Elopements are becoming increasingly popular among couples of all ages and walks of life. Whether this is your first marriage or this isn't your first rodeo, here are some things to know to help you plan your perfect Colorado elopement.
1. Pick your perfect spot
One of the best perks of having an elopement is that you can do whatever you want! That includes finding the most amazing place to exchange vows. Traditional weddings offer some limitations as far as locations go, because couples need to ensure that their guests are accommodated. Parking, lodging, and easy access to the ceremony site are just a few of the restrictions placed on a couple planning a large wedding. If its just the two of you, and possibly a few friends and family members, your location options could be endless. So when planning your elopement, take your time and look around. Pick a spot that speaks to your souls. If you are traveling from out of state to have a destination elopement, make sure to find a photographer that can offer up some amazing places that are off the beaten path and not overly photographed for unique photos and perspectives. I know, having lived in Durango my entire life, that those spots exist and right where to find them.
2. Decide if you would like to use an officiant
The state of Colorado does not require that you use and ordained officiant. It also does not require that you have any witnesses. That can be pretty useful if you are planning on hiking and saying "I do" atop of one of our breathtaking 14ers. The fact that couples that get married in Colorado have an option is a wonderful perk in itself. If you and your significant other are not very good at conducting ceremonies, however, it may not be a bad idea to have a professional handle it. I have seen couples write their own vows and exchange them with one another with ease. Others, need some guidance. Perhaps you like the idea of having a ceremony prepared for you that fits your specific religious and spiritual beliefs; to help the proceedings run smoothly and have a sense of tradition. Some officiants do not travel beyond a certain amount of miles, so be sure to check with them before moving forward. For the Durango area we recommend Sacred Hearts of the Wild, and from Ouray to Aspen we recommend Heart Centered Weddings, which travels through those areas and areas in between.
3. Don't forget the marriage license!
You may not need a officiant or a witness in our matrimony-laxed state, but you do in fact need one of those pesky marriage licenses. Be sure to arrive on a weekday to pop into the courthouse and pick up your license. Call ahead of time to make sure of the marriage license clerk's office hours. We would hate for you to come all this way and not get your legal documents! If you will not be staying in the town you picked up your license from, be sure to entrust it to your wedding officiant or photographer to drop off.
Marrige License Info by County:
Durango area: La Plata
Telluride area: San Miguel
Silverton area: San Juan
Pagosa area: Archuleta County
Cortez area: Montezuma County
4. Don't be shy about including details
Just because your wedding is simple and less complicated than most, that doesn't mean you can't add some extra flare to it. The wedding day can still be relaxed if you do it up with a little something extra. We recommend you invest in a bouquet and boutonniere because, why not?! And don't be shy about the little details, like something old, blue, and new. Go ahead and get that amazingly rockin' dress! If your budget allows, do it up. We love photographing these items and incorporating them in albums and slideshows. The amount of money you are saving by not having a traditional wedding will allow for some wiggle room. Details can really tie the whole day together, helping to better tell your story.
5. Embrace the adventure
When couples approach me about where they would like to have their elopement take place, I always offer up advice for the area they have in mind and give them more options for the surrounding area. Our elopement packages start at three hours of coverage so, depending on the timeline, we can often travel in more than one location in a region. Sometimes elopement couples think that one hour of photography will suffice. Colorado is a mountainous state with lots of winding roads. It can often take time to travel from spot to spot. Also, couples soon find that by giving themselves the time, they can create many more memories and visit some extra awesome locations. By starting in one place for the vows, then driving up the road to another epic location, couples can have a wide variety of photos and truly create an adventure for themselves. Whether they know just where they want to start or need us to tell them the best spots that fit their desires, the one thing I hear from every couple is, "We trust you. Take us somewhere amazing!". Don't be afraid to say YES to the adventure an elopement can provide and embrace the journey.
Bonus Tip: Winter, spring, summer, or fall?
Colorado is amazing any time of year. I may be biased but that doesn't mean it isn't 100% true!
Winter: Be sure to bundle up! If coming from a warmer state, please bring nice, warmer outerwear that can be photographed and taken off quickly to get photos of the dress and suit, then put back on right way to keep you warm between shots. Consider wearing boots under your dress and suit. Or take advice from Jamie and Ken in the above photo and wrap yourselves in a Pendelton blanket. The best times for winter elopement are January and February. The snow will fall from November through December as well but the snow pack will not be near what it is in the later winter months. Colorado is a funky weather state and temps can often be in the 50s and 60s on a warm winter day, causing the snow to melt earlier in the season.
Spring: Spring can be a bit colder here than in some Southwest states, depending on elevation. When people think of spring, they often think of rain showers and flowers. In Colorado, that comes much later in the season - usually May through June. If planning a spring elopement, we recommend you plan it in the high-country, where there are still patches of snow, running waters from the melting snow pack and tulips popping their heads out of snowbanks. Just like with winter, be sure to dress warm.
Summer: Oh, summer! So much to do in our fair state in the summer months: Hiking, camping, boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding...the list goes on and on. The Animas River, San Juan and La Plata Mountains, and Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are just a few of the attractions that make summer a wonderful time to visit Southwest Colorado. It also makes it the busiest time. Be sure to book your trip well in advance and secure your photographer as early as possible, as summer is the dead of wedding season. We recommend getting married on a weekday to make sure you get the photographer you want.
Fall: What's not to love? The temperatures cool down a bit, the mountain tops are dusted with fresh snow, and of course, the colors! Fall in Colorado can not be beat. Driving through our mountain passes while watching the trees changing is the most breathtaking experience you may ever have. Autumn can sometimes be as busy as summer in most parts of the state for this reason. So again, plan early. Keep in mind that different states have different peak color times. In Durango, Silverton, and Pagosa Springs, peak colors are usually in the last week of September. You will be hard-pressed to find a leaf on a tree past October 6th, above 9,000 feet elevation. Downtown Durango and Pagosa Springs has colors through the end of October. If you want to drive the San Juan Skyway or Alpine Loop for your elopement, be sure to do it at the end of September.
Contact us about your elopement adventure today!