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Karen & Matt
Karen and Matt originally wanted to elope at a high alpine lake inside Rocky Mountain National Park — which sadly they were unable to do after Rocky Mountain National Park recently changed their rules for elopements. So as their elopement guides, we shared our list of amazing high alpine lake options outside of RMNP, and they fell in LOVE with this incredible location — and it ended up being better than they could have ever imagined. The road to this lake was actually going to be closed for construction for their date, which would have made this lake a 20-mile round trip hike. However, we were able to sweet talk a super nice construction guy into giving us the code to get through the gate — giving us private access to this incredible location. There was literally not a soul up there. We didn’t see anyone at the lake, or on the trail on the way up or way down. I’ve never done a hiking elopement where I didn’t see a single soul the entire day. Usually, you’ll get a trail to yourself for a little bit, especially at sunrise — but Karen and Matt’s high alpine lake elopement in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is also probably the only elopement that I’ve done where a couple has been completely and totally alone the whole day.
We started up the high alpine mountain lake before dawn, wearing our headlamps. Karen and Matt were wearing their hiking clothes for the ascent. There was still a considerable amount of snow on the trail so hiked our way through huge snowdrifts. We arrived at the lake at the perfect time for some absolutely stunning alpenglow — this lake, in particular, has some of the most beautiful alpenglow I’ve ever seen. I helped Karen change into her wedding dress and set up a first look for her and Matt. It was truly magical to witness Karen and Matt seeing each other for the first time with the alpenglow behind them on the lake — so many emotions & tears for all 3 of us.
Once the sun rose a little higher and it warmed up a little bit more, Karen and Matt said their vows overlooking the lake, and the glacier behind it —just the two of them at sunrise. At a two-person elopement, it is really incredible to be able to say whatever you want to say to partner in your vows. Karen and Matt definitely took advantage of that and wrote beautiful personal vows to each other that came from the heart. They popped open a big bottle of champagne and had a croissant for breakfast. We explored around the lake, taking photos of just the two of them. They hiked down in their wedding clothes and we stopped every so often to admire the big roaring streams on the way because of the snowstorms. It was so odd and eerie to not see a single human being the entire time we were on the trail. It was awe-inspiring.
It really never stops feeling like an amazing honor to be a part of a two-person elopement, to be the only person that gets to witness a couple’s vows as they commit their lives to each other when people who’ve known them their whole lives and are very involved in their lives aren’t privileged enough to be there. I definitely feel very honored every time I get to be a part of a two-person elopement. That’s the kind of elopement I want to have and I’m glad Karen and Matt were able to have that.
xx Maddie Mae, your Rocky Mountain National Park elopement photographer.