Well, I sure wasn’t planning to make this into two posts, and give myself more work lol. But I just had way too many photos that I wanted to share with you! And since this was a full weekend Colorado adventure elopement, two posts are justified 🙂 What a labor of love this shoot was…but I enjoyed every minute of it! Not since planning my own wedding have I been so invested in planning an event on this scale. It was so fun though! I got to play wedding planner, stylist, and photographer for this beautifully, exhausting weekend in a relatively unknown town called Creede.
So how did this Colorado adventure elopement come to be?! Honestly, the idea grew largely out of boredom. When planning started, I didn’t have a ton of weddings on the books for that season. I was also in the off-season, where every day seemed to be spent behind my computer playing catch up on a list of a million blog posts (ahem…same thing that’s going on these days lol!). Tons of photographers do styled shoots every year, so I thought I might try my hand at it too! Plus, I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk my husband into a vacation last year, and this could be a great reason to get away for a few days, while still working.
Location was the hardest part of the shoot planning process. Sure, I could take a cute couple into Rocky Mountain National Park, and get gorgeous photos… but it’s been done, time and time again! I wanted something DIFFERENT! I started my search, and stumbled upon an article about Colorado’s “hidden gems”. When I saw the photos of Wheeler Geologic Area, my jaw dropped to the floor!
After a lot of research about the location, and realizing that no one had EVER taken professional wedding photos here (or professional portraits of any kind), I knew this was it!! Or at least if someone has eloped there, they have not posted the photos online 😉
The biggest challenge I faced was how far away this location was from the Denver and Colorado Springs areas. I wanted other wedding vendors to assist on my styled shoot, and did not have any of those connections in Southern Colorado. I needed to find vendors that would be willing to share in my vision, and willing to trust me to bring it to life without their assistance. This distance also did not allow for me to scope out the location ahead of time. I had to just go with the flow, and hope it all came together the way I saw it in my mind! And just like on my own wedding day (and most clients’ wedding days), I had to remember that something is bound to go wrong, but you cannot let that ruin your day!
I put out a model call on social media, and had a lot of wonderful candidates. Some wanted to renew their vows during the shoot. A few others were even willing to elope for real. In the end, I chose Katrina and Brian. They may look familiar because I photographed their A-basin wedding the year before. I knew I could rely on them to fully commit to the shoot. And I knew they would be comfortable in front of the camera, and up for an adventure! We ended up doing the Colorado adventure elopement shoot on the weekend of their first anniversary too. So that was a fun little getaway from them! They are a Wyoming couple. So returning to the Colorado mountains for their first anniversary, was quite fitting…but an extremely long drive!
So with a couple, a date, and a “venue” I was on my way! I turned to my fellow Trulife Studios wedding vendors to cover the other elements of this styled elopement. They came through with a florist (who also shared in a lot of the other planning too!), the cake baker, and the rental company…who all donated their time and talents to me. I am beyond grateful! I found a wonderful stationery gal on Instagram. Most everything else came from Hobby Lobby, Etsy or Amazon!
Based on the appearance of Wheeler Geologic Area in photos, I decided to go with a geometric theme for the shoot. Largely triangles! Wedding details were in the 2018 Pantone color of the year, ultra violet. As well as gold, white, and a soft beige. With the planning well underway, I found a rental house in Creede for Katrina and Brian, my husband and myself to stay in. We had a great time there. If you ever get a chance to visit Creede…do it! It is a TINY town. Like we are talking under 400 people total! But it sure is beautiful there. I would love to go back in the fall, as I am sure the colors are stunning.
So for part one of this two-part post, I am sharing the photos of Katrina and Brian’s intimate Colorado adventure elopement “ceremony”, and bride and groom portraits at Wheeler Geologic Area. Part two will bring you the other location that we visited in Creede, South Clear Creek Falls. As well as the “reception for two”, complete with signature purple mojitos. And finally a quick morning-after, lifestyle session over coffee. I hope you will check back for part two.
So it was finally time to head out to Wheeler! My husband and I read countless reviews about the trail, and even watched some You Tube videos of folks on the trail. My husband has a ton of 4-wheeling experience…I knew he’d be fine! We were hoping there wasn’t a lot of rain leading up to our adventure. Because I had read they can shut down the trail if it’s too muddy. While we could still go visit the waterfall, the whole shoot was based off the geologic area, so I would have been pretty crushed!
So what is the story/history of this unique and enchanting place? Read about it below:
“Hidden deep in the Rio Grande National Forest awaits Wheeler Geologic Area. It is an area so strange, it has been referred to as “The City of Gnomes,” “White Shrouded Ghosts,” and “Dante’s Lost Souls.” A unique and natural phenomenon, Wheeler Geologic Area was born approximately 30 million years ago when the LaGarita Caldera exploded and sent volcanic ash into the atmosphere. This ash settled in the LaGaritas and created a vista of sandstone-like spires, domes and pinnacles.
Originally named Wheeler National Monument after Captain George Wheeler, who in 1874 explored and surveyed the area for the U.S. Army, it was the first National Monument in Colorado history. Gaining monument status in 1908 made it the second most popular tourist attraction in Colorado. During the horse and buggy era, travelers flocked to see the eerie landscape and experience the rugged LaGarita Mountains. But by 1950, when tourists began to prefer attractions easily accessible by automobiles, the trails fell into disuse. Wheeler was downgraded to a Geologic Area and incorporated into the LaGarita Wilderness.” –Creede.com
Man, oh man, was this location tough to get to! I had prepared myself for months, but it was exhausting nonetheless. 2 hours and 20 minutes (one way) of bumpy 4-wheeling in my hubby’s 1985 Jeep CJ-7, and we arrived at the trailhead for Wheeler. I was nearly as nervous as if it had been my own wedding day LOL! Some even more adventurous folks could hike in. But at over 8 miles each way, with all my gear, and their wedding attire…that just wasn’t going to happen. Just that short half mile hike, uphill, at high elevation, was pretty tiring. I am not exactly in peak physical shape, however. Perhaps someday I will be up for 16 miles of hiking for a Colorado adventure elopement 🙂 Finally, at VERY long last…the photos!!
Rock, paper, scissors to determine who reads their vows first at this epic Colorado adventure elopement!
This is my absolute favorite photo from the weekend! It’s called the Brenizer Method, and it’s probably 40 photos stitched together in photoshop to create an amazing panoramic shot with way more compression than you could ever get from a typical wide angle lens. This allows Katrina and Brian to pop off the background way more 🙂
I hope you enjoyed part one of this epic elopement session. Check back soon for part two…waterfall goodness and a lovely detailed reception for two! Are you ready to start planning your own visit to Creede lol?! I have lived in Colorado since 1985, and had never heard of this amazing area. I guess it truly is a Colorado hidden gem!
Plum Pretty Photography’s Colorado adventure elopement dream team:
Florist and assistant planner: Pam Hubbard of Petals N Grapes
Wedding invitation and place cards: Tasha Rae Designs
Cake baker: Kelley Kakes
Rental items: Colorado Party Rentals