Sunrise Hiking Elopement Near Aspen Colorado — Colorado Adventure Elopement Photographer
Marcela and Vasily
“We met over a broken bookshelf.”
That’s what Marcela and Vasily told me about the beginnings of their love story. While living on a tiny island of only about 800 people in Alaska, they were next door neighbors, who didn’t meet for a long time. Vasily remembers seeing Marcela eating at a local diner and hoping that she would come up to him so that he could meet her. When he found out she was his neighbor, his friends and co-workers joked with him that he should go ask to borrow a cup of sugar so he could meet her. Too shy to introduce himself, one day Vasily saw a bookshelf that Marcela wanted rid of, and had left outside his door with a sticky note, as his chance. Marcela can’t remember what he said when they met but she remembers his smile and calling her mom afterward , joking that she had just met her future husband. Turns out, she was right.
Originally, Marcela and Vasily were planning an intimate wedding with other guests. When the planning started to stray from their original vision, they decided to refocus the day to be about just the two of them, without anyone else’s opinions or involvement. A few months before their big day, they switched to planning a two-person intimate elopement, instead of a wedding. They wanted an epic elopement with both mountain views (Marcela’s fave) and an intimate forest (Vasily’s fave) so I found one of the most stunning hidden-gem hikes I’ve ever scouted near Aspen, CO — so that they could experience both on their day.
This trail is unnamed with no sign post or designation. It’s not on any of the main hiking websites and forums we use as resources to help couples find their elopement destinations. This trail was buried deep on a site with just one person reporting on it. I did some research and found it was only a two mile hike up. So starting at 3 am, before sunrise, Marcela, Vasily and I met and started to hike up in the dark.
Hiking in the dark is a totally surreal & unique experience. You get a sort of “tunnel vision” as you can only see how far your headlamp will show you — and have no idea where the summit is. I find hiking in the dark to actually be easier than hiking during the day. During the day, you keep looking up, trying to find the summit while you hike. Sometimes it’s a false summit or you can psych yourself out by thinking “I have to hike WHERE?!” But when you hike before sunrise, you lose track of time. You’re not aiming for a specific spot in the distance, watching it slowly getting closer to closer. The only thing to focus on is putting one foot in front of the other and anticipating what it’s going to look like when you reach the summit. Hiking before sunrise means the hike actually gets more exciting as time goes on because you can slowly see more and more, as the dark outlines of the horizon become incredible vistas as it gets closer to dawn.
We reached the summit right before sunrise. Marcela and Vasily each chose a secluded spot to get dressed, choosing to change into their wedding clothes separately so they could have a first look. Marcela wore a gorgeous blush colored wedding dress, layered with blush and white, that blew so beautifully in the winds that roar across the Continental Divide. She tapped Vasily on the shoulder right at sunrise, surrounded by stunning mountain ridges. The views of the peaks at the summit reminded me of the mountains in Switzerland or the Italian Alps with their steep, jagged beauty. As the sun continued to rise, they said their vows, through frigid cold that made it hard to even put their handmade rings on each other’s fingers. Marcela and Vasily traveled to a jewelry shop and made their rings together by hammering them out of metal, which added a uniquely cool element to their day.
After their vows, they popped some champagne.We all sat and had breakfast and then wandered around on the ridge to take some photos as the sun came out and warmed the ridge. The mountains absolutely glowed as we walked. Even better, the wildflowers were just starting to be in full bloom at the top. It was lush, green and full of the distinctive, blue “Forget Me Nots”, Marcela’s favorite flower.
Vasily is originally from Ukraine and loves big forests. He was very excited when we decided to trek to the Maroon Bells as their second stunning location for the day. I found a magical aspen forest with huge, straight, tall, very old aspens that were perfectly aligned with a large natural aisle going down the huge hall of forest. Together, Marcela and Vasily hung up their pack hammock in this ethereal forest and took the opportunity to cuddle after saying their vows. We finished the day taking photos at the Maroon Bells, with more stunning mountain views.
Altogether, Marcela and Vasily got an entire day exploring together — with some of the most stunning mountain views I’ve ever seen, with only a four-mile hike and a magical aspen forest to boot. They had started planning an intimate wedding but ended up with a day that was just about them, exactly what a wedding should be.
Contact us, if you’d like help planning your own unforgettable & unique elopement or intimate wedding. We’d love to help you create your own “you-centered” day.
Hi! We’re Amber & Maddie. 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.
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.