Here is a list of the most common questions I get from clients who are planning to elope in Colorado:
What’s the difference between an elopement and an intimate wedding?
I think the definition of eloping has changed a lot over the years (check out this article The Denver Post wrote about elopements and how things are changing. You may even recognize a photo or two!). The origins of eloping go waaaay back to the 14th century when arranged marriages were a common practice. In order to get out of marrying the wrong person and marry your true love instead, you literally had to run away together. Nowadays, arranged marriages are a thing of the past so the meaning has evolved. Sure, some people still run away together, and I have the opportunity to photograph those sweet couples all the time! But more often than not, eloping means having a private and intimate wedding that is somewhat spontaneous, usually in a different location than your hometown (helloooo Rocky Mountains!), with very few (if any) guests.
Eloping is about simplicity. It’s about getting back to what matters: marriage, love, connection, intentionality. Eloping is about reducing distraction, drama, logistics in order to focus on what truly matters…getting married! Many of my clients choose to elope by themselves, but many also also choose to bring their parents, siblings or best friends along with them. Eloping doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of planning either – many of my clients plan their elopements several months in advance and have a general idea of what they want the day to be like.
My personal definition of an intimate wedding is a wedding with less than 15 guests in attendance that has a bit more planning involved. I have found that many of my intimate wedding clients started out planning to elope. Over time, they realize how much they would enjoy having a few of their closest friends and family attend. Quite often, parents and siblings are invited to join and a few best friends might tag along as well. Now you can certainly have a wedding with less than 50 people and still call it an “intimate wedding” because it truly is much smaller than a grand affair with 200 people in attendance! I have found that I am at my personal creative best when the guest list is minimal. If you’re inviting more than 15 people to your intimate wedding, then one of my associate photographers Andrea or Danielle, would be a perfect fit for you!
How far in advance should we begin planning?
While many of the elopements I photograph are very spontaneous, most of them have been carefully planned out by my clients for several months. Since out-of-state travel plans can add a complex dimension to your wedding, it’s always a smart idea to start as early as you can to ensure everything goes smoothly. Most clients book my services 6-12 months in advance (but don’t let that scare you, I almost always have some last-minute dates available!).
How do I get a Colorado marriage license if I’m from out of state?
Good question. Thankfully Colorado makes it pretty easy. You can obtain your license through any county in Colorado, it does not need to be the county in which you are getting married (though this may make it logistically easier for you). Each county has at least one location (sometimes 5+ locations) that you can go and get the license. Some counties will let you apply on-line and then pick it up in person (it’s always safest for you both to be there when picking it up!). The offices are government, so they only open Monday-Friday, meaning you can’t fly into CO on a Saturday and hope to get married on Sunday. You’ll also need a valid form of identification when you go to pick it up (driver’s license, birth certificate, passport etc.). The clerk & recorder at the office will give you specific instructions on how to fill out the license, where to send it after the ceremony and when you can expect to receive your final copy in the mail.
What is the best time of year to elope in Colorado?
Ahhh, the many seasons of Colorado. They are crazy, unpredictable and wild. Generally speaking, our “summer weather” goes from June-early September. In these months it is typically warm and sunny with an ever-present chance of thunderstorms. Mid-September through late October is usually our fall season. The aspen leaves typically begin to turn the 2nd & 3rd week of September in the mountains and the color usually lasts through the end of the 1st week of October. Winter is normally December-early April, with our snowiest months being January-March. April through early June is considered “mud season” in the mountains when the snow begins to melt and the trails and natural areas are often a mix of mud/slush/snow/dirt. All that to say…. Colorado weather is crazy and it’s been know to snow on the 4th of July and be 70 degrees in January, so there are never any guarantees! Colorado is a wild place and the weather is just as wild!
What do we do if it rains or snows on our wedding day?
