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SUNRISE HIKING ELOPEMENT ADVENTURE—COLORADO ELOPEMENT

BRECKA + NICK

COLORADO

An entire year before Brecka and Nick would wake up well before the sun, take each other’s hands, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime, they stood in exactly the spot they’d stand on their wedding day.

Back then, before their elopement, you’d find Brecka and Nick camping at an insanely beautiful alpine lake in Ouray, Colorado.

At the time, they were dating, exploring the world together one hike at a time. On this particular day, they woke up, unzipped their tent, crawled outside, and saw something remarkable—a lone photographer, a bride, and a groom (in full wedding attire) taking wedding pictures as the sun rose over the lake. (Spoiler Alert: it was Maddie photographing an epic elopement in that dreamy spot).

They were hooked.

If we ever get married, they thought, that’s the way we’d want to do it.

Fast-forward a year and there they stood—in the same place at the same lake, just as in love as they were when they first camped in that spot—deciding to choose each other forever.

Seems like fate, doesn’t it?

Brecka and Nick are—without a doubt—an incredibly badass, adventurous couple.

Sure, you can probably assume that based on their epic elopement location (and the pictures you’ll see when you scroll down this post) but let me give you a little background.

Brecka and Nick met each other when they were individually hiking a trail in the Adirondacks, which, no doubt, ensured that hiking would become a huge part of their relationship.

When they moved together to Colorado from upstate New York, hiking became even more integral to their lives. So, it was only natural that they’d choose a hiking elopement for themselves, right?

As professional adventure elopement photographers, we’ve been a part of a lot of different types of hiking elopements—and they’ve all been unique, meaningful, and special—but this sunrise elopement was totally unreal.

This awesome couple decided to camp overnight at the trailhead with about 13 of their siblings, loved ones, and friends—AND their two sweet pups Cooper and Trek (bring your dog to your elopement, please. Check out this post now and thank us for the sweet pup pics later).  A few of the family members wanted to hike up with the couple.

We kicked off the day at 2 a.m. (hey, they don’t call it a sunrise hike for nothing).

I (Amber) met up with Brecka and Nick at the trailhead, we took the tents down by headlamp light, and we started up the trail with their loved ones and their pooches.

We hiked for about three-and-a-half hours (in total darkness, which, is an incredible experience all on its own) and gained about 3,000 feet in elevation.

But, we also gained about 7 porcupine quills on Brecka and Nick’s pup, Trek—luckily, it all worked out just fine and their pooch was okay (you can prepare all you want for an adventure elopement, but there’s always room for a few interesting surprises).

When we arrived at the lake, it was still dark—Brecka and Nick got ready separately. A few of the girls who hiked up curled Brecka’s hair and helped her into her dress. Nick—just a few yards away—put on his suit and tie in the dark.

As the very first light began to creep over the mountains, Brecka tapped Nick on the shoulder for their first look.

There, in the middle of a beautiful, dark blue hour (and by the light of a headlamp) Brecka and Nick saw each other, for the first time, ready for their wedding. They laughed. They hugged. They teared up. They kissed. They took time to savor and cherish every second of their first look. Then, we continued our hike up to the lake, the spot they’d chosen to say their vows.

Even though their elopement adventure began the second they made the choice to create a wedding experience that would truly reflect who they were—this was a different beginning for their elopement.

This was the start of their wild adventure to choose each other, over and over, for the rest of their lives.

As the sun rose higher, Brecka and Nick hiked around the lake to find the perfect spot for their private ceremony.

They took their time, and when the moment felt right, they took hands near the lake, read their vows, exchanged their elk antler rings, and committed their lives to each other.

Sure, the scenery was beautiful—you’ll see that when you scroll through the pictures. But the most beautiful part was watching a couple who was so, so in love, having exactly the day they wanted in a spot that meant so much to them.

After their intimate ceremony, we hiked down to another beautiful alpine lake to see (what I believe to be) the bluest water in Colorado. To top it off, luck was on our side—there were a few remaining wildflowers in the alpine meadow.

We took photos, explored, goofed off, enjoyed summit beers, and then hiked back to down to meet up with the rest of Brecka and Nick’s family at the trailhead (those who wanted to celebrate their marriage but didn’t join us for the hike).

Brecka, Nick, and their family finished up their elopement day back in Ouray, Colorado enjoying celebratory beers and snacks at a local brewery.

To say this day was incredible would be an understatement—it felt almost perfect. Like fate had a hand in it, in some way. Like there was something one year ago that called out to Brecka and Nick to wake up, poke their heads out, and see an elopement

Whether you believe in that kind of thing—fate, coincidence— or not, it’s hard to deny that something remarkable happened the day Brecka and Nick crawled out of their tent to see Maddie photographing another couple’s elopement.

