Megan Simpson Photography

A Complete Guide to Planning an Estes Park Wedding

June 9, 2020

Swap run-of-the-mill ballrooms and tiered cakes for the towering Rocky Mountains and crisp mountain air of Colorado. When it comes to an Estes Park wedding, you can make it as unconventional as you like with these fantastic wedding ideas. And yes, your fam can still tag along!

Bye-Bye Ballrooms

Estes Park is renowned for its stunning natural scenery. So, why keep guests cooped indoors when you can embrace the gorgeous landscapes of the our area? By relocating outdoors, you transform your wedding into a true getaway for friends and family.

What’s more, there’s no better setting for taking the plunge. Many couples that I work with choose to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park before celebrating with family and friends at a non-traditional venue in Estes Park. However, you’ve got many wonderful options. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park comes with plenty of amazing perks, including panoramic mountain views. It only requires a $250 application fee for a permit. But permits can go quickly, so you’ll want to plan well in advance for this spot. 2021 permits were all booked for the year by the end of January. You can not play the waiting game if you’re wanting this option!

You’ve got a choice of 12 designated ceremony sites, although you can take photos anywhere in the park if it’s not related to the actual ceremony. Learn more about Rocky Mountain National Park, and why it’s also the perfect spot for engagement photos

SkyView at Fall River

One of the newest wedding venues in Estes Park, SkyView comes with gorgeous mountain views and the ability to customize every aspect of your wedding. Rooftop ceremonies open out onto Longs Peak and the Continental Divide, both incomparable backdrops for your big day.

Because their rooftop space includes an open-air canopy, you’re guaranteed shade from the sun and shelter from afternoon rain showers. Yet, the grand windows and glass doors ensure you enjoy a full-measure of nature at its most sublime. No contingency plans needed.

Walking distance from downtown Estes Park, the venue also offers full accommodations for guests with options like their 3-4 bedroom luxury mountain townhomes and two-bedroom riverside condos.  

Pavilion at the Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel remains one of the most famous historic hotels in the United States, thanks to Stephen King, who used it as the inspiration for The Shining. Fortunately, the actual venue is far from the spooky site depicted in King’s horror novel. 

It boasts one of the most impressive auditorium-style ceremony rooms in the area. The Pavilion’s ceremony room opens onto a tranquil lake enveloped in rugged rock formations complete with a waterfall. You’ll also enjoy incredible mountain views. 

Black Canyon Inn

Black Canyon Inn is situated near the Lumpy Ridge portion of Rocky Mountain National Park on the outskirts of Estes Park. Get ready for amazing photographs with the MacGregor Ranch as your background. 

Because the ceremony site is covered, you won’t have to stress about afternoon showers (a common Colorado phenomenon) ruining your big day. The site also represents a one-stop shop when it comes to hosting a reception in the hall and accommodating guests with condo lodging.

Dao House

Dao House sits a bit further afield, located 30 minutes from Estes Park near Allenspark. Don’t let the drive discourage you from this rustic and charming space, however. Everything for a full wedding weekend is provided, making it ideal for a laid-back ceremony and reception.

You’ll enjoy spectacular views of Longs Peak, which comes to life in the fall when the colors of the leaves change. One of the highlights of a Dao House wedding? Riding in a scenic horse-drawn carriage up to the ceremony site located in a picturesque aspen grove.

YMCA of the Rockies

bride and groom get married at YMCA of the Rockies

Want to know my hands down favorite ceremony spot in the Estes Area? It would be the ceremony space at the YMCA of the Rockies. Rustic vibe paired with one of the best views in the area. You just can’t beat it. The other bonus of having a wedding at YMCA of the Rockies? Plenty of cabins to rent out for family and friends and lots of fun activities for the under 18 wedding crew!

Here are a few more fantastic wedding venues worth exploring.

Go for Non Traditional Booze Options

While we’re certainly not against pre-dinner drinks, cocktail hours at weddings can often get a little awkward and stuffy. Why not liven things up a bit with fun activities guests can partake in while enjoying drinks provided by a mobile bar? 

