How to Know Which Season is Best For Your Adventure Elopement
Choosing which season to have your adventure elopement is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make. Surprisingly, it’s not as simple as thinking about temperature ranges and snowfall. Depending on the region or even the national park you’re planning to elope in, different seasons will be significantly better than others. Each season has its pros and cons, and picking the wrong season could potentially remove certain adventure elopement locations entirely from your elopement venue list. As adventure wedding photographers, we make it our job to know which types of adventure weddings and elopements work best at what times. With that knowledge, we’ve compiled a list below of the downside and perks of eloping in each different season.
Summer Adventure Elopements
Pros of a Summer Elopement:
When it comes to summer elopements, there’s a good reason why they tend to be so popular. For starters, summer tends to be an incredible season for mountain elopements. With greenery in full bloom, everything looks alive and fresh. Also, the months of July and August are when the mountain wildflowers tend to blossom, particularly at higher elevations where it takes a lot longer for the bloom to happen. Places like Mt. Rainier National Park are true show-stoppers when it comes to national park elopements. Eloping in a wildflower meadow with snow-capped mountains in the background is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. Another perk behind summer adventure elopements? Most mountain roads and passes are open, and the weather (particularly for mountain elopements) is great if you’re eloping around sunrise or sunset.
Cons of a Summer Elopement:
While summer elopements (particularly national park elopements) can deliver some of the best weather and views, the summer months are also the most popular time of year for many national parks. Students are off for summer vacation, and families tend to use this time for travel. Not to mention, the blooming of the wildflowers tends to draw in large crowds to places like Mt. Rainier National Park. Even if you’re not planning a national park elopement, this is still the busiest time of year for outdoor activities in general. You’ll see hiking trails dotted with people, especially on busy weekends.
Fall Adventure Elopements
Pros of a Fall Elopement:
Oh my, fall elopements. One might say they’re something straight out of a fairytale. The perks of a fall adventure elopement? Get your timing right and you could be eloping amongst the changing of the leaves. These fall colors are especially breathtaking in places like Aspen, Colorado’s Maroon Bells (photographed above), which seem to come alive when the season turns. You’ll also likely be greeted with crisp, cool fall weather. Mid to late September is best for fall colors if you’re looking to elope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. On the other hand, you can still catch colorful leaves in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park even through early November.
Cons of a Fall Elopement:
As you can imagine, the changing of the leaves brings droves of tourists to many national parks, making this one of the busiest times for them. In places like the Colorado Rockies, these colors only last for a couple weeks, and some people will plan a year in advance to make sure they secure their spot amongst the trees. So naturally with fall elopements, you’re running the risk of having crowds nearby. That being said, you can opt for a more secluded adventure elopement spot for your fall ceremony, but if you want a national park elopement, crowds and limited parking are something you’ll likely have to deal with. Another thing to note: if you’re planning a mountain elopement in the fall, please be aware that many mountain passes close during this season. If, for example, you wanted to elope near Independence Pass in Aspen, Colorado, it’d be best to do so before the end of September.
Winter Adventure Elopements
Pros of a Winter Elopement:
If you’ve imagined yourself having a winter elopement, you’re in luck. Winter tends to be the least busy time to have a national park elopement. In the Colorado Rockies, for example, January is the least busy month for visitors, but it’s also the best month to elope near a frozen lake. Depending on the park you choose (particularly if it’s in the mountains at higher elevations), you could be eloping in a winter wonderland. Consider this one of the most underrated, yet best, seasons for an adventure elopement.
Cons of a Winter Elopement:
The obvious con with a winter elopement is the cold temperatures and the adverse weather you can run across during your wedding ceremony. Light snow can be gorgeous on your elopement day, but heavy snow can shut down roads in some places completely. It can also a bit of a photography lighting issue (very dark and gloomy days with “muddy” light), and too much snow can block the camera’s view of you two. Not to mention, excessive snow can be super uncomfortable (take it from two adventure wedding photographers who’ve had snow basically sting their faces while on the job). Some snow is beautiful. Too much can be just downright uncomfortable. Many mountain passes are also closed in the wintertime and parts of national parks at certain elevations are also shut down in the winter.
Spring Adventure Elopements
Pros of a Spring Elopement:
The nice thing about spring ceremonies is that you get to see the world in bloom during your adventure elopement. Temperatures are also beginning to warm up, which means you don’t have to freeze your buns off in your elopement attire. While spring is late to bloom in most mountain towns (where winter can seem to rage on even in late springtime), places in the southwest and southeast are going to have more favorable conditions. For example, if you’re looking to have your adventure elopement in Sedona, Arizona, late March and early April can be an excellent time to do so. In an area that is essentially desert, the temps during these months are much more moderate.
Cons of a Spring Elopement:
If you’re eloping in the southeastern United States in the springtime, there’s a good chance you’ll be battling pollen on your adventure elopement. It’s sure to coat anything and everything while the outdoors are in bloom. If you have significant allergies or just don’t want yellow dust all over your elopement location, we recommend avoiding a spring elopement in the southeast.
When choosing a spring adventure elopement outside of highly pollenated places like the southeastern US, you still face a few challenges. Even though it’s spring, not everything will have begun blooming. This is particularly true for mountain elopements, where you can see snow on the ground sometimes through June. Colorado is notorious for having snow in months where it doesn’t make much sense, which makes spring elopements a little unpredictable. Another downside of a spring elopement? In order for everything to bloom, rain is necessary. This is the time of year when you’re really going to be facing unpredictable rainy weather, especially in the afternoons. For some couples, rain on their elopement day is something that they’re excited about, but if that’s not for you, we recommend opting for a different season altogether.
P.S. As adventure elopement photographers, we don’t just document your adventure wedding, but we help you plan out the little details as well. Like helping you determine which season is best for your adventure elopement, depending on which location you have your eye on. We pride ourselves on take epic photos of epic couples in epic places. So if that sounds like your vibe, let’s chat about your adventure elopement.
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Sheena Shahangian is an adventure elopement and intimate, small wedding photographer based in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. We primarily serve couples looking to elope or marry in the western United States (Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Montana, and beyond), as well as a select few eastern states (North Carolina and Georgia). We love serving couples who’ve chosen to do their own thing on their wedding day, whether that’s eloping in a National Park or having an intimate backyard ceremony in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We’re here to make your adventure wedding photography dreams come true.