Megan Simpson Photography

How to Have the Ultimate Destination Colorado Wedding

March 9, 2023

So you’ve decided to tie the knot in one of the most beautiful states in the country – Colorado. With its stunning natural landscapes, picturesque mountain views, and endless outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that Colorado has become a popular destination for weddings. However, the question that remains for many couples is where do you even start in making your day everything you’ve been dreaming of?

With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide on the perfect venue, what to do during your trip, and how to even make sure your marriage is legal. But with the right guidance, you can have the ultimate destination Colorado wedding of your dreams. As an Estes Park wedding photographer and a long-time local, I’ll walk you through each step of the process, from choosing your venue up to enjoying your special day. So sit back, relax, and get ready to plan the wedding of a lifetime.

Table of Contents

    Colorado Marriage License Requirements

    bride and groom admire the view at 5 mile curve in Rocky Mountain National Park

    Getting married in Colorado requires a few legal steps to ensure that your union is recognized by the state. Exact requirements may vary depending on which county you plan to get married in. Couples can either complete this process online well before their marriage date or schedule a time to get it taken care of in person.

    In-Person Colorado Marriage License Requirements

    To obtain your marriage license in person, both partners will need to first schedule an appointment with the county clerk’s office. If one partner is unable to attend, you can also fill out a Marriage License Absentee Affidavit . You will also need to bring valid identification for each partner, such as a driver’s license or passport.

    Online Colorado Marriage License Requirements

    In some cities, such as Denver, you can complete your colorado marriage license process online. However, both partners must be within the state of Colorado and appear via video screen together, in the same room. After your online license has been approved, you will receive your Colorado marriage license in the mail

    Whether you get your marriage license online or in person, in Colorado, there’s a 24-hour waiting period between obtaining your license and getting married. This means that you’ll need to plan accordingly and make sure to give yourself enough time to obtain your license and have your ceremony. Your license also must be used within 35 days of issuance. The license must then be returned to the county clerk, by any individual, within 63 days to have your marriage officially recorded and recognized by the state of Colorado.

    Your wedding day is coming up fast, and you don’t want to miss a thing. Let an experienced wedding photographer take care of capturing all the details.

    Colorado Wedding Venues

    wedding ceremony at Black Canyon Inn in Estes Park, Colorado

    After understanding how the process of making your marriage legal works, it’s time to figure out where exactly in Colorado you want to get married. Below are some of my all-time favorite Colorado wedding venues.

    1. Black Canyon Inn Estes Park

    Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Della Terra Mountain Chateau is a private luxurious wedding venue that offers stunning mountain views, elegant architecture, and exceptional service. The chateau’s Grand Terrace provides a breathtaking outdoor setting for wedding ceremonies and receptions, with views of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide. With its boutique charm and modern amenities, Della Terra Mountain Chateau is a perfect wedding destination for couples who want to combine luxury and romantic settings with the natural beauty of Colorado.

    2. Skyview at Fall River Village

    Skyview at Fall River Village is a unique wedding venue that offers a modern and sophisticated setting for couples. The venue’s rooftop terrace provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, while the indoor reception space features large open windows, elegant decor, and a wrap-around viewing deck. With its stunning architecture and modern amenities, Skyview at Fall River Village is a perfect destination for couples seeking a contemporary wedding experience in the heart of Estes Park.

    3. The Landing at Estes Park

    Located on the banks of the Big Thompson River, The Landing at Estes Park is a charming wedding venue that offers a serene and picturesque setting for couples. With over 3000 square feet of indoor event space, The Landing features rustic decor, a cozy fireplace, and glass doors giving a picturesque view of the scenery below. Couples can also explore the tranquil grounds and walk right up to the river. With its tranquil setting and exceptional service, The Landing at Estes Park is a perfect destination for couples seeking a peaceful and intimate wedding experience.

    4. The Bird’s Nest Estes Park

    The Bird’s Nest is a newly built stunning wedding venue that offers a unique and intimate setting for couples. This new concept was opened by Bird and Jim restaurant, offers rustic charm, delicious on-site catering and bar services, and large windows giving you beautiful views just outside of the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. With its natural beauty and rustic charm, The Bird’s Nest is a perfect destination for couples seeking an unforgettable wedding experience.

    Getting Permits for Your Wedding in Colorado

    bride and groom celebrate their wedding at Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Depending on the location you decide on, you also need to consider if you will need a permit for your wedding. Here’s what you need to know:

    Outdoor Venues: If you’re having an outdoor wedding in Colorado, you may need a permit for the use of public land. This can include parks, forests, as well as inside Rocky Mountain National Park. Be sure to check with the local authorities or your venue to determine what permits are required and to obtain them well in advance of your wedding.

