How to plan a Crested Butte Elopement

Imagine this: Purple Lupines and mountain bluebells dotting the meadows, rushing rivers carving a trail through the landscape, serene alpine lakes, and snow-capped mountain peaks towering above you; all of this surrounds you as you read your vows to each other. 

This is what you can experience during the most important day of your new life together! 

As Crested Butte elopement photographers, we have lovingly crafted this guide for you because there is nothing worse than getting overwhelmed and confused when planning an epic adventure with your partner! We are here to guide the way and help you create an incredible and unique Crested Butte elopement!  

Couple twirling in the wildflowers during their Crested Butte wildflower elopement.

Why you should elope in Crested Butte, Colorado

So, you probably already know why you want to elope in this gorgeous mountain town. However, just in case you don’t, here are some reasons why Crested Butte would be perfect for your elopement.

Meadows, and meadows, and MORE meadows of wildflowers

Crested Butte is the wildflower capital of Colorado. It more than deserves that title, because in the summer it boasts over 50 unique wildflower species from Lupines to Sunflowers – but we’ll go into that a little later. They also hold an amazing wildflower festival every year in July. You’ll bet we’ll be there! So, if you want a wildflower elopement, this is one of the best locations in all of the US. 

It’s much more peaceful than other mountain towns

It’s also one of the prettiest and quietest mountain towns in all of Colorado, and yes we are absolutely biased. We really do love Crested Butte! It feels far less touristy than Estes Park, Telluride, Aspen, or Vail. It has Scandinavian vibes – so if you’re like me and love Norway and Sweden, it’s perfect. 

Crested Butte is a little slice of luxury without all the crazy tourism that Vail or Aspen gets. Plus, it’s not as expensive, so you can splurge a little more on staying at that amazing Airbnb or going to a 5-star restaurant for your elopement!

The one thing that stood out above all in Crested Butte: every single person we encountered was so incredibly friendly. 

During their Crested Butte elopement, a couple looks at each other in their jeep.

Crested Butte is full of so much adventure

Crested Butte is an adventure haven: you can swim in alpine lakes, take a jeep off-roading, ski down one of the many ski slopes, spend time drinking the world’s best white rum at Montanya Distillers, or hike through meadows and mountain peaks. You can also go camping or extend your elopement into your honeymoon trip because there’s so much to explore around Crested Butte. 

It’s also amazing for winter elopements: if you love skiing, there are 55 kilometers of ski trails! Even though some roads are closed due to winter conditions – this is typically October to June – as Crested Butte elopement photographers, we stay up-to-date on any closures and always make sure all of our couples know what to expect. 

Your first step: How to get to Crested Butte

Crested Butte, Colorado sits at an elevation of 8,885 feet and is a 4.5-hour drive from Denver International Airport. That drive is 100% worth it. If you want the more scenic drives, you can drive through Breckenridge or Buena Vista, or take Cottonwood pass from Colorado Springs. You can also fly to Aspen or Gunnison airports, which are about 20-25 miles away. To get to Crested Butte, you won’t need a 4×4, but if you want to explore some of the less-maintained or OHV roads, we absolutely recommend it

Since Crested Butte is so high up, we recommend getting there a few days before your elopement so that you can adjust to the altitude. Altitude sickness is the WORST and if you’re coming from somewhere close to sea level like Florida (speaking from experience here, since we used to live in FL and boy oh boy was it rough), just be prepared to take it easy the first few days, make sure to drink lots of water, and get some good rest each night. 

The legal side of things: How to get married in Crested Butte

Marriage licenses & paperwork

While this is always the most boring part about planning any elopement (ew paperwork), it’s so important to have up-to-date information on how to get married in a certain location. So here are some of the important details so you can get legally married in Crested Butte.

Marriage licenses must be obtained through the County Clerk’s office and typically cost $30 and the paperwork shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes. 

Your license does not need to be obtained in Crested Butte, you can get your license anywhere in Colorado; which is great if you want to road-trip around the state or visit many of the other amazing locations in Colorado first. 

Like most states, the license must be used within 35 days of the issue date and, unlike a lot of states, there is no waiting period! This means you can get your license and use it the same day – though we typically recommend getting your license first, just to make it easier. Once the license is signed, you must either mail the license or file it in person with the county it was issued.

If you want to get your marriage license in Crested Butte, visit the Gunnison County website for up-to-date information. Marriage licenses in Gunnison County are obtained in the Blackstock Government Center located in Gunnison, Colorado.

Location permits

Some of the best elopement locations are in the wild, nestled among wildflowers and alpine lakes. Most of these amazing outdoor elopement locations require a permit: either from the National Forest Service or the Crested Butte Land Trust. 

