Amy & Andy’s self-officiated sunrise summit elopement

Posted by
 | Photography by Colin Ruggiero
Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

The Offbeat Bride: Amy, Natural Resources Specialist

Her offbeat partner: Andy, Research Associate

Date and location of wedding: Flattop Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO — August 16, 2015

Tell us about the ceremony:

We got up and left town at 3:00 a.m. so we could be hiking by four, and on the summit before the sun was up. We both felt strongly pulled by the symbolism of sharing a sunrise and a new beginning. We did ask a photographer friend of ours to come with us to capture the morning so we could share it later on, but other than him, we were the only people on the mountain at that hour. We made the climb by headlamp, snuggled up with each other while the day got brighter, and then parted ways to change clothes in private. When we were both ready, we just met back in the middle and went for it — no rehearsal, no audience. It was off-the-cuff, and mostly casual, and absolutely perfect.

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Our ceremony incorporated some of the old standbys: we each wrote and exchanged separate vows, we had rings, and I wore a dress. But, it was also just us being us. Andy said his vows first, and right after he finished we spontaneously hugged and kissed in our everyday way, before even realizing that's not the order you're “supposed” to follow in a wedding. We held hands and made each other laugh throughout, even when I started tearing up during my vows. Afterwards, we hid on a little ledge out of the wind and poured breakfast mimosas, toasted to a great way to start the day, and then hiked down and got brunch in town.

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

We didn't have (or want!) an official reception. We came back to my parents' house that morning with our signed marriage certificate and a bottle of champagne for family to toast with, and it ended with them breaking out my grandmother's heirloom champagne coupes — everyone was so excited once they figured it out!

It was also our last day in town, and we had also sent out a low-key, “we'll be at such-and-such bar, stop in and say hi!” sort of invite to local friends a week or so prior, so those who showed up got to hear the news in person. We picked a place that my old buddy, who tended bar with me during our undergrad years, was managing. Because he knew I'd be coming in, he personally brought in mint and fresh raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries for specialty mojitos, having remembered they're one of my favorite drinks. It was a sweet personal touch, since he hadn't even yet heard that we'd gotten married that morning.

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

What was your most important lesson learned?

Even though our plan was about as minimal as it gets, we still managed to procrastinate enough to cause some stress the day before. For example, I spent a frustrated hour running around town looking for decent earrings to wear because I forgot to bring any from Boise, and then when the time came and I was changing, I totally forgot to even put them on! Like most little details, I realized far after the fact, and it ended up mattering exactly zero percent anyway. As soon as I saw Andy that morning that was it — I knew right then “this is what you’re here for” and I literally couldn't have thought of anything else if I'd tried. So, I guess my advice would be: the details are fun, but ultimately inconsequential. You'll probably be lost in the moment whether you want to or not!

We also worried a bit about hurting feelings by not inviting anyone. But in the end, everyone was completely thrilled for us. And, by just keeping our ceremony between ourselves, we were able to experience the morning exactly the way we wanted it. It might sound selfish, but I love that our story happened somewhere where our hearts hit the same happy chord, and doesn’t include anything we didn’t put into it intentionally.

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Self-officiated sunrise summit elopement on @offbeatbride

Vendors

*Photography: Colin Ruggiero

More photos

Comments on Amy & Andy’s self-officiated sunrise summit elopement

  1. Question for you. Looks stunning. But with no officiant and only one witness how did you do the marriage certificate? Is it different in colorado, than say washington?

  2. Just seeing the pictures…this wedding made ME cry! This is about the most natural and beautiful togetherness I have ever felt. Even in so called ” traditional ceremonies” , the couple marries each other, and the rest of the people are witnesses. In this case, the couple were so completely aware of this and they must realize that all things are connected–the “witness” was the whole beautiful earth…and the sun! Truly a mountaintop experience in the fullest sense! Everyone felt the energy…no one was upset that they did not “see” it….because they “feel” it from this couple anyway! Huge blessings to all those who love them…and whom they love. What an example of mindfulness, simplicity and living in the moment.

  3. I am so moved by your story and your wedding ceremony! How beautiful and meaningful! I feel so inspired now! Congratulations and thank you for sharing this with us!

  4. This is so beautiful and touching! The dress is amazing. The view is amazing. Your ceremony is amazing. <3 I didn't know Colorado let people do self-uniting ceremonies, which is a great idea!

  5. I’m left with just one question – why doesn’t everyone get married on a freaking mountaintop?! Absolutely gorgeous. I love the way the colors of your clothes connect to the colors of the rocks and sky (especially in the top photo).

  6. This is absolutely perfect! I dream of a wedding like this. If only Montana allowed self-uniting marriages so we could do it in Glacier NP. You both look so perfectly content and in love, exactly how I think it should be. And there’s nothing like a bright new day from a mountain top. Congratulations!

  7. This sounds and looks gorgeous! I just have to ask one question – given that it was such an intimate ceremony, didn’t it somehow feel strange to have a photographer following you around? I’m just really curious about that.

    • That’s a really legit question! It was important to us both to keep our ceremony strictly between us. In the end, a photographer was our one (slight) concession to our family and friends who would have really loved to have been there to witness, but were not invited – and we’re both really happy about that choice. We wouldn’t have gone with Colin if I hadn’t absolutely loved his eye in lots of other landscape images of his we’d seen – the setting was important for us – AND he wasn’t a total stranger – I’d known him as a fellow gymnast/teammate from our gradeschool through junior high era.

      But it’s true, he *was* a third person there. So with that being the unavoidable case, I think the photog’s personality is key. We chatted and caught up a bit on the hike up, but he was able to switch to being very professional and kind of invisible during the actual ceremony. We did talk about our desires beforehand (to state a few shots we absolutely wanted captured, and also to explicitly let him know we didn’t want any posing directions, re-directs, do-overs, etc. when we were on the mountain doing our thing) – and he nailed it. We just focused on each other and really, during the important stuff, he was pretty much a ninja.

      So… FYI Colin does do travel photography for hire, if that’s your thing, and from our very specific experience, I honestly couldn’t recommend him enough.

  8. I don’t know either of you and can’t believe a stranger’s wedding made me cry. I have to second everyone else’s comments here, and say I just cannot believe how absolutely perfectly ohmygod-fairy-tale beautiful this wedding is… just WOW. The setting, the day, the light, the wind, the dress, the concept, both of you, and mostly, how truly visibly in love with each other you both are–this is seriously the wedding of my dreams. I’ve been to a ton of weddings and I always have at least that one twinge of “oh nopenopenope, I def wouldn’t have done that!” embarrassment for the couple (everyone here knows what I’m talking about – that’s why we’re lookign at sites like these for ideas!). You guys are a 100% inspiration. True soul mate love does exist. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *