Winter is the hidden gem of seasons to elope. Vendors get booked less quickly, locations are less crowded, and there’s snow! Winter elopements in the mountains do require a little bit of extra planning, but by keeping a few simple things in mind, you can have a stress free and magical experience (and stay warm!).
Where to elope in the winter:
This is always a big one, but location is especially important in the winter! If you want to be guaranteed to have snow, look at higher elevations and northern regions of Colorado. Be prepared for there to be anywhere from a few inches to multiple feet. There are lots of locations that are accessible in the winter without hiking, but some areas such as mountain passes, Brainard Lake Area, and Trail Ridge Road, close seasonally so keep that in mind when thinking about locations. Lakes are also often frozen over, but can be super fun to adventure out onto! If you are choosing to hike into the backcountry on your winter elopement day, checking avalanche forecasts and having a just in case plan B is a must.
Winter elopement activities
You’re no less limited in the winter for fun outdoor things to do! Winter activities like snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, dog sledding, sleigh rides, even ice skating can help your elopement day feel full of winter magic. Having a fun activity planned is a huge part of getting really great candid photos, experiences matter!
What to wear at your winter elopement
Its recommended that everyone wear warm, waterproof, shoes with good tread. If there’s deep or fresh snow, this will keep feet from getting wet and being miserably cold. Popular areas and trails can have slick, icy snowpack making even short walks sketchy, especially for older guests. Sometimes people opt to change shoes just for photos and that’s a great option too! If you want to experience walking on one of the frozen lakes, having traction like microspikes or YakTrax can be helpful in feeling secure while moving. You can totally go out onto lakes without these, just move slow! This one might seem obvious, but have layers that you’re okay taking photos in! Taking coats on and off and car warm up breaks are great options, but especially if its windy, having an outer layers you both love are really helpful.
In addition to outer layers, base layers can help make a huge difference, especially since wedding attire/dress clothes are not known for being super warm. Leggings under a dress (like these,or these) and a merino wool shirt (like Smartwool) under a suit can keep the cold from going right through.
How to Stay Warm During A Winter Elopement
Whether they’re for just the two of you, or for your whole group, having a hot drink that can warm you from the inside out is really helpful! Hot chocolate, coffee, tea, cider, etc are all great and can be super fun to include during your couple’s photos.
Taking 5 minute indoor/car warm up breaks makes a huge difference. Build in buffer time during your timeline so you can feel okay about taking breaks without feeling like you’re missing anything! Prioritizing comfort and fun instead of trying to push through if its really cold and/or windy is the way to go 🙂
Even if its snowing and not actually visible, the sun being up makes a difference in the temperature. The moment the sun dips behind the mountains (even if that’s before true sunset time), the temperature will start to drop and it gets colder really fast. Sunset is really early so this can be helpful to keep in mind when planning out your timeline!
Do you have to spend the whole day outside?
Winter in the mountains is magical, but you can spend part of the day inside too! Rent a cozy cabin and have an indoor picnic by the fire, or go to a brewery to celebrate! Spend the first part of the day cozied up drinking coffee and hot chocolate. The magic of the mountains is a little sweeter if you don’t feel pressured to be outside for 6+ hours.
How to prepare you guests for a winter elopement
If you’re having guests on your elopement day make sure to communicate about weather, shoes, and your timeline. Many people underestimate how cold it can be standing still for a 10-15 minute ceremony and then doing family photos afterwards! If your guests are not familiar with winter in the mountains, they may not be expecting to walk through several inches of snow and wear improper footwear- wet feet can be dangerous. A little extra preparation on everyone’s part ensures a fun, safe, and warm time so you don’t have to stress about anything day of!