We’re not saying that any couple’s future and the choices they make rely on fate—we’re not saying they rely on coincidence, either—we’re sure Brecka and Nick would have eloped exactly the way they wanted, whether or not they’d caught a glimpse of Maddie a year ago in Ouray.

But for what it’s worth, we’re so glad they did.

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Brecka and Nick chose to elope in the way that meant the most to them — by having an adventure hiking elopement. Brecka and Nick’s Colorado mountain wedding was all about them, their unique eloping ideas, and each other. In this elopement photo captured by Adventure Instead, Brecka and Nick take hands in the dark, lit up only by their headlamps.
By the light of a headlamp, Brecka, the bride, gets ready for her adventure elopement. The guests she brought along with her help her curl her hair post-hike up the mountain to their elopement ceremony location.
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Nick holds back Brecka’s wedding dress as they cross over a stream while hiking to the spot they chose for their elopement ceremony. This Colorado mountain wedding was the small simple wedding they both wanted.
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Brecka and Nick read each other their vows during their intimate, private elopement ceremony in front of an alpine lake in Ouray, Colorado. This destination elopement was exactly the small simple wedding they’d always dreamed of. Their Colorado elopement included all their unique eloping ideas they wanted — hiking, camping, and exploring together.
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Brecka and Nick, the bride and groom, stand in front of an alpine lake as they read their vows to each other during their elopement ceremony. The two of them wanted an intimate adventure elopement in the Colorado mountains together. That’s one of the benefits of eloping — you can have exactly the destinatino wedding you want!
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Standing in front of a deep blue alpine lake, Brecka and Nick, the bride and groom, embrace and share their first kiss as a couple. Hiking on your elopement day is one of hte best elopement ideas for adventurous couples who want a destination elopement.
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The bride and groom, Brecka and Nick, climb onto a rock during their adventure elopement in Colorado. Their hiking elopement pictures were captured by Adventure Instead, a Colorado elopement photographer.
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Brecka and Nick ake hands and run toward a new photo spot high up in the Ouray, Colorado mountains. These adventure elopement photos were captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
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Nick embraces Brecka and picks her up in front of an epic view of an Ouray, Colorado mountain range. The two chose this adventure elopement because they wanted a Colorado mountain wedding that was perfect for them. The location was their unique eloping idea!
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Brecka, Nick, and one of their pups stand in front of an alpine lake in the Colorado mountains for their adventure elopement pictures. Eloping with dogs was one of the unique eloping ideas that appealed to Brecka and Nick — it made their Colorado mountain wedding all the more perfect for them!
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Nick holds up the back of Brecka’s dress train as they continue hiking by the alpine lake. Both Brecka and Nick are wearing full wedding attire (dress, suit, and all) but are also wearing hiking backpacks as they hike aroudn their Colorado mountain wedding location. This is what it truly means to elope — havin the destination elopement you’ve always wanted in the elopement location exactly where you want it.
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The bride and groom pose next to a beautiful alpine lake with their two pups, Cooper and Trek. Eloping with dogs is totally possible! If your pup is important to you, include them in your small simple wedding like Brecka and Nick did for their Colorado adventure elopement.
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Brecka and Nick stand together on top of a rock in front of an insanely blue alpine lake. This destination elopement was the Colorado mountain wedding that Brecka and Nick always wanted for their small simple wedding.
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Brecka and Nick wanted to elope with their dogs, Cooper and Trek, so they brough them along on their destination elopement. Brecka and Nick' hike with their pups during their Colorado moutnain wedding. These adventure elopement photos were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.
Brecka and Nick take hands and hike away from their elopement ceremony. Each of them is still in their wedding clothing with hiking backpakcs hooked on. On Nick’s backpack, there’s a sign that says “Trail To” and has a mile marker for their ceremony location. Brecka’s bouquet is strapped to her hiking backpack. These unique eloping ideas were all their own for their destination elopement.
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Brecka and Nick hike together down the mountain from their elopement ceremony location. Their destination elopement was high up in the Colorado mountains, one of their unique eloping ideas. These adventure elopement pictures were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer in Colorado.
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The newly married couple sits on a log in the Colorado forest, taking a break as they hike down for their elopement ceremony locaion spot. Surroudned by green forests, they embrace and kiss.
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THINKING ABOUT HAVING YOUR OWN ADVENTUROUS ELOPEMENT?

Hey there! We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori, elopement photographers & guides who are based in Colorado and Washington. We’re here to be you guides and to help you document your intimate and meaningful elopement experience. 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 YOUR SPECIAL DAY DISSOLVE INTO THE EXPECTATIONS, OPINIONS, AND TRADITIONS THAT BIG WEDDINGS TELL YOU ARE REQUIRED—HAVE YOUR OWN UNIQUE, MEANINGFUL ADVENTURE ELOPEMENT YOUR WAY.

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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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