Permits can definitely be confusing, which is why you should always consult an expert. We recommend calling the local ranger district or doing research on the National Forest Service website for the specific location you’re considering. Always make sure you’re following local laws and regulations!

As Crested Butte elopement photographers, we’ll help you navigate finding the correct information and permits for all the amazing elopement locations you’re thinking of. 

Self-solemnization in Colorado

One of the best parts about eloping in Colorado: you can get legally married without any officiants or witnesses! This means you can share your vows privately amongst the wildflowers and still be legally married.

The best part about all of this: Your dog can sign your marriage license!!

Dog swimming in an alpine lake towards a couple during their Colorado elopement

How to elope with your dog in Colorado

Want to know more about how to have a dog-friendly elopement in Colorado? Well, we created a whole blog post about it!

Figure out where you want to elope in Crested Butte

When deciding on a location, there are some things to be mindful of: how far of a drive or hike is it? Is it appropriate for guests? How accessible is it? How private or secluded is it? Is it only accessible during summer?
Answering these questions will help you decide on the best location for you! Most couples reach out to photographers during this step, as an experienced elopement photographer can guide you to the best locations that fit all of your desires and needs.

Below are just a few suggestions of the best places to elope in Crested Butte:

Alpine Lakes & Mountain Peaks – There’s nothing like spending the day hiking to one of the gorgeous alpine lakes in the wilderness of Crested Butte. These trails are usually only accessible during the summer by hiking or by using 4×4 roads. 

Gothic Road – This road from Crested Butte leads up to Gothic, an old town. Along the way, there are alpine lakes, pine groves, and gorgeous mountain peaks. Gothic is usually quite busy during the summer. 

Cottonwood Pass – this mountain pass is stunning, but is only accessible in the late spring to fall months due to winter road closures. Cottonwood Pass winds through mountain peaks and valleys and is home to many trails and lakes including Taylor Park Reservoir. 

Couple kissing after their elopement ceremony at Lake Irwin, Crested Butte.

Lake Irwin – One of our favorite Crested Butte elopement locations! This lake was serene in summer, filled with the smell of campfires and wildflowers. On the way up to Lake Irwin, there are amazing views of the mountains and it’s a great place to do some sightseeing. You can also spend the day kayaking or paddleboarding on the lake! 

Crested Butte Land Trust

These locations are all reserved sites and cost $2000 each. It is also one of the only outdoor locations where you are allowed to set up chairs for the ceremony. Only Woods Walk is available during winter. 

Peanut Lake – The first of three sites that you can reserve for larger outdoor weddings in Crested Butte. One of the many lakes in Crested Butte, this wedding site can hold up to 100 guests. This wedding site is located on the shores of Peanut Lake with wide open views of the mountains and meadows behind. You can reserve this location via the Crested Butte Land Trust website. 

Woods Walk – The most popular of the three options and available year road. If you want an accessible wedding location with gorgeous aspen forests behind you, then this location would be perfect. During summer, wildflowers bloom in the meadows and in fall the aspens turn a gorgeous golden. You can reserve this location via the Crested Butte Land Trust website. 

Gunsight Bridge – The last outdoor space run by the Crested Butte Land Trust. This bridge is located on the Slate River and is the start of Gunsight Pass and the end of the Lower Loop Recreation Area. It’s surrounded by the Slate River, Mt. Crested Butte, and gorgeous pine forests. This area is perfect for those who want a river in the background of their elopement. Gunsight Bridge can be reserved for $2000 via the Crested Butte Land Trust website. This site is only available in Summer and Fall. 

Couple holding hands and looking at the views during their Crested Butte elopement.

Hidden gem locations for your Crested Butte elopement

If you’re looking for something a little more wild and off the beaten path, there are so many amazing locations to choose in Crested Butte. Whether it’s backpacking to a gorgeous hidden location, or riding in a jeep with the windows down to a secret mountain overlook, Crested Butte has so many exciting and gorgeous locations that will take your breath away!

Every couple we work with gets access to our Crested Butte elopement guide that we personalize exclusively for you: including the best hidden gem locations that fit what you’re looking for, personalized lodging and activity recommendations, and so much more. So if you’re looking for a secluded aspen grove, an alpine lake with towering peaks, or the best wildflower spots, we’d love to help you find the perfect location for your Crested Butte elopement. 

