High up in the San Juan Mountains lies the adventurous town of Ouray, Colorado, affectionately known as “The Switzerland of America” and “The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado.” Home to some of the most incredible mountain scenery and opportunities for outdoor adventure, Ouray is a truly special place – especially when it comes to an unforgettable elopement. With cascading waterfalls, valleys of knee-high wildflowers, and truly spectacular mountain views, it’s an amazing place for an adventurous couple to begin the next beautiful chapter of their love story with an Ouray elopement.
Ouray is spectacular all year round, but the seasons definitely make a difference when it comes to choosing your elopement date. The summer is one of my favorite seasons because the mountains come alive with basins full of wildflowers. Usually, around mid-July, you can find beautiful flowering hillsides with spectacular mountain views and more moderate temperatures. Spring in Ouray is usually considered to be June, although there’s no guarantee you still won’t run into some snow!
If you’re dreaming of striking autumn colors, you’ll want to keep a close eye on weather reports. Typically speaking, the last week of September and the first week of October are when fall foliage peaks, but of course, it can change from year to year.
With an altitude of over 13,000 feet, you can be sure the winters are snowy and frigid, and many of the off-roading trails close for the season. If you want a Winter Wonderland-inspired elopement, you can catch plenty of beautiful snow in November or even May or June – though, of course, Mother Nature is unpredictable and can change from year to year. We’ll be sure to find some gorgeous wintery spots for an Ouray elopement if you want; it just may not be at the top of the mountains.
Like most destinations, Ouray can get crowded with tourists on weekends, especially in peak seasons, so it’s always a safer bet to pick a weekday for your elopement. You’ll have a much better chance of avoiding crowds or other hikers throughout the week!
The San Juan Mountains offer many breathtaking locations for an intimate elopement. When it comes to picking the right one for you and your partner, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration.
First and foremost, what kind of scenery do you envision for your elopement? Are you picturing majestic waterfalls? Wildflower fields? High alpine views? Would you like to find a spot that gives you proximity to several options? Secondly, how private do you want your elopement to be? Ouray is one of the best-hidden treasures of Colorado, but it still sees its fair share of tourists. We can definitely find an area a little more off the beaten path for some extra privacy, or, as I mentioned earlier, picking a weekday date usually means there will be fewer people around.
Luckily, when you have an experienced Colorado photographer (like me!), you’ll have a guide who can help you find the perfect spot to elope! If you can’t make it out to Ouray to scout locations in person, I’m happy to help you find an amazing site for your incredible, adventurous elopement.
Colorado is actually one of the states that makes obtaining your marriage license easy! In Colorado, you can get your marriage license by visiting a county clerk’s office (it doesn’t have to be in the county in which you are planning to elope.) Then, after presenting the required documentation and paying a minimal fee, you’ll be issued your license, which you can put to use immediately! In Colorado, you don’t need a witness to legally marry, and you can even self-officiate if you want to keep things extra intimate!
Keep in mind that depending on where in Colorado you elope, you may need to get a permit from the entity that regulates that particular area. However, in the San Juan Mountains, you typically don’t have to detail with permits, especially if your elopement is small. For more info on obtaining a marriage license for your Ouray elopement, be sure to stop by their website!
The key to comfort for your Ouray elopement is layering, layering, layering! It can be chilly up in the mountains, so being prepared with the proper outerwear can make all the difference. Whether it’s a cute faux fur jacket to throw over a wedding dress or a slick wool coat, you’ll be grateful you have the option to bundle up if the weather is cold. You’ll also want to consider footwear. If you plan to do any amount of off-trail hiking or exploring, you’ll definitely want to invest in some great boots that have proper traction.
When it comes to your formal wedding attire, the sky’s the limit! Just keep in mind that longer skirts and trains will likely get dirty and could make hiking more challenging. Otherwise, just be sure you’re wearing something you absolutely love, and that makes your elopement feel like the special day it truly is.
The cost of an Ouray elopement is pretty dependent on your priorities and, ultimately, the budget you set from the start. You’ll want to consider some important factors like travel and accommodations, considering Ouray is about a 6-hour drive from Denver and 45 minutes to the nearest airport. You’ll want to think about how much you want to budget for wedding attire, as well as other (not required) details like florals, an officiant, personal vow books, etc. Renting a jeep is also a great way to get around Ouray and make it to your elopement site safely and in style!
You’ll also want to consider how you plan to celebrate! Even though you’re eloping, you’ll still want to acknowledge this momentous occasion in your love story with a celebration. Whether it’s a cozy, romantic dinner or a trip to the nearby hot springs, you deserve to do something special to celebrate your wedding day!
One of the most important parts of an elopement is, in my opinion, hiring the right photographer. Photos are the perfect way to immortalize this incredible experience, and a great destination photographer can capture every intimate detail and stunning portraits that will become treasured heirlooms. While this can be one of the biggest investments of your elopement, having the pictures to commemorate the experience is well worth it.
Speaking of Colorado elopement photographers…
As an adventure elopement photographer, it’s my privilege and honor to join you and your partner on this exciting journey. I’ll be so much more than just your photographer; I’ll be there to help you find the perfect locations for a vow exchange and photos, as well as making sure your dress is fluffed and everything looks picture-perfect. I go above and beyond to make sure your elopement feels authentic, special, and totally unique to you and your partner. After all, if there’s anything I love more than exploring the Colorado mountains, it’s building connections with each of my incredible couples!
An Ouray elopement is an incredible way to begin your married life together. I’d love to be a part of your amazing experience! Whether you need help navigating the area, finding the perfect elopement spot, or capturing remarkable photos, I’ll be right by your side to help. Let’s start planning!!