Everything you need to know about planning your elopement in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado, like choosing the best time of year, where to stay, and of course the best places to elope!
After thirteen years in Colorado and photographing dozens of Breckenridge weddings and elopements, I’ve written this guide to help answer the most commonly asked questions I get about eloping in the Breckenridge, Frisco, and Silverthorne areas of Summit County.
I’ll cover the best locations for your elopement ceremony, restaurants and micro-wedding venues for small receptions, and my favorite venues for bigger weddings, along with everything else you need to know before deciding if eloping in Breck is right for you.
(If you’re a photographer who’s doing research before capturing your first Breckenridge elopement, or you’re doing research on the local venues, I promise there’s some good info in this guide for you too!)
Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about planning a Breckenridge elopement?
Great! Let’s get started.
Why Elope in Breckenridge?
It’s easily accessible
Breckenridge feels like a remote mountain town, but it’s only a 1.5h drive from Denver (without traffic). If you’re traveling to Colorado from out of state, or have a lot of guests flying in, it’s the perfect place to show off the mountains without spending all day driving to get there. You can also take one of the many shuttle services like Epic Mountain Express and Summit Express from Denver International Airport to Breckenridge if you don’t want to rent a car.
There’s no off-season
Unlike many other ski resort towns in Colorado, Breckenridge has enough of a local community to feel “alive” all year round. Yes, you’ll run into some restaurant and shop closures during the mud-season months of May and October, but most businesses stay open all year round.
Breckenridge has the best airbnbs
Whether you’re looking for a simple A-frame cabin for just the two of you, or a high end designer home for your whole family to share, Breckenridge has what you want. More and more couples are renting homes rather than hotel rooms for their weddings and elopements. It gives you a cozy home base for the day, and you can even have a private chef cook you dinner while you’re adventuring around in the mountains. See my recommendations for the best vacation rentals in Breck further down this post!
A vibrant vendor community
While it can be hard to find a hair and makeup artist or florist in some smaller mountain towns like Telluride and Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge has a big community of wedding vendors to choose from. You can get everything you need from vendors based in Breck, but most vendors in the Denver metro area are also happy to travel up to the mountains for the day which gives you way more options to choose from.
The options are endless
Want to drive up to an alpine lake so your families can witness your vow exchange? You can do that in Breck. Want to hike a fourteener and elope at the summit before splitting your first beer as married folks? You can do that in Breck. Want to invite a hundred of your closest friends and family to celebrate your wedding in a ski lodge? You can do that in Breck.
With hundreds of miles of hiking trails and 4×4 roads to choose from, and the kind of gourmet food scene you’d expect in a high end ski town, Breckenridge has something for everyone, no matter what kind of elopement you’re dreaming of.
Oh yeah, and it’s beautiful!
With alpine lakes and waterfalls, wild flowers and snow covered peaks, it doesn’t get much more Colorado than Breckenridge.
Best time of year to elope in Breckenridge
First things first; you need to choose a date for your wedding. I have a big guide over the best months to elope in Colorado, and highly recommend that you check it out before picking a date.
Breckenridge’s high altitude of 9,600ft means that winter sticks around for a long time compared to the Denver metro area. The ski resort often stays open through the end of May, and it’s not uncommon to still see snow on the ground at the end of June.
But long winters aside, there’s nothing better than summer in the high country. While Denver often sees temperatures reach 100° F in the middle of sumer, Breckenridge has a high of ~75-80 degrees. By the end of July, the ground is covered in wildflowers. And the last two weeks of September give you the best fall colors when the aspens are changing, before we get the first snow of the season sometime in October.
When you’re choosing a date, I also recommend that you pick a weekday if at all possible. Monday through Thursday will always be less busy than Friday through Sunday, and you’ll have fewer people around in this whole area. (Need more convincing? I have a whole post on why weekday elopements are the best.)
Traffic on I-70 from Denver to Breckenridge can also be a huge pain on weekends; especially Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings during winter when ski traffic is at the highest. If you want to avoid getting stuck in traffic for your Breckenridge elopement, get a place to stay close by so that you can skip driving for a few days.
If you want to keep your elopement private, you should consider getting up early and heading outside for sunrise. The light is magical this time of day, and if we’re lucky, we’ll catch alpenglow on the mountains. And best of all, there are fewer people outside at sunrise (and sunset) than in the middle of the day when most hikers and tourists are outside.
Best places to elope in Breckenridge
Now I need to start with a small disclaimer: I won’t be sharing my favorite spots to elope in this post. Why? Because I put a ton of time into scouting unique, hidden gems for my couples, and would hate to see them end up as Instagram hashtags and run into multiple other couples there at the same time. (Think I’m exaggerating? It’s already the unfortunate truth about many popular locations like Rocky Mountain National Park.)
So the places I’m sharing here are not necessarily the best places to elope in Breckenridge, but they are some of the more popular, well-known options. If you’re looking for a location that you can have completely to yourselves, nothing beats hiring a local photographer with experience in the area who can help you with personalized recommendations.
That being said, these elopement locations aren’t bad at all!
Sapphire Point Overlook
Sapphire Point is arguably the most popular place to elope in Breckenridge. With an easy application to buy a permit for the ceremony site, it’s also the only location on this list that you can reserve for a specific date and time. The mountain views here are beautiful, and the ceremony site itself is easy to access, making it the perfect place if you have guests with mobility problems. The main downside is that it’s also a very popular place for tourists to stop for photos, and unless you’re eloping here on a weekday at an off-peak time, you will have other people around.
Rivertree Lodge is an intimate wedding venue and VRBO for up to 40 guests, close to Dillon Reservoir and Frisco. With an ceremony site tucked into the woods near the log home, and nearby Sapphire Point as a second location for portraits, this is the perfect option for couples who are inviting guests to their elopement, and want a place for everyone to celebrate without worrying about hikers or tourists. 2021 update: Rivertree Lodge is no longer available for rental.
