Boulder Small Wedding Guide
Locations, Permits, and everything you need to know
about having a small wedding or elopement in Boulder
Planning a small wedding in Boulder, Colorado?
Boulder, Colorado is an absolutely incredible place to plan a small wedding, courthouse wedding, or elopement! There are breathtaking views just a 15 minute drive from the city center, as well as lush parks, and the Boulder Creek Trail. If a more funky urban vibe is more your style, the Pearl Street area is full of walls with gorgeous murals, cute alleyways, and awesome architecture. Now, you might be thinking this is all too good to be true! What’s the catch? Well, Boulder pretty heavily regulates its open space, understandably. Chautauqua has some of the most beautiful hiking and iconic views in the front range, but it’s overrun during “golden hour” with hundreds of photographers taking senior and family photos. So, most of these awesome places with gorgeous views require that you get a permit before you photograph there. With all of this to navigate, it can be a headache to plan around!! Elopements and small weddings are only permitted within certain areas. But, don’t worry. I’m going to give you the run down on how and where to get married in Boulder, and spots to take photos afterwards for the best views!!
Where to have your small boulder wedding?
1. the boulder courthouse
There are courthouse locations in Boulder, Longmont, and Lafayette where you can get marriage licenses for your Boulder wedding, but if you want to have your wedding in the courthouse itself, you’ll want to use the Boulder location! It is a great solution to getting your official ceremony taken care of, without having to rent an additional space in Boulder for it. Within a short walk there are some gorgeous parks, locations along Boulder creek, and even a hike up into Settler’s park for some epic views! If you’re up for a drive, you can visit Boulder’s iconic Chatauqua Park, or take a drive up Flagstaff Mountain for one of the best viewpoints in Colorado at Lost Gulch Overlook. Here’s how to set yourself up with a courthouse wedding in Boulder!
how to get married at the boulder Courthouse
- Obtain a marriage license from Boulder County. You can do so in person at the Longmont or Lafayette county clerk offices, or at the Boulder office. Like Denver County, there are online provisions for getting licenses that you take a look at here.
- Contact a magistrate from their list of officiants, and schedule a time with them for the ceremony.
- Again, double check your details with the magistrate! Finalize the dates and times, as well as the courthouse location that you’ll be using. If any of the areas you want to use for your photos require permits, make sure your photographer has them.
Locations to take your portraits after your Boulder Courthouse Wedding
All of these locations require a permit, but I’ve included what department to contact for each location!
- Eben G. Fine Park – City of Boulder Parks & Recreation
- Settler’s Park – Boulder OSMP (Open Space Mountain Parks)
- Central Park & Civic Area – City of Boulder Parks & Recreation
- Boulder Creek Path – City of Boulder Parks & Recreation
- Chautauqua Park – Boulder OSMP
- Lost Gulch – Boulder OSMP
** If you need a location nearby that doesn’t require a permit, check out Davidson Mesa in Lousiville, CO. **
2. The Sunrise Amphitheater
Oh boy, do I love this place SOOOOO much. It is seriously one of the most magical places you could ever get married. It’s the perfect elopement spot, or ceremony location for a small wedding. Nevermind the fact that you have all of Flagstaff Mountain nearby to take photos at afterwards! The built in circular seating makes for stunning architectural photos.
How to get married at the Sunrise amphitheater
- Once you know it’s the spot for you, head to this page on the Boulder OSMP site to see ceremony times that are available.
- Pay the $400 fee to reserve your spot ($300 if you’re a Boulder resident).
- Get married on a gorgeous mountain side!!
Honestly it’s super easy, and the perfect location for a wedding! What are you waiting for!?
Keep in mind you’ll want to bring in an officiant, or make sure you get a self-solemnizing marriage certificate from Boulder County. They are now offering them online while their offices are still closed due to COVID-19.
If you are going other places on Flagstaff Mountain for photos (which I highly recommend you do) you’ll need to get permits for those locations separately from your facility rental (the photographer, or yours truly, normally takes care of that for you).
Locations to take portraits after your Sunrise Amphitheater wedding
These two spots are nearby and STUNNING, but you can totally just use the area around the amphitheater as well.