    Special Use Permits: If you’re having a large wedding or a wedding that requires the use of special equipment or services, you may need a special use permit. This can include permits for events with amplified sound, tents, or catering services.

    Alcohol Permits: If you’re serving alcohol at your wedding, you may need to obtain an alcohol permit. This can vary depending on the venue and local laws, so be sure to check with the appropriate authorities to determine what permits are required.

    Every moment of your wedding day is precious. Don’t risk missing out on the perfect shot.

    Colorado Wedding Planning Tips

    A look at the reception space at The Landing in Estes Park, Colorado.

    Planning a wedding can be a stressful time for a couple. To help in that process, I reached out to Jillian Jenson, a wedding planner in Colorado to give some advice to couples as they plan for their big day.

    What is your #1 planning tip?

    More isn’t always better. You don’t have to go too overboard with decorations or expensive features for your wedding day! Instead, spend money and time on items that will enhance your guest experience and are truly a reflection of you as a couple! This is what people will remember for years to come. And don’t do things just because other people are doing them or because it’s “on trend”!

    What’s a planning myth you’d like to bust?

    You don’t need to follow traditions for the sake of following traditions. Talk it through with your partner and figure out what the most important aspects of your wedding day are for you both. Did you grow up imagining cutting a wedding cake? Did you dream about the first dance song? Or have you not thought about these at all and aren’t sure you want to do these at all? If things aren’t important to you, you don’t have to do them!

    What’s the biggest mistake you see couples make when planning a wedding?

    The biggest mistake that I see couples not addressing is a weather backup plan during the planning process. I know the dreaded ‘what is your rain plan?’ question is a really tough one and one that people would generally rather avoid… but the most important thing is just to talk about it! You need to talk about plan B’s when you are calm and not under stress or a time crunch. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is making big decisions and that includes what shifts need to be made for rain.

    You, your partner, your venue, your photographer, and your coordinator can be on the same page. We want zero miscommunications on your desires when it comes to rain/weather backups. And if we talk about it ahead of time, there is no risk of someone missing the memo! If you talk about it in advance, you can hear about all the options.

    Does your venue have an indoor ceremony option? Can you push up the cocktail hour and wait for the storm to pass? Does your venue provide umbrellas or would you have to bring them in?

    Hiring Your Colorado Wedding Vendors

    Bride and groom during their wedding ceremony at Skyview Estes Park.

    When planning any wedding, hiring vendors is an essential part of the process. When selecting your Colorado wedding vendors, it’s important to identify the type of vendors needed. These vendors are things like a caterer, photographers, florists, and DJs. Once your preferred vendors have been identified, it’s important to research and compare different options, taking into consideration their experience, style, and availability. Reading reviews and asking for recommendations from friends and family can also be helpful.

    Once vendors have been selected, it’s important to communicate clearly with them about expectations and any special requests. For example, if the couple wants a specific type of flower arrangement or a particular song played during the reception, they should make sure to communicate that to the relevant vendor. By carefully selecting and communicating with vendors, you can ensure that your wedding day in Colorado is everything you envisioned and bring your wedding dreams to life.

    Hiring a Colorado Wedding Photographer

    bride and groom elope in Estes Park, Colorado at sunrise

    On your wedding day, photography should be about what matters most, you and your loved ones together to celebrate your love story. I know firsthand how hectic the wedding day can be. As a Colorado wedding photographer with over 10 years of experience, my goal is for you to be present at your wedding and enjoy every minute while I capture them as they happen to preserve those memories.

    Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Don’t let it slip away without capturing every special moment.

    Things to do in Colorado

    One of the best things about getting married in Colorado is all of the amazing activities you can enjoy with your guests. From hiking and fishing to skiing and snowboarding –and everything in between, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state. Here are some of the best things to do in Colorado while celebrating your wedding.

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Colorado. The park offers incredible natural beauty and is home to over 300 miles of hiking trails, including the famous Trail Ridge Road. Visitors can hike through beautiful meadows, past alpine lakes, and up to the top of towering peaks. There are also opportunities for camping, fishing, wildlife viewing, and more.

    Visit Downtown Estes Park

    Downtown Estes Park is a charming area that’s perfect for a leisurely stroll. Visitors can explore local shops and restaurants and enjoy the beautiful mountain views. There are also several art galleries and museums in the area, including the Estes Park Museum, which offers a glimpse into the town’s history. Be sure to stop by Bond Park, where there are often live performances and events.

