It should come as no surprise that ski and snowboard elopements are popular in Colorado. As an elopement photographer who spends all winter on the slopes, I’m loving this trend and hoping it sticks around! Because while you can elope anywhere, Colorado is the only state where you don’t need an officiant or witnesses to legally wed, making it the perfect destination for an elopement on the slopes of your favorite ski resort.
Now planning a ski or snowboard elopement might feel overwhelming when you’re first playing with the idea, but the how-to is pretty simple:
- Find a photographer and videographer who’s styles you like, who you want to spend the day with, and who’ll help you plan everything,
- Pick a date,
- Choose a resort,
- Book lodging and any vendors (like a hair & makeup artist or florist),
- Plan outfits that’ll keep you warm while feeling more special than your everyday snow gear,
- Have the time of your lives!
Best Ski Resorts for Elopements
If you’re local to Colorado, you probably already have a favorite ski resort or two where you spend most of your winters. I think eloping at your home resort is always extra special, because not only do you already know the lifts and trails well, but you’ll get to remember your elopement day every time you go back there for the rest of your lives.
But if you’re traveling to Colorado from out of state, you might feel overwhelmed trying to figure out which of our 25+ ski resorts will be the best fit for your elopement. This is where working with a local photographer will be clutch. I can help you choose based on your ability, how much you want to spend on passes, the kind of mountain town you want to stay in, and anything else that will make your whole trip epic.
This list will be continually updated throughout the ski season.
Ikon Pass / Mountain Collective
We don’t call Arapahoe Basin “The Legend” for nothing. A-Basin is easily one of the most scenic resorts in the world, with incredible mountain views everywhere from the easiest greens on the front side to the intermediate Zuma Bowl and expert terrain from the Pali Chair.
The base area at Basin is small, and you can even reserve a parking spot at The Beach for ski-in, ski-out tailgating access: perfect for the most casual of elopement “receptions.”
Copper is my personal favorite ski resort in Colorado, and where I spend most of my free time in winter. With free parking and shuttles, three base areas, and over 2,500 acres of skiable terrain, it’s the perfect down-to-earth resort. And Copper has what I think is the best views from green slopes out of any resort, since they have greens up top as well and not just around the base area.
Independent / Powder Alliance
Cooper (not to be confused with Copper, half an hour away) is one of few independent ski resorts left in Colorado, and a great place to elope for couples who want to avoid the crowds that often come with going to an Epic or Ikon resort. Cooper also has cheap passes for $65-95 depending on the day (compared to $250+ at most resorts).
Located a short drive outside of Leadville, Cooper has a incredible views, and some of the best snow in Colorado! (You can thank the base elevation of 10,500′ for that.)
Keystone is another of my favorite ski resorts for elopements, because they’re one of few resorts that offer night skiing! Being able to stay up there for golden hour and sunset is a huge plus for photography, and also tends to mean there are fewer people around than in the mornings and midday.
Aspen Snowmass is really four ski areas in one resort: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk. Snowmass is bigger than the other three areas combined, and boasts the most vertical feet in the whole country.
Aspen is one of the most expensive mountain towns in Colorado, so you’re going to spend more on lodging, dining, etc if you want to elope here—but it’s well worth it for the beautiful views, charming town, and of course the ski terrain! There’s also so much more than just skiing, from private backcountry snowcat tours to snowmobiling right up to the Maroon Bells.
Steamboat Springs is my personal favorite winter getaway, and a great place to elope if you want to stay in a vibrant mountain town with some of the best dining in Colorado—and, of course, natural hot springs! Steamboat also gets the second-most snow on average out of any resort in Colorado, just behind Wolf Creek.
I can’t talk about ski resorts without including Breckenridge—but funny enough, I almost never ski there myself because my husband (as a snowboarder) has an attitude about Breck having too much flat terrain and traverses.
All that aside, Breckenridge is one of my favorite ski towns in Colorado. If you’re traveling from out of state, and you want lots of options for lodging, dining, and activities, it’s hard to beat Breck.
Vail & Beaver Creek
If you’re foodies, it’s hard to beat Vail and Beaver Creek because this is where you’ll find the best on-mountain restaurants. Picture eloping at the top of the mountain, skiing all day, then taking a sleigh ride under the stars to a gourmet restaurant for a five-course dinner? Pretty magical.
Loveland Ski Area
Loveland is another independent ski area, and also the second closest one to Denver. Loveland is known for their annual Mountaintop Matrimony ceremony—a group wedding ceremony where couples who register get 2-for-1 lift tickets. Many couples use it to renew their vows, but there are always a handful who actually elope as well!
Winter Park & Mary Jane
Winter Park & Mary Jane is my second “home resort” after Copper. Located in Grand County, it’s far enough away from the I-70 resorts to not get quite as crowded, although the secret’s been out on WP for a while: it keeps winning “best ski resort in the country” awards.
While Winter Park is the main resort, Mary Jane is where you’ll find more advanced terrain, and all of the locals. The views from Lunch Rock, the restaurant at the top of Mary Jane, are my favorite up here—perfect for an elopement!
Other Colorado resorts
Telluride, Echo Mountain, Monarch, Powderhorn, Purgatory, Silverton, Eldora, Sunlight, and Wolf Creek are all great options as well! I don’t make it to the independent resorts or southwest Colorado as often, but I will be updating this post with more info about each when I have photos to share!
