There's an abundance of options when it comes to a Denver elopement—the Mile High City is nestled near some of the most spectacular parks in America, and while you may think of it as an excellent starting point for a ski trip or summer hiking expedition, the city itself has seen explosive growth in recent years. It’s not only an outdoor adventure lover’s dream, it’s also the epicenter of a tech boom in Colorado that’s attracting many young professionals and startups. It’s home to a thriving and delicious authentic Mexican food scene with restaurants like Los Carboncitos and Las Adelitas. It’s a major hotspot for craft breweries in America—the city hosts the Great American Beer Festival in September—and you could spend a week doing nothing but touring breweries and tasting beers at spots such as Wynkoop Brewing Company, Blue Moon Brewing Company, Renegade Brewing Company, and more.
No trip is complete without exploring some of the city’s cultural wonders as well—take a stroll through the Arts District on Sante Fe to see murals and stop in at art galleries (more than 60 institutions participate in First Friday Art Walks, during which you can see works from hundreds of artists) or swing by the Denver Botanic Garden for art, natural history, and a look at seven different living collections of plants. That said, what lies outside of the urban center is undoubtedly the biggest draw—for tourists and locals alike. Hop in the car and head to Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park, and enjoy all the stunning vistas, challenging hikes, and exquisite wildlife the region has to offer. For a mix of buzzing urban life and glorious natural wonders, Denver truly is the best of both worlds.
Best Time of Year to Visit
June - October
While the spring may bring the end of skiing season in Colorado, it also brings mild temperatures and glorious low humidity. But, as the spring brings higher chances of rain, if you’re opting for an outdoor celebration, you might want to wait for the late summer or fall, when the temps are in the 60s and 70s and there’s nothing to stop you from exploring all the nature Denver and the surrounding region has to offer. (That said, Denver is infamous for its fickle weather—always dress prepared for a sudden downpour or change in temperature.) Whether you’re exploring the 16th Street Mall, the city’s pedestrian promenade designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, driving out of town for a long hike, or hitting up a concert at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, you’ll want every Denver adventure to be al fresco.
Pro tip: If you’ve got your heart set on a snowy mountain chalet as the backdrop to your “I do’s,” Denver’s a dreamy destination for that—just be prepared to pay premium prices for flights and rentals in the midst of ski season. And while booking your trip for a holiday weekend may seem ideal, over Labor Day weekend, Denver plays host to A Taste of Colorado. The three-day event—part music, part maker fair, part food festival—attracts more than 500,000 attendees from all over the state.
What happens when you’re a little girl, dreaming all big, and decide that because you’re so passionate about art and Mother Nature, that of course you’ll become a photographer for National Geographic when you grow up? And then you do grow up, and when it’s time for college, you decide to pursue another passion—medicine—because it’s ultimately more practical.
That’s what Annika Stacey’s career trajectory once looked like, until halfway through getting a degree in neuropsychology, she realized that part of her wasn’t happy—her creative side.
So while finishing her degree, Annika launched Annika Stacey Photo Co. in 2018, and let those creative juices roar. She nabbed every opportunity to photograph weddings, engagements, baby portraits, even fashion merchandise for a company’s website.
In 2019, Annika shot her first elopement and, she says, “immediately knew I’d found my passion. It combines all the things I love into one. I’m able to photograph couples in love and capture their story in the middle of the great outdoors.”
She’s no stranger to urban elopements, either, and will jump at the opportunity to shoot quickie courthouse nuptials as fast as she would a lingering kayak getaway with vows on the lake. In fact, she’d love to spend the whole day with you and yours—or, better yet, a full weekend brimming with sweet morning moments over coffee and dancing into the night.
While she’s based in Denver, Annika definitely embraces the best part about eloping: the travel. In fall 2022, she headed to Italy for shoots in Naples, Rome, and around the Amalfi Coast. Her ever-expanding portfolio also includes elopements in Canyonlands National Park/Moab, Seattle, San Francisco, Kauai, and Miami. To book Annika in Denver and beyond, find specific travel dates and Vendor Profile, linked above!
Fans of urbanism, good architecture, and public transportation would be smart to check out the The Cooper Lounge, which is located inside Denver landmark Union Station. Book The Cooper Lounge—a gorgeous (and very wedding appropriate) ivory and bronze loft space overlooking the building’s central hall. Our suggestion? Make it a brunch elopement. Say your “I do’s” in the more-private Gallery Room on the lower level of Union Station, then settle in at a table or cozy up on a sofa at The Cooper Lounge for a menu of braised apple Bellinis, aged gruyere and ham quiche, and smoked salmon crostini. Afterwards, you can pose for portraits with the station’s stunning architecture as a backdrop, then book a night at the on-site Crawford Hotel, one of the top hotels in the state.
If you’re looking for a more rustic, mountain chalet setting, Flagstaff House—which was built as a private summer cabin in 1929 before being converted to a restaurant in 1954—should be your go-to. Located about 30 minutes northwest of the city, Flagstaff is set 6,000 feet above sea level, overlooking the town of Boulder, Colorado. These days, Flagstaff is a New American fine dining establishment with a wine cellar stocked with 16,000 bottles, including rare and boutique selections. The best part (aside from, you know, all that wine)? The floor-to-ceiling windows that provide panoramic views, as well as the terraces for your wedding ceremony and al fresco dining. In the warmer months, we recommend saying “I do” on one of the smaller terraces, then toasting to your new marriage with one of the wine cellar’s finest vintages.
