How to Elope at Garden of the Gods
If you’re looking to elope in Colorado – Garden of the Gods is one location I recommend putting at the very top of your wish list. This stunning location is an ethereal wonderland with over 1,300 acres of opportunities for beautiful photos of your elopement. I get excited even thinking about it!!
Garden of the Gods is a park in Colorado Springs filled with red rocks and mountain views that exude a unique beauty. It’s the perfect location to celebrate your love and the start of your married lives with a little bit of adventure added into the mix.
Picking a location for your adventure elopement can seem tough, there are so many amazing places to consider…so let’s make your job a little easier and look at how to plan a Garden of the Gods elopement, and why it’s such a great option to get married there.
Benefits to a Garden of the Gods Elopement You’ll Love
Eloping at Garden of the Gods is free!
Yep, you read that right. Budgets have got to be the peskiest part of planning a wedding and it is almost unbelievable that such a beautiful location doesn’t charge you for your ceremony, or for taking your wedding photos. It is even free to enter the park for you and your guests.
Location, location, location
Not only is the park very, very close to the city of Colorado Springs, but once you’re inside the park itself, it’s quite easy to get around and you can drive through it. Parking lots are located frequently around the park so you don’t need to worry about your guests or yourself struggling to get to your destination.
Views for days
Garden of the Gods allows you to have your ceremony in one of 6 gorgeous locations, however that doesn’t have to stop you from exploring other parts of the park on your wedding day. The 360 degree views of red rocks coming out of the ground, and mountains in the distance are so beautiful it was actually voted the best city park in the country, and number two in the world.
Adding adventure to your elopement
If you are the adventurous couple, there are plenty of activities for you to take part in while you are in the area, or even on your wedding day. Explore the hiking trails, go rock climbing (permit required, but it’s free!), horseback riding, electric or mountain biking.
Bring your best friend
Dogs are allowed at Garden of the Gods if they’re on a 6-foot leash, the perfect companion for your wedding ceremony! There’s also no charge to bring your dog in, but make sure they’re good with being around other people and you clean up after your furry friends!
You don’t need an officiant!
This is one of the craziest perks of getting married in Colorado. Colorado is one of the very few places that you and your partner are able to get married without having an officiant for your wedding. That’s right, you can elope with just your partner, and your photographer and be officially married! You don’t even need a witness.
Points to Keep in Mind While Eloping at Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is an amazing place for an adventure elopement, but there are still some points that you need to be aware of and plan around while considering this as your wedding location.
Don’t expect to have the place to yourself
- There will be other people, sometimes a lot of other people. The ceremony locations are also first come first serve for your wedding day, so keep that in mind if you are looking to get married at the best spot on a Saturday in the spring. You might have to wait your turn. After all, you’re choosing to get married at one of the best city parks in the world…it gets pretty busy. There are ways to get around this if you prefer being in a more intimate setting.
- Pick a sunrise wedding instead of sunset wedding. The views will be just as incredible, and who says a wedding has to be in the evening?! Be the first in the park and start your morning the happiest way possible, getting married!
- Get married on a weekday. This will help reduce the crowds a bit, but it is still a very popular destination and people travel just to see it so make sure you are happy with sharing your space and welcoming others to watch as your wedding ceremony takes place.
- Visit during off-season. The park is open year-round, it’s super accessible. So when winter comes around the crowds will die down a bit with the harsher weather.
You’ll have to roll with the punches when it comes to weather
Let’s not let something as silly as weather get in the way of your amazing day…just be prepared! The weather in Colorado can be a bit unpredictable and can change on the drop of a dime. Garden of the Gods is through wind, rain, shine, heat and snow. Just be prepared with layers of clothing, some water, and maybe a cute umbrella just in case. Look on the bright side, sometimes some not so ideal weather can make for the most amazing photos!
Seating for those joining you
Only a few of the ceremony locations have seating available. Some of them are simply on the rocks, some of them are on informal picnic benches. Just take note of this especially if it is a very hot day, or if you have anybody joining you that has a hard time standing for extended periods of time. You are allowed to bring in chairs for your elderly guests.
Rules for your Ceremony
It’s incredibly easy and convenient that you don’t need a permit to get married at Garden of the Gods, but that doesn’t mean there are not a few rules that you need to follow.
