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DESERT ADVENTURE ELOPEMENT IN THE COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sami + Trey
Most of the time, when couples tell us they’re choosing Colorado for their once-in-a-lifetime elopement day, they’re in it for the mountains, the alpine lakes, the snow-covered views.
Colorado is beautiful in all of its seasons and in all of its unique corners, but still, that’s typically the way things go — a lot of people love those things that Colorado is famous for.
And hey, all of those things are great reasons to elope in Colorado (heck, those are a few reasons we love Colorado, too) — every time we hear a couple wants to climb a mountain, trek through the snow, or say their vows next to a dazzling lake, the first thing we think is sign us up.
But Sami and Trey, well, they had something else in mind.
They knew they wanted Colorado for their elopement day. But they weren’t interested in snow. They didn’t want grand peaks or turquoise lakes. They weren’t looking for mountain vistas.
Instead, they wanted desert. They wanted sagebrush. They wanted dusty red rocks, open plains, and cliff-side views.
So, we did some digging, and what we found was a glorious gem of a place hidden in plain sight — the Colorado National Monument.
Think of the Colorado National Monument has a miniature, amazing hybrid of Moab and the Grand Canyon — it’s got the towering cliffs, the plateaus, the desert, the rock formations, just in a smaller space. It’s a kind of wild you don’t usually see in Colorado — it’s entirely unexpected, unique, and breathtaking.
The most amazing part? It was exactly what Sami and Trey wanted for their elopement day.
When we met up at sunrise in the Colorado National Monument on their elopement day, there were sparrows swirling through the sky. Behind them, glowing pink clouds drifted on the horizon. The cliffs and plateaus were silhouetted by the sunrise, but even the darkness couldn’t hide their deep red hues.
Sami and Trey chose not to get ready together because they wanted to have a first look moment.
As the sun was rising, Trey sat on a little, rocky cliffside, waiting for Sami to tap him on the shoulder or turn him around. Just a few feet before Sami made it to Trey, he turned, she threw her arms out, as if to say, ta-da! — and he just stood there, frozen, looking at her. Awed by her.
They both had put extra thought and detail into what they’d wear on their elopement day. Sami’s dress (her first dress, actually — she brought two dresses along, but we’ll get to that later), was intricate, with delicate lace details curving all around.
Trey was in full rancher get-up — boots, a tan cowboy hat, a brown vest, dark jeans (did we mention he’s a rancher?). When they finally saw each other, they looked truly perfect — but more than that, they looked at home. Like they were finally in the place they’d been destined to be with the person they were destined to be with. Like it was all coming together the way it was supposed to.
From the moment they saw each other from the last second I was with them on their elopement day, I couldn’t stop thinking, these two people are insanely in love.
Sami and Trey both confessed to me that they aren’t usually affectionate with each other around other people, but from the way they enjoyed their day, you never would have known. They were playing, dancing, practicing a dip-kiss, passing the cowboy hat back and forth, back and forth — they were just so naturally in love with each other.
Sami and Trey spent the day exploring the monument, dancing up and down the empty roads with canyon-sides towering up around them, running around the desert ground, laying belly-first on the red cliff-sides to peer at all that lay below (because wedding attire is damned on your elopement day — it’s your day, do exactly what you want to do!)
At some point during the day, Trey laid out a beautiful blanket that he’d received as a gift years ago — a gift so beautiful he could never bring himself to use it. But today, well, today was special — finally, Trey broke out this gorgeous blanket for their elopement day. Atop it, they laid out a whiskey picnic. They only wanted the essentials — some homemade muffins and a bottle of very special whiskey. Two years into their dating relationship, Trey’s parents bought them a bottle of whiskey — that whiskey was purchased with the sole intent for them to drink on their wedding day. Five years after they started dating, Sami and Trey sipped that whiskey, staring out over the plateaus, the desert, and the cliffs.
Sami and Trey’s day was full of joy and connection, all sparked and made ever better by their overwhelmingly unique personalities and all the little personal touches they included.
From playing on the cliffsides together to dancing to their wedding playlist to standing with each other saying private vows that no one else would ever hear, there wasn’t a second where they weren’t smiling from ear to ear.
But that was only the first half of their elopement.
After exploring the monument together, Sami and Trey hopped into a limo and zoomed off to Palisade, Colorado.
Sami and Trey loved the idea of eloping together, just the two of them—but they desperately wanted to include the people they loved the most, too. After a quick change (Sami into her second dress and Trey into a dapper suit), they had a second ceremony in a peach orchard.
They stood beneath a beautiful, handmade arch that Trey made alongside Sami’s father. Beneath that arch, they said vows again — but this time, they pledged silly, adorable things to each other. Their private vows they said to each other during their intimate ceremony stayed just that — intimate, just for them.
When the ceremony was complete, Trey took Sami in his arms, dipped, and kissed her — it couldn’t have been more perfect (they didn’t need all that practice earlier in the day — I think they just wanted an excuse to kiss each other).
Throughout the day, both Sami and Trey told me that they really had been expecting to cry. They’d been together for years, they knew it would be emotional and beautiful to commit their lives to each other, and they fully anticipated waterworks.
But they never did. They were just too happy.
Sami told me that when she was standing there in the monument with Trey, pledging herself, her life, her everything to him, she’d never felt more grounded.
They knew it before they eloped, but at that moment, standing there together on the cliffs, just the two of them — they really, really knew it. This moment, this choice, this life together,
it was everything. It was exactly what they were meant to do — because they were meant to be together.