It takes courage to go against what our traditional society thinks your wedding should be. For example – vans are for every occasion, weddings included. So let me be the first to tell you that I’m proud of you for choosing what makes YOU and bae happy, regardless of what your friends and family think. I used to shoot big, traditional weddings, and while they hold a special place in my heart (I wouldn’t be here without them!), I’ve found so much joy planning and capturing my couples’ elopements and intimate weddings.
A common theme here? HI YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED IN FREAKING COLORADO! I’m obsessed with this state. As cliché as it sounds, there’s really something here for everyone. I love a good adventure and am always down to hike several miles to get to a beautiful location in the middle of the winter, BUT there are also tons of accessible spots right off the road – no hiking boots required. If you want to have your first married kiss in front of the mountains, I’ll find you the perfect spot. If you’d rather roll around in some beautiful wildflowers, I’ll find that for you too. Whatever your dream is, I guarantee Colorado can make it come true.
Most of the time, people traveling to Colorado to elope don’t live within driving distance, so flying is their best option. I almost always recommend flying into Denver International Airport (DIA). It’s a bit of a drive from there to get into the mountains and other gorgeous spots, but it’s the most accessible and will give you more options as far as flights go. And who doesn’t love road trip snacks?! To give you an idea, Rocky Mountain National Park is about an hour and a half from the airport, Garden of the Gods is about an hour and a half, and the Lost Gulch Lookout is only an hour! Eloping in Colorado is so easy but be realistic about the drive into the mountains!
I know what you’re thinking – Kenzie, what the hell, we already played 20 questions about what we want for THE day. I know, but stick with me boo. Knowing logistics are the next big step in answering "How to Elope in Colorado." Yes, those are all super important aspects for planning, but the details are what I think are more fun. We went over what kind of day you want to have, but the small details are what really make it unique to you and bae.
HELLO what are you cuties going to wear?! Remember, this day is about you, not anybody else. You can and should wear whatever you want. Suits and dresses are for everyone (fuck gender norms), so go for it! Dresses, suits, crazy colors, patterns, coats, beanies – whatever it is, I’m absolutely here for it. And I will hype you the ‘f up. The more you feel like you, the better the photos will be.
Yes, you’re right we already talked about this. But once you decide on vendors, have fun creating exactly what you want! It’s also important for me to know which vendors will be part of your day so we can all be on the same page and make sure your day is as smooth (and epic) as possible. If you’re unsure of who to choose for certain things, don’t be afraid to ask! The wedding/elopement community in Colorado is tight-knit and supportive, so I always have suggestions of who would be a good fit for your specific wants and needs.
Where you and your guests will stay isn’t always at the top of my couples’ to-do list, but it should be. Especially if you’re eloping in those unpredictable weather months. There may not be as many options somewhere way out in the mountains compared to somewhere closer in the city, so look into this early! I typically recommend Airbnb’s for couples (you guessed it, I know some FIRE spots), but there are some amazing hotels and lodges in Colorado too. It just depends on what kind of vibe you’re looking for.
Arguably, one of the most important pieces of your elopement puzzle is your budget. It’s important, and I totally respect when my couples have strict budgets they need to stick to. That said, it’s also important for couples to respect prices that vendors choose to charge for their work. That’s why I’m very transparent with my prices – I got nothin’ to hide. My packages start at $3,800, with a majority of my couples spending about $4,500 for five hours.
This will depend on where you say “I do.” Some locations are completely free, but a lot of parks, like Rocky Mountain National Park, require a permit that can cost up to $300. This permit cost goes towards upkeep and protection of our wildlife. When we discuss your location, I will always let you know if there’s an additional fee for a location.
Yes, part of booking me absolutely includes taking some planning off of your hands, BUT you and your boo still need to have some of the basics nailed down so I can help you create the perfect day.
The first thing you need to consider – are we lacing up our hiking boots or do we want a location that’s a little easier to get to? One of the most ridiculous myths about eloping in Colorado is that you have to hike miles up a steep ass mountain to get the dreamy backdrop your heart is set on. I’m here to tell you that’s a LIE! I know a ton of amazing spots right off the road that deliver the views you’re after. But if you do want to go on an epic hike to find your special spot, I’ve also got plenty of those spots up my sleeve too.
Next question I have for you – when’s the big day? I’m not specifically asking for the date, but more of the nitty gritty. Is your perfect elopement when there’s snow on the ground? Or would you rather come to Colorado in the summer? Is your alarm going off at the butt crack of dawn for a sunrise elopement? Or do you want something a little moodier after sunset? There’s no wrong answer, but they’re definitely details to think about when you start planning. Weather also goes hand in hand with your date. If no one has warned you yet, let me be the first – the weather in Colorado changes faster than me hightailing it to my freezer for some Ben and Jerry’s after a stressful day. I’ve been on a hike when it’s 70 degrees, only for it to start raining 10 minutes later, followed by a hail storm shortly after. We’ll get you and bae hitched regardless, but your safety is always more important. Here are some deets on what you can expect based on the month you’re saying “I do.”
November - April
For my couples who want a true winter wonderland! Snow is pretty much guaranteed, especially up in the mountains, and the trails and parks are usually less crazy, so you’ll have your epic spot all to yourself. You can expect 0-35 degrees in the mountains, and around 45 if you’re closer to Denver.
Towards the end of the winter season, there will still be snow on the ground but you won’t be freezing AF. We get a lot of snow in March, but that means the roads close a lot more often. If you’re coming out in March, I’ll make sure we discuss a backup plan in case that happens. You can expect 10-40 degrees in the mountains, and around 50 closer to Denver.
