Updated: May 8
"eloping" doesn't mean running away to get married in secret (at least it doesn't have to). To elope simply means this:
to ditch whatever traditions aren't meaningful to you & focus your day on what is important to you.
I want you to remember that as you look through this guide. Your elopement can be anything you want it to be.
SO, let's get into it...
STEP 1: Think about everything you want (and don't want)
When you choose to elope, you get to make your day completely your own. You can incorporate as many traditions as you'd like or ditch them completely. Sit down with your fiancé and talk about where you'd like to say your vows. Do you want to hike? Do you want to visit multiple locations? Do you want your adventure to last all day long or just a few hours? What about a reception?
Talking through these details is the first step in making it happen. While your photographer can help you bring these dreams to life, how your day unfolds is completely up to you!
STEP 2: Find a photographer!
So technically, this step can happen at any point during your planning. However, your life will be a lot easier if you make it one of the first things you do. A good elopement photographer will help you with all of the planning and logistics. They'll also have a bunch of location and vendor recommendations based on what you're looking for. My advice is the sooner the better when it comes to finding your photographer.
Tip: Start reaching out to photographers early, even if you don't have a date set. If you're flexible with your date, focus on finding the perfect photographer for you and book one of their open dates.
STEP 3: Do you want your friends and family with you?
The answer to this question is important in figuring out your location. Many outdoor locations have restrictions on how many guests you can have at your ceremony site – less than 12-15 guests is a common rule. Some spots don't even require a permit if it's just going to be you, your fiancé, and your photographer.
If you already have your heart set on a location, create your guest list based on the location's specific guidelines. Otherwise, I'm happy to help you find a location that fits your vision and your guest list!
STEP 4: Narrow down your location!
Here's where having a photographer already booked is super helpful. If you only have a general idea of where you'd like to elope (e.g. somewhere in the mountains with a lake), your photographer will be able to help narrow down the options. There are so many beautiful spots in Colorado, some super popular and some a little less well known. I have my couples fill out a questionnaire so I can understand exactly what you're looking for, then I'll send you the best of the best to choose from. If there's any permits you need to know about, your photographer should help you navigate those too!
STEP 5: Finalize the logistics & details
Now's the time to start booking other vendors and travel. Do you want your hair & makeup done by a professional? What about your bouquet? Would you like to have an officiant or marry yourselves? (A good photographer can give you recommendations if you're having a hard time finding the right vendors.)
If you're traveling to Colorado for your elopement, make sure you've booked your airfare, rental car, lodging, etc. Also think about what little things you'd like to do or bring to your elopement: handwritten vows, your favorite drinks and snacks, or anything that represents you two as a couple.
STEP 6: Make it official
Make sure to get your marriage license once you arrive in Colorado so we can get you officially married! Colorado is a pretty neat state because you don't actually need any witnesses to get married. In fact, you can even have your dog sign as your witness if you'd like!
All you'll need to obtain a license from the county clerk's office is $30, your IDs, and your SSNs. There's no waiting period and the license is valid for 35 days.
Tip: If you're traveling in from out of state, I recommend arriving a few days before your elopement. This gives you time to get the marriage license and acclimate to the altitude!
STEP 7: Have fun!!
Yay! That's it! It's finally your elopement day!! All you have to do is have fun and cherish each moment of this memorable experience.