The first time I met Mary, we were hiking 12 miles through a foot of fresh snow across Boulder’s three tallest summits – and she was wearing a full body unicorn costume! So when she got engaged to Nick, and the time came to plan their elopement, I immediately had a hike in Indian Peaks Wilderness in mind for them.
Mary and Nick knew they wanted to bring their two dogs, and Mary’s best friend Sarah came along to help carry an extra backpack. The bride herself had her hands full already, carrying the skirt of her fluffy Wtoo by Watters wedding gown and her snowshoes! Mary said afterwards she felt like she got more of an arm workout than ever on this hike.
We met up at the parking lot of Brainard Lake, where Mary and Nick did a first look in the trees. Then we geared up, and headed out on the 6+ mile roundtrip hike to their Indian Peaks Wilderness elopement. Now this was on June 26th, which means it was sunny and snow-free at lower altitudes like in Boulder. But at 10,000ft of elevation, there were still huge patches of snow.
Our advance research showed there would be snow the whole way, so we all brought snowshoes, but we never even put them on. The snow was deep enough to posthole in to our knees in sections, but then there would be patches of completely bare ground in between. So we could have saved ourselves the extra weight, but where’s the adventure in that?
Hiking in the afternoon is always a bit risky in Colorado. As we got closer to our final destination, we started hearing thunder in the distance. And as often happens at high altitude, the storm kept rolling in closer and closer. When we got to the alpine lake where we had planned on doing their ceremony and photos, we quickly got to it.
As Mary and Nick exchanged their vows, rain started drizzling around us. And by the time they were married and we had done some more photos, it was fully hailing on us! Yep, at the end of June. We packed up our backpacks again, including the snacks and champagne we had planned on enjoying at the lake, and started hiking back down again. Somewhere along the trail, Mary’s bouquet from Fawns Leap fell out of her backpack. A week later, she found a photo of it on Instagram from someone who had found it in the snow!
A lot of couples freak out about having bad weather on their elopement day. (I have some tips here for how to handle it!) But the heavier it hailed around us, the more we were all laughing and joking. If you haven’t heard the term “type 2 fun” before, this is it: kinda miserable while it’s happening, but fun in retrospect, and a story you’ll never forget.
Even with all the snow, rain, hail, and thunder, I could not have had a better time at Mary and Nick’s Indian Peaks Wilderness elopement, and I’m pretty sure they’d both agree with me!
Mary left me the sweetest review after their elopement!
I first met Nina on the winter trifecta hike with the boulder hiker chicks. She took a picture of every single girl on that hike (around 70 women) even though we all started at different times, and I knew she had to be a badass. When my now husband proposed, and we decided to elope I already knew that Nina had to be our photographer. I didn’t want to spend my elopement day with someone we wouldn’t have a blast with and I was obsessed with all her work so I knew she was the one.
Nina took our engagement pictures (yes you can take engagement pictures even if you are eloping) before doing our elopement and we were so happy with how they turned out. She got us in our true element and got so many fun shots of us that didn’t feel forced.
We weren’t really aware of how an elopement worked and Nina made the process so easy! She was there every step of the way and gave us thoughtful detailed guides on planning, where to elope, vendors, etc. She helped us set a timeline and even managed to find room for our parents to meet us for pictures afterwards. The spot that Nina suggested we elope was so perfect for us and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to exchange our vows.
The snowpack this year was insane and what we thought was going to be a relatively easy hike, turned into a longer snowy, sloppy hike. When she asked if we’d rather take pictures at the lower lake and we told her we’d love to make the trek if she was willing, she immediately jumped in and said she was in. We had some crazy weather on our elopement day even though the forecast was 70 and sunny, but Nina handled everything like a pro. We were a little worried that our photos wouldn’t be great because of all the hail and rain but we were pleasantly surprised. They are amazing and we are so thankful we chose Nina to be our photographer.