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Elopement Guide + Photography Locations : Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Updated: Apr 11, 2023



Why Elope in Garden of the Gods?


Garden of the Gods = stunning red rock formations with mountain views of Pike's Peak in the distance. The perfect destination for nature lovers. Accessible year round with moderate temperate climates. This spot in Colorado Springs is only 1 hour and 10 minutes from the airport, free to enter, and doesn't require a permit to get married at which makes it a perfect, low stress spot to plan your dream elopement.


It's beautiful + easy to access.


Close to airport - you'll be out of the Denver airport and checking into your airbnb in just around 1 hour. There is also an airport right in Colorado Springs you can choose which would cut the travel time down to 25 minutes!


Wildlife + Views- Home to bighorn sheep and many other animals! Keep an eye out and you'll spot them too! Combined with breath taking rock formations and mountain views.


Activities- You can incorporate hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, or horseback riding into your wedding's "morning of" or "day before" activities. Or even into the ceremony itself!


Why is it called Garden of the Gods - Apparently there were two surveyors with two different opinions of what to do with the land. One thought it would be the perfect place to put a beer garden his companion replied " Beer garden? Seriously? This place is fit for the Gods!" Hence the name "Garden of the Gods". That's going to be a fun to tell at your wedding!



What time of year to elope in Garden of the Gods?


Garden of the Gods is beautiful year round due to the temperate climate and the relatively lower elevation. If you want to avoid peak season crowds spring and fall are truly the best times to visit due to less visitor traffic and still WONDERFUL temperate climates. There are beautiful sunsets/sunrises year round!!


Spring Elopements - Spring is beautiful in the mountains but a little unpredictable. Will it be 65 and sunny? Or will it snow? Colorado is also known for afternoon showers in the late spring so it is best to plan an outdoor ceremony for the morning the later into spring we get. But that should not scare you away because spring here is beautiful. It warms up much sooner than the rest of the state.


Summer Elopements - In the summer season it is best to plan your elopement for in the early week day mornings. There will be less tourist traffic & more parking available. Avoid weekend afternoons if you can. This is important. This is when the park is at its busiest and parking will be very hard to find. You might end up with quite a hike just to get in to the park. The mornings here are absolutely stunning, it's worth an early start. Trust me!


Fall Elopements - Fall elopements are very similar to summer elopements but with a slightly higher chance for snow. Which is so gorgeous when it happens - imagine the red rocks with a light outline of white snow. Some of my favorite imagery comes out of the fall season here. I have some seriously great ideas for the perfect spots, let's talk more!


Winter Elopements - The park is empty and the contrast between the red rocks and the snow is stunning! If you are planning a winter elopement this is the spot. It can be 65 degrees and sunny! Colorado Springs gets 300 days of annual sunshine so this is most likely! But also you need to be prepared for the chance of snow -Garden of the Gods sees about 60 inches of annual snowfall.



What time of Day to have your Ceremony?

My recommendation would be to have your ceremony either early in the morning. Avoid having an outdoor ceremony between the hours of 10-2 ( this decision is based purely on light) *For even more accurate times based on the exact location of your wedding photos + time of year send me a message.

Morning Ceremony: Calm and Peaceful

PROS

-The soft morning light creates a romantic and dreamy atmosphere, making for STUNNING photographs.

-The temperature is generally cooler in the morning making it more comfortable in the summer months.

-avoid crowds

-Getting married in the morning leaves plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the day, whether it's exploring the island or having a relaxing honeymoon.

CONS

-Getting up early

Sunset Ceremony : Amazing Sunset

PROS

-The golden hour makes for a beautiful ceremony and photo backdrop

-The afternoon is warmer during the off season/cooler weather

-Sunset weddings can be followed by a romantic dinner or reception.

CONS

It will be windier at sunset than it is at sunrise.





How do you elope in Garden of the Gods Park?


Low stress and jaw dropping at the same time?! How is this even possible?


How to Get a Marriage License in El Paso County, Colorado


Garden of the Gods is located in El Paso County, Colorado


Step 1: Make appointment/Walk into any County Clerks Office with a photo ID (appointment may be required). A license to marry in Colorado may be obtained at all Clerk and Recorder's office locations (check individual locations for hours). Some locations would like you to make an appointment by calling the office (719) 520-6200.


Step 2: Fill out the marriage license application online


Step 3: Print out your marriage license application and bring with you to your appointment.


