Everything you need to know about planning a Maroon Bells wedding or elopement at one of the most beautiful outdoor ceremony venues in Aspen, Colorado.
After photographing many Maroon Bells Amphitheater weddings and elopements over the past three years, I built this guide to share everything I’ve learned about having the best wedding day ever at this beautiful venue in the mountains of Aspen. I’ll show you how to reserve the ceremony site, the best time of day for ceremonies, and how to avoid the crowds of tourists.
If you’ve landed here, chances are high you’re considering Maroon Bells Amphitheater as your own ceremony venue. (Or you’re a photographer who wants to shoot there – I promise there’s some good stuff in this guide for you too!)
Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about having a wedding at Maroon Bells Amphitheater in Aspen?
Great! Let’s get to it.
Why choose Maroon Bells Amphitheater for your wedding ceremony
There are many options for wedding reception venues in Aspen, but none of them have ceremony views quite like Maroon Bells Amphitheater. The Bells are known as the most photographed spot in all of Colorado, and you can easily see why! But while visiting Maroon Bells as a tourist can be stressful because of the shuttle system and crowded trails, having your wedding ceremony there feels like a VIP experience!
When you’re having a Maroon Bells wedding, you get 5 car passes that allow you to drive right up to the main parking area by the amphitheater. The road is closed to tourists from 8am to 5pm every day of the week, as a way to manage crowds and traffic. But with a reservation and car passes, you don’t have to deal with the shuttles.
And while the trails by the lake are often very busy, the amphitheater itself is set off to the side from the main trails and completely private. It’s why I recommend renting the amphitheater even for small self-solemnizing elopements without any guests, so that you have a dedicated private space for your ceremony!
There are many reasons why you should rent Maroon Bells Amphitheater for your wedding, but here are some of my top reasons:
- It has the best views in Aspen (perhaps with the exception of the wedding deck at the Little Nell).
- Your guests will have a great time seeing the best of Aspen.
- You can combine it with any style of reception venue.
- It’s very affordable!
Are you convinced that you should have your wedding ceremony at Maroon Bells Amphitheater yet? Let me show you how to make it happen!
Prior to 2018, you were able to go all the way down to the lakeshore. This is no longer possible, as the forest service has put up a rope fence along the shore to allow the vegetation to regrow. Please do not cross this fence, no matter how good the photos may be.
When you rent the Maroon Bells Amphitheater for your ceremony, you have a designated private area, and can get the best mountain views without tourists and hikers in the background.
Best timing for a Maroon Bells Amphitheater wedding ceremony
First things first; you need to choose a date for your wedding.
The amphitheater usually opens for the season right around Memorial Day weekend, and closes the first weekend of October. Bad weather can throw this off though – at the start of the 2019 season, the opening was delayed because of avalanche damage to the roads in the area.
You cannot make a reservation for Fridays or Saturdays in June, July or August, and Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays in September and the first week of October. Monday through Thursday is by far the better dates here anyway – it gets really busy on weekends!
Maroon Bells Amphitheater opens up their dates for reservations exactly one year in advance, and you can make a reservation directly from Recreation.gov. The most popular dates (Sundays in June-August) go very quickly, so it pays to be ready to make a reservation when the date is first released.
September is by far the most popular month at Maroon Bells because of the aspen trees changing color. It’s always hard to predict exactly when the leaves will be at peak fall colors, but it’s usually around the second to third week of September.
In summer in Colorado, there’s always a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, but luckily these usually pass quickly. If you want to minimize the chance of rain on your wedding day, go with a morning or early afternoon ceremony.
Sunrise is an extra special time here, because of the way the alpenglow colors the mountains in pink and orange hues. It’s also the most busy time of day for nature photographers lining the lake shore, but with a reservation at the amphitheater you can get the same light without any of the people in the background.
How to rent Maroon Bells Amphitheater for your wedding ceremony
When you’ve decided on a date and time for your wedding, renting Maroon Bells Amphitheater is a simple process.
- Go to the Recreation.gov website
- Select your preferred date and click View Availability
- You might need to use the “Next Available” feature to find an open date
- Once you’ve found an available date, click Book Now
- You’ll need to create a new account with Recreation.gov if you don’t already have one.
- Pay the $200 rental fee, and you’re all set!
If you have any questions about the rental process, I recommend that you call the Aspen Ranger Station at 970-963-2266. They’ll always have the most specific and up-to-date information!
The maximum number of people allowed at the amphitheater is 50, and you cannot have a reception here, only the ceremony.
Do you want to get married at Maroon Bells Amphitheater?
If you’re ready to plan your own wedding or elopement at Maroon Bells Amphitheater, I would love to help you capture the big day. Check out my elopement collections, then contact me to schedule a video chat so we can talk more about how I can help you, and make sure you want me as your photographer.