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Epic Off-Road Mountain Wedding—Colorado Adventure Elopement

Brian + Ernie

Ouray, Colorado

Brian and Ernie knew almost immediately where they were going to elope.

Like a lot of couples who choose adventure elopements, they knew they wanted something beautiful. They knew they wanted something intimate. And they knew they wanted something uniquely and perfectly them.

The location almost instantly came to mind.

Ouray, Colorado.

Brian and Ernie—both from Florida—had spent summer after summer working together in Ouray. They knew that it was the perfect spot to pledge their lives to each other (it was where they’d gotten engaged, after all), and even better, they knew the perfect time of year to do it.

Golden Colorado Fall.

(As a side note: If you’ve never seen a Colorado Fall, you’re about to witness a seasonal sensation unlike anything you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Everything is a striking shade of either gold, yellow, orange, or red).

When I arrived at their cabin in downtown Ouray on their elopement day, all of their unique details were already laid out.

The peacock feather bow ties.

The watches.

The beautiful black diamond cuff links.

One step inside their crooked, adorable cabin and I knew right away—these two were more than ready for their unique, just us day.

As an elopement photographer who’s captured so many couples during their small intimate weddings, I have to say, seeing couples so in the moment and so ready to step into their new, enormous adventure together never gets old.   

Brian and Ernie chose to get ready together inside their cabin, and after a few final adjustments —helping with a cuff link here, adjusting a bow tie there— they were ready to begin their adventurous day.

We climbed in the car and took off to a beautiful lake where the aspens were at their peak. We hopped out and Brian and Ernie spent time enjoying the landscape, basking in the golden glow of Fall, and honestly, just having a blast playing in the Aspen grove together.

But that was just the beginning of their adventurous day.

When Brian and Ernie were planning their small wedding, they both wanted something beautiful, meaningful, and intimate for their elopement day. But they also wanted a dose of rugged adventure, too.

That’s where the side-by-sides came in.

Brian and Ernie rented a UTV so they could zoom around some of the off-road trails in Ouray and, most importantly, zip up to the special spot where they got engaged—their intimate location choice for their ceremony.

They both wanted to include immediate family in their elopement ceremony, but they also wanted to ensure they had plenty of privacy for their own intimate moments. Before their guests arrived at the ceremony spot, Brian and Ernie stepped out to the edge of a jaw-dropping cliff by themselves, took each other’s hands, and said their private vows alone.

Then came the rest of the party, zooming up the mountain in their own off-road vehicles.

Their godson—only 9 months old— was their ring bearer and their tiny niece was their flower girl. As for an officiant, Brian and Ernie had told their family they were flying someone in to marry them during their ceremony.

That wasn’t exactly the truth. That’s where I came in.

I jumped up, handed out scripts to every member of the (very surprised) family, and informed them of something so unique and special—they’d be the officiants marrying Brian and Ernie.

The couple had typed up blurbs for each of the family members to say so that they could be the ones marrying the couple. There was lots of laughter, but most of all, total excitement. It was such a meaningful way to include family members in their elopement, and it meant the world to the people who were there.

Once the ceremony in their epic location was over, Brian and Ernie went for the traditional pop the champagne ritual—but, in total Brian and Ernie fashion, they put their own fun spin on it.

Ernie whipped out a Samurai sword—you heard me, an actual Samurai sword—and cut the champagne cork clean off. We took a moment to toast the couple.  We toasted to them and the life they’d build together. We toasted to their adventurous day they were brave enough to create. We toasted to their most epic adventures yet.

Everyone climbed back into their off-road vehicles and zipped back to the crooked cabin in downtown Ouray. We spent the night drinking wine, mingling, and exploring little caves (while getting covered in cobwebs).

Brian and Ernie’s day was a lot of different thing things.

It was laid-back. It was gorgeous. It was adventurous.

But above all, it was entirely about them and wholly unique to who they are.

To us, that’s what eloping is all about in the first place.