Mobile Bars Rock

Located in nearby Loveland, Next Door Food & Drink caters everything from wedding showers to rehearsal dinners, wedding ceremonies, and receptions. What’s more, they offer mobile bar services so that your pre-dinner festivities don’t have to be tied to a full indoor bar. These services come in three packages: the VS, the VSOP, and the XO.

Each includes a professional bartender and a complete mobile bar setup. For the most laid-back experience, stick with the VS, including two house wine selections and a variety of beers offerings.

Or, expand the range of drinks offered with the VSOP or XO. Then, create the perfect ambiance for a little good-natured fun.

Friendly Competition

Set up games like corn hole, which represent the perfect icebreakers. Guests will thank you for helping them avoid stuffy three-minute conversations with people they don’t know.

Everyone will enjoy the chance to soak up Colorado’s idyllic surroundings while partaking in a little friendly competition. Kids will love the opportunity to burn off some energy outdoors, too. 

One of the best parts of this revamped cocktail experience? The chance for your wedding photographer to capture plenty of candid shots they’ll cherish for years to come. 

Cut Candle Traditions

While common at many weddings, candle traditions don’t always prove compatible with outdoor venues due to wildfire risks. Let’s consider some other fun wedding rituals.

Two Become One

If you and your spouse-to-be are more into beverages than trail markers, why not use the metaphor of a mixed drink to seal your wedding contract? Mix and share a simple two-part cocktail to let the world know you’re united in marriage. Since your wedding is all about you and your significant other, though, establish traditions that speak to you as a couple. If that’s mixology at its finest, so be it.

Climb to Commitment

There are many different ways to symbolize “tying the knot” without yielding to the candle-lighting pressure. If you’re an adventurous duo who enjoys mountain climbing, take it to the next level by tying the knot with a classic figure-eight follow-through. 

This knot, widely used in mountaineering and climbing circles for its strength and safety, is an excellent symbol for marriage itself. And you can bring a little adventure into your ceremony without having to don safety harnesses and make an ascent.

Kiss the Cake Goodbye

We’ve all laughed at the antics associated with wedding cake cutting. If you and your significant other would like to avoid cake in your face, however, you’ve got plenty of avant-garde options when it comes to finishing your wedding dinner with something sweet.

So, nix the multi-tiered cake (that costs an arm and a leg) for something A LOT more fun. Here are some off-the-wall (and on-the-wall) options your guests will be talking about for years to come.

On-the-Wall Doughnut Goodness

Doughnut walls are fast becoming a wedding staple. They’re easy to make and even easier to enjoy.

Simply design a pegboard and then line it with deep-fried-and-frosted treats in your choice of hues and flavors. Local favorites like the Donut Haus can help you bring your yummy wall to life.

They’ve got everything you could want when it comes to signature glazes, custom sprinkles, and more. Available by special order, you can get everything you need for a wall of sweet treats everyone from Grandma to your ring nearer will rave about.

And the best part? No one has to deal with cake in the face.

Cupcake Smorgasboard

Marriage is all about compromise, so start on the right foot by choosing cupcakes over a traditional wedding cake. Cupcakes come in an endless variety of flavors and combinations and can be creatively displayed to showcase your unique identity as a couple.

You can also seamlessly decorate cupcakes to fit with the color scheme and theme of your wedding. You can even coordinate cupcake liners with tablecloths or order toppers with your wedding date and monogram. Now, how’s that for creative chic?

Bakeries such as the Colorado Rose Cake Company can help you create a one-of-kind cupcake display for your big day. Other options worth exploring include Button Rock Bakery and La Momo Maes Bakery, which each specialize in wedding dessert bars and tables.

Estes Park Wedding Photos to Cherish

Colorado is known for insane natural eye candy, and Estes Park represents the epicenter of these wilderness wonders. There’s no better place to craft a customized wedding that fits you and your spouse-to-be’s unique attitudes and interests.

Contact me now for a free phone chat to help talk through your wedding day and how I may be able to help capture it!







I book a limited number of couples and families every year... and you deserve to be one of 'em right?!

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