Decide when you want to elope in Crested Butte

Spring in Crested Butte (April to June)

A time of new beginnings. Spring in the mountains is wildly different from that in the foothills. You can get snow, summer weather, or rainy days, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Animals start coming out of hibernation, the snow melt creates rushing waterfalls and streams and the earliest of the wildflowers come out to play. We always recommend late June for waterfalls since snow melt is strongest then, and April if you still want some snow in the higher elevations. Spring is the perfect time to have a Crested Butte elopement with snow-capped mountains and the beginnings of summer. 


Summer in Crested Butte (July to August)

Sunlight dances across the mountains, lighting up the vibrant colors of the wildflowers. There’s a stream rushing through the meadow and people are camping near the lake. Eloping in Crested Butte during summer is something otherworldly: there’s so much adventure & wonder everywhere you turn. It’s one of the reasons we fell in love with this wild place. It’s the perfect place for those day-dreaming about adventuring and for letting all your worries fade away with the summer sun.

We’ll talk about activities a little later, but summer in the mountains of Crested Butte opens up so many trails and roads that are closed due to snow. It’s also perfect for those who dream about a wildflower elopement in the mountains!

Crested Butte in the fall (September to November)

Fallen leaves crunch under your boots, and the crisp fall air gives you a chance to bundle up and sit by the fire. Fall elopements in Crested Butte are cozy, crisp, and mystical. There’s nothing like watching the aspen leaves turn a bright golden color, or putting on your favorite sweater to walk around this cute little town. You can go on a scenic drive through forests of fall colors, hiking, jeeping, and kayaking, but it’s also a great time of year to add slower, more intentional activities into your elopement: sitting by the fire, going on a crispy morning walk, cuddling up and watching wildlife from your Airbnb.

Winter in Crested Butte (December to March)

Eloping in Crested Butte in the winter is like looking into a snow globe, it’s a true winter wonderland! Snow blankets the pine forests and mountains in a soft white, and everywhere you look there are fun winter activities from skiing to snowmobiling. Just be prepared for COLD when eloping in Crested Butte in winter time, as temperatures can drop to -5° F, which is a tad chilly in our opinion. During winter, the mountains around Crested Butte may have avalanches, so make sure to check the Crested Butte Avalanche Center for information during your trip. You do not want to be caught in one!


Decide where you want to stay for your Crested Butte elopement

We spend hours and hours adding amazing and unique Airbnb’s to our curated list (because we are always dreaming about our next adventure too!) It’s a very long list, so here are just a few of the most amazing Airbnbs and VRBOs to stay in for your Crested Butte elopement.

We recommend finding a place that resonates with you and that fits your elopement aesthetic. This is permission for you to get that Airbnb that you just fell in love with! Also, remember to think about it in terms of getting ready photos or dinner photos as well: lots of natural light and uncluttered decor is your best bet.

If you’re looking for a vacation rental that also allows a ceremony or a reception, check VRBO because Airbnb does not allow events on their properties.

Modern Wood Cabin – This Scandinavian-style cabin is imported from Austria and has gorgeous views of the valley! It’s light and airy with a modern touch and is one of our absolute favorites.

4 guests, 2 bedrooms, $466 per night

Paradise on Prospect – This gorgeous cabin is great for both summer and winter elopements! It’s one of the only Airbnbs that you can ski in and out to. It also has a hot tub and mountain views. 10 guests, 3 bedrooms, $509 per night

Casey’s Slopeside – A luxury cabin with gorgeous mountain views. It features a large open living room, a fireplace, and a hot tub. 

16 guests, 6 bedrooms, $1067 a night

Gibson’s Ridge Cabin – This cabin sits on 35 acres and is close enough to walk to town! There’s a game room, a bar, a hot tub, and majestic views. This place is perfect for a VRBO elopement. 

18 guests, 6 bedrooms, $2,314 per night, allows events. 

Decide if you want to have an elopement reception

If you want a venue, with seating and indoor spaces, there are some great options in Crested Butte. These spaces are also great if you want a reception space for guests after your elopement.

Rocky Mountain Biological Lab – Full of science and education, this research station is one heck of a unique wedding venue! The scientists here conduct field research in the gorgeous alpine wilderness of Crested Butte throughout the summer (June to August).

So, for those who love learning about the earth around us, this may be a special wedding venue for you, or if you just want to visit and learn, check it out on one of your days in Crested Butte. This venue can accommodate up to 128 guests in the main hall. Sadly, they are booked up for 2024, but you can still reach out to them about hosting in 2025!

Ten Peaks – One of the newest wedding venues in Crested Butte. This venue is surrounded by wildflowers in summer and is a perfect place for your wildflower elopement reception or wedding celebration. This venue can accommodate up to 180 guests and is nestled within the Elk Mountains. 

