Esme and Steven | Dream Lake and Estes Park Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography | Estes Park Elopement Photographer
Esme and Steven came out to Colorado to celebrate their marriage with their closest family members this past October. After finding the perfect VRBO to host their intimate ceremony, we decided we’d hike up to Dream Lake at sunrise for some amazing mountain portraits.
Dream Lake is one of my very favorite locations for couple’s portraits – it’s a quick 1.1 mile (each way) hike with only 400 feet of elevation gain. It’s quite mild, with one of the best payoffs in all of Colorado where only a short hike is required. It’s open year round (snow can definitely make things… interesting… at times) – so you can have this spectacular view any time of the year. The only caveat to anywhere inside the Rocky Mountain National Park boundaries is that you can not elope without a permit, and you MUST say your vows/have a ceremony at one of their designated locations. Regardless of how large or intimate your elopement is – those rules apply to all locations within the park.
You CAN, however, take portraits inside the park at many amazing locations. I carry a commercial permit year-round (required for all photographers inside RMNP), and am happy to help with any questions anyone may have about logistics, restrictions, and locations.
With a few family members joining us on our hike, we arrived at Dream Lake just before the sun peeked over the horizon. Sunrise, in my opinion, is the best time to head up to Dream, as the peaks behind the lake become drenched in beautiful pink alpenglow.
Most mornings that I’ve had the pleasure of watching the sun rise over Hallett and Flattop peaks, the skies are clear in both directions meaning a beautiful alpenglow. On the day of Esme and Steven’s elopement – we had clouds in the sky, but not a single one that hindered the trajectory of sunlight.
I’ve never seen such a stunning sunrise at Dream Lake as we did that chilly October morning.
Once the sun hit the horizon, we spent a little time around the lake taking some more photographs and enjoying the sunshine while it lasted.
On our way back to their VRBO for their intimate ceremony, we made a stop alongside the road to capture all of the stunning aspens that were in their full fall peak glory.
Back with their families, Esme and Steven were wed under their handmade Chuppah with Longs Peak in the background. They said their beautiful vows to one another, were able to talk with family members out of state over ZOOM, and signed their (beautifully handcrafted) Ketubah.
For those who are looking to capture those epic hiking mountain views for your elopement, while also wanting family members to be in attendance for your ceremony – consider a day like Esme and Stevens. We had SO MUCH fun together, and we were able to capture all the things that they came out to Colorado for while still having family (including Grandma) present for vows.
Thanks again for adventuring with me, Esme and Steven!
Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Resources: CLICK HERE