Stef and Chris were wed this past September up at the top of Granby Ranch Ski resort. Colorado can be tricky at times, we never know when the aspens and trees are going to start to change colors. On September 28th this past year, the entire mountainside was LIT UP with yellows and oranges lining views of the Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
We spent much of the early part of the day enjoying vista views, and trouncing through mountain bike trails. Stef was quite the bad ass bride, and even hiked a bit down a mounain slope to capture the sweeping views of James peak in the distance.
Hosting their ceremony at 9202 feet, all of their family and friends arrived to celebrate via chairlift. Being an avid snowboarder nearly my entire life, riding the chairlift up to the top of a mountain to photograph a wedding is one of my very favorite things about ski resort weddings. Granted, carrying gear adds a whole new dimension to getting off properly 🤪
To party the night away, everyone headed off the mountain for dancing, food, and drinks. When Stef and I talked about the timeline of their day, we noticed that toasts were slated to be right at sunset. Knowing that it was important to Stef and Chris to hang out with all their family and friends that came all the way out to Granby, we talked about forgoing sunset photos and hoping that the Milky Way would make an appearance. Our bet paid off… BIG time. We got a fantastic clear sky, and the opportunity to really capture a mountain Milky Way. It’s one of my favorite images from 2019.
Thanks, Stef and Chris, for inviting us to celebrate with your loved ones at Granby Ranch. Congratulations!!
PHOTOGRAPHING IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION, INCLUDING: KEYSTONE, ASPEN, BRECKENRIDGE, ESTES PARK, TWIN LAKES, LEADVILLE, SILVERTON, TELLURIDE, DURANGO, ARAPAHOE BASIN, COPPER MOUNTAIN, LARKSPUR, STEAMBOAT, SAN LUIS, GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK, WINTER PARK, GRANBY, AND THE SPANISH PEAKS.
Amber and Adam flew out from Minnesota to elope here in Colorado amongst the Rocky Mountains. We had discussed quite a few locations we could hike to, the logistics of each different spot, and the time it would take to hike to each one. After mulling it over, we picked a mountain near Grand Lake that would be a 9 mile summit (and that I’ve personally been wanting to hike for a LONG time!).
Hiking Elopements are an interesting thing here in Colorado. Sometimes, not everything goes as planned. Thunderstorms roll in, it snows in July, or as in this case, construction closes down the road to get to the trailhead.
One of the great things about being a Colorado native who is obsessed with the mountains, I backtracked and found us an awesome mountain with spectacular views that was still within a reasonable drive of Amber and Adam’s AirBnB. As the evening went on, it was clear that we were meant to climb this 13,081 ft. mountain on this day, August 20th.
We began our ascent for our 5.5 mile trek at around 4:00, hoping to catch an amazing sunset for their ceremony at the summit of the mountain. The weather was holding up nicely, and the scenery was absolutely amazing the entire hike up the mountain.
As we were making our way up to the summit, Amber and Adam told us some pretty crazy stories about their time in Colorado. In Amber’s words, they’re “Believers”. They had met a woman on the hike to Sky Pond the day prior, who randomly approached them. This woman let them know that she was expecting to see them, as she had a dream that the male would be carrying the female across a threshold during their time in Colorado. Mind you, this was before Amber and Adam let her know that they were here in Colorado to Elope. We knew, that at some point during their mountain top elopement, Adam would have to pick up his new wife.
The approach to the summit was rather mild, and we made it to the storm shelters just as the sky was starting to turn magical colors. Amber headed in one direction to change into her attire, and Adam the other. Once they saw one another and were ready to say their vows above 13,000 feet, I told them to find a rock that sung to their souls – and that’s where we’d have their ceremony at. I personally am a huge proponent of finding a piece of Earth that speaks to you – you find the spot, and I’ll adjust myself accordingly.
As Amber and Adam began to walk towards the West ever so slightly, they found an amazing rock that they decided was the spot where they’d say their vows to one another. Amber’s Pastor had also recorded a message for them to listen to once they were wed.
The sun began to set, making it’s way through a large block of clouds. Just after their ceremony and as the pastor’s message started to play, a HUGE cloud swooped up from behind all of us. In an instant, the wind picked up and swept this low hanging cloud over all of us and it flew out into the distance. Right as the sun peaked out, the mysterious cloud made it’s way in front of the sun – creating a perfect heart in the sky. It really, truly is hard to put into words the feeling we all had. We were clearly meant to be on that rock, on the mountain, at that exact time. I still get chills when I tell other people the story of the perfect heart in Amber and Adam’s photo.
Nightfall was fast approaching, and we had a decent hike ahead of us. We walked out into the amazing orange light, and began our decent down the mountain. It was quite the dark hike (with a few distant, terrifying booms in the distance) – but we made it down with no one being left to the mountain as a bear snack 🙃
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for inviting me to adventure along with you Amber and Adam. It was a wedding day that I’ll always remember very fondly. I wish you nothing but the best. And I REALLY, REALLY am hoping that you’re able to make it back out to Colorado so we can find some Wild Ice. 💙
Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer | Hiking Elopements across the Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Telluride | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray
I’ve had the honor of meeting some of the most amazing people over the years. I first met Pooneh and John last September for their Vail engagement session (which you can view HERE). They flew out from Texas on one of their only work breaks to see their amazing venue, and to take some awesome mountain portraits.