Dillon Ice Castles
You unfortunately can’t have an elopement ceremony at the Dillon Ice Castles. But you can take photos there during normal opening hours. The Ice Castles are open from late December through April, and make for an epic place to take wedding photos. It’s best visited on a weekday, and you won’t have any privacy as they generally sell out of tickets every day, but it can be worth it for the unique photos. 2023 update: the Dillon Ice Castles will not be open during winter 2022/2023. Fingers crossed they’ll be back next year!
Hoosier Pass is the high point of Highway 9 between Breckenridge and Fairplay. You can hike in on the trails in summer, or snowshoe or cross country ski in winter, to get away from the main trailhead. This is not a busy location, so you’re more likely to find a private place than at nearby Boreas Pass. Hoosier Pass is part of the White River National Forest, and you may need a permit to elope here depending on your group size and vendors.
Lake Dillon is kinda hard to miss, as it dominates the landscape between Frisco and Silverthorne. There are lots of beautiful spots along the shores, and you could even rent a boat to go onto the lake in summer! In winter, the lake freezes over solid enough that you’ll often see people ice fishing out in the middle of the lake. There are multiple campgrounds surrounding the lake as well, making it a great place to elope for couples who want to go camping while being close to conveniences. Different parts of the shoreline are managed by different public lands, so please do your research into which permits you’ll need to elope here.
This waterfall is not exactly a secret, but it’s still unused enough that I’d rather not name the location in a public post. There’s a short hike to reach this spot, and it can be busy in the middle of the day on weekends, but on weekdays there’s a chance of having it to yourselves. This spot can also easily be combined with the alpine lake below.
While elopements at Blue Lakes have become popular over the past years due to the easy accessibility, White River National Forest recently put out a statement saying that the land surrounding both of the lakes is privately owned, and no longer allows weddings of any kind. Please respect these rules, and look into other locations for your elopement in Breckenridge. (Any local photographer can help!)
Boreas Pass is a dirt road that leads from Breckenridge and over to Como on Highway 285. You can drive this road when the conditions are good, but I highly recommend having a 4WD with some clearance as it would be an uncomfortable drive in a sedan. From the pass summit, there are multiple hiking trails you can take to get away from other people. The road itself is one of the most popular places in Summit County to see the aspens changing color in September, so be prepared for lots of traffic around that time.
If you’re up for a hike on your wedding day, you open up a whole new world of locations to choose from. Finding the perfect spot is a big part of what I help my couples with, and I use a detailed questionnaire to learn what you’re looking for—even if you might not know it yourselves, yet!
How to get a marriage license in Summit County
If you’re eloping in Breckenridge, you can get a marriage license from the Office of the Clerk & Recorder for Summit County in downtown Breckenridge. Appointments are very limited, so make sure that you plan ahead to make an appointment for getting your marriage license.
If you’re unable to get an appointment in Breck, the closest alternatives are Park County in Fairplay, Lake County in Leadville, and Clear Creek County in Georgetown. All three are open to non-resident couples, but Park County and Lake County both require you to make an appointment in advance. Some of the counties also allow you to complete the application online in advance, while others will have you fill out everything in the office at your appointment.
Where to stay in Breckenridge
If you’re traveling in to Breckenridge for your elopement, I highly recommend renting an AirBnB or vrbo instead of staying in a hotel. It makes it so much easier to get ready without seeing each other before the first look, it’s usually more photogenic for getting ready photos than a generic hotel room, and it lets you enjoy your elopement vacation without having other people around.
Breckenridge has the best selection of vacation rentals out of any of the ski towns in Colorado, and it’s not hard to find a charming A-Frame cabin in the woods, complete with an outdoor hot tub and fire pit. I’ve browsed hundreds of listings to narrow down the options to the cutest, most photogenic airbnbs that are perfect for elopements, whether it’s just the two of you or you want to stay in a big house with all your family and friends.
If you want to elope at your vacation rental, throw a celebration dinner, or host any other part of the day that involves guests who are not staying at the property, make sure that you contact the host and ask for permission first. AirBnB as a platform does not technically allow events at all, but vrbo.com is great for this as they have an “events allowed” search filter.
Where to celebrate after your Breckenridge elopement
If you are eloping in the Breckenridge mountains, you’ll likely want to head inside at the end of the day to celebrate—whether that’s with a private dining experience at your vacation rental, or at a restaurant or micro-wedding venue with your guests.
Eating well in Breckenridge is not hard, as Summit County has lots of private chef and catering services who can come to your lodging to prepare dinner while you’re out eloping, and have it ready to serve when you get back at the end of a long day of adventures. Or if you have a bigger group, you can also book a table or private dining room at one of the many restaurants in town.
Here are my favorite restaurants for small elopement and micro-wedding celebrations!
- Twist is my personal favorite restaurant in Breckenridge. They serve high end comfort food with .. you guessed it – a twist.
- Hearthstone is a classic high end restaurant with incredible locally sourced food.
- Breckenridge Brewery is a bit more casual than the first two options, but great food and chill vibes!
- The Lodge at Breckenridge is a popular venue for weddings and elopements of all sizes. They have a beautiful ceremony deck overlooking the mountains, a traditional reception venue, and a restaurant that’s perfect for smaller elopement dinners.
Breckenridge Elopement Galleries
Ready to start planning your Breckenridge elopement?
If you’re ready to plan your own wedding or elopement in Breckenridge, I would love to photograph the big day. Check out my elopement collections, then get in touch to schedule a no-obligation video chat to make sure we’re a good fit!