Step 4: Get married right away! There is no waiting period in El Paso County!!




Who can sign a Colorado Marriage License?


Colorado is unique - you can choose to self solemnize your own marriage here! This means that you do not need an officiant or any witnesses to make your marriage legal. Learn more about Colorado's self solemnization law.


As a fun quirk, this also means you can have your dog be your witness in Colorado! And yes dogs are allowed in Garden of the Gods!



How much does it cost to elope in Garden of the Gods, Colorado?


Eloping in Garden of the Gods is Free (no permit required)! Colorado marriage licenses cost $30. In addition, it is suggested that you also get at least 3 certified copies, this will be an extra fee (typically around $3/copy). These are good to have for your records as well as for the name-change process, if you plan to do so. Plan to spend ~$40.




Ceremony Rules


It makes it so easy and convenient that you don't need to obtain a permit in Garden of the Gods but just because they don't require a permit doesn't mean that there aren't some simple rules you need to follow! There are 6 designated ceremony locations located throughout the park. Ceremonies must be held on a first come first serve basis, must be kept brief, and are not allowed to set up anything that blocks other people from walking through/enjoying the area.


It is important that once you are there you respect that it is a natural area and practice "leave no trace" techniques and packing out any and all trash. Balloon releases, rice, flower petals, confetti or anything else of the kind are not allowed.




Where can you elope in Garden of the Gods Park?


Getting married in Garden of the Gods is free, doesn't require a permit and available to do at 6 locations throughout the park (listed below with their established restriction sizes). It is important to emphazise that it is only allowed to have wedding ceremonies in these locations:


Jaycee Plaza (Chuckwagon Pavillion) -50 people (this is one of my favorite spots)


Sentinel Plaza- 25 people


Three Graces Plaza - 25 people


High Point (Parking lot #9) - 50 people (this spot = beautiful photos)


Scotsman Picnic Area - 25 people (has picnic tables)


South Spring Canyon Area - 50 people


If you want more information about these locations don't hesitate to reach out to me! I would be happy to help you navigate the options and choose the perfect location for what you are imagining.



Is Garden of the Gods Dog Friendly?


YES!! Dogs are allowed in Garden of the Gods as long as they are on a 6 foot leash at no extra charge. So if you wan't to include your pet on your wedding day you can!! (Make sure to clean up after your furry friends)


Adding an Adventure to your Elopement


If you're looking to add an activity to your elopement Garden of Gods has tons of great options from rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and camping are all allowed in Garden of the Gods!


Rock Climbing: Permits are free! For more information and to get a permit visit here.

Horseback riding: Academy Riding Stables is the best.

Mountain Biking: One of my favorite ways to see the park is this trail: Tour of Garden of the Gods

Camping: Here's what the website says. But if you want some of my best inside knowledge message me on instagram.



Where to get dinner afterwards?

No alcoholic beverages and no receptions allowed in the park. Sorry to be the one to inform you. But there are some awesome options nearby:


Grand View - With sweeping views of Gardens of the Gods Park its is the perfect way to watch the sun go down after your wedding ceremony literally any time of the year. Check out their website here. The Rocks Dining room is exclusive to guests and members, which makes it worth considering just booking your entire stay here.


The Cliff House at Pikes Peak - This Victorian Style restaurant, venue, and hotel was build in 1873 and has been serving the wealthy elite traveling to or through Manitou Springs since.


For more specifically about their dining menu look here.


What to do nearby?


Manitou Springs Downtown / Manitou Incline - This small adorable town located right between Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods /Colorado Springs is definitely worth a visit. Adorable downtown strip with an awesome brewery. The Manitou Incline is 2744 steps and brings you breathtaking views even if you don't complete the whole climb. Learn more and make reservations here.


Pikes peak - Drive your car to the top of a 14,115 foot mountain peak! Of all the mountains in Colorado only 53 mountains raise above 14,000 feet and of those only one can you drive to the top: Pike's Peak! The drive takes about 2 hours. For more information visit the website here.


Planning an elopement or adventure micro wedding of your own? Hire me to be your elopement photographer!


I am a professional photographer specializing in adventure elopements in Colorado and I'd love to help you with your dream elopement (wherever you are in the planning process) by helping you pick an amazing location, location scouting, securing permits, vendor recommendations and anything else you may need! It really can be a stress free experience. I promise.






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