10 Things You GOTTA Know About Eloping

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California and Colorado Elopements

Locations We Serve

What states and areas do you serve?

We serve California and Colorado, specializing in lesser-known and private venues in the following areas:

California – Redwood Empire Area (Northern California), San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Cruz, Monterey/Carmel and Big Sur.

Colorado – Metro Denver/Boulder, Colorado Springs, Estes Park, Breckenridge, Vail, Winter Park/Grand Lake, Aspen, Crested Butte, Telluride.

Getting Married - Legalities

Do I need to be a resident of the state in which I plan to be married?

You do not need to be a resident of any of the states in which we perform weddings. That’s why they call them destination weddings! In fact, you don’t even need to be an American citizen. As long as you are in the country legally and have the appropriate documentation, you can obtain a marriage license.

Speaking of marriage licenses, how do I get one? Do you take care of that?

Marriage licenses are legal documents–just like a passport or driver’s license–so you need to appear at the local county office and apply for a marriage license in person. We have all the state-specific info you need to make sure you’re legally hitched.

You need a marriage license from the state in which you’re getting married–NOT from the state where you live. You need to obtain the license prior to the ceremony and offices are generally only open Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

Do I need witnesses? Will you provide them if I do?

California requires at least one witness and our photographer can serve in that role for you.

Colorado does not require witnesses.

General Elopement

What’s the difference between an elopement, a pop-up, a destination and a micro-wedding? Is there a limit on the number of guests we can have?

Although there are subtle differences, most people use these three terms interchangeably. (Mostly it comes down to whatever catchy phrase the wedding industry decides to throw out there at any given time! “Micro-wedding” is the term that’s all the rage these days.) Technically, a destination wedding means one that is away from the couple’s home state, and an elopement wedding is usually less formal–anything from getting married at the courthouse to running off in secret to a Vegas wedding to tastefully orchestrated intimate ceremonies like the ones we offer.

The latest “elopement wedding” trend is having a few friends and family members along for the ride! It’s all good. Pop-up and micro-weddings refer to events that have a small guest list but still contain all the bells and whistles of a larger affair (e.g. seated guests, wedding parties, processionals, receptions, etc.) Our preference is to work with small/elopement-style weddings that have fewer than 20 guests. Anything beyond that tends to morph into more of a micro-wedding. We will accommodate groups of up to 30 guests on a case by case basis.

Bottom line: who cares what your wedding is called? If you’re going small, you probably don’t give a rat’s patootie about labels anyway.

Another elopement-wedding related term you might have heard is “guerrilla weddings.” These are renegade events whereby couples (hopefully!) get married theoretically spur of the moment at public sites where ceremonies may or may not be allowed. The idea is to get in and out as quickly as possible before being asked to leave. If that’s your idea of an intimate wedding, we’re not a good fit for you. (We do boring things like obtain the proper permits so you don’t have any unwanted drama on your wedding day.)

What is the best way to contact you?

If this is your first communication with us, the fastest way to get comprehensive answers to your questions is to submit an email inquiry. Our response will give you all of your information in writing so you can refer back to it, share it with your Sweetie, etc. You only need to submit an inquiry once; after that we’ll be emailing back and forth directly. While we’re happy to take your phone call, just be aware that we’re on the phone a lot and you’re living that thing we call life, so oftentimes, phone calls result in more telephone-tagging than information-transmitting! We’re also happy to text with you if that is your preferred communication method.

If you simply want a general idea of pricing, click here to request a Pricing Guide.

How far in advance do I need to schedule my elopement?

Some couples book us 12-18 months in advance; others call and want us to marry them with much less notice. We’re generally unable to take on any bookings with less than 6-8 weeks’ notice–simply because we’re almost always booked at least that far in advance. The sooner the better, especially if you have your heart set on a particular location, date or vendor. Also, if you must have a Saturday wedding during our high season (May through October) then you should plan on booking us at least a year in advance.

Can I choose the wedding professionals that will be in my elopement package?

If requested, we can send you portfolios of photographers that serve your venue and you can tell us your preference. To be perfectly honest, we don’t like doing this because it makes more work for you. And we’re all about making it LESS stressful for our couples. But we’ll do it if you ask.

Our wedding vendors are scrupulously pre-screened by us and they’re expected to adhere to our uniform standards in both product and service. After all, they represent Blue Sky Elopements so they need to be pretty darn good if they’re going to be attached to our name! Choosing one over the other really isn’t going to have an impact on your end result.

How long is the Ceremony? Can I modify it or add more services?