Mountain Wedding Garden – Located only three miles north of Crested Butte, this gorgeous venue sits in the mountains amongst wildflowers and pines. It has amazing views of the Elk Mountains and can accommodate up to 200 guests. It’s a great option for those wanting to exchange their vows amongst the mountains and wildflowers, but want something more accessible. Pricing ranges from $700 to $2500 depending on the day of the week and area rented. 

A couple cheering during their jeeping elopement in Crested Butte, Colorado

Include your favorite activities in your Crested Butte elopement day

The best way to make your elopement so uniquely YOU, is to include activities that you love to do together. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Jeeping – Crested Butte is a great location for a jeeping elopement, there are plenty of mountain roads and OHV trails. This is one of our FAVORITE activities for exploring the wild areas that are inaccessible to most cars. Plus, there’s nothing like letting your hair down, rolling down the windows, and listening to some jams while exploring the backroads. 
  • Rent ATVs from Action Adventures Snowmobiles
  • Horse-riding – Many of the trails in Crested Butte allow horses and there’s a couple reputable stables nearby such as Fantasy Ranch. 
  • Taste the world’s best rum at Montaya Distillers
  • Hike to Mount Crested Butte or any of the other amazing mountains and alpine lakes
  • Attend the Wildflower Festival in July – for the wildflower lovers out there! It’s perfect to add into your Crested Butte wildflower elopement. 
  • Camp at one of the many incredible locations available, such as Lake Irwin Campground
  • Paddle Board or Kayak in one of the many lakes in the area
  • Spend some time soaking in the hot tub at your Airbnb or cozying up by the fire

All about the wildflowers of Crested Butte

If you want a wildflower elopement, you can elope in Crested Butte in the summer!! With over 55 unique species of flowers and endless mountain peaks, rivers, and alpine lakes, it’s one of the most picturesque elopement locations in all of Colorado. Imagine running through meadows of wildflowers, hand-in-hand, as your veil is swaying in the wind. You can’t help but feel taken aback by the amount of color in the landscape!

So, if you love wildflowers just as much as we do, here is a handy guide made by two amazing locals of Crested Butte: Margaret and Rick Reavis, both of whom help run and organize Crested Butte’s wildflower festival. Here are some of the amazing wildflowers you can see during your Crested Butte wildflower elopement: Purple Lupines, Glacier Lilies, Sunflowers, Bluebells, Fairy Slipper Orchids, Columbines, and Paintbrushes (yes those are flowers). 

Depending on the altitude and the month, you’ll see varying amounts of each flower. The best Lupine blooms are usually in June and July and bloom in meadows and are found all around Crested Butte – these are some of my favorites for wildflower elopements. The best glacier lily blooms are in May & June when the snowmelt and runoff begin and are found commonly by melting snow on Kebler Pass. Fireweeds are some of the latest blooming wildflowers going into July and August and can grow up to 6 feet tall. That’s HUGE!

When planning your Crested Butte wildflower elopement, remember to abide by Leave No Trace. We want these locations to be beautiful for decades to come, so this means don’t go picking any wildflowers and trampling on any blooms (foot placement is also important here). Remember the golden rule for trash and any items you brought with you: If you brought it in, take it out!

Ready to elope in Crested Butte?! Let’s get this adventure started!

Are you ready to go on the adventure of a lifetime that you’ve only been dreaming about? Are you ready to share your vows next to alpine lakes, towering peaks, and blooming wildflowers?

Crested Butte elopement photographers

If you’re ready and are looking for a Crested Butte elopement photographer, you’ve come to the right place! We’re a husband and wife Colorado elopement photography team that knows just what it’s like standing in wonder and awe after seeing the blooming wildflowers and towering peaks with the one you love. We aren’t just photographers that show up on your day: we love helping couples plan their special day and, along the way, we become good friends, because no one should be alone and stressed planning their most exciting adventure!

We’ve spent countless hours exploring mountain passes, alpine lakes, and fun hikes because there’s nothing better than exploring together and learning about the wild earth around us. Plus, we get to scout the best locations for couples like you.

Crested Butte elopement packages:

All of our Crested Butte elopement packages include:
Coverage time between 4 hours and 2 days
A husband and wife team of 2 photographers
A personalized 50+ page elopement planning guide
Personalized location ideas and scouting, activity recommendations, lodging ideas, and a list of our favorite places in Crested Butte from breweries to restaurants!
Vendor recommendations
Timeline assistance
Personalized online gallery
And no extra travel fees or hidden fees

So, check out our Crested Butte elopement pricing and reach out!

Alluvial Fan elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park. Couple holding each-other and admiring Morgan's wedding ring.

Let’s plan your best day ever!

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