While I am based in Colorado, it doesn’t take much to convince me to make me pack my skis & cameras for an international ski elopement. I’ve already photographed an elopement at Zermatt-Matterhorn in Switzerland, and traveled extensively through France, Austria, and the Nordic countries. As a dual US/EU citizen I can legally work across Europe.
Best timing for a ski resort elopement
If you’ve ever been to the same ski resort on both a weekday and weekend, you’ll understand why I recommend doing your ski or snowboard elopement on a weekday. Weekend lift lines, overflowing parking lots, and I-70 traffic (also a parking lot at times) all add up to a more stressful experience, and I don’t want that for your elopement day.
With a Monday through Thursday elopement, we’ll have an easier time getting photos without a ton of people in the background, and even getting lift chairs or gondola cabins to ourselves so that we can get photos without strangers right next to you. (Because while I as a photographer can edit people out of the photos, your videographer can’t get them out of the video.) As an added bonus, weekdays are also much cheaper than weekends if you’re buying day passes!
Avoid holiday weekends unless you have no other choice. Christmas break, MLK day, President’s Day, and spring break are always going to be even busier than other weekends, and you’ll spend more time in lift lines than on the slopes.
As for the best month to elope at a ski resort, it depends a lot on what’s more important to you: the snow conditions or the weather?
For sunny skies and milder temperatures, it’s hard to beat early season (November right after the resorts open) and spring (late April through June, right before the resorts close). But most resorts have limited terrain open in November, the snow is not great, and closing dates are hard to plan around since they depend on the snow conditions, so it’s safer to plan your elopement between December and early April when the resorts are guaranteed to be open.
About Nina Larsen Reed
As a born-and-raised Norwegian who started cross-country skiing before turning two, and who moved to Colorado thirteen years ago and married a life-long snowboarder, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t start resort skiing until three years ago.
(After two seasons on a snowboard where I spent more time on my butt than my board. I’ll happily wear ski boots if I can avoid falling when getting off the lift!)
But man, once I started skiing it finally clicked. There’s nowhere I’d rather be on a weekday in winter than on the slopes—and the only thing better than skiing is skiing while photographing couples like you!
About Elizabeth Mae
Hey-o! I’m your ultra-rare born-and-raised Colorado girl! I learned how to ski for the first time when I was 13 with my family. After that, I didn’t touch the slopes for almost 14 years. In 2022 I impulse bought the Ikon pass and decided I was going to teach myself how to snowboard. Crazy, right?!?
Picking it up quickly, I found a new love and wonder for the winter season. The sparkle of the snow on a bluebird day. Wind blowing through the trees. The power of the mountain.
There is nothing better than an early morning sunrise, parking lot breakfast burritos, and fresh snowfall to make for the perfect day. Let’s make it epic.
Photo & Video Elopement Packages
I believe ski and snowboard elopements are best served by having both a photographer and videographer, because even the best photos can’t capture the action of you heading down the slopes as well as video will.
That’s why Elizabeth at Embr Films and I have teamed up to offer photo & video elopement packages for the 2023/2024 ski season.
All packages include:
❄ Photo & video coverage, starting at 4 hours
❄ Personalized recommendations for resorts, lodging, and vendors
❄ Personalized timeline
❄ Ski passes for Nina & Elizabeth are included at all Epic and Ikon Resorts
Photo only starting at $3,500
Photo & video starting at $6,000
Ski Elopement Timeline Examples
How you spend the day is completely up to you, and what you think will make for the most fun, memorable day for both of you. Think of it this way: your elopement day is the whole day, not just the part where you exchange vows. How do you want to spend that time?
That being said, I think four hours is the minimum time needed to not rush through the experience, get great photos, and actually have fun on the slopes! If you want to meet up with guests for part of the day, or head to a more private location for sunrise or sunset photos somewhere outside of the resort, you’ll also want more time to account for driving, parking, etc.
6:15 am — Getting ready at your airbnb
7:15 am — First look & sunrise photos
8:15 am — Drive to the resort
9:15 am — Arrive at the base, take gondola up
9:45 am — Vow exchange, sign marriage license
10:15 am — Portraits with the best views
10:45 am — Celebration beers on the mountain
11:00 am — Ski/ride down, take another lap or two
1:00 pm — Meet your families at the base
1:30 pm — Lunch reception at a base restaurant
2:30 pm — Coverage ends
7:45 am — Meet at base area for portraits
8:30 am — First chair up
9:00 am — Arrive at the our chosen ceremony spot
9:15 am — Vow exchange, sign marriage license
9:45 am — Portraits with the best views
10:30 am — Ski/ride down, stopping for photos along the way
11:30 am — Arrive back down at the base
11:45 am — Coverage ends
Special Use and Photography Permits
Most ski resorts in Colorado operate on U.S. Forest Service lands. Some of these lands may require Commercial Use Authorizations for vendors to conduct business, or Special Use Permits for couples who want to elope there depending on the group size. If you have questions about permits, contact the ski resort and/or local ranger district for more information. The information provided in this blog post is not intended as legal advice.
Ski & Snowboard Elopement Galleries
Ready to plan your ski or snowboard elopement?
Share a bit more about you and what you’re planning, and I will email you back with a full pricing guide, my availability, and to schedule a free consultation via zoom so that you can feel confident in booking me for your ski or snowboard elopement!