Our Noncustomized Elopement Ceremony is a beautiful pre-written service that is approximately 12 minutes long. We offer it in five versions: 1) Religious 2) Nonreligious/Traditional 3) Contemporary/Spiritual 4) Second Time Around (for couples over 40) or 5) Ceremony including children.

You can listen to the words of the elopement ceremony here. Having the ceremony performed as it’s written is the most convenient and economical. However, many couples want to add a little something extra–like a unity candle or sand ceremony, vows to their kids, or a reading. Just let us know. We can customize your ceremony a little or a lot!

Wedding vows are a deeply personal thing; you may substitute your own vows for our standard ones at no extra charge. If you prefer, we can totally customize a ceremony for you, complete with numerous choices for wording options, as well as additions such as a unity ceremony, vows to children, hand fasting, bowl of blessings, etc. Just tell us what you want and we’ll customize both ceremony and pricing for you.

My wedding is going to be a bit more than an elopement. There will be more than 30 guests and I’d like a little more formality–perhaps a walk down the aisle and a small wedding party. Oh yes–and a small reception to follow. Do you offer this type of service?

We do not offer packages for weddings with more than 30 guests. We’re elopement wedding specialists. For larger weddings, we advise that you consult with a traditional wedding coordinator.

Our weddings tend to be less formal than a traditional or a micro-wedding. If you are envisioning a big wedding feel but with a small guest list, we may not be the best fit for you. Best way is to chat with us about what you’re envisioning. If it’s not a good fit, we’ll let you know.

I want to include my kids in the ceremony. Do you have any suggestions?

Absolutely! Depending on their ages, children can be involved in a number of ways. They can sign the marriage license (whether it can be the real license or a decorative one depends on the state, but we’ll guide you on that). Even the little ones can sometimes “sign” with a fingerprint!.

We can also insert vows to children and/or a family unity component into the ceremony. Older children can do a reading or escort Mom and Dad down the “aisle.”

Elopement Wedding Venues

I don’t live in the area; will you help me find a location for my ceremony?

Almost of of our couples come to us from out of the area, so–absolutely! That’s where we shine! We’ve personally scouted the elopement venues in the areas we serve and we’re happy to provide photos, video, general information and permit info on each site. We’ll chat with you about the ins and outs of each site until you’re comfortable choosing a site that best fits what you’re imagining for your intimate wedding.

We specialize in lesser known venues. You won’t find our elopement venues advertised on the Internet. We fiercely protect this info in order to keep our private sites private! As part of our services, we’ll share them with you–along with all the details and pros and cons of each.

Click here for more info on our Location Consulting Services

Are there any permit fees for outdoor locations?

Many sites are free; others have permit and fee requirements. In our Location Consulting Services we will discuss permits with you. We want you to know your full costs upfront. If the site you ultimately choose requires a permit or reservation fee, we’ll roll the cost of that into your Blue Sky elopement package and obtain the permit for you.

Does a permit ensure that my ceremony will be private; will we have exclusive rights to the site?

A permit does NOT give you exclusive rights to any public venue (such as a park or beach). All a permit means is that there will be no other events scheduled at that exact location on your date and time. You cannot demand that people vacate your wedding space! We have always found that members of the public are quite respectful when they see a wedding taking place on public property. This does not guarantee that you won’t have a guy in a Speedo watching from afar! You can also expect claps and shouts of “Congratulations!” when you share your first married kiss. If you want a site with exclusive rights, then we’ll guide you toward a totally private venue.

Rest assured, we’ve personally scouted all the sites on our list–and undoubtedly performed many ceremonies at any site you’re considering. We specialize in lesser-known sites to avoid you being stared at by hordes of tourists. If this is a concern, talk to us about it and we’ll point you in the direction of our most secluded sites.

We’re not wild about the idea of an outdoor ceremony. Do you have any indoor locations to recommend that will accommodate a small wedding like ours?

We specialize in outdoor weddings. However, we have agreements with several inns and other properties in the area that provide indoor elopement venues that are intimate and out of the rain (and wind, and fog). we also have an occasional small chapel or other indoor intimate wedding venue up our sleeves!

We strongly urge you to have a backup indoor venue in case of inclement weather. For most couples, this is their lodging. So, when you book your accommodations, make that reservation keeping in mind that it may need to also serve as your ceremony venue. Choose something amenable to this–a suite with a fireplaced living room or covered balcony, a cabin, a vacation home or condo. Anything so that you’re not saying “I do” at the foot of the bed at the Motel 6!

Elopement Packages

Do you offer all-inclusive elopement packages?