It’s about standing next to the person you’re pledging your life to and knowing that in that moment —in that intimate, beautiful moment that you hand-selected and made entirely yours—you’re exactly where you want to be with exactly who you belong with.  

In this elopement photo captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement photographer, the rocky red mountains of Ouray, Colorado are seen. A road is carved into the side of the mountain, a perfect place for a 4x4 wedding.
A tiny, crooked cabin is shown in this image captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead. The cabin, shaded by beautiful trees, is painted white and brown and has a quirky red door. In the background, rocky mountains peek through the trees.
In these side-by-side elopement photos captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead, the Ouray, Colorado cabin is shown . In the image on the left, a quaint street sign that says “oak street” is shown, and in the image to the right, the bright red door with dark trim has an “E+B” hanging over it, just one of the unique eloping ideas that Brian and Ernie included in their colorado elopement.
On a light-wood table lays a pamphlet for Ouray County and for exploring the San Juan Triangle. These items were found in a rented VRBO cabin (that was charming and crooked) that Ernie and Brian, the couple getting married, chose for their Colorado mountain wedding.
An old-fashioned quill pen stands on a marble counter top next to the faint image of a marriage license. Brian and Ernie, the couple getting married, chose to sign their marriage license during their elopement ceremony of their Colorado mountain wedding.
A marriage license for Brian and Ernie lays on a marble counter top, waiting to be signed and taken along with the couple to their Colorado destination wedding.
In these side-by-side elopement pictures captured by Colorado elopement photographer Adventure Instead, the small, intricate details of Brian and Ernie’s bow ties, watches, and cuff links are shown. The two picked out custom accessories for their Colorado mountain wedding—just one of the ways that they integrated unique eloping ideas into their small simple wedding.
This image shows another unique eloping idea for small simple weddings—creating your own custom gifts and accessories. Brian and Ernie chose to wear matching peacock bow ties, as well as include their rings, designer watches, and black diamond cuff links.
One of the grooms looks into the distance at his soon-to-be husband inside their rented VRBO cabin. He smiles as he holds his dress shoe in his hand while getting ready for their Colorado destination wedding.
This closeup elopement photo — captured by Adventure Instead, Colorado wedding photographer, shows a groom zipping up his cowboy boots as he gets ready for his Colorado mountain wedding.
In these side-by-side elopement pictures captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer, the two grooms are seen helping each other get ready in their rented VRBO cabin. They reach over to help each other put on their matching cuff links in both photos. Choosing to get ready together is just one of the unique eloping ideas that you can include in your small simple wedding.
In these side-by-side elopement photos captured by Adventure Instead, a Colorado elopement photographer, the grooms are shown helping each other adjust their black diamond cuff links as they prepare for their Colorado elopement together. They chose to have a 4x4 elopement as part of their small simple wedding.
The two grooms, Brian and Ernie, take a moment together in their VRBO as they help each other get ready for their Colorado destination wedding. They both decided to include some of their unique eloping ideas by implementing fun details, like their black diamond cuff links, into their elopement pictures.
The grooms helps each other finish up their final touches during their time getting ready together. One groom helps his soon-to-be husband adjust and tie his peacock bow tie before they get ready to leave for their Colorado mountain wedding.
In these side-by-side elopement pictures captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer, the two grooms (Brian and Ernie) finish up their final touches as they help each other get ready for their Ouray, Colorado 4x4 wedding.
A golden and green mountain looms in the background of a gorgeous, sparkling lake. This image—captured by Adventure Instead, a Colorado elopement photographer— shows Ouray, Colorado during its peak Fall season, a location that’s one of the best elopement ideas.
Brian and Ernie, in their dark tuxes, stand among a vibrant yellow and gold Aspen grove. In the distance, green and gold trees dot a rocky mountain in Ouray, Colorado. This destination elopement spot was the perfect choice for Brian and Ernie as they’d grown up working summers here.
