There are a few ways to plan a Colorado elopement. You can go for an easy, simple elopement, an adventure elopement hiking up high into the mountains or go for more of a “micro-wedding.” This post is more for the simple elopement planners–you’ve found your forever person and you want to plan something simple, but memorable and wonderful.

If you are planning your elopement, CONGRATULATIONS! How exciting! I am a professional wedding photographer in Colorado and have some helpful tips for you.

Colorado is an amazing place to elope for the incredible scenery, but also because the state makes it very easy. You do not need an officiant, you can marry yourselves (self-solemnize)! And you do not need a witness, but your dog can be your witness, if you want.

Marriage licenses can be obtained and used in any county in Colorado. Here are some tips for getting your marriage license and licenses information for El Paso County (Colorado Springs), Jefferson County (Mount Falcon), and Larimer County (Estes Park).

Some things to consider when planning: location, permits, marriage license, vows, what to incorporate into the day (a bouquet, an intimate first dance, popping champagne, etc.), and traveling to Colorado, if you are out-of-state.


Where is the best place to elope in Colorado?

There are many! The places I have listed are some of the easiest to get to and simplest to plan.

One of my favorite places to recommend is Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The incredible rock formations and mountain views are breathtakingly beautiful, there are many great spots throughout the park that are easy to access by car and the park is completely free, you do even need a permit. The only downside is that it can get very crowded–plan for a weekday or go at sunrise.

Another one of my favorite locations is Mount Falcon, in the foothills, just outside of Denver. It can also get crowded on weekends, but has a secluded feel with forests and trails and mountain views. A Jefferson County permit is needed for professional photography, but it is inexpensive and easy for a photographer to get online. The fee is only $25 (as of March 2024) and you can get it the day of your elopement.

Estes Park is also a popular choice for an elopement because it can include Rocky Mountain National Park – one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. RMNP is gorgeous, but planning can be challenging as there are limited permits. Instead, enjoy the park together, but plan your elopement in Estes.

Other easily accessible locations you might like to consider are: Boulder, Lookout Mountain, and Evergreen Lake.

What should I do for my elopement?

All you really need are vows and usually rings, but you can add some other elements into your day to make it even more special. A vow book is a nice momento and photographs much more nicely than holding your phone. I always recommend a bouquet to any bride, because it adds color into your photos. You can plan a picnic, toast or mini cake cutting after the ceremony. Note that some locations do not allow alcohol and all parks require leave no trace practices to protect the land and wildlife. You can also plan a first dance, simply by playing a song on your phone or singing or humming together.


How can I plan my elopement from out-of-state?

It is easy! But if you are traveling from out-of-state there are some tips to keep in mind. First of all, altitude sickness is real. Drink lots of water a couple days before you arrive and while you are here. Most commonly, people experience headaches.
Also, keep in mind that the air is very dry and we are closer to the sun. I recommend packing chapstick, lotion, sun screen and a water bottle.
Finally, don’t forget valid identification for your marriage license.

If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, a florist, a baker, a restaurant or accommodations, please ask! I’m happy to offer recommendations.

I would love to help you with beautiful photography! Contact me today.

See more photos from Mount Falcon and Garden of the Gods.

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Yay! You are engaged! This is a really special time in your life. Let’s document it with some beautiful photos that capture your story, joy, style, personality and LOVE!

You are only engaged once and it goes by so quick! Don’t let the time pass without getting some great photos to remember all the excitement. It is a great opportunity to get some casual and fun photos to accompany your more formal wedding portraits.

It is also great practice for your wedding photos! It may sound strange, but taking engagement photos actually improves your wedding photos. You become more comfortable working with direction and understand the process so that we move more quickly through different posses and you know what you like.

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Lookout Mountain, Colorado, Engagement photography, Golden

For the shoot, the most important thing is to have fun! Relax, laugh, be comfortable and enjoy the session. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the most out of your photographs.

Spring? Summer? Winter? Fall?

