LAST UPDATED: August 2, 2023
Before getting into the date, it’s important to explain why elopements exist and are so powerful.
The old-school version of an elopement was a surprise wedding in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. Sure, you can still do that. I had really close friends who did that and it was awesome. Elopements though, are so so much more.
It’s about the freedom to get married in a way that purely celebrates your love and represents your relationship in its most honest form. Whether it’s underneath a waterfall, in your parents’ backyard, on a 10 mile hike across the Rockies, or scuba diving the great barrier reef. You get to decide how to do it, with however many guests you want, if you even want guests at all.
Elopements are entirely focused on the couple getting married. It’s about celebrating them and their love. Sure traditions can be incorporated, guests invited, stunning photography, cool backdrops, but none of that is the point. None of it is about the social media accolades. Nor is it about checking off boxes.
A large reason why Kaitlin and I wanted to do this style shoot was to show the beauty of a winter elopement in Colorado. How it can be focused on the couple and inspire couples everywhere.
The day started at Yelena’s place, where she highlighted Olivia and Seruh’s beauty with some professional hair and make up work. After a few hours of styling, the two ladies were ready to go. Looking as beautiful as ever, with a pinch of wedding magic.
We loaded up into our cars and began driving towards our first stop, Estes. To get there we passed from the flat Denver and Boulder landscapes into the hilly front range, and then deeper into the mountains. The roads wound around streams, rocky hills, and all before us we could see snow-capped mountains peaking out into the sky. As the miles passed, and we jammed to some cheesy tunes, our excitement grew tenfold.
Estes is a quaint cute town just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a great location to get some food, hang out, get a drink, or just have a nice little pit stop before or after a trip into the epic national park. We decided to stop here because this is what a real elopement would look like. In fact we’ve had weddings and elopements that ended up right here, in Estes. After adventures you just want to chill out, grab a drink, dance a bit, or even hit a candy shop up. So we roamed around town, stopping to take lots of photos wherever we wanted. In front of an old marquee sign, in the little stream bed, in the middle of the street, in front of a candy store. We were just cruising the little town, laughing, and having the time of our lives. If you are thinking this isn’t typical wedding fare, you’re right. With elopements you get to do whatever you want. Anything goes, and the most important part is just focusing on the couple and having an incredible and fun time.
After an hour of cruising around and enjoying the town of Estes, we got back in our cars to head for the main show. The main show was going to take place in one of America’s great national parks – Rocky Mountain National Park. As we passed the entry gates into the park, we were in awe of its splendor. It’s impossible to overstate the pure beauty of this place. Full of mountains, streams, lakes, wildlife, and awesome nature lovers – there’s hardly a better place to get married in Colorado.
We pulled into the parking lot, stepped outside, breathed in the fresh cold mountain air, and gathered all of our elopement decor. It was a five minute walk to our chosen location – Bear Lake.
Bear Lake is nestled in the mountains, and connected to several trails. There are 4 other lakes within a short walking distance, each with increasingly magnificent views. This is the prefect spot for an elopement, and it can happen at any time of the year. Whether it’s on the frozen lake during the winter, or around the calm peaceful waters during the summer.
When we got to the lake there was hardly anyone there. We had the view to ourselves. We walked out towards the middle, and set up our beautiful flowers. We got our vow books ready, the cake, and began the photoshoot.
Looking at these pictures you may say to yourself, well who officiated? That’s a great question! In Colorado you can self-solemnize, meaning you do not need an officiant. You also don’t need witnesses. But if you wanted witnesses, who better than your fur babies? That’s right, your dogs can witness your wedding! If you have any questions about how to get married in Colorado, check out my blog post here.
While love certainly warms our hearts, we had to be practical. Despite the absolute beauty of a Colorado winter wedding, we have to take proper precautions, especially when our love-birds aren’t dressed in traditional cold weather gear. So we made sure to prep blankets, hand warmers and take lots of breaks to warm up in between the various stages of the elopement. Powering through just wasn’t an option because it’s never fun to be frozen and miserable. But breaking it up into stages allows everyone to be happy and toasty.
We went through exactly what a real elopement would be, including vows our brides made up on the spot, a kiss, rings, unity paintings and more. It was a wild time and the emotions were just overflowing. It was hard to get over how beautiful the whole experience was.
Honestly, this is why we preach having an elopement. Weddings can be consumed with anachronistic traditions, tired reception halls, and consumed by attempts to please everyone else. Elopements can take place anywhere, including the most beautiful locations on Earth. They are solely focused on the couple getting married and tailor-made to represent their love and their relationship. It’s the way these important moments in life should be done. Entirely focused on the people you love.
Meet the Best Colorado Elopement Photographer for You
Hi there! I’m Adam, and my favorite thing in the world is helping couples just like you plan their perfect elopement. Whatever your ideal day looks like, I’m here to help you make it happen. If you’re ready to start planning or just have some questions to decide which Colorado elopement package is right for you, I’d love to hear from you.