In these elopement photos captured by Adventure Instead, a Colorado elopement photographer, Brian and Ernie (the soon-to-be married couple) gaze out at the golden and yellow aspen trees blooming in a grove at the base of an Ouray, Colorado mountain. This location was one of the small wedding ideas that the couple had for their Colorado mountain wedding.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, take hands as they explore an aspen grove in Ouray, Colorado before their elopement ceremony. These elopement photos were captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
The two grooms, Brian and Ernie, hold hands in the middle of a golden Aspen grove during their fall Colorado mountain wedding. These elopement photos were captured before their elopement ceremony in Ouray, Colorado.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, romp through a golden wonderland of bright yellow aspen trees in these side-by-side elopement photos captured by Adventure Instead, a Colorado elopement photographer.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, embrace each other in the middle of a beautiful aspen grove in Colorado. Their dark suits contrast beautifully against the white aspen trunks and the bright gold leaves. These elopement photos were one of the unique eloping ideas that Brian and Ernie wanted for their Colorado mountain wedding.
In these side-by-side elopement pictures captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer, Ernie and Brian, the two grooms, walk hand-in-hand through an aspen grove during the fall. In the photo on the left, Brian and Ernie embrace. In the elopement photo on the right, the two grab hands and continue to traipse through the forest before their elopement ceremony.
Brian and Ernie take hands as they traipse through an aspen grove together before their Colorado mountain wedding. These elopement photos, captured by Adventure Instead, show the striking gold and yellow aspen trees in Ouray, Colorado, and were a part of Brian and Ernie’s unique eloping ideas for their small simple wedding.
Brian and Ernie take hands as they walk away from a gorgeous, vivid aspen grove toward their elopement ceremony. As part of ther small, simple wedding, Brian and Ernie chose to incorporate one of their unique eloping ideas — renting side-by-sides to take them up the mountain to their destination elopement.
A golden bloom of aspens in fall is shown growing at the base of an Ouray, Colorado mountain. This rocky mountain is peppered with green trees and golden grass, the truly beautiful colors of Fall.
Brian and Ernie take hands as they stand in front of a sparkling lake at the base of a fall-colored mountain. The two share a private moment before they head up to their elopement ceremony location in the Ouray, Colorado mountain range.
Brian and Ernie stand by the lake in these side-by-side elopement photos captured by Adventure Instead., a Colorado elopement photographer. In the photo on the left, the two grooms point up toward the mountain. In the photo on the right, the two look up at the golden and green mountains together.
Brian and Ernie flirt and mess around next to a beautiful, sparkling alpine lake. The two grooms, fully dressed in their suits for their elopement ceremony, pose for elopement photos captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.
These side-by-side elopement photos captured by Adventure Instead — an elopement wedding photographer— show Ernie and Brian standing together by a gorgeous alpine lake in the Ouray, Colorado mountain range. The two grooms chose this location for their small simple wedding because it held a special place in their heart and they wanted a Colorado mountain wedding.
The two grooms, Brian and Ernie, stand in front of a mountain range and a sign that states “Ouray, Colorado. Switzerland of America.” The two of them wear their suits for their elopement ceremony and have dark black sunglasses on.
Brian and Ernie rented a side-by-side for their off-road wedding in Ouray, Colorado. In these side-by-side elopement photos, Brian and Ernie are seen zooming up a 4x4 trail for their adventurous destination elopement.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, sit in the front seat of their off-road vehicle as they head up in their side-by-side to their 4x4 elopement. The elopement ceremony location that Brian and Ernie chose was near and dear to their hearts.
One of the grooms hangs his arm outside the window of his side-by-side vehicle as they zoom to their elopement location for their 4x4 wedding.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, pose in front of their off-road vehicle. The two lean against the side-by-side in their dark suits, fully prepared for their elopement ceremony. The gold and white aspen trees stand out vibrantly all around them.
In these side-by-side elopement pictures captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer, Brian and Ernie — the two grooms — stand together next to their side-by-side off-road vehicle in an aspen grove. The two chose to have a 4x4 wedding for their small simple wedding because it was uniquely special to them.