Fast forward to this past July, and it was time for their Persian and American fusion wedding at Timber Ridge Lodge in Keystone. When Pooneh and I first spoke on the phone and she told me about all the amazing traditions that they would be incorporating into their wedding, I was giddy with excitement. Witnessing cultural wedding traditions is one of my favorite things about my job. I love to be invited to partake in all the unique ways humans around the world celebrate the union of two people. For their mountain top ceremony atop the North Peak, they first began with a traditional American ceremony. The wedding site faces both the stunning Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges – with Mount Guyot and Bald Mountain booming up in the background. Once it was time to begin the Persian ceremony, Pooneh and John made their way behind the Sofreh to be showered with all things sweet. I love the tradition of bestowing the newlywed couple with sweet items, to signify a “sweet start”. Another portion of the wedding that I loved was when Pooneh was asked if she would take John – to which she waited to be asked three times and finally responded BELLA, BELLA, BELLA!! I think anytime anyone wants something from me, I’m now going to respond bella, bella, bella.
For the ceremony, we all moved into the Lodge at Timber Ridge, which is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the ceremony site. It’s quite nice to just walk a few yards and be at the reception area (especially after two gondola rides to get there 😁 ). During the planning process, I got an email from Pooneh to be ready for the “Knife Dance”. Without any previous context or Persian wedding experience, I was quite intrigued by what that meant. I made sure to ask for more details, as my head was spinning with all the possibilities of what that could mean! Turns out, it’s super awesome and involves the groom throwing money at the bridesmaids who are holding the cake knife hostage. Speaking of money… it was thrown into the air quite a bit at the reception 😝. Literally. It was such a fun reception, as there was always something awesome happening in every corner of the dance floor.
Thank you for inviting us to celebrate with you, Pooneh and John. It was an amazing day, and I truly had such an amazing time. I wish you both the best in Houston. 💗
Savannah Chandler Photography | Estes Park Elopement Photographer
Dana and Jeff have had quite the adventure to get to where they are in life… over 20 years and 2 kids of history. When they made the decision to recommit themselves to one another, they headed out to Colorado to elope in Estes Park. We stopped on the side of the road to say their vows (as you’re not allowed to say vows in Rocky Mountain National Park outside of their designated sites: which can be found here). Once they said their vows are were once again Man and Wife – we headed up to the Dream Lake trailhead to hike and take couple’s portraits.
Dream Lake is an amazing hike for those coming into Colorado from out of state, or for couples wanting to hike the full length in their wedding attire – as it’s 2.1 miles round trip with just under 500 feet in elevation gain. Dana decided to hike in her amazing blue-toned gown – which gave us TONS of great opportunities to stop for portraits! As we turned the corner on the approach to Dream Lake, there was an Elk just hanging out right along the trail. I always love (safely) encountering animals on elopements – it’s such a fun, thrilling experience.
Once the light dropped behind Hallett Peak, we headed back down the mountain and drove up Trail Ridge Road to catch the sunset up on the Ute Trail. Along this hiking trail that goes on for what seems like forever, you can see Longs Peak alongside the Never Summer range – it’s one of my favorite alpine areas to photograph at. We made it to the trail JUST as the sun was kissing Longs with alpenglow, and stayed until all the light disappeared. To cap off the night, my second shooter (the amazing Amanda) and I were out on the trail, and heard some bugling. We looked up to see a herd of Elk RUNNING right at us. Needless to say, we boogied to the car and watched them barrel across the road. It was the perfect ending to an amazing elopement.
Thank you, Dana and Jeff for adventuring to Dream Lake for your elopement. It was truly a fantastic afternoon.
Savannah Chandler Photography | Based in Denver, Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide
Colorado Wedding Photographer | Estes Park Elopement Photographer
Servicing the Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Keystone | Durango | Telluride | Dillon | Steamboat | Ouray | Breckenridge | Granby | Estes Park | Vail | Larkspur | Vail | Buena Vista
This year has been especially interesting for weather – as the summer had quite a cold start. The temperatures didn’t rise into the 90’s until July. On June 22, 2019 – Maddie and Braton were married on Keystone Mountain. Just following the summer solstice, they had their wedding on the first official day of summer. We had been watching the weather report the weeks leading up to the wedding day, and knew that we’d be heading up in the mountain with storms approaching. In true Colorado fashion, the clouds opened up and a massive storm approached the mountain. Starting with rain and a thunderstorm, the skies turned a deep blue. After a small clearing of nice weather, the snow came in. The forecast was for 8-12 inches, and I’m sure we ended up hitting at least 8″ by the end of the evening. A massive summer snow had hit for the first time in nearly a decade.
Maddie and Braton decided to hold their ceremony inside, as the temperatures kept dropping and the snow kept falling. We had a few breaks of time waiting on the gondolas to begin running again, and they were absolute troopers and headed out into the freezing wind for portraits. I’m sure it’s no secret, but I’m a sucker for dramatic skies. I love capturing all the elements that go along with hosting a mountain wedding… and Maddie and Braton’s Keystone wedding was certainly a perfect day to capture the beautifully chaotic weather.
Following their ceremony, we all headed up the second gondola to the Alpenglow Stube for their reception. The night was full of love, laughter, and many happy tears.
Thank you for inviting me to celebrate with you and your loved ones – it was truly a spectacular day.
Savannah Chandler Photography | Keystone Wedding Photographer
Based in Denver, Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide
Photographing in the Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Keystone | Breckenridge | Telluride | Ouray | Estes Park | Larkspur | Vail | Buena Vista | Steamboat Springs | Allenspark