To plan the best time to take your engagement photos, think about the season, the weather, your seasonal outfit options and the locations that might be available. You may also want to plan your session based on when you want to send out save the dates or an announcement. If it turns out that the weather is bad on the day you’ve selected for your shoot, we can reschedule, no problem. We just need to decide 24 hours in advance.

Punctuality = Awesomeness
Natural light is very important to beautiful photography. The timing of your session is really important, because the sunlight greatly affects the shoot. Please arrive on time. Once the sun goes down, it is too dark to continue the shoot. You can check the sunset time for any day of the year using this calendar.

What should I wear for my engagement session?
Plan to wear something that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful. For the standard hour long session, please bring one outfit change. Most couples choose one casual and one formal look to add variety to their images. I tend to discourage all black or all white outfits and really encourage neutral colors or pops of color. Consider your environment and what will work well with your surroundings. Don’t bring more than one outfit change or the time it takes to change will cut too much into the session. Accessories are also great ways to add variety including scarves, hats, cardigans, etc.
Keep in mind, depending on your location, you might have to change in your car.

Check out some wardrobe ideas on Pinterest. It can also be fun to bring items that tell your story like a picnic, bikes, your dog, records, coffee cups, or a banner that says “love” or “save the date.”

For brides to be:
Consider having your hair and makeup done professionally. This could be a great day to schedule a makeup and hair trial with the stylist you are using on your wedding day. I will also be taking close ups of your gorgeous ring on your finger. Why not treat yourself to a manicure! These ideas are absolutely not necessary, but I like to recommend them because how often do you have professional photos taken? Why not take advantage of this special time in your life and make yourself feel pampered and beautiful!

red rocks engagement photography

Where should we have our engagement photos taken?
There are so many amazing locations perfect for photography. I am happy to help you plan the best spot for you that fits your relationship and expresses your personality and style.

Ideas for great locations for engagement photography in Colorado:
Red Rocks, Mt Falcon, Lookout Mountain, Evergreen Lake, Garden of the Gods, Lost Gulch Overlook, the Botanic Garden, around the street art in RiNo, Highlands Ranch Mansion, City Park, Wash Park, Sandstone Ranch Park, and more.
*Please note some locations may require a photography permit or entrance fee.

Other places to consider:
Vineyard, orchard, farm, train station, beach, dock, ice skating rink, biergarten, etc.

What will be in bloom?
Some couples want photos with aspen trees, cherry blossoms or wildflowers. Consider the time of year that will work best for you.

Another idea is to choose some of your favorite spots:
The place you first met or a favorite cafe, restaurant, cupcake place, book store, etc.

Your don’t need to bring anything, but you may want to bring with you:
• picnic blanket (something with a very simple, neutral color) for some seated photos
• water bottle
• chapstick
• small mints (not gum)
• touch up makeup
• a hair brush (sometimes it can get windy!)
• a pair of sneakers. If we have to do a little hiking to get to scenic spots and you plan on wearing heels, a set of sneakers could really help. You can throw everything in a backpack or duffle and I can hold your bag while we shoot.

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To take a closer look at an engagement session, check out these links:

Red Rocks Engagement

Lookout Mountain Engagement

Aspen Engagement, Grottos Trail

Maxwell Falls Engagement, Aspens

Brainard Lake Engagement

RiNo Art District Engagement

Barr Lake Engagement

Wash Park Engagement

Kenosha Pass Engagement

Central Park Engagement, NYC 

Duke Gardens, North Carolina

Mt Falcon Elopement

Cherry Blossom Engagement

Garden of the Gods Engagement

If you have any questions, please ask. I want your session to be great!

This post has been updated many times. Most recently, in January 2024.

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Kate and Sam were married at the beautiful Manor House in Littleton, Colorado. The Southern-style Georgian mansion, was built in 1914 and includes gorgeous views of the Front Range, Red Rocks and the Denver skyline.

The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
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The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
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The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado

Kate shares, “Sam and I got engaged at Goodale Park in Columbus, Ohio. We first met in Columbus when Sam was finishing residency and I was finishing graduate school. We took a walk around the park and he proposed at the lake!

