| May 15, 2019

Sunrise Hiking Elopement Adventure—Colorado Elopement

Table of Contents



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.


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.


Profile Pic

Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

Three photographers

About us

Adventure Instead

Your Elopement Photographers & Planning Consultants. We are Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori. We're your photographers, your elopement consultants, your cheerleaders, and your go-to adventure buddy on the day you say your vows.

Free guide

Get your free guide

To elopement planning

Download Now