Estes Park Wedding PhotographerProudly Based in Estes Park Since 2006
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I’m an Estes Park wedding photographer who has lived in this tiny little slice of paradise since 2006. Over the years I’ve discovered countless incredible locations for mountain engagement sessions, have forged relationships with some of the best wedding vendors in town, and have learned how the light falls across the valley during every month of the year. Click to visit my Estes Park Pinterest Pages.
Estes Park is a great place to get married year round. It’s super easy to get to, requiring only a 90 minute drive from Denver International Airport (and as an added bonus, DIA is fairly inexpensive to fly into). There are shuttles that operate during all seasons from DIA to town, and I honestly can’t remember the roads into town closing once, even during the harshest winter storms. This, combined with the relatively mild weather, makes Estes a fairly safe bet for winter weddings, as the pass into Vail close from time to time.
There’s a great free shuttle bus system that goes through town and passes most of the most popular hotels in town. This is an invaluable resource for wedding guests, and will enable them to see all the local attractions hassle-free should you plan a destination wedding and invite the guests for a longer weekend. Rocky Mountain National Park is in the town’s backyard. You’ll need a national parks pass in order to visit the park, which is one of the most visited parks in the country.
Estes Park Wedding Venue Reviews
- Della Terra Mountain Chateau — Beautiful old world chateau style with on-site rooms, a gorgeous outdoor ceremony space with incredible views into Rocky Mountain National Park, and amazing customer service make Della Terra a top choice.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Engagements — RMNP is one of the prettiest places in all of Colorado for engagement photos. High mountains, jagged lakes, beautiful lakes, and lots of incredible wilderness.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Weddings — Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the country to say I Do. The park has a number of incredible ceremony sites near the Continental Divide and the high peaks.
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Winter afternoons aren’t particularly cold (often between 20 and 40 degrees F), and the sun is out, but the ever present Estes Park winds can be brutal. Be forewarned should you choose an outdoor wedding ceremony. That said, however, two of my three favorite weddings I’ve photographed in this town were in winter, and the other was at the peak of the fall colors in October.
Many, many festivals occur in town during the busy season, which makes Estes lots of fun for wedding parties with lots of guests from outside of Colorado. There is Elk Fest, the Scottish Festival, the Rooftop Rodeo, and even a huge Yoga Journal Conference. If you plan your wedding around these festivals, know that the town can be even more packed than usual. Winters are generally quiet and peaceful and serene, and winter weddings generally reflect that atmosphere. Read more about them at Wikipedia or TripAdvisor.
Aside from the festivals, the hiking is amazing, the climbing is amazing, the road cycling is amazing, the fly fishing is amazing, the mountain biking is amazing… you get the idea. Visual inspiration is readily available at the town’s YouTube channel.
Bottom line: Estes Park is a super fun place for a wedding. There are a number of fun local secrets you should know about too if you want to get married here — among them, the Stanley Hotel (which may be haunted, and which was in Dumb and Dumber) has one of the largest whiskey collections in Colorado at the bar.
Best Places for Wedding Pictures in Estes Park
The town’s venues have gorgeous scenery, but if you’ve got a little extra time to spare or want to do an engagement session, there are tons of awesome little local secret spots for photos. My favorite is a place dubbed Jurassic Park by climbers — it’s an erie and weird wonderland of rocks above Lily Lake, full of epic views and strange little slot canyons. From there, you can see a 360 degree view of the town, Twin Sisters, Longs Peak, and the entire continental divide. It’s a major trudge to get up there, so I don’t recommended it for wedding couples (though I have shot an elopement up there, and the couple did bring their wedding attire with them), but it’s a great spot for an engagement session.
Another pretty place for wedding and engagement photos is along Highway 7, en route to Allenspark out of Estes. Often, I just drive up and down the road with couples, stopping in random spots when the light is pretty. This is a fun way to do an engagement session too, since I get to know the couples a little more.
Best Places To Get Married in Estes Park
The top of my list for the best places to get married in Estes Park are the Della Terra Mountain Chateau, the Stanley Hotel, Wild Basin, the YMCA of the Rockies, and the Taharra Mountain Lodge, though there are countless cozy mountain inns and bed and breakfasts
- Della Terra Mountain Chateau: The current owners of Della Terra bought an old campground at the base of MacGregor Slab, which is about 100 yards from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and decided to build a wedding venue there. I remember visiting them every few months as the building went up, and the final product is hands down the best wedding venue in Northern Colorado. One thing I really like is that there are many small cabins on the property that the wedding party can stay in, so all the VIPs can be together.
- Wild Basin Lodge: Technically not in Estes Park, but rather in neighboring Allenspark, the Wild Basin Lodge wins for rustic elegance in the mountains of the Northern Front Range. It’s at the Wild Basin entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the St. Vrain River winds lazily through the property, and the people who work here are super nice. Definitely arrange for a tour at wild basin — the staff is also super accommodating.
- Stanley Hotel: One of the older, most historic buildings in town, the Stanley is the large white structure with the red roof below Lumpy Ridge. You can’t miss it. The Stanley hosts a lot of weddings year round and has a number of cool old ballrooms for receptions. I’ve shot some really fun rehearsal dinners at the Stanley, where the wedding party retreats to the cool bar and samples the giant whiskey collection afterward.
- YMCA of the Rockies: The YMCA of the Rockies is a wedding photographer’s dream come true: the views into Rocky Mountain National Park from the property are just as good as being inside the park. The ceremony site is rustic and super pretty, and the towering mountains in the background are unbeatable. Tip: in the summer, the Y Couloir on Yipsilon is super visible, and it’s gorgeous, and it makes an unreal backdrop to the wedding ceremony site on the property.
- Taharaa Mountain Lodge: I live just down the road from the Taharaa and can see it from my bedroom window every morning. The Taharaa has a super pretty wedding deck near the base of Twin Sisters that looks down into Estes Valley. Dianne and her staff are fantastic, and there are many rooms on the property so your entire wedding party and many of the guests can all stay in one place.
Best Wedding Vendors in Estes Park
Having lived here since 2006, I’ve decided to list a few of my favorite colleagues in Estes Park. You can find lots more great wedding vendors at the Estes Park Wedding Association.
- Jubilations Catering: They have an amazing artichoke dip and are local to Estes Park.
- Colorado Rose Cake Company: Marci is a wonderful vendor, creates tasty and artistic cakes, and was a former chief of the Estes Park Wedding Association.
- Estes Park Wedding and Event Planning: I actually shot Jamie’s wedding! She does great work and is a super nice planner.
- Floral Designs of Europe: A great florist who has been in town for a long time.
- Sunflower Weddings: One of the best officiants in Estes Park.
- Vision Life Weddings: Another of my favorite ceremony officiants serving Estes Park.