The two grooms, Brian and Ernie, lean up against their off-road vehicle that they parked in the middle of a beautiful, golden aspen grove. The two grooms are dressed in their suits and ready for their elopement ceremony, which they’ll take the off-road vehicles to get to for their 4x4 wedding.
In this image captured by elopement photographer Adventure Instead, the light, golden aspen trees are shown against a pale blue sky. Ouray, Colorado, is well known for its gorgeous Fall colors, making it the best elopement ideas for couples looking to find a beautiful location.
The two grooms walk through a forest littered with golden Fall leaves that have tumbled to the ground. All around them, white aspen trees bloom even more beautiful, golden leaves. As the two take hands, they walk toward their elopement ceremony spot.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, embrace. One groom kisses his soon-to-be husband on the cheek. Their dark suits juxtapose vibrantly against the white and gold aspen trees. These elopement photos were captured by Colorado elopement photographer Adventure Instead.
These side-by-side elopement photos show Brian and Ernie playfully flirting among the aspen tree grove together. These elopement pictures were captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
The two grooms take hands as they walk through a golden aspen grove toward their Colorado mountain wedding elopement ceremony spot. Their 4x4 wedding required off-road vehicles to reach the location for their destination elopement.
A giant, jagged mountain face is shown in stark contrast to the golden grove of aspen trees growing at its base. These elopement photos were captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
Brian and Ernie climb back into their side-by-side vehicle to make their way toward their off-road wedding location. Their 4x4 elopement was one of their unique eloping ideas they absolutely wanted to include in their elopement wedding.
The side-by-side vehicle is shown driving up a 4x4 road in Ouray, Colorado. As the side-by-side zips up the 4x4 road, vibrant green and gold trees can be seen from the steep road drop-off.
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In the distance, Ernie and Brian can be seen parking their side-by-side off-road vehicle at the edge of a lookout point. This cliff overlooks green and golden trees and shows huge, towering mountains in the backdrop. This location is one of the best elopement ideas for couples seeking out a destination elopement.
In these side-by-side elopement photos, Brian and Ernie’s off-road vehicle is seen parked in the distance. Even further in the distance, giant mountain peaks and golden and green trees dot the background.
The two grooms zoom up a 4x4 road in their side-by-side vehicle on their way up to the elopement ceremony location.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, zoom around the off-road trails in their side-by-side vehicle. They took this 4x4 vehicle up to their elopement ceremony location.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, zoom off in their side-by-side off-road vehicle on the 4x4 roads that will take them to their elopement ceremony location.
In this elopement photo captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead, the peak of a mountain can be seen in the difference. The trees growing at its base are green, gold, and yellow.
A small, but powerful, waterfall, trickles down the rocks on the Ouray, Colorado mountainside. In the background, green and yellow trees, golden foliage, and craggy mountains can be seen. This is one of the most beautiful places to elope in Colorado.
These elopement photos show Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, standing in a yellow and gold field, wearing their dark suits, before their elopement ceremony. These elopement pictures were part of the unique eloping ideas that Brian and Ernie had for their Colorado mountain wedding.
The two grooms, Brian and Ernie, stand up on a rock in the middle of a golden field. Behind them, an enormous, rocky mountain dotted in vibrant green and gold trees can be seen. These elopement photos were captured by Colorado elopement photographer Adventure Instead.
A jagged, rocky mountain face is shown in this elopement photo captured by adventure elopement photographer Adventure Instead. In this photo, Ouray, Colorado’s San Juan mountain range is shown starkly juxtaposing a deep blue sky . This is one of the most beautiful places to elope in Colorado.
Brian and Ernie stand among a field of golden, Fall wildflowers as they hold hands and make their way toward their elopement ceremony spot. These elopement photos were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.
