Your elopement is not a backup plan, it's not plan B, it's not you running off to Vegas. Just because you're eloping, doesn't mean it shouldn't be as celebrated and special as a traditional wedding. In fact, it should be even more special and unique. Because it's intentional and focuses on the most important part of marriage. You and your partner.
your elopement should be celebrated!
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Colorado is one of the most incredible places to elope, not only can you marry yourself (no guests or officiants needed) but there are so many incredible locations and backdrops to get married. Whether you are wanting to say your vows on top of a mountain, next to an alpine lake, surrounded by a forest or tucked away in a courthouse– Colorado has it all. So if you're wanting to elope in Colorado, take a look at these steps!
Once you have a date and location, it's time to secure the rest of your vendors.
secure your vendors
There are so many places to elope in Colorado. Make sure you secure the necessary permits!
CHOOSE A LOCATION
Your photographer will be able to help you location scout and plan, so it's best to secure them early!
Chat about your priorities with your partner– what backdrop do you want, how many guests, etc.
Don't forget this step! You can grab your license up to 35 days before your wedding day.
obtain a license
some of my favorite
Colorado has a wide variety of different locations and backdrops, from intimate venues, to stunning courthouses to lakefront views to perched on a mountain. Whatever your vision is, Colorado will likely have something you'll love! (Unless you want to get married by the ocean... you'll have no luck in that department). If you haven't chosen your location yet, consider one of these spots! But with all elopements, I am happy to scout and find the perfect spot for you!
Brainard Lake is one of my favorite locations just an hour from Boulder. It's right on the lake with the mountains and trees in the background but with virtually no hike. It is quite popular, so shoot for a weekday. It is only open via car June-October.
Rocky mountain park
The 3M curve has some gorgeous mountains views. It is a little tricky getting there, but once you park you can walk right up. There is a 15 person max. A $300 permit and $25 entry fee are required.
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The Maroon Bells are probably the most iconic mountains in Colorado. The view from the amphitheater deck is absolutely stunning. It is $200 to reserve, but is incredibly competitive. If you're interested in this spot, inquire now!!
Sapphire Point is a beautiful overlook that is incredibly accessible. The only downside is it's a hugely popular hiking area so there's very little privacy. There is a $120 permit and can fit 30 people.
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The Garden of the Gods is one of the most unique locations, it is a stunning spot with the gorgeous red rocks in the background. This location is free and first come first serve.
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Twin Lakes Colorado is a gorgeous mountain town about 2.5 hours outside Denver. The town gets its name from the two stunning lakes that sit at the base of mountains.
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The Sunrise Amphitheater is a beautiful location overlooking Boulder. It is $400 depending on time of year and if you're a Colorado resident. There isn't much shade at this location, so I highly recommend a sunrise or sunset ceremony. There isn't a mountain view, but it is still so magical.
Point Park is a free elopement venue right on the lake with beautiful views of the Rockies. This spot features a small dock with plenty of room for around 15 guests.
South of pueblo
This location is incredibly unique and such a gorgeous place to elope. There is no shade so I highly recommend a sunset or sunrise session. There is a $250 permit fee.
Colorado temperatures vary greatly from season to season (and even day to day!!) Here are some weather related tips for your Colorado elopement.
Summer is one of my favorite times to photograph in Colorado because the weather is so predictable. Temperatures are relatively mild (especially comparing it to Texas, my home state!)
Spring can be colder than you might think! Especially if you're wanting to go into the mountains. And there might not be as many flowers and fauna since it takes longer for the winter ice to melt.
Fall has the most gorgeous colors, but it comes and goes quickly! Fall is my favorite season in Colorado. The orange and yellow leaves are absolutely magical. But Fall can come and go quickly. Sometimes those gorgeous leaves only last a week. But if you plan it right (and with a little luck) your wedding would be stunning.
Winter can be freezing or mild. Winter in Colorado is always a toss up. It can be frigid or mild. Always plan for it being cold. (Layers, proper transportation, etc.)
When would I plan a Denver elopement? Go with Summer or Fall! If you're wanting those gorgeous fall colors, aim for late September. Luckily though, Colorado is beautiful all year round– you really can't go wrong!
Choosing who to invite to their elopement is probably the biggest stressors for couples eloping or having an intimate wedding. But at the end of the day, you are choosing to have a non-traditional, unique and authentic experience with just you and your partner– so you should do whatever feels best to you.
