Wait, I can elope in a city?? YES, you can!
One of the biggest trends in the wedding industry right now is running off into the mountains with your partner to elope or have a small wedding with gorgeous mountain scenery in the background. It’s a great way to focus on what’s important about your wedding day: your closest friends and family, your love, and planning a day that is all about how YOU want to celebrate. I am all for that, but there are some people who just aren’t outdoorsy mountain people, and that is ooooh-kaaaay in my book. I think it’s high time the elopement trend expanded to explore city center rooftops, beautiful parks and gardens, and unique mini venues.
Wait… what are we defining as an Elopement or Microwedding?
If you’re just dipping your toes in the deep waters of wedding planning, let me shine some light on these terms that you are going to be hearing a lot as you scroll and click around the internet. The term elopement originally meant running across the English border to Gretna Green in Scotland when you were too young to get married, or your parents didn’t approve. Or… that’s what Jane Austen taught me on the subject.
In recent years, the term elopement has evolved to mean a wedding that is small (usually under 10 people), low key, and shorter than a traditional wedding. Most don’t have a caterer or sit down dinner, but you can still expect a photographer, videographer, officiant, and florist to be involved. It’s also been trendy to have an “adventurous elopement” and run off in to the desert/mountains/sunset on a beach with your partner.
These days, it doesn’t even need to be planned last minute, or kept a secret from your friends and family!!
Microweddings are really similar to elopements, but usually the guest count can go up to 30, and they’re more likely to involve a dinner and dancing portion. All the good parts of a big wedding, just with a smaller group!
Why elope in Denver instead of going to the mountains?
If the mountains aren’t calling you, why try and have a wedding that looks just like everyone else’s on Pinterest and Instagram. There are so many ways to create a special and unique experience for the two of you (with a couple of guests even) in Denver proper. If you’re traveling, you’re closer to the airport, lodging is cheaper, and you don’t have to take your 2WD rental car up I-70 white-knuckling the whole way. Denver has some amazing breweries (many that allow your dog to hang out with you), art galleries, restaurants, and wedding venues that offer elopement packages. If you want to make things a little bigger, there are tons of options for Microweddings too!
How do I plan a city elopement in Denver?
Find a small Wedding Venue
You have a few options here… If you want to keep it simple for the ceremony, you can always go the courthouse wedding route. While the courthouse rooms at the Denver courthouses are nothing to write home about, the buildings are gorgeous and are surrounded by other awesome places to take photos. More info on the courthouses, and how to elope Denver’s courthouses in this post!
If finding a formal “venue” isn’t high up on your priority list and you aren’t worried about being outside if the weather turns on you, Denver parks allow a group up to five people to gather and have their photos taken without a permit. That means you can get together and have your mini-ceremony in any of the gorgeous parks without weeks of planning, money, or reservations! Yippee. Trust me, it’s hard to find THAT anywhere in the mountains, despite how many people you see setting up a wedding arch in a scenic field at the base of peaks that look like the swiss alps.
You can also hit up some more traditional venues to see if they are able to host smaller elopements. Don’t be scared to ask your favorite restaurants, breweries, and art galleries too!
Scroll down below this section to see the full spread of locations that you can use for your Denver elopement or mini wedding. I put together a huuuuge list of resources that doesn’t fit up here, hahaha.
Do you need an officiant?
No! You don’t need an officiant to get married in Colorado. We are a state that offers self-solemnization. Just make sure you tell the DMV where you get your marriage license that you won’t be using an officiant. The certificate is set up a little bit differently.
If you don’t want to hire an officiant, you can also have a friend get certified to perform marriages in Colorado. The Universal Life Church is the most common place people get ordained online to perform weddings. The application doesn’t take long and is super simple.
What other vendors do you need?
The great thing about eloping or having a small wedding… This is totally up to you!! You don’t have to have flowers, cake, a DJ, or anything that you don’t want to spend the time to find or the budget to hire.
Denver Florists for small Weddings and Elopements
If you do want a simple small bouquet, most florists in Denver can offer a cheaper elopement or small wedding package for you that doesn’t include 8 bridesmaid bouquets and groomsman boutonnieres. Watch out for order minimums though! Some florists impose a minimum order on their packages that would stop their services from being cost-effective. These florists here in Denver offer smaller elopement packages and bouquets without minimums!