3. Boulder Halfway House
This little hut right in the middle of the Flagstaff pass road is a secret gem. The views down over the Boulder valley are second to none, and it’s nice to have a small inside space for storage or just to hang out inside while it’s 95 degrees in the sunshine. I recommend doing the ceremony on the little stone patio outside the house, as the inside is cramped and dark. It’s such a cool historic site!
how to get married at the boulder halfway house
- If the Halfway House is for you, head here to reserve the location and hit the “Book a Facility” link.
Pay the $275 fee (or $175 if you are a Boulder County resident
- Get married on the deck of a gorgeous little house on a mountainside!
As mentioned in the Sunrise Amphitheater section, the other locations you might want to take photos at on Flagstaff will require a permit! So make sure your photographer has access to those. You’ll need either your self solemnizing marriage certificate, or an officiant that works in Boulder County as well.
4. Realization Point
This is also called the “Stone Shelter” ceremony site on Boulder County’s website as well. If you need more seats and more accessibility, this is a super great option in the Boulder Foothills. There is a nice big parking lot right by the site, and it could easily seat up to 100 people comfortably. So, if you have mobility concerns, lots of decoration you want to incorporate, or just don’t want people fighting over parking spots, this is a great option!
how to get married at realization point
- Head to the Boulder facility rental page and hit the “Book a Facility” link.
- It’s also $275/hour for non-Boulder residents and $175/hour for Boulder residents.
- Get a gorgeous outdoor ceremony site for like, super cheap, a storage area on site, as well as easy parking for all your guests. Woohoo!
At risk of sounding like a stuck record… get your permits and your marriage license!!
5. Chautauqua Green
If you want to get married on bright green grass in front of one of the most iconic vistas in Colorado, check out Chautauqua Green for your ceremony! If you have less than 50 people, this is an amazing spot to consider. Nothing feels so much like summer to me than sitting on a beautiful lawn under huge cottonwoods with a view of the mountains. Sigh. I can even smell the grass!!
how to get married on the chautauqua lawn
- Head to this informational page on Chautauqua’s website, then if you want to lock it in, you’ll need to make a “large group permit for a private event” reservation through the city of Boulder. Here’s the email for the contact to request your permit. For the most up to date information on getting the permit, head here and go to the “Parks Without Shelters” drop down menu.
- Get confirmation of your site reservation from the City of Boulder.
- Plan on if you want people to stand for the ceremony, or if you’ll need to rent chairs, or get some blankets for people to watch your wedding picnic style.
If you do want to take photos on the actual Chautauqua trails, your reservation for the lawn does not cover that. You’ll still need a Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks commercial permit to go elsewhere, and Chautauqua is one of the most regularly monitored trails by the Boulder rangers. Please make sure you and your photographer stay on trail if you choose to use this area. It is plagued by far too much use in the summertime, and the off trail areas get very overused and trampled.
The parking at the Chautauqua Trailhead tends to be very crowded, so carpool as much as you can when you head to the park, and give yourself extra time if you need to park on one of the neighborhood streets nearby and walk over (there are pull off areas where you can drop people off or unload decorations and chairs). Much of the parking area for Chautauqua is pay-to-park, and during the summer they encourage you to use the shuttle service rather than park at the trailhead.
6. Foothills Community Park
There are quite a few parks in Boulder that have picnic shelters available for rent, but the Foothills Community Park is by far my favorite! The plus-side of renting a park with a shelter is having a place for people to hide from our afternoon Colorado thunderstorms. This park in North Boulder has incredible views down the ridges of the front range, and is absolutely stunning at sunset. If you want a location in Boulder that’s a little more off the beaten track by tourists, this is a great spot. It’s a low-key neighborhood park, and your wedding will definitely be the most exciting thing happening there that day.
how to get married at the foothills community park
- Head to this page on the Boulder website to reserve a location. The fees are $100 for Boulder residents and $125 for non-residents. You’ll have to click the “Reserve” link on the top right hand side of the page to pick your date and pay the fee.
- If you want to have alcohol, or need access to electricity, both of those have small additional fees. But, when you’re comparing that to the cost of a “traditional” wedding venue, it’s super affordable!
- After you make your request, a member of the team at the City of Boulder parks will contact you to confirm the reservation.
- Make sure you bring your paperwork with you when you have your event!
So, like I said there are a bunch of other parks to consider too! If the Foothills Community Park isn’t your cup of tea, check out these for alternative options:
- Eben G. Fine Park
- Scott Carpenter Park
If you’re planning a wedding at one of these locations, hit me up! I would love to help you out and work with you to get amazing and authentic photos of your wedding!