Some things to consider if you choose to invite friends and family:
1. Is everyone on your list fully onboard with your decision to marry your partner? Are they fully onboard with your vision to elope and the way you see your day?
2. Would it be impactful to you to have some of your guests hear your vows? Or is that something you want to be private and intimate?
3. Is there anyone on your guest list who you're concerned will hijack your day? Make it about them? Provide any unnecessary stress and anxiety for you?
4. Does your ceremony location have a capacity limit? Will you be able to have the day you've envisioned with X number of people or will you need to adjust your vision to invite more people?
5. How will travel and lodging work? Will you need additional resources to include more people?
Remember, this day is about you and your partner. There is no right or wrong answer! I want you to have the best day ever that fully is the day you've envisioned. You've chosen to elope because you want to break free of the stress and norms of a big wedding. So stick with your guns and choose the day that is right for you!
If you have made the choice that including your family in your elopement or intimate wedding is right for you, then here are some ways to include them seamlessly into your day!
1. Have one intimate ceremony.
Have one gorgeous intimate ceremony with your closest friends and family by your side to hear your vows and commitment to each other. This can be incredibly emotional and sentimental, and many family members love being able to be present. Keep in mind, depending on your guest count, some location options are not feasible with larger groups.
2. Split the day in two.
Lots of my couples choose to have a sunrise ceremony just the two of them and then later in the day celebrate with family and friends afterwards. This is a great way to include those most important to you, but still with the intimacy of a private ceremony.
3. Have a two day event.
For those who want it all, have a two day event! You can have a full day of just the two of you, however you envisioned it and then a special day afterwards with your family. And these days don't have to be consecutive! A popular choice is an elopement day however you'd like and then once you return home or after your honeymoon have a celebratory event with all friends and family. You can even read your vows again!
If y'all have decided that you only want a day with just the two of you, here are some ideas for how to include your family with them physically being present.
1. Zoom/Skype/ or Facetime them at some point in your day.
2. Have them write letters and read them during your day.
3. Have an engagement party before your elopement
4. Throw a reception after your elopement.
5. Have a photo gallery reveal together.
6. Gift them albums or prints of your day.
If you're eloping, your vendor list will be smaller than those planning a traditional wedding, but you're still going to want the dream team of wedding vendors! Here are some of my favorite hair and makeup artists, videographers, officiants and florists.
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"Leah was simply AMAZING! From the engagement shoot to the bridal portraits and the wedding she went out of her way to make everything perfect! Her kind heart and outstanding professionalism made working with her so easy. Leah isn’t there to just capture pictures, she is there to capture moments and emotions that will last a lifetime. If you are looking for a photographer, your search is over. Don’t pass this girl up!"
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"leah is my photographer turned best friend"
"She took the time to plan out a detailed wedding day schedule with us and to get to know our preferences for photos, so she could be sure to capture the moments that were most important to us. On the wedding day, Leah kept to the schedule and made taking photos so fun! Many of our family members commented on how efficient the family portraits were. We were able to get all the photos we wanted and more! We are so happy with all the wonderful photos we received from Leah. We highly recommend Leah Goetzel Photography!"
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"Leah was incredibly professional and so fun to work with. There are inevitably things in the wedding planning process that can be higher stress and I can say that not only working with Leah with photography was not stressful, her and her team made other aspects easier. And we love the photos! She has a very smooth photography planning workstream and was such a treat to work with. You need Leah!"
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"I feel like Leah is my photographer-turned-best-friend! Leah is such a genuine person and actually tries to get to know you and your partner. She wants to learn your personalities so its reflected in the pictures. Leah's now photographed our engagement session, our mini Covid wedding, and will photograph our full wedding next year. I wish we lived closer to each other (I'm now in Seattle, she will be in Denver) because I want her to capture ALL of our moments in the future, too! Book Leah today - you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't!"
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"Leah was absolutely amazing! She captured the story and feeling of our intimate wedding so perfectly in her pictures! She did an amazing job at balancing being a fly on the wall while grabbing those candid moments and also keeping us moving in the right direction and giving cues for those posed picture. She has a great eye for what to capture and her editing was beautiful and very timely! You will not regret booking her, I can't think of anything more I'd want from such wonderful pictures! Thanks again Leah!