Surprisingly, Costco has some great options available for florals on the cheap if you decide to go that route rather than working with a local vendor.
If going the traditional floral route isn’t your speed, consider renting a bouquet from a vendor like Compass Rose Floral (based here in Colorado). They re-use silk flowers to make bouquets that you rent for your wedding day. That means less environmental waste, flowers that you don’t have to worry about taking on the plane with you after the wedding, and unique looking flowers that might technically be “out of season” when you have your wedding. Their bouquets look like the $300 bouquets from high-end floral companies here in Colorado, but for about a third of the price when you rent!
Denver Hair + Makeup Artists for small Weddings and Elopements
I’m biased as a photographer, but in my experience, people are much happier with their photos when they hire a pro for their wedding makeup and hair. If you live locally, I definitely recommend doing a trial with the artist that you’re considering. Here are a couple of my favorite hair and makeup artists in Denver!
Photographers for Denver Elopements and Small Weddings
Well, hiiiiiii. It just so happens that you are reading an article written by a photographer who loves photographing little weddings and city elopements. If you want to learn more, hit up my pricing page to see a-la-carte pricing for elopements. I don’t have minimums and make sure my packages are flexible to accommodate small weddings. Not everyone needs two photographers for eight hours of coverage!
If I’m not your speed, that’s totally cool. But, when you’re looking for a photographer who is the right fit, make sure you check that they offer elopement packages and ask if they have date restrictions for elopements. Many photographers don’t offer booking far in advance for weekend dates during the summer, as it is probably worth it to wait for a bigger wedding that day. Photographers who specialize or emphasize elopements and small weddings in their packages are a safe bet, though!
or, just show up with yourselves and make some magic…
Who says you need any of this stuff!!
Remember you can always throw out all the rules and do whatever the heck you want! You can swing through Sprouts on your way and grab a muffin, a potted plant, and a bottle of wine. Who cares!! Your elopement or micro-wedding should be about you, and what you want out of your day.
locations for Denver Elopements and Microweddings
Okay, let’s get back to locations, because that’s where I can link the most resources for you and show you all the cool places you can use! Check out these spots for ideas…
Denver Parks for City Elopements
A gem of a park in the more residential side of Denver that’s surrounded by gorgeous architecture, and features two lakes, a rose garden, and stunning cottonwood trees!
One of my all-time favorite views of Denver is from this park. Right behind the Museum of Nature and science, you can see the Denver Skyline stacked in front of the mountains. Bonus: it faces west and the light in the afternoons is just divine. There’s a gorgeous lake there as well.
A beautiful park close to I-25 and the LoHi and Highlands areas of Denver. There’s a huge expanse of mown lawn with sparkly skyscrapers behind it, plus easy access to the river for some naturey shots without hiking involved if that’s your jam. It’s just a short walk to Millennium Bridge, Union Station, and some rad Denver restaurants from there as well. The Linger rooftop is a great spot to grab a cocktail after the vows are done with your guests, or just each other!
Not far from Confluence Park, but with slightly different views. This one is right behind the Denver REI, and has some cool steps, bridge underpasses, and less trees and lawns.
If trees are your jam, this is your park! There are some of the prettiest established deciduous trees and gigantic fir trees throughout this park. It gets flowers in the spring, and beautiful reds and golds during the fall. You can also find plenty of greenery in the winter since the evergreens are vibrant year round. There’s an iconic columned pavilion in the park that make for a great classic backdrop if that’s your style.
There are, of course, hundreds of other parks tucked in the nooks and crannies of Denver’s downtown areas, but those are some of my favorite to photograph at. The downside of any of these is that the space is not privately reserved for you, and they’re public property so you can’t yell at a group of clowns practicing acrobatics during your ceremony 😉
So, if you want more private space, and maybe have more planning time and some budget flexibility, there are some other amazing options for your Denver mini-wedding or elopement.
Small Denver Venues for Elopements and Microweddings
I have a few absolute favorites for smaller weddings, micro weddings, mini weddings, elopements, etc. etc. with all the trendy names these days. These spots all have dedicated smaller spaces (so you don’t feel like you’re standing in an empty ballroom) and are already nicely set up to accommodate smaller weddings and not just giant ones.
