Well, do I have a unique winter elopement story to tell you. Elopements are so impossible to rival that telling my couples elopement stories is literally the most fun thing to do, if this doesn't tell you how much I love helping couples plan and photograph their elopement days I don't know what will!
Melanie & Matt is a couple that definitely embraces what life bring to their feet, even if it's waist deep snow on their wedding day! The days leading up to their Colorado Winter Elopement we kept a close eye on the weather and knew that it will snow on their day, little did we know it will turn into a full blown snow storm!
What did we all do? We decided it's okay we are still going to go ahead with our original plans, of that being, snowmobiling on their elopement day into the deep mountains of Colorado.
Here's the story of how their snowmobiling elopement went!
Hire an Experienced Local Guide on Your Elopement Day for Extra Peace of Mind.
Before I dive in, I just wanted to give a HUGE shout - out to the mountain guide Melanie & Matt hired and mention how important safety is when adventuring outdoors even on your adventurous elopement day.
If it wasn't for Lance at Peak Mountain Guides there's no way we would've been able to or even considered going into the Colorado mountains during a snowstorm. Hiring a guide on your elopement day is a really great idea if you are going into very remote areas or actually need any guidance of where you're going. It also takes away a lot of stress on your day knowing you have someone that is an expert in knowing what to do when something goes wrong, plus read more to see how having Lance was the only reason we were even able to make Melanie & Matt's winter Colorado Elopement happen during a snowstorm!
Getting Ready & Layering up for Their Colorado Winter Elopement.
Melanie & Matt's elopement day started a their airbnb, they enjoyed some croissants and cinnamon buns as their breakfast and I took the time to photograph their beautiful intentional details for their day.
A few of my favorites were the tie clip that was in Matt's family, they are also fur parents and have a few pets at home that could not join on their day so they incorporated them in unique ways. What's really important here was that they had to be prepared for anything, since we knew that there will be snow on their day, they had quite a bit of layers to put on that morning, including snow pants!
See for yourself.
Picking up Marriage License in Ouray Colorado.
Here's where things started getting tricky, because all of us flew into Colorado for their elopement we all rented a car and both of our cars were front wheel drive! 🤦🏻♀️ So after their very nice airbnb owner helped me get my car out of the snow we were able to get to the court in Ouray to pick up their marriage license. Which we all then agreed it will be better if Lance, our mountain guide comes to pick us up from Ouray for the rest of the day - he had this great big truck that was perfect for a day like this!
The great part of eloping in Colorado is that you can self-solemnize and that means that you don't need any witnesses or officiants to legally get married! This is a really great way to minimize the stress on your elopement day - being able to simply sign without any added stress.
Bonus tip - you could have your pet "sign" as a witness by using a pet friendly ink on their paw! I have seen couples do that before, what a great way to include your fur babies.
A Snowmobile Elopement in Ouray Colorado.
A few super important things to mention here is the fact that the only way this snowmobile elopement was able to happen during a snowstorm is because our amazing mountain guide, Lance from Peak Mountain Guides, went super early that morning and drove a path on the pass we'll be going on with his truck, he then went further to unload the snowmobiles (locals call them sleds) and made a path with a snowmobile up to the large meadow we intended to spend the most time of their day at for seclusion. So again, MAJOR shout out to Lance!
After Lance picked us up in Ouray, we stopped at the Ridgeway Peak Mountain Guide office first, Lance and Rollie provided us with Avalanche beacons that they strapped underneath our layers around our bodies. Being able to have this guidance and expertise at our hands is the only reason Melanie & Matt could experience this day, if it wasn’t for Lance at Peak Mountain Guides their snowmobile elopement day during a snowstorm would not have been a reality.
Snowmobiling on Their Elopement.
We ripped the snowmobiles up the pass, Matt and Lance were the drivers and Melanie and I their passengers. It was quite the adventurous elopement experience, with white out conditions we couldn’t see any of the mountains that we were surrounded by and was pretty bummed. We all hoped that at some time during the day the mountains will peak out a bit in all their glory.
As we were going up, we came across a group of locals. Like I mentioned before, Melanie & Matt chose this route for the highest possible chance of having complete seclusion on their elopement day, but I always say – with public lands you’ll never know if that will be possible. Not even during a snowstorm in the deepest ends of mountains!
So we decided to go a little further to find a small spot of seclusion for them. And this meant we were snowmobiling through fresh pow. As Lance was riding up, making a path for Melanie & Matt, he still had me on the back – the snowmobile started tipping to the side, Lance turned and instructed me to get off – I (with no fear) oblige by his wishes and YEET off of the mobile like a whale 😂😂😂 with my large pack filled with camera gear and my tight 50 layers of clothing, here I jump into nice fresh few feet of snow.
Melanie & Matt rolled up behind us very worried about what they just witnessed but thanks to the softest natural blanket I got up and we continued on. Trust me when I say, us elopement photographers are a different breed! 😂
Snowshoeing on Their Elopement.
After that shenanigans we "parked" the snowmobiles to snowshoe a bit more up the mountain. Melanie & Matt was all for the whole experience of their day, and enjoyed every moment. Even though snowshoeing is a harder sport, especially if it's in very thick snow and uphill, it was so fun to experience a snowshoeing elopement!
We found the perfect spot for them to finish getting dressed, have a first look and have their ceremony and picnic. Lance and Matt stomped some snow down to create what we called Melanie’s “bridal suite” then lance went ahead and stomped some more areas down for them to have their first look and to read their vows to one another. We truly thank Lance for all he did for us on this day!