April - May
Spring is sprangin’! This is considered off season for Colorado, so popular locations will be a little less busy. BUT it’s so tough to predict the weather this time of year. You could luck out with a 60-degree sunny day, but there could also be an insane snow storm. Average temperatures are 45-60 in the mountains, and 60-70 closer to Denver.
June - August
If the cold weather isn’t for you, come to CO over the summer. We have 360 days of sunshine every year, plus all the nature is green and in bloom. A lot of roads that typically close in the winter also start to open up, which means we have more places to explore. Up in the mountains temperatures are around 70-75 degrees, and 80-85 near downtown Denver.
August - October
This is the most popular month to elope here, so if you have your eyes on September, you best be booking your vendors WAY in advance! The leaves are starting to change colors and the weather is perfect, but there are also a lot of people out on the trails for those same reasons. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing elopement day, you just might need to be flexible on day of week and time. In the mountains it’ll be around 75 degrees, and closer to downtown will be around 65.
Your first meal as one - what's it gonna be? taco bell? pasta? coors light?
Make damn sure everyone knows you just made the best commitment of your life
The complete colorado experience & the best way to wind down after your elopement
Working with my couples to pick the location for their elopement is my second favorite part of the whole process (the first is obvi the actual day). Here are some of the most popular places to elope in Colorado, but the possibilities are honestly endless. If you want something a little different or somewhere more adventurous, you don’t need to go down a Google rabbit hole – that’s what I’m here for. Leave the research to me!
Right off the road, super accessible, and killer views! I recommend eloping at sunrise or sunset here – the sunlight glittering off the lake is gorgeous. Most importantly, if you plan to have guests with you, this is a great spot.
Effortlessly beautiful and easy to navigate. Although it’s accessible and free, it’s first come first serve, so you should expect to be near other people and working around other photographers.
Arguably one of the most amazing overlooks near Denver. If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s a perfect location! It’s one of the best spots to watch the sunset, so you may have uninvited guests clapping after you say your vows.
Epic mountain views, an alpine lake, and easy trails. You can choose a spot right off the many parking lots or hike a tiny bit to get away from the crowds. At almost 12,000 feet in elevation, the views are out of this world!
Another spot right off the road and perfect if you’ll have guests. It’s first come first serve, so others may be around, but the Colorado Pines and the lake really can’t be beat.
Looking for some wildlife? Moose make appearances here all the time, so you might just get lucky! The River Ranch on site has cabins and camping available, as well as a ceremony space if you’re pushing 50 guests.
There are a ton of spots within the park to say “I do” and it’s a super easy spot. The people there are amazing and make it super easy to elope! Rocky Mountain National Park requires a permit ($300) that you can apply for in a year in advance. These go fast so the sooner the better!
You’ll go on a one-mile hike to the first lookout area. The view from the top is amazing, complete with a small lake and beautiful glacier views. If you’re after more secluded views, you can hike up even higher past the glacier.
One of the most sought after locations in the Dillon area, so it requires a permit and can be a bit tricky to book. But hey, that’s what I’m here for! Sapphire Point allows for chairs & formal set up.
Get the Garden of the Gods feel without the crowds of tourists. Super accessible off the side of the road, but there’s also an option to go hiking if you’re after more of an adventure.
I would describe this spot as the Sound of Music but with Colorado mountains. It’s very close to Denver and has a beautiful view of the peaks and some mountain roads.
While we’re on the topic of hiking and all the beautiful spots in our state, we HAVE to talk about Leave No Trace (LNT). It’s the most important rule when you’re out in nature and something I always make sure to educate my couples on. There are a lot of things that fall under LNT, but the biggies are disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, and respecting wildlife. If you pack it in, pack it out. Simple.
Because so many of these spots are extremely popular, many of them require a permit for you to elope there, which is an extra cost you’ll want to keep in mind. Permits are essentially required to help protect the busiest locations, and usually dictate where and what time you can say your vows, what (if any) decorations are allowed, and what LNT guidelines you need to follow. If you choose a spot that requires a permit, I’ll handle all of the behind the scenes work for you. You and bae just have to show up!
Dear Kenzie, Count me In
So, what do ya say? Ready to slam some gummy worms and flip off my camera? Just say yes! I’ll make that commitment just as easy as the one you made to bae.
i believe your wedding day should feel like the first time you heard ocean avenue. i believe your wedding day should feel like coming home after a long vacaation.
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You two say I Do in the mountains and fall in love with CO.
"Hiring McKenzie to photograph our wedding was single-handedly the best decision we made when planning our wedding. Wedding planning and vendor research was so stressful, and once we had Kenzie, she stepped in as support and helped us with narrowing down things that were important to us and to figure out what we really wanted. wish we could get married over and over again just to recreate these and work with Kenzie again! "
"You will not find another wedding photographer who has the McKenzie signature style- she can capture the absolute beauty of the area and people all at once. She can shoot in a variety of settings and lightings and the photos are all gorgeous. One of the main reasons we booked McKenzie was the fact that she showcases a diverse clientele and finds beauty in all beings- something not all photographers can say.As a plus size bride who was extremely worried about looking back at my wedding pictures with dread that I wouldn't look like those gorgeous girlies on Instagram- this meant so much to me. "
"When we got engaged, we searched near and far for an elopement photographer - & we met with several different photographers but none felt right until we met McKenzie. My husband, my dog and I are avid hikers - we wanted a beautiful hike and view, but it was also very important that we could be our authentic selves and intimately celebrate our 10 years together in the way we wanted. I'll be honest, I was shy about wanting to elope (ya know, family opinions and such), but McKenzie made us feel so comfortable in our decision. She wholeheartedly welcomed us being.. us! We couldn't have asked for more."