Five Reasons Why You Should Get Married In Colorado (and Three Why You Shouldn’t)

Colorado is one of the most popular places in the United States for a destination wedding (others include Hawaii and Vegas, for obvious reasons). Being a native I’m a little biased, but I think a Colorado destination wedding is the absolute best kind. I have an emotional connection to the Rockies, the aspens, the rivers, lakes, and wildlife. Decades of love and memories! It’s hard for me to separate my romantic view of my home from the good and practical reasons someone might choose (or NOT choose) Colorado for their destination wedding. But I’m a responsible wedding photographer, so I’m going to try. SO, here are my five reasons why you should get married in Colorado (and three why you shouldn’t)!

Colorado Destination Wedding PROS:

1. Mountains.

I know, I said I’d try not to be emotional and biased, but, I mean, c’mon!  ‘Nuff said.

colorado destination wedding

2. Anyone Can Officiate

Your pastor, your cousin, your third grade teacher, YOU. Literally anyone can officiate your wedding because you can self-solemnize your own marriage in Colorado. All you have to do is sign the marriage certificate twice! Check out what the Colorado Government has to say about it on their website here. It’s really shockingly easy (and the route my husband/partner Nate and I took when we got married)!

Friend officiates wedding

3. Denver International Airport (DIA)

Whether air travel is your jam or your dread, the good news is that Colorado is pretty easy to get to! DIA is a hub for over 20 different airlines with about 1,600 flights PER DAY. As the fifth busiest airport in the US and twentieth busiest in the WORLD you and your guests should have no trouble getting a flight that works for you. And once you’ve said, “I do,” you can hop a plane to whatever honeymoon destination your heart desires, including non-stop flights to Hawaii, Paris, Tokyo, and Cancun.

Couple sunset mountain photo

4. Things to do

Of course we all know that Colorado is THE destination for outdoor sports no matter the season. Skiers and snowboarders have always appreciated our over 150 (you read that right) ski resorts and kayakers, bikers, rafters can’t get over our rivers, rocks, and rides. The groom below, for instance, kayaked right up to his ceremony site! But even if you prefer the great indoors, we have plenty to offer. Cultural and fine art opportunities are around every corner. Check out the street art and small galleries in the RiNo District (as featured in my shoot with Ariana)! And, of course, killer high end shopping at Cherry Creek, Park Meadows, Flatiron Crossing, or 16th Street malls! (Shopping is a totally legitimate pastime BTW.)

bride and groom on bike


5. We Have All Your Favorite Vices

Food? Check. We’ve got hundreds of incredible restaurants including Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg’s  Blackbelly in Boulder and his newest venture Santo. If you’re a big Top Chef fan, in fact, here is a list of all the top chef alum restaurants in Colorado. If you’re looking for more of an experience then actual quality cuisine there’s always the iconic Casa Bonita which, like a true native, I mostly despise. The margaritas aren’t bad though!

gourmet wedding appetizers

And speaking of margaritas, if alcohol is more your thing than food we’ve got it all goin’ on in that department too. Breweries grow in Colorado like tulips in Holland with over 70 in Denver alone! It’s no wonder the city is known as the “Napa Valley of beer.”

For wine check out Palisade (where my mom graduated high school!) and the neighboring areas on the western slope of the Rockies. The hot days and cool nights of the more arid western slope make for fabulous grapes (and peaches of course).

When it comes to the hard stuff there’s no shortage of options in each neighborhood. If you’re in the Estes area I personally recommend the chai liqueur at Dancing Pines. If you’re in Palisade checking out those wines be sure and stop at Peach Street Distillers. I keep Jackalope Gin in my liquor cabinet (aka the smallest cabinet in my kitchen) and their Spicy Goat Vodka makes legit the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had.

beer at a wedding reception

Last but not least we’ll talk about the green elephant in the room. Recreational marijuana is, of course, legal in the centennial state! If Mary Jane is your personal vice then Colorado has lots of varieties to offer whether you want to smoke it, eat it, or spread it on like lotion. Cannabis bars are an up and coming option for Colorado wedding couples and their guests. Check out this article from Brides Magazine for “everything you ever wanted to know about weed wedding bars.”

 Colorado Destination Wedding CONS: 

I’d like to believe that my home state is pure mountain paradise and pretend there are no drawbacks, but it just ain’t so. We love her but she’s fickle. It’s the plain, honest truth. So here are some cons to consider when planning a Colorado destination wedding.

1. Weather

We Coloradoans LOVE to talk about our 300 annual days of sunshine! Florida?! Pfft. WE should be the sunshine state, people!! Buuuuuuut, that little factoid doesn’t quite mean what you might think. The bottom line is we have an average of 300 days where the sun shines for at least an hour. It might rain all afternoon, but it shone for an hour this morning so it counts! But if that day is your wedding day you might feel a little shortchanged by that reckoning.

The bottom line is that Colorado weather is, in a word, unpredictable. It’s not unusual to use your car heater and your AC in the same day. 80 degrees in October? Make sure your Halloween costume has a sleeveless option. Blizzard on Mother’s Day? It’s happened more than once. Pack your parka and your swimsuit! Don’t worry, I’ll bring the umbrellas. If you aren’t ready to be flexible with your plans when Colorado changes her mind, she might not be the destination for you. On the other hand, if you’re willing to embrace the adventure, she’ll give you an experience you’ll never forget!

blizzard wedding couple

2. Red Tape

You have a vision of hopping off the plane and frolicking to your remote mountain paradise and saying your vows on a scenic peak as the sun sets behind you! This vision probably does not include the park ranger interrupting and asking to see your permit. Permits are a way of life in Colorado and they. are. complicated. And sometimes expensive. And often take months to process. Some parks are better at making this manageable for couples than others.

Rocky Mountain National Park, for example, lays it all out and makes it pretty straightforward. BUT you can’t just pick a pretty spot in the park and get married. There are specific sites where you’re allowed to exchange vows, no matter the size of your party. In the effort to preserve the natural beauty that we love so much, we’ve erected a good bit of red tape. This is where hiring a photographer who’s a Colorado native (hiiiiiiiiii!!!!) can really work to your advantage. I’m a resource for you, boots on the ground. I know all the steps to getting the permits you need… and the places to go where you don’t need a permit at all.

Aspen wedding couple

3. Extra Expenses For Your Guests

Flights, hotel, car rental, time off work. Destination weddings in general are more costly for attendees. But it’s also an opportunity to keep your guest list small and intimate. Or maybe just skip the guest list all together and elope? You can just send them the amazing photos and videos we take. It will make them feel like they were there without all the travel. 😉

Bride and groom under veil

Okay, so I’m totally biased, but hopefully I’ve given you some hard, cold facts to consider when thinking about a Colorado destination wedding. She DOES have her challenges, it’s true. But she offers a wedding day like no other. Come on over and lets make this Rocky Mountain magic a part of your love story!

wedding party at Keystone

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