’t done with their ceremony just yet. 

Sierra & Kaylie had chosen to have an intimate, just-them elopement–but that didn’t mean they didn’t want to include their loved ones in special ways. They played a recorded voice memo from a friend of theirs, reciting a Cherokee prayer that blessed their elopement and reminded them their loved ones were there with them in spirit. 

After, they huddled up close to prepare a mountaintop breakfast with pastries and coffee–just a little something to warm up and fuel them through the rest of their amazing day. They poured their coffee into Flour & Salt Bakery mugs, a beautiful tribute to the shop they were in when they decided they wanted to get married. 

Over breakfast and under blankets, Sierra & Kaylie poured over letters and gifts that their family and friends had sent along with them. Each card came with an outpouring of love–physical evidence of the love and support their families and friends wanted them to carry on the best day of their lives. 

As we explored around the alpine lake, we realized the weather was turning, and a huge rain cloud was blowing in fast–something that wasn’t part of the plan. Sierra & Kaylie had taken the whole day in stride–the frigid temperatures, the windiness, the need to be bundled up. When we decided to head down the mountain to be as safe as possible, they didn’t skip a beat. 

The two of them were just happy to be together, soaking in each moment of their day. Something about Sierra & Kaylie tells me that it wouldn’t have mattered if we made it up the mountain at all–as long as they got married, that’s all that mattered to them. 

Plan A had been to spend hours up there at that alpine lake, kayaking and enjoying the sun and (what was supposed to be) milder temperatures. But Sierra & Kaylie trusted me–and the day–wholeheartedly. We went with Plan B–a totally different location–so they could kayak to their heart’s content. 

Sierra & Kaylie spent the rest of the day kayaking, enjoying the warmer weather at a lower altitude, and embracing each moment of their elopement as it happened. 

Their willingness to go with the flow, to be flexible, and to embrace spontaneous change is what made their elopement day more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Their love for each other came through in every circumstance–rainclouds or shine. 

For me, these two humans are the ultimate reminder of what eloping is all about–marrying the love of your life in a way that makes you happy. 

They didn’t need a day that went perfectly to have a perfect day–all they needed was each other.



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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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