Elopements are so amazing for celebrating a love story and having a wedding day that’s authentically you. There’s no pressure or expectations to stick with specific traditions like with a traditional wedding. With an elopement you’re no longer dealing with a group of 130+ people, which means you don’t have to compromise on food or activities. The other great part about eloping? You actually get to spend the day with your new spouse. The hard part about eloping is figuring out what you want the day to look like! Since you’re not constrained to the typical timeline of a venue it can feel a little daunting because your day is so wide open! So where do you even start in what can seem like a totally overwhelming process? Here’s some tips to plan your dream elopement!
Time of year
Picking the time of year you want to elope is a great first step. It helps narrow down locations, attire, if you’ll have guests, and activity options. Especially with mountains, different locations may or may not be accessible depending on snow or potential fire damage depending on time of year as well. The type of weather you want is also (sort of) dictated by time of year. Here in Colorado weather is truly unpredictable. There could be crazy thunderstorms at 3pm and completely clear up by 6pm. Some years we get snow as early as October and as late as May. Other years it hardly snows until February. Afternoon thunderstorms are more likely in the summer whereas higher winds are more likely in the winter, if you’re eloping in Washington its less likely to be rainy in July and so on.
Do you crave a snowshoe adventure and snowball fight? Are epic ice castles your thing? Do the fall colors make you heart sings? Are you fan of wildflowers and crystal clear alpine lakes? All of those are time of year dependent and can help you start narrowing down when to have your elopement!
Once you pick the time of year you can think about who’s included on your special day. Is it just the two of you for the whole day? Do you want to include immediate family? Friends? And you can include them for all or part of the day depending on preference. Some couples prefer to do a private vow ceremony, then meet up with everyone later to celebrate. Others want their family involved from start to finish.
There’s also no obligation to include family. Family dynamics can be tricky and if you can’t or don’t want to include family members you can totally grab a group of friends and have them be a part of your day. There’s the family we’re born with and the family we create. The most important thing is, if you choose to include people in your day, that they love you and support you. Guests should add to your day, not take any of the magic away.
Now that you’ve picked a time of year and have a vague idea of the number of guests attending, let’s move on to location. If you’re including guests you want to make sure its somewhere everyone can get to. If your grandparents are going to be there, they may not be able to do a 5 mile hike at high altitude. You also want to make sure the area you’ve chosen can accommodate everyone. For example- Sapphire Point overlook has plenty of room for guests whereas the top of a 14er (14,000ft mountain) will be more difficult. If its just the two of you then location options are abundant! You can narrow down location by opting to/not to hike, if you prefer a lake, nearby towns, and general desired scenery. This is definitely an area your photographer can help you with! You are not on your own here!
What does the day look like?
The hard part is done! Now comes the super fun part- creating your dream day. Include things you love or that seem amazing in your elopement day! Always wanted to go on a helicopter ride or dog sledding? DO IT! More of a low key hang out in hammock by a lake and have a picnic? Also great! After mountain top vows do you want to go into down and check out all the local breweries? Heck yeah! This is your opportunity to fill your day with things that feel and look like the two of you.
Start your day off with sunrise vows at an alpine lake before returning to your airbnb where a private chef has cooked your favorite breakfast (or lunch there’s no rules here). Take a nap before redonning your wedding attire and heading out for a four wheel jeep adventure around the mountains. You and your new spouse take in the scenery and watch as the soft glow of sunset covers the mountains. You share a first dance in the early twilight and end the day with smores around the fire. You’ve spent the whole day together doing things you love with the happy buzz of wedding day bliss in every moment. No stress. No pressure. Just a day about the two of you.
Who to hire
Eloping isn’t just running away to the courthouse or Vegas chapel anymore. They can be planned and crafted to be whatever you want. Just because you’ve chosen to adventure on your wedding day, you don’t have to forgo some of the fun parts of the “traditional route”. You can still have hair and make up done. A stunning bouquet. A decadent cake. An officiant to turn your ceremony into beautiful poetry. These are all things to think about as you plan and search for vendors. You don’t have to have them by an means, but they can add a little extra sparkle to your day. Oh, and highly recommend you have a photographer for your entire experience and not just an hour or two. You can read more about that here.
The legal stuff
Ah…the least fun part of planning. The legal stuff. Thankfully, if you’re eloping in Colorado the legal part is super easy! You just get a marriage license and that’s about it. Colorado is amazing because there’s no waiting period, no witness requirements, and you can self solemnize which means you don’t need an officiant! You can even have your dog act as a witness. Most government websites will be very detailed about what you need to elope in that state.