Snowy Colorado Elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park
Scroll down to see some amazing photos, and read the story behind them at the bottom!
Magen and Kyle are from Chicago. They are adventurous nature lovers and wanted their wedding to reflect who they are. A wedding that was exciting, meaningful, intimate- and the mountains were calling.
They decided to get married in Estes Park, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountain National Park. They had already decided they wanted to self-solemnize the wedding (when you don’t have an officiant or 3rd party officially marry you- you do it yourselves). Colorado is one of the states in the U.S. that self-solemnizing weddings are legal.
Their wedding day was in May, so we wanted to find an accessible location that we could drive and hike to. The Rocky Mountain National Park requires a permit to have a wedding ceremony, and you choose from specific, designated locations. After a lot of research and deliberation, they chose Bear Lake, with the option to hike to Dream Lake if the conditions permitted. It was important to them that the ceremony be as private as possible. They didn’t want distractions or interruptions (for good reason!).
The day before the ceremony, I hiked to Bear Lake. Bear Lake is normally a very easy hike- it’s right next to the parking area. But it was very icy, so the going was slow. I decided to see if I could hike to Dream Lake to check it out, and it was very difficult. Sometimes I would take one step and slide back three!
Halfway to Dream Lake, I got a message from Magen- they were hiking up to Dream Lake, too! We were right by each other, so we met up and hiked the rest of the way together. On the way, we decided everyone should go get a pair of ice cleats that evening. When we arrived at Dream Lake, it was incredible! A snowy mountain landscape that seemed completely surreal. There were barely any other people around- it was perfect.
The next day I met up with Kyle and Magen at their cabin in Estes Park. They wanted to do a First Look, where they got dressed separately and then got to see each other for the first time in their wedding outfits as a special little surprise. Then we drove to the park and got ready to hike up the mountain. I made sure we had all the essential items like: ice cleats, lots of water, high-calorie snacks, canned oxygen, first aid items, rain gear and maps. They made sure we had the cupcakes (custom made by a local Denver bakery) and champagne.
We took our time hiking up to Dream Lake. The ice cleats made it so much easier. The weather was great- it was close to 70 degrees, despite the snow and ice! The closer we got to Dream Lake, the less people there were. By the time we reached the ceremony spot we were totally alone- aside from the birds, chipmunks, and squirrels.
The ceremony was magical! It was incredibly heartfelt, and I felt such an honor being the one to document it for them. It seemed like the mountains was the most incredible venue ever, with the trees and wildlife as the guests. The wind seemed to pick up right at the correct times, and we all felt a sense of mystical vibes.
After the ceremony, the couple enjoyed their first dance with the help of a phone and a Bluetooth speaker. There was a champagne toast, and we all had a cupcake (or two!). We set out to take some portraits, and then started heading back. It was a perfect day.
If you’re getting married and you think a traditional wedding might not be something that feels right for you, I encourage you to explore the idea of eloping. A self-solemnizing adventure elopement in Colorado might be something you’d love- or your elopement might look different! You might want to invite some guests and go somewhere completely different, and that’s great, too. I just want you to know what it’s like to have the most incredible, drama-free, unforgettable wedding day ever!
If you’d like to find out if an elopement might be right for you, get in touch!