HOW DO YOU ELOPE IN THE WINTER? A HOW-TO GUIDE
There’s something so peaceful about winter - when the earth seems to sleep under a blanket of snow, the air feels crisp, and there’s quiet tranquility in the flurries floating down to the ground.
Now imagine eloping in a winter wonderland, enjoying the silence that’s interrupted only by the crunch of ice under your feet and the occasional sound of falling snow. Imagine saying your vows surrounded by your own little haven of the brisk winter air and open skies. The white snow and crisp air make winter elopements extra fun and exciting. Definitely takes a special couple to want to get married at such a dramatic and romantic time of year!
A winter elopement may require a little more planning than any other outdoor season - with shorter days, road closures, and hiking through the snow, but this guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan the most epic adventure and get you inspired with some winter elopement ideas!
BEST WINTER ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS
One of the best things about winter elopements is that even the places that are jam-packed with crowds in the summer are often totally empty in the winter! This means that on your winter elopement day, you get to enjoy a lot more privacy as you say your vows.
Let's face it: Eloping in the winter is especially beautiful - most days are still sunny, so you can enjoy the snow, and the sparkle that sunny days create on the frost, without feeling the gloom that winter can be notorious for. You can also combine the mountains capped off with some urban exploring by taking a romantic stroll on the city streets!
Continue reading below for my best winter elopement locations in colorado!
If you're up for somewhere remote and beautiful, then Telluride is one of the best winter elopement locations. You really can have it all in Telluride. The town is only 12 blocks long and 8 blocks wide and boasts historic Victorian architecture, boutique shops, and plenty of local gems. But that's not even the highlights of the area: The towering snowcapped peaks highlight some of the best skiing and backcountry snowshoeing for your winter wedding.
• ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country, but winters are much quieter! The towering peaks and jagged rock formations were carved by glaciers millions of years ago, creating the insane vistas the Rocky Mountains are known for. The snow creates an, even more, epic winter landscape of peaks, valleys, and frozen alpine lakes. And while many higher elevation roads close for the winter, the lower elevation trails stay open for snowshoeing.
The town of Breckenridge sits cozily away from Vail and Silverthorne and is known for looking like something out of a snow globe in the winter. For a winter elopement in Breck, you can hit the slopes to ski, or snowshoe some of the local outdoor trails. The town is laid back and inviting, and offers plenty to do in town once you’re done exploring for the day. Elope in the winter months and you catch the ice castles!
WHAT DO YOU WEAR TO ELOPE IN THE WINTER?
You don’t want to be freezing your butts off all day - so keeping the weather in mind when you shop for your elopement attire will ensure you can have a full day of adventures! I think of a game of cat and mouse when it comes to eloping in the winter - take off your coats for photos and put them back on before it gets too cold. It's fun and exciting at the same time! You can also help keep each other warm by cuddling up in between photos, because who doesn't love cuddles?
Another added bonus to eloping in the winter is you won't have to deal with the summer heat. If you are stressed about being sweaty on your wedding day, then a winter elopement is perfect for you! You can embrace the snowy elements and cool off when needed!
Keep reading below for what you should consider wearing for your winter elopement.
• BEST BOOTS FOR ELOPING IN THE WINTER
Staying warm and dry is key when it comes to winter elopements, so high heels and dress shoes probably won’t cut it - especially considering we’re going to be venturing out in the snow! I would look into Gortex or other winterized boots, as long as they’re waterproof. It would also be smart to bring multiple pairs of wool socks, so you can change throughout the day. Also, pack some hand warmers and throw those bad boys near your toes. You can thank me later on that one!
If you get new shoes for the occasion, be sure to break them in before the big day! There’s nothing worse than a new-shoe blister. If your winter elopement location has some deep snow, consider adding some snowshoes to keep you from sinking - Yaktrax will provide you traction for icy conditions. But most importantly, double-check that your boots are waterproof and winterized!
• WINTER ELOPEMENT DRESS
Mermaid style and ball gown dresses may work for traditional weddings, but on your winter elopement day, you’ll be hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, running away from snowballs lovingly hurled by your new spouse, maybe even all of the above. You’ll need a dress that will let you do that! Make sure your dress is comfortable and allows you to move freely - so you can enjoy your winter elopement day.
For a winter elopement, you’ll also really need to think about staying warm. Dresses with heavier fabrics (like velvet or silk) can help, along with a cape or shawl on top for warmth and dramatic flair. You can also throw some fur over the top if you aren't keen on the snowboard jacket for your winter elopement!