Roof 16 at Novel Coworking on 16th Street
This is a new venue that opened up during 2020 with one of the best rooftops for events in all of Denver. It’s an amazing mix of cityscape and nature with a blooming flower garden! The rooftop alone can accomodate an elopement or wedding with a handful of guests, or if you want an indoor spot, the bar area is perfect for mingling, cocktails, and passed appetizers. The modern interior design, unique furniture, and stunning lighting makes it an incredible backdrop for any small wedding.
Denver Botanic Gardens
So, to lay it out on the table, I’m biased on this one. I got married here in 2015! We had a small ceremony with 20 people, then a bigger reception off site. They have some amazing areas for a breathtaking ceremony, and their packages are already structured to accommodate ceremony-only bookings (like ours). We used the Woodland Mosaic Garden for our ceremony, but their Annuals Garden is another one of my favorites. The best part? Having your ceremony there allows you free access to the gardens all day for your wedding, so there is ample time for gorgeous photos in all your favorite spots.
Coohills is a french restaurant right in LoDo overlooking Cherry Creek and right next those cool bridges you see driving along Speer in and out of Downtown. I have always loved them, then booked a wedding a Coohills and found out they let you do your ceremony RIGHT THERE. Right on the cool bridges!! I was so pumped, you have no idea. There’s some amazing spots to take photos nearby, and Coohills has a ceremony only package as well.
The ART, a hotel
Since they opened a few years back, The ART Hotel has been putting themselves out there as a unique space for weddings that will put together what you need to make your event awesome. That means, if you want to do something small, they can cater to that too! It’s in one of the most amazing areas of Denver to just walk in and take in the sights. We took massive advantage of that at the wedding I worked there. The parking entrance also has some of the coolest lights ever. The inside of the hotel is… well, a work of art. And, bonus, there is always rotating art inside and adds an extra something to the place.
If unique is the vibe you’re after, you don’t have to look further than the Clocktower on 16th St. Mall in Denver. The top floors are an event venue perfect for microweddings (their limit for the space is 35 people). The ceremony happens inside the clocktower right behind the clockface!! Then, your guests walk up a flight of stairs into a square room with a bar and cocktail tables with panoramic views of the Denver downtown. You can also take photos on a rad spiral staircase in the very top room of the event space. It’s a rad experience for your guests, and makes for incredible photos!!
Denver Venues with Elopement Specific Packages
Thanks to COVID-19 (how many times have you said THAT, haha) there are quite a few wedding venues in Denver that have added Elopement Packages and Microwedding Packages for less than it costs to rent out the full venue. This is a great opportunity to work with a very experienced group of vendors who do weddings as their main gig. You can count on organization, communication, and less leg-work for you! Here are some venues offering this:
- Asterisk | Elopement Package Details
- Blanc Denver | Elopement Package Details
- Roof 16 | Elopement Package Details
- Skylight | Elopement Package Details
- Realm Denver | Elopement Package Details
I have a full page dedicated to all the amazing Denver Wedding Venues (and restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and more that offer weddings) out there if you decide you want to do a bigger wedding, or just look at more location options!
Airbnbs and VRBOs for Denver Elopements and Microweddings
If you don’t live in Denver, and don’t want to rent out a full venue for your elopement, you can totally check out some Airbnbs and VRBOs to see if any of them fit the bill as well. If it’s just the two of you, you don’t have to worry about whether the host allows you to have events in the space. But, if you are planning on having guests for your ceremony, make sure you filter by events on VRBO, and reach out to the host directly to confirm that they are okay with what you’re doing. If you’re willing to jump through those hoops, you can find some AMAZING hidden gems in the VRBO and Airbnb world. I have a mega-list of awesome places to host your Airbnb wedding in Colorado here, so go take a peek if you are serious about exploring that route. Here are a few highlights that are worth checking out as well!
Whether it’s a park, a VRBO, or a rad city venue, Denver kindaaaa has the bases covered as far as small wedding, microwedding, and elopement location options that DON’T involve a three hour drive in a wedding dress. Read this and still need some help? I’d love to hear what you are planning, and hey, if you are still looking for a photographer for your Denver wedding, it just might be a match made in heaven.