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"Leah is fabulous!! She made us feel like models in front of the camera, when we both don't enjoy getting our photos taken. She was super professional and got the job done when we were in a bit of a time crunch. Leah took time to get to know us as a couple and took that into consideration when photographing us. We are so happy that Leah photographed our engagement and wedding photos. I highly recommend her for your photography needs!"
"leah is the type of person you never forget"
"Leah was such an absolute joy to work with!! Her positive and reassuring attitude throughout the day kept such a calm and fun atmosphere present. We did experience some rain on our day which I thought might ruin some of our special shots we were trying to capture, but Leah delivered beautifully and worked with the elements to create photos that we will cherish for a lifetime. Not only is she great at what she does but she is also a wonderful person and you will leave your session feeling like she is someone you could be best friends with."
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"Our wedding celebration had to be postponed due to COVID. However, she was able to capture both our original wedding day in March as well as our newly scheduled wedding celebration in July. Leah was always professional while also managing to seem like someone you've known for years. She's a calming force during a hectic & chaotic time. On top of her reassuring demeanor, she captured both days perfectly. Her positivity carried us through the uncertainty of both days and working with her was an absolute joy."
"leah made our day so special"
" Leah helped make the day run smoothly and held our hands through the scheduling process. She also has a great "bride guide" on her website to help her clients know what to expect on their big day as well as tips leading up to it. Leah was respectful and polite but stern and took charge when necessary to keep the day running smoothly and include all of the memories in the photos. I actually cried when we got our sneak peek gallery because of how well they turned out and how they brought me back to the day, all of the emotions and love."
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"From the engagement shoot to the bridal portraits and the wedding she went out of her way to make everything perfect! Her kind heart and outstanding professionalism made working with her so easy. Leah isn’t there to just capture pictures, she is there to capture moments and emotions that will last a lifetime. If you are looking for a photographer, your search is over. Don’t pass this girl up!"
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Enter your info and instantly receive our pricing guide! You'll get all the important deets such as packages and à la carte items.
DO YOU OFFER PAYMENT PLANS?
Yes! In fact, my payment structure is already broken up into installments to make my services more accessible. Your payments will be broken up into 5 payments throughout your journey with me.
CAN YOU HOLD OUR DATE?
To be fair to everyone I can't hold dates without a signed contract and retainer.
DO YOU OFFER ENGAGEMENT SESSIONS?
Yes! And I offer a 50% discount on them for wedding clients! Engagement shoots are a great way to see how my couples interact on their wedding day. We can chat about which poses you find most flattering and natural. I can see if you are more touchy and intimate or more reserved and traditional, all which will create a more seamless and streamlined wedding day experience.
WHEN AND HOW ARE OUR PHOTOS DELIVERED?
You'll receive a sneak peek of a few images on social media within 72 hours because I know how eager couples are to see their images! A highlight blog post will go live two weeks after your event. And then your final gallery will be ready in 4-6 weeks.
There is no cap on images I deliver for a wedding. The amount of images you receives varies from wedding to wedding. But typically you'll receive 60-100 images per hour.
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED? DO YOU TRAVEL?
I am located in Denver, Colorado. But I will travel wherever! Travel and lodging fees do apply outside of a 150 radius of Denver and if your location is more than 3 hours away. I offer discounted rates for certain "bucket list" wedding locations.
WHAT IS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE?
My style is a mix of photojournalistic and traditional. I love capturing candid moments, the authentic smiles, the natural tears, the goofy glances— all the things that make your wedding authentically you. But I also want to make sure that you get the shots you've been waiting for. I want you to have the classic images of you and your partner seeing each other for the first time, or your first dance, or just a big family photo that your mom will display in her home.
WILL YOU HELP US FIND A LOCATION?
Absolutely!! The planning and logistics is something I include in every elopement package. You can choose from an extensive list of locations I've found or give me your vision and I'll help you find the perfect spot.
Some locations require the couple to secure their permit, but if not I'll also help with all the logistics of permits (you will be invoiced for the cost).
DO YOU OFFER SMALL WEDDINGS & ELOPEMENTS?
Yes! Absolutely! Small intimate weddings (less than 25 guests) and elopements are some of my favorite things to photograph! I typically only book these 4 months in advance or on weekdays.
HOW DO WE BOOK?
I will send over a proposal that allows you to choose your perfect wedding package. A $500 deposit will be due upon booking, this retainer is non-refundable and reserves your date. You'll then sign a contract and be officially booked!
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