Updated: Dec 3, 2021
If your adventurous spirit is set on eloping in Colorado, here is your ultimate how-to guide.
With elopements increasing in popularity (especially during 2020's pandemic) there is so much to be said about where to have them, when to have them, and how to plan them.
What even is eloping? An elopement is an intimate wedding that keeps the focus on you as a couple, and your commitment to each other, rather than the production and traditions of a big wedding. You can ditch the regular venues and say your "I do's" pretty much anywhere. Especially in Colorado - between it's thousands of miles of hiking trails, 4WD roads, Airbnb's in the woods, and epic mountain views you can elope just about anywhere you would like.
Well not quite... Here are a few things to know before you go romping around this beautiful state.
Location is one of the most (if not the most) important aspects of your elopement. There's the hike-to-get-there location, the drive-right-up location, and the right-in-town location. Ask yourselves what type of couple you are? If you're not real into hiking, I would not recommend a 4 mile long hike carrying your dress. Instead, rent a jeep and go off-roading to a beautiful alpine lake. OR maybe rent space at your favorite winery or cute Airbnb in the woods! Wherever you choose to exchange your vows, be sure it's the right fit for you. This intimate spot will become eternally special, and a place to go back and visit year after year.
For Colorado, 'when' can be anytime! 'When' meaning, time of year, day of the week, and hour of the day.
However, its important to understand that Colorado is known for it's unpredictable weather regardless the season. For starters, do you prefer snow, fall colors, or colorful wildflowers? Several parts of Colorado are buried under snow for months out of the year. July through September are the only months where you are unlikely to see snow (however not impossible). Eloping in the summertime will provide you with the most amount of location options, and the least amount of weather related stress. But eloping in the winter months often means empty trails and epic frozen alpine lakes, and with a cozy Airbnb you don’t have to freeze outside all day.
If you don't already have a date picked for your wedding, I highly recommend considering a weekday.
Though weekend dates may be more convenient for taking time off work, they aren't as convenient when fighting your way through crowds to get that money shot at your ceremony location. Choosing a Monday afternoon or Wednesday morning gives you a 98% chance that you'll have the place to yourselves. This also goes for reserving a ceremony site or Airbnb. You'll have a much easier time getting the date and location you want if you elope on a weekday.
Time of day depends on what your plans include for your elopement day. Yes, contrary to popular belief elopements are more than 1 to 2 hours long. Some couples prefer a morning to relax and grab breakfast before their big day, and others prefer an outdoor excursion. If you are morning people, it may be fun to shoot for a sunrise elopement followed by an epic excursion to finish the day. Sunset elopements are quite magical too, although depending on your location you may be hiking back to your car in the dark.
It's a good idea to sit down and plan out your entire day, and how you envision it going.
Well that's a loaded word, 'How'? For a Colorado elopement this includes, how to legally host an elopement, how to plan for an elopement, and how to "break the news" to your friends and family that you've chosen to elope.
The legalities of a Colorado elopement are as follows; You can self-solemnize meaning you can marry yourselves, you can get married the same day you apply for a marriage license, and you don't need a witness to be legally married! I've even seen a dog sign a marriage license as a witness just for fun!
Other legalities that aren't as fun...
These are dependent on the location you've chosen to elope. National Parks will always require a "Special Use Permit". These range from $50 - $200. Other National Forest areas may also require one. The approval process for permits can sometimes take up to a month, so it's best to check with the local Forest Service in that area as soon as you've chosen a location!
How To Plan
The traditional meaning of an elopement didn't account for much planning. It was more the act of spontaneously running away together without telling anyone. The idea of running away and not telling anyone can still be there, but I recommend a different approach when planning your not-so-spontaneous modern day elopement. Give your selves a solid 6 months (if not more) to fully plan your epic elopement. This gives you time to hire a planner, photographer, get location recommendations, reserve accommodations etc. Hiring a solid vendor team will ensure your day goes 100% the way you've imagined it. Treat your elopement as a romantic getaway. The more time you take to give it some thought, the more special it will be.
Elopement packages are typically a fraction of what full wedding planning costs so this can still be an affordable option for many. It also takes a lot of potential stress off your plate. You don't need to think about the permits, finding the best spot for the ceremony, or any of those details. All you have to do is show up and get hitched! Also imagine arriving to a fully set-up ceremony site and pop-reception for the two of you! #ElopementGoals
How to "Break the News"
What do you mean you're not having a traditional 250 person wedding!?
Everyone has different ideas on what a wedding should be. By making the decision to elope you must accept this, but also accept that you can't make everyone happy. As you break the news that you want to elope, make sure you’re sharing from your heart the reasons you want to skip a big wedding. Tell them why a traditional wedding with lots of guests isn’t the right fit for you and explain what eloping is. It might not make sense to your family, but if they hear how excited you are and that you’re sure it’s the right thing for you, they may accept it more easily.
Committing your lives to one another is a big step, and doing so how you please is just as important.
Cheers to your Elopement!