But if you need something warmer than fur you can look at puffer coats or shearling-lined zip-ups for a top layer to keep you stylish for your winter wedding!
• BEST SUITS FOR ELOPING IN THE WINTER
Just like winter elopement dresses, your winter elopement suits need to be comfortable and warm! Make sure you can move around without ripping through the jacket Superman-style. To stay warm, heavier fabrics (like tweed, wool, and velvet) will do the trick, and suits are handy because they always give you options for layering! You should also consider layering below your suit so you can stay extra warm in the winter conditions! You can rock some thermal underwear pretty easily, which is super important to keep warm during your winter elopement!
• WINTER SHAWL
Rocking a fur shawl is not only a sheek way to elevate your winter bridal look, but a great way to keep you warm in the elements. You can shop for affordable faux winter shawls on Amazon or other online retailers. I would suggest getting a darker-tone shawl so it doesn't blend in with the snow too much!
• WINTER ELOPEMENT ACCESSORIES
You aren’t done with your outdoor elopement attire yet! It can often feel toasty while you’re roaming through the snow, but once you stop for your ceremony it doesn’t take long for the cold to start biting. It’s important to be prepared - so I recommend some underlayers to keep you warm. Nude leggings and thermal pieces work well, and it never hurts to bring some cold-weather accessories, like gloves, scarves, gaiters, and extra socks (wool socks are kind of magical - they’ll keep you warm in the winter conditions even if they get wet).
I also recommend bringing some hand warmers, and maybe a camping stove for some hot chocolate or coffee on the go. Because who doesn't love hot chocolate?
WINTER ELOPEMENT IDEAS
Powder-filled valleys and snow-capped peaks make for an epic backdrop for your winter elopement. But you have to think of your winter elopement as more than a pretty backdrop - the whole point of eloping in the winter is to have some fun in the snow! So plan for your entire day to be an experience. Think of the most epic, most fun, the best day you could possibly have - no idea is off-limits in the winter!
Here are some winter elopement ideas to get the gears turning.
• SNOWMOBILING ELOPEMENT
A snowmobile is basically a motorized sled! So if you are ready for a thrill ride, then this might be the option for YOU! You can ride on snow and ice, going slowly to enjoy the views, or zooming (safely) around an open space. Whether you take a guided tour or venture out alone, snowmobiling is a great way to explore snowy areas quickly! You can access remote areas super easily and get away from the ski town's traffic for your winter elopement. With the ability to cover lots of miles in the winter, you'll enjoy beautiful locations and stunning scenery in the winter snow!
Snowshoes are kind of like little skis for your feet. They distribute your weight to allow you to walk on top of the snow without sinking in and provide some traction when things get dicey. Some hikes can be difficult in the winter, but snowshoes will help you reach those jaw-dropping views for your winter elopement.
If you are not a fan of skiing or snowboarding, then snowshoeing is a great option explore the valleys and wander through some aspen trees while the wind hums around you. Tons of these outdoor snow trails are maintained in the winter months, which makes it a great winter elopement option. I'll even strap you in before we hit those snowy trails!
Check out the best of Colorado's snowshoeing spots!
• ICE SKATING
You don't have to be an Olympic figure skater to have an ice skating elopement! This is definitely a unique and fun way to celebrate a winter elopement with your own personal ice skating rink out in nature. I really love this option because there are tons of frozen lakes in the winter to choose from and the pictures are so fun and unique compared to other activities in the winter!
• HORSE-DRAWN SLEIGH RIDES
Snuggle up in a horse-drawn carriage and travel the old-fashioned way! This ain't some boring circle around a track. Many places offer rides to see local scenery and wildlife, as you enjoy some hot chocolate and the sound of sleigh bells as you go. This might be the most romantic option of the bunch for your winter elopement, so kick pack warm, snuggle up close, and enjoy the jingle of bells tinkling from your sleigh!
You can check out some local sleigh rides here!
• DOG SLEDDING
Dog sledding offers a thrilling adventure that can add excitement to your winter elopement. This winter activity offers you intimacy, solitude, and a free ride to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery!
Ready to hit the slopes. Snowboarding is an amazing idea for some post “I do” adrenaline, and yes, you can totally shred in your elopement attire! I suggest planning your snowboarding adventure during the week so you can avoid the crowds and traffic of the weekend. You want to have the maximum amount of privacy and avoid sitting in ski traffic at all costs.
Added bonus: You can show off your skills on the slopes and snowboard out of the ceremony like a badass!