Brian and Ernie hold hands as they read their vows to each other in their own private elopement ceremony. They chose to have an intimate ceremony for just the two of them, followed by a ceremony focused on eloping with family.
These side-by-side elopement photos capture the two grooms. Brian and Ernie, saying their vows to each other in a private elopement ceremony. This was one of their unique eloping ideas for their Colorado mountain wedding.
Brian and Ernie take each other’s hands as they read their private vows to each other before their elopement ceremony where they’ll include their family. The two stand on the edge of a gorgeous cliff looking out over the San Juan mountain range.
Brian and Ernie take hands as they pledge their lives to each other in their own, private elopement ceremony, a beautiful detail they included in their small simple wedding.
Brian and Ernie embrace as they finish reading their private vows during their intimate elopement ceremony. As soon as this private ceremony is over, they’ll continue on with an elopement ceremony that’s more focused on eloping with family members.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, embrace and kiss as they finish reading their private vows during their elopement ceremony. Now, the two will continue with their elopement ceremony with a family-focused wedding.
An off-road truck drives up the 4x4 mountain road carrying Brian and Ernie’s loved ones up to their elopement ceremony location. The family waves from the three rows of seating. In the background, an enormous mountain is looming.
Brian and Ernie, the two grooms, walk behind their young niece as she throws petals in front of them. The flower girl is wearing a cute, white dress with lots of frills in this elopement photo. She reaches into her basket for more petals to lead off the elopement ceremony.
Brian and Ernie stand next to a rushing river during their elopement ceremony as their immediate family gathers around them for their Colorado mountain wedding. Everyone is holding a special document with detailed blurbs for their parts of their ceremony.
These side-by-side elopement photos shown Brian and Ernie’s immediate family gathering around them for their elopement ceremony.
The tiniest guest at Brian and Ernie’s elopement peeks up over his mother’s shoulder. Their 9-month-old godson , wearing a pageboy hat, looks into the camera held by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer who captured Brian and Ernie’s Colorado mountain wedding.
These side-by-side elopement pictures show Brian and Ernie’s immediate family gathered around them, supporting them during their elopement ceremony. These elopement photos were captured by Adventure Instead, a Colorado elopement photographer.
The two grooms stand at the base of a gorgeous waterfall and hold hands as their family members lead them through a customized, intimate elopement ceremony during Brian and Ernie’s 4x4 elopement.
Brian and Ernie slip their wedding rings onto each other’s fingers in these elopement photos capturing their elopement ceremony.
The two grooms, Brian and Ernie, hold hands as they stand at the base of a gorgeous waterfall as their family leads them through a unique elopement ceremony . Choosing to have a private ceremony followed by a family-oriented ceremony is one of the best elopement ideas a couple can include in their special day.
Brian and Ernie, the newlywed couple, take hands as they finish up their elopement ceremony in front of a gorgeous waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. This destination elopement spot was chosen by the two grooms because it was a location near and dear to their hearts.
Brian and Ernie seal the end of their elopement ceremony with a kiss. Behind them, a waterfall rushes and gurgles.
Brian and Ernie’s immediate family finish reading up their elopement ceremony script that the couple printed out and surprised them with. In these adventure elopement photos, the elopement script in a family member’s hands clearly states “the end.”
Brian and Ernie lean down to sign their marriage license with their feathered, quill pen. The two smile as they take turns signing this as the final part of their elopement ceremony.
Brian and Ernie party after eloping by celebrating with family and kissing their 9-month-old godson in these side-by-side elopement photos captured by Colorado wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
The newlywed couple holds a bottle of champagne and a Samurai sword in their hands after their elopement ceremony. Brian and Ernie planned to incorporate one of their unique eloping ideas into their small simple wedding — cutting the champagne cork off with a sword.
One of the grooms holds up the bottle of champagne and his Samurai sword. These two really know how to party after eloping.
One of the grooms reaches out with his Samurai sword to cut the champagne cork clear off the bottle of champagne for their reception after eloping.