First, you’ll have to get married in one of the 6 locations they have designated as a ceremony spot. The ceremonies must be kept brief and you are not allowed to block off any areas or stop other tourists from enjoying the same location that you are using for the ceremony.
Once you are there and set up to have your ceremony it is important to note that you are not allowed to bring in or use the following items: large props, tables, decorations, arches, confetti, flower petals, rice, balloons for release, butterflies or doves. The park is filled with natural beauty, so just embrace the natural decor around you!
Leave no trace
The two most important rules to remember while eloping at Garden of the Gods– enjoy your day and leave no trace! If you are not familiar with the term “leave no trace” it’s super simple. All trash, equipment, personal belongings, anything that you bring into the park, take out of the park or put it in the proper trash receptacles. We are lucky to be able to enjoy such a beautiful park and to keep it that way, we must be respectful and clean up after ourselves. You can find more information on Leave No Trace’s website.
Where you can get married in Garden of the Gods
The park designates 6 locations for you to have your ceremony. You are allowed to have guests with you to view the ceremony (and your dog), however, there are no receptions allowed in the park unless it is a picnic at once of the designated picnic areas. If you do want a more formal reception, the good news is that the park is located so close to the city you are sure to be able to find a restaurant or venue to throw a party afterwards. Remember when choosing your location within the park, pay attention to the capacity for the amount of guests you can bring, and include yourself and your vendors into the count.
Capacity: 50 people
This is one of the most preferred locations for a ceremony if you will be bringing guests to witness and celebrate with you. Not only is it great for guests because it is in a very accessible location, but it is structured to have seating available. From a photographers perspective, although the location is undoubtedly beautiful, it may be hard to capture the full image of the landscape around you with how the area is set up. It should also be noted that this location is next to the main parking lot, which can be a benefit in regards to accessibility but there is a lot of foot traffic from tourists that may be lingering around your ceremony or pictures.
Capacity: 25 people
Another pretty busy, but very beautiful area is Sentinel Plaza. This location is further into the park but still easily accessible, which is amazing if you would prefer to be closer to the rocks. It is a much more intimate area, perfect for smaller ceremonies
Three Graces Plaza
Capacity: 25 people
Three Graces Plaza is a really fun location within the park and where you will find views of the most amazing rock formations, climb onto the rocks, and get some amazing photos. There are multiple areas where you can park and walk from to access this location, which makes it really easy to get to for your guests. This area is smaller and you will have less people with you but great things come in small packages, right?
Capacity: 50 people, but not recommended
High Point is probably the best spot in the park for an elopement especially if it is a minimal amount of people. If you love this location and do want guests to witness your ceremony, there is a parking lot nearby which is convenient, but be aware that there is no place for seating. This location you can climb on the red rocks, and get an incredible view of the park with Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Cheyenne Mountain.
Scotsman Picnic Area
Capacity: 25 people
Scotsman Picnic area should be a choice for you if you are just looking for informal, and a place with seating. The views here are not as ideal as the red rocks, but there is a lot of greenery. This is a good place if you are looking for handicap accommodations and a location to eat after your ceremony. There’s limited seating and this is a public area so you should keep your plans loose if choosing this location.
South Spring Canyon Area
Capacity: 50 people
This location is less popular, less used for weddings, but still beautiful. You won’t get as much of a view of the red rocks in Garden of the Gods, but you will get a great background shot of Pikes Peak. You can have guests join you for a picnic here, there is plenty of parking and benches for seating, but take note that there is no shade.
Where to Stay
As mentioned before, one of the greatest perks to Garden of the Gods is how accessible it is. It is right next to the city of Colorado Springs! This makes it super convenient to find an amazing place to stay, and find plenty to do during your visit. Here are some beautiful, bright Airbnb recommendations close to the park that could be perfect for your trip.
Downtown Old Colorado City with Panoramic Views
Charming Tudor Cottage with Hot Tub
Adorable Tiny Home with Mountain Views
Sunny House for 6
As a photographer who specializes in intimate weddings and adventure elopements, I understand how it feels while trying to plan your wedding and I am here to help! If you have any questions or are considering an elopement, I would love to hop on the phone and chat with you about all your ideas! Contact me about your elopement at Garden of the Gods, I can’t wait to get to know you!