    4×4 or Jeep Tours

    For those looking for an adventure, 4×4 and jeep tours are a popular way to explore Colorado’s backcountry. Visitors can take a guided tour through some of Colorado’s most rugged and remote terrain, including mountain passes, old mining towns, and abandoned ghost towns. These tours offer a unique way to experience the beauty of Colorado’s wilderness.

    The Stanley Hotel

    The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, is a historic hotel that has been featured in several films, including the famous horror movie, The Shining. Visitors can take a tour of the hotel and learn about its history, catch a live performance, grab dinner, or even stay overnight in one of its famous haunted rooms.

    Peak to Peak Byway

    The Peak to Peak Byway is a scenic drive that stretches from Estes Park to Black Hawk. Along this 3-hour ride, visitors can take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. The drive also passes through several historic and quaint towns, including Nederland, Allenspark, and Ward, where visitors can stop and explore.

    Colorado Whitewater Rafting

    Colorado is known for its incredible whitewater rafting opportunities. Visitors can take a guided tour down some of the state’s most exciting rapids, including the Arkansas River and the Clear Creek. Rafting tours are available for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.

    Horseback Riding Colorado

    For a more leisurely outdoor adventure, horseback riding is a popular activity in Colorado. Visitors can take a guided tour through some of the state’s most scenic areas, including the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Horseback riding tours are available for all skill levels, and many include a stop for a picnic lunch or a visit to a local ranch.

    Weather in Colorado

    Couple walk in the snow during engagement photos in Estes Park

    The weather in Colorado is known for being variable and unpredictable, with temperatures and precipitation varying greatly depending on the season and location within the state. In general, the average temperature highs and lows in Colorado range from the mid-40s to mid-80s Fahrenheit during the summer months, and from the

    mid-teens to mid-40s Fahrenheit during the winter months. Precipitation amounts also vary depending on the season, with an average of around 15 inches of snowfall in the mountains during the winter, and around 15 inches of rainfall throughout the state during the summer.

    Colorado Weather in January

    Average high of 47° and low of 18°. Average snowfall 6.4”

    Colorado Weather in February

    Average high of 48 and low of 19. Average snowfall 7.6″

    Colorado Weather in March

    Average high of 56° and low of 27°. Average snowfall 8.8”

    Colorado Weather in April

    Average high of 63° and low of 34°. Average snowfall 6.2”

    Colorado Weather in May

    Average high of 72° and low of 43°. Average rainfall 1.4”

    Colorado Weather in June

    Average high of 84° and low of 53°. Average rainfall 1.7”

    Colorado Weather in July

    Average high of 90° and low of 59°. Average rainfall 2.1”

    Colorado Weather in August

    Average high of 88° and low of 57°. Average rainfall 1.8”

    Colorado Weather in September

    Average high of 80° and low of 48°. Average rainfall 1.5”

    Colorado Weather in October

    Average high of 67° and low of 36°. Average snowfall 3.9”

    Colorado Weather in November

    Average high of 55° and low of 26°. Average snowfall 7.3”

    Colorado Weather in December

    Average high of 46° and low of 18°. Average snowfall 6.6”

    FAQ About Destination Colorado Weddings

    What is the best time of year to visit Colorado?

    The best time to visit Colorado depends on what activities you’re interested in. Summer is a great time for hiking and outdoor adventures, while winter offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities.

    What month is best to get married in Colorado?

    The best month to get married in Colorado depends on your personal preferences and wedding vision. Summer months (June to August) are popular due to warm temperatures and outdoor wedding options, while fall (September to November) is popular for the changing foliage colors.

    Winter months (December to February) offer snow-filled landscapes and a cozy atmosphere but be prepared for colder temperatures. Spring (March to May) can also be a beautiful time for a wedding, with budding flowers and milder temperatures.

    What is the average cost of a wedding in Colorado?

    The average cost of a wedding in Colorado is around $30,000, which is slightly higher than the national average. However, this cost can vary greatly depending on factors such as the location, venue, number of guests, catering, and other details.

    Couples should budget and plan accordingly, keeping in mind their priorities and what they can realistically afford. There are many options for weddings in Colorado, from rustic outdoor venues to elegant ballrooms, so it’s possible to have a beautiful wedding on any budget.

    You’ll never get a second chance to capture your wedding day. Trust a professional Colorado wedding photographer to help you relive those moments for years to come. Contact us today.







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

    Megan Simpson Photo


    This function has been disabled for Megan Simpson Photography.