If you’ve got your heart set on an outdoor ceremony, the Garden of the Gods—located a little over an hour south of the city center—is a good place to start. The park, which began as a 240-acre property intended for the summer home of railroad tycoon Charles Elliott Perkins before being donated to Colorado Springs, is filled with picturesque red rock formations and 21 miles of hiking trails. For your Garden of the Gods elopement, you don’t need a permit or a reservation to pop up with your wedding crew—all event spaces are first come, first served. Choose between six natural spots for group gatherings: Jaycee Plaza (up to 50 attendees), Sentinal Plaza (up to 25 attendees), Three Graces Plaza (up to 25 attendees), High Point (up to 50 attendees), Scotsman Picnic Area (up to 50 attendees), or South Spring Canyon Area (up to 50 attendees). For all of these locations, only brief ceremonies are permitted, all alcoholic beverages are banned, and no decorations are allowed. But if you ask us, the natural landscape provides more beauty than any confetti showers could ever offer.
For cozy B&B feels, head to this upscale, historic American restaurant set on 20 acres at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. For intimate gatherings, we recommend booking the The Greenbriar Inn’s Sunroom. This space can accommodate up to 50 seated guests, and it’s enclosed by elegant glass French doors that flood the space with natural light. The restaurant provides a full menu of hors d’oeuvres if you want to keep it to a cocktail or two post-ceremony, or you can opt to make it a brunch celebration with crème brûlée French toast and eggs Benedict or dine on seared Colorado striped bass and Colorado lamb sirloin for dinner. Don’t miss out on taking photos on the grounds, either. The property offers the mountains as the background, with an on-site pond, waterfall, and gardens giving you plenty of perfect portrait opportunities.
If you’re looking for a chill urban vibe with a dash of retro flare, head to Linger in Denver’s Highland neighborhood. The rooftop bar at this multi-level restaurant and bar is a popular hangout space, and probably one of the only places in the world where you can say your vows next to a guy slinging drinks out the side of a 1975 RV embedded into the top of a building. While Linger has multiple event spaces up for grabs, if the weather’s nice, the rooftop offers views and the building’s historic neon Olinger Mortuaries sign (a flashback to the building’s former life, which has since been altered to read “Linger Eatuaries”) as a backdrop to your celebration. Rent the north section of the rooftop area (pricing starts at $1,250, and can fit up to 20 guests) and after your ceremony, you can chow down on Linger’s global menu, including pork belly buns, Tijuana elote, Korean BBQ tacos, all washed down with prickly pear margs and sangria.
Directly west of the city is Lookout Mountain. The Rocky Mountain foothill has a 7,377-foot peak, and it’s ideal for elopers who wish to wed surrounded by nature without straying too far outside the city. To host any sort of event on Lookout Mountain, you will need to purchase a permit, even if your group is small. If you’d like your celebration to include a little more planning and support, you can book one of Crystal Rose’s two Lookout Mountain venues, which come with all-inclusive, super affordable packages that include everything from the site fees to linen rentals to dinner to a deejay. You can say your vows next to the property’s gazebo, then snap portraits around the mountain overlooking the town of Golden, Colorado below.
Nature lovers, this one’s for you. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most stunning national parks in the country, and it’s ideally suited for small, pop-up-style weddings. While chairs, decorations, music, tents, and other typical trappings of wedding celebrations are banned, here you’re trading all of that for mountain views and an abundance of fresh air (and possibly an elk sighting or two). Your first step in planning your Rocky Mountain wedding is to fill out an application for a special use permit and pony up the $250 non-refundable administrative fee.
Once the paperwork is signed, you can choose your ceremony location. Off-limits are all “public facilities” including visitor centers, overlooks, or designated wildlife viewing areas—but the National Park Service provides a list of available locations, such as the Lily Lake Dock, the wildflower-filled Hidden Valley, or the Harbison Meadow Picnic Area that you can choose from. With numerous options and a landscape that changes year-round, your wedding can be as unique as you are—just don’t forget your hiking boots.
The great state of Colorado makes getting married a breeze. For one thing, you can begin an application for a marriage license online, thus saving some time at the clerk’s office. You’ll have to both appear in person at the Office of the Clerk and Recorder in downtown Denver to file the license—plus bring information about any previous divorces or spouse’s deaths and the city and state where both your parents were born.
The license will run you $30, and there’s no waiting period after receiving it—you can go ahead and get hitched right away. You will, however, need to have the license signed after 35 days and returned to the office of the Clerk and Recorder after 63 days.
As for the ceremony itself, you can say your vows with the help of a judge or religious officiant, or you can self-solemnize your marriage (as in, yep, you can marry yourselves!). If you go the self-solemnizing route, your elopement really couldn’t be easier—no officiant or witnesses are needed.