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Trend: The New I-Do

Colorado weddings head outside and take a turn toward the tiny—and meaningful.

WITH THE ADVENT OF PINTEREST and its unending scroll of crafts, dresses and ideas for picture-perfect celebrations, it’s no wonder the average couple feels the crush of overwhelm.

Enter the elopement trend, a welcome relief from the handmade party favors and sky-high expectations in favor of simple ceremonies with a decidedly Colorado backdrop. While statistics are hard to find to pinpoint the trend, a cottage industry of planners and vendors who specialize in planning, scouting and pulling off elopements is growing.

Colorado elopement photographer Kyla Jean Mau began shooting elopements in 2015, when a Florida couple booked a condo in the mountains and called her to shoot their wedding—a heartfelt, casual ceremony with eight people that left a big impact on Mau. “Having shot so many weddings, the bride is always crying because she’s so stressed out,” says Mau. “Instead I thought, this is how a wedding should be—simple, filled with love, just the family and people that love you. Not about pleasing and feeding 200 people.” She now specializes in intimate ceremonies.

Maureen Thomson, who eloped for her own wedding, worked as a wedding officiant until she realized that her eloping clientele also needed help with hair and makeup, vendors, dining suggestions and scouting locations. She created a business handling all the planning details for couples and opened Blue Sky Elopements in 2009, which offers elopement packages in Winter Park. Business has doubled in the last year and she expects it to do so again this year. Her hottest request? “Couples want mountains and lakes for a backdrop no matter what,” Thomson says.

In recent years, officiant Marsanne Howard of Winding Roads Ceremonies in Northern Colorado says she has definitely seen an uptick in elopements—including performing one for her own nephew. “It’s very important to me that the couple is centered, peaceful and present,” she says. “With elopement, the expectations are low and they turn out to be so much more tender and meaningful than that couple expects it to be.” Of her elopement ceremonies, none have been inside. “I have had them in rain, snow, wind, but nobody ever opts for the indoors. When people use this as a destination place, it’s simple—they want the outdoors to be their witnesses.”

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