Part of getting married in the mountains means embracing the fact that the weather runs the show and can’t ever be predicted! Thunderstorms are a part of Colorado summers. They come almost every day from June-September. 90% of the time, they are fast and furious, lasting less than 20 minutes before blowing on by and heading out to the eastern plains. The risk of thunderstorms is highest from 12pm-5pm each day so that usually a window of time we try to avoid. Snow storms are a different story. They usually linger and can drop 1-25 inches of snow at any given time. When a snow storm or blizzard sets in, it’s usually sticking around for a day or more so there’s no waiting it out.
Finding an indoor location as a backup plan is always an option, though it can be difficult to find a place that is close by and/or free. So we typically just pray for the best and head out into the elements. My camera gear is specially designed to be waterproof so I’m always up for shooting in the rain and snow! If hail or lightning are present, we will definitely do a rain delay since they are life-threatening, but otherwise weather delays are not included in my hourly time.
Do we need an officiant?
Nope! Colorado is one of the few states where couples can marry themselves, no officiant necessary. It’s called self-solemnization and anyone can do it. You can write your own ceremony and do everything exactly the way you want to. If you want to have an officiant perform your ceremony, I have a list of great ones that I can recommend!
We’re interested in having our elopement ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park. How do we do that?
The National Park Service has a special wedding permit required for all couples getting married within the Park boundaries. Whether you have 20 guests or it’s just the two of you, you have to apply, pay a $200 fee and have your permit before the ceremony can take place. Click here to access the wedding application. For a little more information about eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.
We’re from out of state and have no idea where to have our ceremony, we just know it has to be in Colorado! Where should we begin?
I have an extensive list of locations list on my Colorado Elopement Locations page. Spend some looking through the ideas and links on that page and thinking about the type of setting you want to be in. Think through if you want to hold your ceremony at a private home, mountain lodge, ski resort or if you just want to set out into nature together for something more simple. Another great way to decide where to go is to determine how far you want to drive fro the airport. Colorado is a big state and many places like Telluride are a 7+ hour drive so determining how far you want to drive will help you narrow your radius. If you’re still struggling to decide, let me know what you are specifically looking for and I can help point you in a good direction. I also offer location scouting services for an additional fee to help pinpoint the perfect location for you.
What is your booking policy?
For elopements that are planned within 30 days, I require a signed contract and full payment in order to book. For elopements that are planned 30+ days in advance, I require a 50% deposit and a signed contract in order to book, with the remaining balance due 7 days prior to your wedding date. Everything can be done online in just a few minutes, it’s super simple!
We’re thinking about bringing a few family members and our close friends with us, is that ok?
Absolutely! You should surround yourself with whoever you feel most comfortable with. Whether that is just you two or if it’s a select group of people who care about you. Keep in mind that I only do weddings with up to 15 guests, so if you’re planning on inviting more than 15 people, Andrea or Danielle would be a great option!
What should we wear?
That’s completely up to you, there are no rules at all! Many of my brides opt to wear a wedding dress and/or veil. Some of my brides opt to wear something completely untraditional but fits their style and personality. I’ve seen grooms in everything to flannel shirts and jeans to tuxedos. Anything goes! 🙂
Are you willing to hike with us to a ceremony location?
Absolutely! Hiking is one of my passions and anytime I can combine that with photography, I’m in heaven. I’m more than happy to hike with you to a special location for your ceremony. Since I am taking photos while we hike, I do have a special rate for hiking – ask me for details!
How long until we receive all of our photos?
You can expect your photos within 2 weeks of your wedding date.
Are we able to print the photos ourselves and share pictures on Facebook?
Yes, of course! I strongly believe my clients should have full access to their digital images. While I still retain the copyright to your images, you will receive a license that allows you to print, share, and post to Facebook.
Do you have any travel fees?
I consider traveling throughout Colorado to be a privilege, not an obligation! I frequently combine traveling for elopements with camping trips, hikes and long weekends away so I never charge for travel or mileage. That being said, there are a few locations that require a hotel stay since they are so far away (Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, Durango, Steamboat Springs to name a few) and I can’t do a round-trip drive in one day. In those cases I have do have travel fee so that I can book a hotel and pay for a few meals and a tank of gas.