ELOPING IN COLORADO
Planning a Colorado mountain elopement and not sure where to start? As a Colorado native and traveling wedding photographer I have a few suggestions. It’s your day, your person’s day, let’s make sure it reflects who you both are and the beginning of your journey as a family. Every aspect from the location, decoration and outfit details, and the age-old question, guests or no guests, can be unique according to your relationship, there is no need to compromise. Look to your photographer, and your planner if you have one, to help you with these decisions if you’re not sure which route to take. I love being involved in my client’s planning process as much as possible because I can offer my knowledge through experience to help navigate the endless options and possible hurdles. While you are planning your Colorado mountain elopement, consider these 4 things to plan:
Colorado is beautiful and wild, and there are literally thousands of options when it comes to where you want to get ready, have your ceremony, and how to spend your first evening as a married couple. The very first question to consider when planning your Colorado mountain elopement: is there a trail, campground, hike, mountain, or view that is special to you as a couple? If not, then start with some of these questions- How adventurous do you want your wedding day to be? How far do you want to travel from home to your destination? Where do you want to end up at the end of the day? Answer these questions first and then you can start deciding if you want to camp, glamp, or end up at a five star hotel to fall asleep on your wedding night. Consider hiking and driving times between locations, write them down and develop your timeline as you scout locations. Once you have it narrowed down to a few places, start checking on permits. National forest and national parks are different and have different rules and fees depending on your group size. Likewise state parks will have their own permit requirements, or in some cases the city of Denver owns the land and applying for a permit is quite simple. Look for federal and state websites for your locations that talk about permits and fees associated with weddings or photography for private groups.
You are probably planning a Colorado mountain elopement for one of two reasons: your budget, or you have personal reasons for not wanting to invite many people. Either way, decide who would make you and your partner happiest on your day, and stick with that list. It might just be you two and your photographer! Typically I still consider it an elopement with 1-10 guests involved. This is also where knowing the location is going to determine guests as well. If hiking and camping for your ceremony and reception are high on your list of priorities, that might excite or eliminate some people from the get-go, or determines that you need to do it somewhere more accessible if grandma made the cut but can’t walk two miles to get there. Determine your adventure level with your photographer, and ask them to help you find locations that accomodate your guest list and the level of Colorado adventure you’d like to opt into. Many federal and state parks require a permit for groups of more than 20 people, which gets into the territory of being a small wedding not an elopement. Again, stick to a small list of the people that make you most happy and supported, otherwise what’s the point of an elopement.
Decorations + Outfits
Decorating and adding style to your day is definitely achievable even when planning for a low-budget Colorado mountain elopement. After deciding location and guest list, consider what the rest of your budget should go towards. Do you want flowers or ceremony site decorations? Do you want catered food on site for your small group or cook your own food with your guests over a campfire? Your budget or activity choices for the day will most certainly determine these to some extent. Florists are excited to do custom bouquets, boutineeries, flower crowns, and ceremony displays for elopements as well. Decide on a specific number or a range you want to stick to with your budget and find a florist whose portfolio you love. Tell and show them what look you are going for with photos or a pinterest board, and with your budget in mind, ask for their opinion on the best way it could be spent to achieve your vision. Faux flowers are also a great option and Michaels or Hobby Lobby usually have big sales every month. Dresses and suits are also going to be a big chunk of the budget depending on how fancy you want to be. First of all let’s be honest about the level of movement you want to have on your wedding day. Long trains and ballroom material is beautiful but really hard to hike in. Have a plan with your photographer about where and how to get ready based on your dress and location. If you have to hike to your ceremony spot you might need to put the dress in a backpack and put it on at the top, or find a dress that lets your legs move and doesn’t have a ton of material to hold up in order to hike or dance. And of course, shoes. Don’t forget you might need to change from a pair of hiking boots into another shoe if you are getting married on a mountain.
While planning your Colorado mountain elopement, do not forget about your timeline for the day. It is very important from a lighting point of view. If your budget for photography allows for a few hours, then I would suggest finding out when sunset is and aiming for the three hours before and around sunset or sunrise for your Colorado mountain elopement. This is usually much softer light than midday, and tends to be more flattering. However, Colorado is notoriously known for changing weather, and one of those stereotypes is afternoon rain showers, especially in spring and summer anywhere above 9,000ft in the mountains. You can never fully predict when they will come so instead just be prepared, and ready to embrace nature in true Colorado fashion. Remember the mountains of Colorado can be cold even in the summer, so plan on having layers to take on or off throughout the day. Also consider that the sun may set a bit faster than you predict based on how low you are in a valley or how tall the surrounding mountains are. Lastly plan with your photographer how long the first look, ceremony, family and bride and groom portraits will take. Your location and backdrop will ultimately determine your time of day, if there is nothing more pressing. Plan with your Colorado photographer to get your elopement timeline just right including weather, lighting, distance, location, and guests in mind. Make sure to ask if your photographer charges for traveling or if it is included in their pricing.
Your Colorado mountain elopement should be an adventure that is for you and your partner! Start with where, what, and who will contribute to the happiness and success of your wedding day and don’t stray from that list. Your elopement will be the private, magical outdoor experience you want it to be with the help of your photographer and some good internet research. Whether you want it to be just you two and your photographer, or a few more people involved, dream up your wildest Colorado elopement day with these four priorities and then go from there. You might as well dream big for your big day, and let your planner or photographer help make it a reality.
When you are planning your Colorado mountain elopement and looking for an adventurous wedding photographer, I would love to work with you on your special day! Set up a meeting with me and tell me more about you and your significant other! Let me, Heather Jackson, be your destination elopement photographer for your special Colorado mountain elopement!