Daniel and I got engaged on February 20th, 2020 on the San Francisco shoreline with the Golden Gate Bridge sparkling in the background. Because I am a flight attendant, our whole relationship has been one of long distance plane rides to see each other, and a whole lot of adventures. We knew pretty immediately after getting engaged we wanted to elope, as travel and experiencing new places were such a huge part of our relationship together. We eventually decided on a Colorado Elopement and it was perfect!
The journey to our Colorado elopement.
As all 2020 brides know, planning a wedding during a global pandemic has not been an easy feat. Daniel and I had planned to elope in Europe this past May, and then shortly after move to Denver, Colorado for my job. Obviously both of these plans did not come to fruition because of COVID and we decided to put the wedding plans on pause for a little while.
Early in July, Daniel and I came to the conclusion that planning anything for the future at the moment was near impossible, so we decided, why wait?! We were gonna do this dang thing. And since we were being spontaneous why not go ahead and plan it in two weeks!
Best, slightly hectic but still best, decision we ever made!
Why An Elopement in Colorado?
We knew pretty immediately we wanted to get married in the mountains. Sound of Music is and always will be my favorite movie and since we couldn’t jet off to Switzerland on a whim, I wanted to have my very own Sound of Music moment here in the states.
We ruled out anywhere in the south because, hello, 95% humidity and bugs and afternoon thunderstorms. I love you South, but not so much in late July.
We had visited Colorado several times over the past year and a half and both were captivated with the mountain towns, so it was one of our top contenders.
Colorado Marriage Licenses
What really sealed the deal for us is that in Colorado you can self-solemnize.
Meaning, all you have to do to get married there is obtain a marriage license and then sign it. You don’t have to have a pastor or someone with “the power vested in them” to marry you. You don’t need any witnesses. And since we were planning to elope and wanted a very intimate wedding this sounded just perfect for us!
If you are interested in this and want to read more about it, click here! Colorado is one of only three states that have these marriage laws.
My first and most important step in planning our Colorado elopement was finding a photographer we loved. I scoured Pinterest and Instagram for days and sent inquiries to several photographers asking about available dates, pricing, etc. As soon as I heard back from Carissa, of Carissa Marie Photography, I knew she was our perfect fit. First of all, her photos were incredible, and secondly, I could tell even through email how warm, kind, and genuine she was.
She helped me from start to finish planning our Colorado elopement in such a short amount of time, and I literally couldn’t have done it without her!
She also helped us pick out the perfect spot for our dreamy, magical mountain top elopement.
A month ago I had never heard of the quaint town of Ouray, Colorado, but now it is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Nestled in a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains, its charm and landscape is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Carissa’s family had gone to Ouray every summer while she was growing up and once I described the vision for our day, intimate, gorgeous mountain scenery, abundant wildflowers and somewhere non-touristy, she told me she knew the perfect place for us.
Ouray is literally known as “the Switzerland of America” so it really couldn’t get more close to what I had envisioned than that. Check out our Ouray, Colorado post for more details on what we did during our stay and this post about places to stay while in Ouray.
Originally, Daniel and I had chosen to elope just the two of us, but once we decided on eloping in the states, we knew we wanted our parents to be there with us. We are both very close to our own parents, and to each other’s, so it truly meant the world to us when they were immediately on board and so very excited to join us on this adventure. It made our trip that much more special, meaningful, and emotion-filled.
We decided to all head out there several days before the ceremony day so we could have fun enjoying each other’s company and having a mini-vacation. We stayed in a huge Airbnb on the outskirts of town so we could all be together and spent our nights outside on the balcony looking at the stars.
During the days leading up to the ceremony, we did several hikes, enjoyed the local breweries and ice cream shops, took in the beautiful scenery, and drove Razrs through the mountains all the way up to 13,000 feet elevation. The views we were able to see took our breath away, literally and figuratively. Creating these memories with our parents is something we will never forget.
Yankee Boy Basin
For our ceremony, our photographer suggested we get married in Yankee Boy Basin, about a 40-minute drive from the town of Ouray up in the mountains. To get here, you definitely need a jeep or off-roading vehicle and it isn’t great for the faint of heart or anyone scared of heights (sorry mom!). The views make the slightly treacherous drive 100% worth it though.
Daniel and I met up with Carrissa and her mom the evening before our wedding day to drive up to Yankee Boy Basin and pick the exact spot where we wanted to get married.
