You’ve decided to elope in the great outdoors, YAY! But how do you avoid crowds on your elopement day?
There are tons of reasons why couples choose to elope, but one of the most common reasons I’ve seen is that couples want to experience a meaningful day together in nature, where they’re NOT the center of attention. If you don’t want 100+ people watching you get married, you probably don’t want strangers close by either. Couples envision themselves spending part of their day in a beautiful location immersed in nature, with as little people around as possible.
If you’ve been in a national park, state park, or really any popular outdoor location in the past few years, you may have noticed that many of these areas aren’t as private as they used to be. More people are spending time outside, and more couples are choosing to elope in nature. However, there are PLENTY of ways to avoid crowds on your elopement day!
If you take anything from this blog post, let it be this. Significantly more people will be outside on Saturday and Sunday to enjoy nature when they’re not working. Choosing to elope on a weekday is one of the best, and usually easiest, ways to avoid the largest crowds! 95+% of the elopements and intimate weddings I’ve photographed over the years have been on a weekday. I’ve found Colorado elopements on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to have the least amount of people in public locations. Another big bonus to eloping on a weekday is that many local Colorado vendors get booked up a year in advance for their larger weddings, and some vendors will only work with eloping couples on a weekday. You’ll also notice more lodging options since weekend getaways always are the first to get booked.
I know it can seem a little strange to plan your wedding on a random Wednesday for next July, as most weddings happen on Saturday. Chances are you’re already traveling from out of state, or you’re taking time off work to get married. I promise it’s WELL worth it pick a weekday if you want less people around! It’s your wedding day after all. 🙂
Just like you want to skip weekends, avoiding holidays and even the surrounding dates is a great way to avoid crowds on your elopement day. Many people travel over holiday weeks, so doing your best to avoid the most popular holidays will be helpful in avoiding crowds.
Your immediate reaction might be “heck no” and if that’s you, I totally get it! Sadly I’m not a morning person either, however I’ll always make exceptions for sunrise elopements. If you’re already a morning person or regularly wake up early for sunrise adventures, you might be more open to the idea. If you’re open to a very early wake-up call, here are the top reasons why eloping at sunrise can be beneficial:
– Privacy – This is the best time of day at having the most amount of privacy. When most people are on vacation and exploring the mountains, they’re way more likely to sleep in a bit and not start their hike or adventures until mid to late morning. Same applies to local people. By that time, you will have already spent HOURS watching the sunrise and taking in the beautiful scenery!
– Weather – Depending on where you elope and the time of year, sunrise will have ‘better’ weather than any other time of day. In the summer months in Colorado, afternoon and evening storms are very common. If you’re planning to elope in the high altitude mountains, eloping at sunrise gives you a better chance at not worrying about the weather the whole day.
– Lighting – A huge benefit of eloping at sunrise is the beautiful lighting. In the Rocky Mountains, you can plan your sunrise elopement around catching the alpenglow over the mountains. During blue hour prior to sunrise, the mountain peaks will turn a gorgeous purple, eventually turning into vibrant oranges and reds. What an incredible way to start your wedding day!
– Experience – Waking up in the middle of the night to arrive at a beautiful overlook or trailhead at 4am will be tough, but how many people can say they hiked at sunrise on their wedding day? There’s a very specific, beautiful, type of magic that happens when you experience nature this early in the day. It helps give you an intimate and memorable wedding experience that you’ll never forget.
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to avoid the crowds on an elopement day. Not only does this help give you an incredible and memorable experience together, but it’s a great way to be in nature and have less people around. This doesn’t mean you have to hike 6+ miles or go on a crazy adventure; even hiking 1-2 miles is a fantastic way to find privacy. The further you get from popular trailheads, parks, and overlooks, typically the more privacy you’ll find. Another bonus to hiking is the amazing experience you two will have! It feels really amazing when you physically put in a little work to reach a beautiful destination. To say your vows in that destination, to have a place that will forever be ‘your’ spot together is truly incredible.
Let’s be real here: there’s a reason why the most beautiful locations are typically some of the most popular locations. A gorgeous location that’s easily accessible and not far from amenities will always have more people around. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path on your elopement day, especially for your ceremony. Many couples want the most epic backdrop for their ceremony, but you can always share private vows in a lesser known location, then travel to the more popular ones for exploring and to take photos!
As a Colorado elopement photographer, location scouting is one of the main services I offer with all of my elopement packages. I’m always searching for new locations online to provide my couples with hidden gems and locations off the beaten path! I’m also constantly hiking and driving around to explore new areas.
^Sarah Grace and Sam eloped in a wilderness area of Colorado. This is a location that I have NEVER seen another elopement photographed before! If you’re open to off the beaten path locations where maybe no one else has gotten married in the past, especially ones that don’t have a ton of information online, this is a fantastic way to avoid crowds. We didn’t see a single other person here! Plus, they got to camp under the stars just feet away from where they eloped.
Every location will have a different time of year for their ‘off-season’. The most popular time for people to visit the mountains in Colorado is during the summer months. June-September will always have the most amount of visitors because this is when the temperatures are the warmest, and when mountain passes and high altitude trailheads are open and accessible. Trailheads and parking lots that are typically completely full by 7am in the summer will have plenty of parking in the winter months.
If privacy is what you’re after AND you can tolerate colder temperatures or even snow, consider eloping October-May in Colorado!
^D’Shea and Josh eloped in Rocky Mountain National Park on a weekday in February. We visited three different locations in the park and literally saw ONE group of people! Our final location at a frozen lake, normally jam packed in the summer months, had zero cars besides our own. The freezing temperatures were well worth it to have the whole place to ourselves!
While eloping at sunrise will typically mean being around the least amount of people, eloping at sunset is also a great way to avoid crowds in many locations! If you’re able to stay past sunset and experience ‘blue hour’, even better. Most people who are enjoying the outdoors will leave before sunset and before it gets too dark. Not only do you get to experience watching the sunset together, but there’s something really magical about being in the mountains as it gets dark and seeing the stars come out. Grab some fairy lights or lanterns to finish off your day!
A great way to avoid crowds on your elopement day is to reserve your ceremony space through a venue, or any outdoor locations that offer reservations (national parks, state parks, overlooks, etc). This is especially helpful if you are eloping on a weekend or with a small group of people. It’s really great to have an official reservation in an outdoor location so you don’t have to worry about strangers being in the space. Many Colorado venues offer elopement or micro wedding packages at discounted rates!
I also recommend checking out Airbnb and VRBO for beautiful rental properties that could work great for your ceremony. Always ask the owners for permission and to see if any additional fees will be added.
^Amber and Jason had 9 guests for their elopement in Vail. They reserved their ceremony space through a venue to not only ensure privacy and have a dedicated space, but also to have their beautiful floral arch and chairs for their guests on the lawn.
If you’re planning your elopement in a location that you’re not familiar with, hiring a local and experienced elopement photographer will be incredibly helpful. An experienced local photographer will be very familiar with locations, and will be able to better guide you to locations with less people while giving better tips. If you show up to one of your locations on your elopement day and see more people than you’d expect, an experienced photographer will have back-up locations in mind for you to utilize.
Are you about to start planning your own adventure elopement? I would LOVE to help bring your vision to life and to capture your elopement day! Contact me here to get started!