Colorado offers a wealth of opportunities for couples wanting to host a picture-perfect wedding event. Snow-capped mountains, red rock buttes, rushing streams, pine forests and alpine meadows — the landscape really speaks to the promise of new beginnings.

The Centennial State also has a booming economy and real estate market, adding new jobs across all sectors and attracting a young and upwardly mobile demographic to Denver and other Front Range cities. Couples getting married here are spending top dollar to create sophisticated events that rival those in cities like Chicago and New York.

If you live in Colorado or are thinking about choosing it as your wedding destination, here’s what you need to know.

It’s Usually Sunny  . . .  in the Morning

Colorado has an impressive number of annual sunny days — a whopping 300 of them. During the summer months, however, that can be a misleading figure. Storm clouds build in the High Country and come billowing out across the Front Range most hot afternoons, causing thunderstorms that can make for surprisingly violent weather.

If you’re saying your vows out of doors in the summer, the best thing to do is plan your ceremony early in the day. An outdoor reception or rehearsal dinner can be set up once the bad weather passes; most Colorado nights are clear and dry. But don’t forget the heat lamps — even in the summer, temperatures drop quickly after sunset in the thin atmosphere.

You May Need Some Time to Adjust to the Altitude

Even people who live along the Front Range might struggle at the steep altitudes of ski resorts like Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge. The most common symptoms of altitude sickness are headaches, nausea and fatigue — the same symptoms of a hangover. Drinking too much can exacerbate these symptoms, as can too much exercise before you become acclimatized.

The best thing to do if you’re getting married in the mountains is to arrive at your destination at least one day in advance. You can minimize symptoms of acute altitude sickness by eating lightly and avoiding strenuous activities. Couples who’ve been stressing over the last-minute preparations may want to book a spa day of relaxation at the venue, or just spend the day chilling with close friends and family.

Active Wear and Active Lifestyles Are the Norm

Of course your guests will want to pack formal attire for the ceremony and reception — unless, of course, you’ll be gathered on a snowy hilltop dressed in parkas and snow boots! But people arriving in Colorado from out of state should be aware that casual attire is acceptable just about everywhere in the state, even in most upscale Denver restaurants. Just make sure you pack the requisites: an umbrella and several layers so that you can adjust to the different temperatures and moods of the typical Colorado day.

Coloradans’ dress reflects their close connection to the environment and their commitment to an active lifestyle. If you choose Colorado for a destination wedding, you probably embrace these values yourself, and you may be planning to have your guests indulge in some extra-wedding activities like skiing, hiking, rafting and horseback riding.

It’s the Perfect Destination Wedding for the Canna Bride

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado complements a whole new niche, the canna-themed wedding. That’s right, you can celebrate your love for each other and your love of blunts at the same time, sharing a toke to seal your vows and carrying a bouquet of hemp leafs down the aisle.

You may not want to take things that far. On the other hand, a few days of discreet, post-ceremony partaking might appeal. In Colorado, outside residents can legally buy a quarter ounce from a registered shop to smoke in private as long as they don’t drive under the influence or try to carry the drugs across the border.

You Can Solemnize Your Own Marriage (and Other Useful Things to Know)

It’s relatively easy to get married in the Centennial State. Colorado recognizes all marriages, including same sex marriage, and you don’t need to be a resident in order for the state to issue you a license.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Without parental consent, the legal age to get married in Colorado is 18.
  • You need to present official Proof of Age at the County Clerk’s office when you show up to apply for and sign the marriage license.
  • You both need to show up in person at the County Clerk’s office to sign the license. However, if one person is sick, living out of state, or incarcerated, all he or she needs to do is have a notary sign an absentee application affidavit that is good for 30 days from the signed date.
  • You can get married in any county in the state, not just the one that issued the license.
  • There is neither a waiting period nor any tests needed to get the license, which is good for 35 days upon issue.

Colorado also lets couples solemnize their own weddings — that is, to marry themselves. The state’s revised Statute 14-2-109 states that a marriage may be solemnized by all the usual suspects — judges, magistrates, clergy, tribal officials — and also by the marriage parties. This presents an exciting opportunity for couples who don’t want a religious ceremony but hate the thought of getting married by an impersonal justice of the peace.

Writing your own vows and reading them to each other is a great way to embody the independent spirit of Colorado. It’s also one of many ways that you can personalize your wedding event.

For more ideas about how to create a memorable themed wedding from beginning to end, reach out to us. Pink Monkey specializes in creating Colorado weddings that are as lush, dramatic and bold as you are. The only thing we can’t do is promise to make the weather behave.