Once we got into the basin we could not believe how stunning it was. We chose to have our ceremony spot in a field of wildflowers, right next to a waterfall, with mountains surrounding us on all sides. We both got teary-eyed when we saw this spot as we just knew it was exactly where we wanted to pledge our lives to one another and share our wedding vows.
The Wedding Day
In case you couldn’t tell already, I think eloping is the best thing ever. The morning of our ceremony was so low stress. No running around trying to get the venue set up or worrying about any small details. I was able to relax and really soak in the day and the meaning of the commitment I was about to make.
Daniel and I chose not to see each other for the whole day leading up to the ceremony, which gave us a lot of time to be excited and full of anticipation. The morning was very laid back and sweet, and I had to hold back tears all day because I was so excited and just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be marrying someone I loved and treasured so much.
My dad and father-in-law went and picked up my flowers from Dahlia Florals for me and I was seriously blown away by how gorgeous they were! I wanted them to look like I had just picked them from the mountainside and that’s the exact look they gave me. They were so full and lush and it was the perfect addition to our wedding day.
Hair and Makeup
My mom and I got our hair and makeup done by the amazing Allie Laree, who is seriously incredible at what she does and so talented. I told her I wanted to be glowing and look like a bride, while still looking natural and feeling like myself and she totally nailed it! I was so happy with my hair and makeup and she made me feel so beautiful.
Allie and her husband, Chris, are the dynamic duo as he does videography and did our wedding video for us, which we are so very happy to have! They reside in Arizona but travel all the time for weddings, and you can find their information here. Seriously I got so lucky with my vendors. I loved them all so much and by the end of the day I wanted to be best friends with each of them!
You can watch our wedding video here!
Around 4pm, Daniel and I got in two separate jeeps as we made our way to Yankee Boy Basin. It started to rain on us as we made our way up the mountain but I had a sense of peace that no matter what everything was going to turn out perfectly. Even if it meant getting married in the rain!
By the time we arrived, the rain had subsided and the sun started peaking through the clouds. Daniel and his parents went to get set up at the ceremony spot and my parents helped me weave my way through my aisle of wildflowers.
Music and walking down the aisle
Music was a huge part of our childhood and very special to both our families so we asked Daniel’s parents to play the violin for us as my dad walked me down the “aisle.”
Seeing Daniel standing there smiling with tears in his eyes, having my dad beside me, hearing the violins echoing through the mountains and feeling so happy and at peace in that moment is something I’ll never forget.
Since we have been long distance most of our relationship, letters are something we have written to each other often. When I returned to San Fransisco I would find letters Daniel had written me in the pocket of my jeans or in my suitcase. Because of this importance to us, we decided to write each other personal letters to read at our wedding, and our moms also wrote us letters they read aloud as well.
We also hand wrote our vows to each other, making promises that really meant something to us and how we want to live out our marriage.
As I said earlier, we love music and it has had a lot of meaning in our life, so my dad sang a cappella one of my favorite church hymns.
We ended the ceremony with the exchanging of rings, the signing of our marriage papers, and of course, a kiss (or two!) to really seal the deal!
It was such an emotion filled day and because it was just us and our parents there, we felt free to express our love and be very vulnerable in those moments.
After celebrating with our parents, they decided to head back down the mountain and we went off to take pictures and explore with our photographer (and her mom who was amazing and drove us around everywhere in her jeep!)
We drove further up into the mountains to Governors Basin, on even steeper roads, but it was seriously worth it as it was some of the most breathtaking sights I’d ever seen! Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let them do the talking.
Once we reached the top of Governors Basin, Daniel and I got to have a little picnic together. We popped champagne, and snacked on all the chocolates Daniel had picked out for us earlier in the day from Mouse’s Chocolate shop in Ouray. We were so excited to officially be married and couldn’t believe how perfect the day had been, it almost seemed like it was all a dream!
Our Colorado Elopement
Our Colorado Elopement was truly more meaningful and special than I could have ever hoped for. If you are a 2020 bride, just remember that no matter how your day looks, if you decide to postpone, elope, have a micro wedding or anything in between, it’s going to be perfect because at the end of the day you are marrying the person you love. Your best friend, the person who is going to be by your side through it all. Even a pandemic.
Thank you for reading and joining in on a little glimpse of our love story.
Thanks so much for pinning!