These side-by-side elopement photos show Ernie and Brian cutting the cork off the champagne bottle with their Samurai sword ad trying to pour the liquid bubbling out into their champagne glasses.
The newlyweds Brian and Ernie link their arms as they hold their champagne glasses, toasting their elopement ceremony. This was just one of their unique eloping ideas for their 4x4 elopement in the San Juan Mountains.
The guests at Brian and Ernie’s wedding hold up their glasses of champagne to toast to the happy, newly wedded couple. This Colorado mountain wedding incorporated some of the best elopement ideas that Brian and Ernie could come up with, including eloping with family and having their own, private elopement ceremony.
These side-by-side elopement pictures, captured by Colorado wedding photographer Adventure Instead, show the signed marriage license and the Samurai sword from Brian and Ernie’s elopement ceremony.
One of the grooms packs up his items and heads back toward the side-by-side vehicle to zoom back down the mountain with his new husband. The two chose a 4x4 elopement for their Colorado mountain wedding so they could elope in their ideal location.
Brian and Ernie, the newlywed’s, send their family back down the mountain in their own off-road vehicle (which was necessary to rent to get the immediate family to their 4x4 elopement.
These side-by-side elopement photos show the San Juan Mountain range in all its golden splendor. In the image on the left, the tall, jagged, mountain peaks are shown. In the image on the right, a winding, off-road trail is shown carving through the mountain — the very road that Brian and Ernie wanted to drive for their 4x4 elopement.
Two deer pop their heads up from the tall, golden grasses in the San Juan mountain wilderness. Choosing to have destination elopement is one of the best eloping ideas because it grants couples the opportunity to see wildlife on their wedding day.
Brian and Ernie, just married, sit on a jagged, rock platform as the sun sets and casts them in a shadow. All around them, golden hues are painted into the wildflowers, the trees, the grass. Brian and Ernie chose this destination elopement location so their elopement photos would show the golden hues of Fall.
Brian and Ernie, the two groom, stand on a jagged, rocky platform among vibrant and vivid golden aspen trees in these side-by-side elopement photos. They hold hands as they look out over the gorgeous location where they just had their elopement ceremony.
Beyond a blurred visual of the two grooms zipping down the off-road trail in their side-by-side vehicle, a dirt path leading into a gorgeous, forested area can be seen. Brian and Ernie chose a 4x4 elopement for their small simple wedding because they wanted a little extra adventure going to and from their elopement ceremony location.
The sun begins to set on the multi-colored Ouray, Colorado mountain range. The base of the mountain and downtown Ouray is cast in shadows in this elopement photo taken by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.
A gorgeous alpenglow sets on the San Juan mountain range in Ouray, Colorado, the location where Brian and Ernie chose to have their 4x4 elopement and their small simple wedding ceremony.
This image, captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead, shows the VRBO cabin that Brian and Ernie rented for their Colorado mountain wedding. While the two chose to have their elopement ceremony high up in the mountains for an off-road wedding, the reception after eloping was held at this adorable, crooked cabin.
Brian and Ernie lean out of their VRBO cabin door holding a lantern, their faces illuminated as the setting sun closes in on their perfect Colorado mountain wedding.

THINKING ABOUT HAVING YOUR OWN adventurous

off-road WEDDING?

Hey there! We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori, elopement photographers & guides who are based in Colorado and Washington. We would love the chance to talk with you about helping you craft your dream elopement. Not only will we help to document your intimate, meaningful elopement experience in a laid-back and exciting way, but we’re also able to help you pinpoint the greatest vendors, the dreamiest locations, and more! We can’t wait to connect with you.

DON'T LET THE WEDDING INDUSTRY dictate how you plan your epic day.

Let us Help you craft your ideal day that’s perfect for you.

Get in touch with us and let us guide you.

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HEY THERE!

We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.

Are You Ready to Create Your Own Adventurous Elopement?


If you would like help dreaming up your intimate wedding day, a customized elopement location idea list just for you, planning tools, vendor recommendations, and a creative, laid-back, documentary approach to your adventurous wedding photography—we would love to help you make your adventure elopement dreams come true.

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