Summit County has always been a popular destination for weddings, as visitors from all over the country and the world come to the area to get married in front of stunning mountain scenery or the sparkling water of Dillon Reservoir.
But over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced countless couples to abandon the lavish and costly celebrations they were planning, many have discovered that escaping to the Summit backcountry offers all the adventure and beauty needed to make their special day unforgettable.
“I think this is probably the number one spot in Colorado for couples booking me,” said Nina Larsen Reed of Larsen Photo Co., which specializes in runaway weddings. “Everyone is looking for that combination of a location not too far from the Denver airport, staying in a pretty mountain town where they have lots of restaurants and things to choose from and lots of activities. And the views are pretty hard to beat.
“There are so many different hiking trails and options to explore and explore. Summit is therefore really the place to be for whatever people are looking for.
Summit truly has everything a getaway couple could want for their wedding, plus plenty of choices to make every ceremony unique. Those looking for a little larger or more elaborate ceremonies can reserve space at Sapphire Point or Windy Point Campgrounds overlooking Dillon Reservoir. Others trying to throw a ceremony off the beaten track will find a myriad of starting points where a short hike leads to secluded hiding places and an intimate experience. For the more adventurous couples looking for an epic experience to brag about for years to come, there’s always the 14,265-foot summit of Quandary Peak.
But before freezing any plan, experts suggest sharing their ideas with people in the wedding industry who will be able to provide more informed recommendations on the best locations based on a couple’s preferences – and s make sure the bridal bouquet matches the wild flowers growing nearby.
“I would say rely on the locals,” said Maddie Snyder, owner of Lady Sunshine flower shop in Frisco. “If you can take advantage of calling your florist or your photographer and use them to find the best place to get away, I would.” I think a lot of people from out of town see photos from somewhere online and are happy with it. … But there are so many places you can enjoy.
Not only will locals be able to drive a couple to their dream wedding destination, but they will also be able to help with some of the nuances that accompany the escape to the area. For example, did you know that you can get married in Colorado without an officiant or witness, or that you might need a special use permit to get married in the White River National Forest?
If the plan is to get married on a budget, Summit County florists offer small packages that include just a bridal bouquet and matching boutonniere without having to pay for centerpieces or wedding flowers. A large-scale dinner for hundreds of people in a banquet hall can easily be exchanged for a champagne picnic or a night out at a restaurant in Breckenridge Main Street.
“One thing I talk about with my couples is, ‘What’s important to you? “, Said runaway photographer Tiffany Bitner. “Is the location the most important? Because if it does, then spend your resources, within your budget, and focus specifically on those things. Especially when you choose to get away into nature, most of the time the cost of the site is not high.
“A permit may be required for the wedding ceremony itself or for a photographer, but often times you aren’t spending thousands of dollars on a ceremony or reception space. You can use that money and be creative and go to a brasserie for dinner or rent an ATV or something like that. … This is something we love to help our couples with.
While saying “yes” in a picture book setting like Summit County is a memory that couples will keep with them forever, it’s also important not to leave anything behind.
“The most important thing I tell my couples is the importance of Leave No Trace and making sure it’s something they are aware of,” Bitner said. “Many couples come from out of state and may not be aware that they are not walking through the wildflowers, or that in the Alps there is very fragile ground and make sure you don’t walk. not on it. Just set those expectations in advance as the only way we can have breakouts in these beautiful places in the Rockies is to protect them. “
Nina Larsen Reed / Larsen Photo Co.
This story was previously published in the summer edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.