PS it is safe to say that every single one of us fell a few times during this elopement day! 😂
A First Look, Ceremony and Picnic on their Winter Colorado Elopement Day.
Melanie & Matt then had their first look, a first look is when the couple see each other for the first time in wedding attire. Sometimes couples love to do it like this, where they have a few private moments to themselves and sometimes they still love to have the idea of walking down the isle and then see each other for the first time. In most cases it's walking down the trail! 😉
Melanie & Matt then had their ceremony in the middle of the Colorado mountains during this crazy snowstorm, I truly felt that this couple will be able to brave anything life brings to them!
One of my favorite things that happened on their day was, during their ceremony, as they were reading their vows, some of the mountains peeked through! We were ecstatic! After the ceremony they enjoyed a picnic they have packed in their bag with some vodka cranberry too!
Lance and I made sure to step away for a while to give them some space and privacy to enjoy these moments just the two of them.
Portraits on a Snowshoeing and Snowmobiling Elopement Looks Different.
After Melanie & Matt felt happy about their events we headed back down towards the snowmobiles. On the way back down the mountain we focused on getting the majority of their portraits, so we stopped along the way to play and run in the snow, and also throw some snow in the air - the perfect earth friendly wedding day confetti! 😊
We also played around with the snowmobiles and had Melanie and I try them out too! So we had Melanie do a bouquet toss off of the mobile and it was quite funny, elopements are so cool, how they differ from one another, and the best part is that you can make your elopement day exactly how you want it to be! Have a snowmobile elopement, a snowshoe elopement, both like these two, or plan for other things, like hiking to an alpine lake, helicopter to remote areas - seriously the ball is in your park!
Eloping in The Cimarron Mountains of Colorado.
The last stretch down the mountain, one of the beautiful rocky peaks showed itself to us and we couldn't feel more lucky! We made a quick stop to take a few portraits and then headed into Ouray for the last few celebrations of their day.
Exploring the Small Mountain Town, Ouray on their Elopement Day.
From kissing underneath the lights of the Ouray book store to having a first dance on the icy road (yes kuddos to these two for nailing that!) Melanie & Matt ended their adventurous elopement day walking around and exploring the very quaint little mountain town, Ouray Colorado. This is a historic mining town with very rich history and in our experience very friendly folks! We, of course, highly recommend!
Dinner at Brickhouse 737 in Ouray Colorado.
Melanie and Matt invited me to join them for dinner at the wonderful local restaurant, Brickhouse 737. How wonderful of them to invite me to their wedding day meal, I say, my couples are some of the absolute sweetest ever! We had a great time chatting about their day and I made sure to leave as soon as I could because I really wanted them to be able to have some time to themselves too.
They also took this time to read the letters they received from their family and friends, this was an amazing way they could include their people into their snowmobiling elopement day. Having a great warm dinner after such an adventurous snowmobile elopement was really great and I can't tell you enough how honored I am to have been the one that documented their day for them.
WOW I love my couples and love what I do so much!
Being able to roll with the punches, in this case a snowstorm, on your elopement day is key to having a seriously AMAZING day! And as you can see, it makes for a great story to tell. If you are prepared for any weather on your adventurous elopement day then you will be able to still continue with your original plans and make the best of what's happening in those moments.
Melanie & Matt's snowmobiling elopement is such a great example of a day that could go according to plan because we were prepared, we had the right gear and we were happy to roll with the punches. Look at how beautiful it turned out to be!❤️
Snowmobile Elopement Timeline, 12 Hour Elopement Day:
07:00 - 08:40AM: GETTING READY, DETAIL PHOTOS, READ LETTERS.
Shan arrives around 7AM - and start shooting around 7:15AM
09:00AM - 09:30AM: HEAD INTO OURAY, PICK UP MARRIAGE LICENSE + SOME OURAY PORTRAITS
(Driving time to Ouray: 11 - 15 min)
09:40AM: Drive to meet up with Lance, Peak Mountain Guides (Driving time: 16 - 20 min)
Keep in mind that here Lance, the mountain guide, picked us up instead!
10:00AM: SNOWMOBILE ADVENTURE: We started closer to 11:00AM due to the snowstorm but still had more than enough time to do everything due to having enough hours in their day!
Get Dressed & First Look
First Dance Changed to a first dance in Ouray the evening.
Sunset Photos before we head back No sunset portraits happened, too much cloud coverage.
05:40PM: BE BACK BY CARS TO HEAD INTO TOWN (Driving time to Ouray: 16 - 20 min)
06:00PM - 08:00PM: DINNER & PHOTOS IN OURAY- Dinner. reservation at Brickhouse 737 at 07:00PM.
Here's what Melanie & Matt have to say about working with me for their elopement day.
Shanmari, Thank you so much for everything you did to make this day come together. We don't know how we could have done it all without you. From helping us find a location to planning the timeline of the day, you definitely made it much less stressful on us. Which is exactly what we needed after dealing with all the K1 stuff. We can't wait to see all the pictures. We know they are going to be awesome!
Melanie & Matt.
HEY, I am Shan, and If you're thinking about having an elopement day with all kinds of adventurous touches, there's nothing I am not willing to try out or photograph!
So hit me up and we can chat more about it, just like how I found Lance from Peak Mountain Guides for Melanie & Matt, I am more than happy to find unique vendors like that for your adventure! There's truly no place too remote 😊