We chose to get married at the Manor House because it is beautiful! We loved the grounds with a view of the foothills. We also loved the inside of the house, and it provided many spaces for people to gather in large or smaller groups. We knew most people would be traveling from around the country for the wedding, so we liked that they would have places to spend time and catch up with each other outside of the ballroom. We also wanted our out-of-town guests to get great Colorado views!”

The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado
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The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado

The ceremony took place inside the Manor House ballroom. The flower girl made everyone smile as she took off flying down the aisle! She then turned around and ran back to walk down with her brother.


Kate shares, “I walked in with my Dad to an instrumental version of my parents’ wedding song, Can’t Help Falling in Love, by Elvis.”

The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ceremony
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ceremony
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ceremony
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ceremony
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The reception began with the couple’s first dance to the Arctic Monkey’s Baby I’m Yours.

The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ballroom
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ballroom
The Manor House wedding, denver, colorado, ballroom

Congratulations Kate and Sam!

Special thanks to the team:
Venue: The Manor House
Florist: Wild Hare Floral Co.
DJ: Perry Washington
Rings: Sarah O Jewelry
Wedding Dress: BHLDN
Photographer: Jessica Schmitt Photography

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A mini-engagement session is a great way to meet your photographer and get some nice photos before the wedding day. A mini session is usually 20 minutes and takes place in the North Denver area. This mini engagement session took place in Central Park with a view of the mountains.

Most commonly, an engagement session will last for one hour, will be at the location of your choice, and will include photos taken in two different outfits and a bit more planning. 

Hannah and Davis already had professional engagement photos taken in their home state. But I wanted the chance to work with them before the big day, so we planned a mini-session during one of their visits.

Our session was casual and stress-free and focused on going through some simple direction to show them what to expect on the wedding day. We did some fun poses, candid-style, traditional looking at the camera, romantic, laughing, close-ups, wide shots, and even a couple silhouette photos with the sunset. We were lucky to get a day with a beautiful sky!

It was winter and chilly so they kept the jackets on and leaned into a Colorado hiking vibe.

Hannah shares, “Colorado is the place that we met, a place that we love. Like most people in Colorado we love it because of the outdoors and the environment. It was fun to have the opportunity to spend a little time and take some photos with Jess. Since we don’t live in Colorado, the mini session was a perfect fit and Jess did a terrific job!”

Congratulations to Hannah and Davis!

Click here to check out another mini-engagement session at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

Are you considering planning a full engagement session? Check out my blog post “How to Plan Your Colorado Engagement Session” with lots of tips!

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Brittney and Bryan were married on a beautiful Autumn day at the Cherokee Ranch and Castle in Colorado.

The couple planned their ceremony so that the officiant was standing in the aisle. What a great set-up! The couple was facing their guests and everyone could see the special moments while the couple could also easily look out and see all of their guests.

Brittney shares, “The wedding was magical and everything we ever wanted! We really wanted to celebrate the creation of a new family for the kids and the knot tying ceremony was a highlight. We choose the Cherokee Ranch and Castle because it is beautiful with amazing views of the entire front range. Our guests were able to tour the castle during our mocktail hour and learn about the history which was an amazing touch. We felt like the day went without a hitch, everything was perfect from food to decorations. Bryan was amazing for letting me incorporate some Harry Potter flare. Our Harry Potter themed mocktails were so delicious! We had so much fun from the ceremony all the way through dancing. We feel so lucky to have found each other and our wedding truly was an expression of how we feel towards each other.”

The reception was held in the tent and then dancing under the stars!

Congratulations Brittney and Bryan!

Special thanks to the team:
Venue: Cherokee Ranch and Castle, Sedalia, Colorado
Wedding Planner: MAG Events
Florist: Floral Exploration 
Catering: Occasions
Ice cream: Sweet Action
DJ: Jason Green, The Jason Gregory
Photography: Jessica Schmitt Photography with Eric Swartz

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