WHAT ARE THE BEST MONTHS TO HAVE A WINTER ELOPEMENT?
Planning a winter elopement has the added perk of less expensive travel and lodging, as most destinations are in their off-season. Travel and hotels are peaking in the summer when kids are out of school, so you can likely find some good deals for you to take advantage of for your winter wedding. However, the holidays can be an exception! The end of December may not be ideal for an elopement as you might run into holiday vacationers and crowding at a lot of locations, especially in ski towns.
In high-elevation spots, you could have a winter elopement as late as April! Snow in the mountains usually sticks around until summer, and it will be a little warmer. I recommend January through April, but check the expected conditions for your winter elopement location! This is important because snowfall can start early or late depending on the year. The best bet is to plan your winter elopement during traditional ski seasons because they're generally when the snow is the best and looks the prettiest.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE FOR WINTER ELOPEMENTS?
The shimmery ice crystals, freshly fallen snow, and wintry landscapes are beautiful, but winter elopements come with some added weather considerations. Especially in winter in the mountains, weather can be a lot more unpredictable this time of year, and getting stuck in a blizzard or an avalanche is probably not something you want for your wedding day. Make sure you’re prepared with safety gear and a backup plan, and that you know which roads will be open and which locations are safe to visit.
And always remember that winter brings lots of snow and cold temperatures for your winter wonderland elopement, so make sure to overpack warm clothing. I always recommend being over-prepared for conditions because you would rather be safe than sorry about your winter elopement.
The important thing to note: every photographer will handle weather differently but I personally leave the day before or after open in case of bad weather. This gives me and the couple flexibility to move things around if bad weather arises in the winter.
WHY ELOPE IN THE WINTER?
• ELOPING IN THE WINTER IS UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT
Imagine sledding down a hill or cross-country skiing on your wedding day. You can't get that in the summer months! You can put a fun and unique twist on your wedding day by eloping in the winter.
• YOU WILL HAVE MORE DATES TO CHOOSE FROM IN THE WINTER
Summer wedding dates get booked up to 12 months in advance! I know that is crazy to hear but eloping in the winter gives you the benefit of your choice in dates. You don't have to worry about your favorite photographer being booked up in the winter months because it's shoulder season for us. Enjoy your choice of dates during the winter!
• VENDORS MIGHT OFFER DISCOUNTS IN THE WINTER
Because it's shoulder season for so many vendors, you will have an easier time finding vendors and venues that offer discounts on pricing. For example, I offer an avalanche elopement package in the wintertime that is for fewer hours than my summer packages. If you have a hard budget, then winter elopement might be a great option for you to save some money!
• WINTER WEDDINGS MIGHT BE CHEAPER
Not only will you find vendors willing to offer discounts, but you'll notice that everything is generally cheaper when getting married in the winter. You will likely find shorter photographer hours, and cheaper flights and you might be able to combine your winter wedding into a family holiday trip like with Christmas or Thanksgiving! Eloping in the winter is not only different and unique but potentially cost-saving as well.
• COZIER ATMOSPHERE
Winter weddings can create a cozy, intimate atmosphere indoors or outside, especially if you opt for a warm and welcoming venue, such as a barn or a ski lodge.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES TO ELOPING IN THE WINTER?
The most obvious downside to eloping in the winter is the weather and the shorter days. Not only is the weather cold but unpredictable as well. I really suggest being familiar with being in the cold for long periods of time. In the winter, the days are shorter and there is less daylight, which can impact the timing and location of your elopement.
So if you are big into snow skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, then a winter elopement would be a great fit! If you are coming from a warmer climate, then a winter wedding might be a shock to your system. At the end of the day, the goal is for you to be happy and comfortable! Winter weddings can definitely push people outside their comfort zones, so plan accordingly!
WINTER ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER
My name is Sean, and I can’t wait to help create your winter elopement package! I’m a free spirit who has dedicated my life to exploring this wild world and connecting to the people in it.
I know firsthand what an important and personal decision this is—my wife and I eloped to Northern Ireland. You’re trusting me to capture this amazing day, and I make it my responsibility to make sure you have an incredible experience from start to finish!
My passion has led me here, where I can follow my heart and share my love for the outdoors with others on their wedding day. It’s truly an awesome experience, and I’m stoked every time I get to guide and document your day!
Sound like the perfect match? Reach out so we can get started on your epic winter elopement package!
Last Updated on March 21, 2023 by vowsandpeaks