Of course! Why else would we have Elopement Package Questions, Silly? We’ve partnered with the best elopement wedding vendors in each area to offer our couples convenient, stress-free customized elopement wedding packages. We’ll put together an elopement wedding package that contains everything you want.

Can I pick and choose what I want in my Elopement Package?

To a point-yes. That’s the beauty of what we offer. Bear in mind that our service is set up to provide you with a totally stress-free wedding experience. So, if there is a service we offer that you don’t want at all, we can take it out of your package. However, if you want to eliminate a service we provide in the hopes of finding it cheaper on your own, we don’t recommend that. Our charges for vendor services are competitive with any professional service you’ll find on your own. In fact, our fees are probably less since our vendors often give us a price break due to our volume orders. And if you book an outside vendor, they will not be a part of our coordination services. (We only coordinate with our own vendors). You’ll be on your own to oversee and manage any service that is not one of our vendors. It’s just not worth it!

At minimum, your package must contain Location Consulting (waived if you already have a venue), Coordination, Officiating and Photography and at least one of the following services: Bouquet/Boutonniere, Bridal Hair and Makeup or Videography.

When quoting a package price, will you itemize the individual items in it so that I can see if I can get a better deal on my own?

Ummmm…(stalling for time)…errrr…No. Sorry. As far as itemizing the things in the package, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Plus, let’s face it, that’s not a very smart business practice on our part. The package total includes both discounts that are extended to you because you are booking a bundle of services as well as built-in fees for the convenience of one-stop elopement wedding shopping. So, it’s not as simple as saying “just deduct $X.XX if you remove this or that item.” If there is something you want removed or you need a lower price, let us know and we’ll reconfigure the quote. We offer one revised quote for free.

The quote you gave me is out of my budget. Will you give me a quote with fewer items included?

Yes. We’ll give you one revised quote for free. Additional quotes (after the second one) are $50 each. Why so much for subsequent quotes? Well, think about it. When we’re quoting you prices, you’re not yet our client. While we’re happy to help you get an idea of pricing, I think you’ll understand that we can’t provide unlimited free quotes for someone who hasn’t yet retained our services. In addition, there are some couples (not you of course!) that would request quote after quote after quote in an effort to have us ultimately calculate a line item price for each vendor. In effect, we’d be doing their price shopping for them so they could go out and use our individual item pricing to bargain shop with other vendors. While we’re all about giving some free advice and help where we can (even to those who haven’t yet booked us), we draw the line at that service. (We love ya, but not that much!) If you’re going to use repeated quotes to see if you can get a better deal on your own, then you’ll have to pay us for the service.

And remember–at minimum, your Blue Sky Elopements package must include Location Consulting (waived if you already have your venue selected), Coordination, Officiating and Photography plus at least one of the following: Bouquet/Boutonniere, Bridal Hair & Makeup or Videography.

So, are you saying that a package is not always the cheapest way to go?

First of all, we want you to remove the word “cheap” from your vocabulary when planning your elopement wedding. It’s so beneath you. Replace it with “affordable” or “inexpensive.” Better yet–try the word “value.” If you want cheap, go to the courthouse, or Vegas. Now, there are a couple of really “cheap” options. You’ll always remember your cheap wedding day.

Okay…lecture over…where were we? Oh yes…An elopement package (be it ours or anyone else’s) is not always the least expensive option (although sometimes it is). But our small wedding packages undoubtedly offer the best value. When you factor in the financial costs with the benefits (you don’t have to spend hours researching because the answers to your questions are as close as your telephone or email away, the vendors with whom you work will be total professionals from start to finish, and you won’t wake up at 2:00 AM on many nights before your wedding worrying about this and fretting about that), the value of an elopement package skyrockets.

Check out this definition of “value” that we found in our Noah Webster: “the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.” If your “medium of exchange” is money, time, and peace of mind, then an elopement package can’t be beat. If your only concern is money, then you might be better off doing everything on your own. You may end up with a few extra coins in your pocket (along with fewer hairs on your head from pulling them out in frustration, but that’s your call).

Do you make lodging recommendations?

Okay, let’s get it straight. We can do anything for your elopement wedding. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G–once you become our client. Bear in mind that there are many other resources that provide a more comprehensive list of lodging and restaurant options. Sites such as TripAdvisor.com and VRBO.com can give you way more options than we can. But we can certainly give you some referrals to our favorite accommodations.

In many areas, we know of a number of lodging options that can also serve as venues for a small wedding–B & B’s with a lovely parlor, inns with gardens, hotels with suites and covered balconies perfect for an intimate wedding. And of course, they have to be of our ilk in the “superlative customer service” department or they don’t make the cut.

What is this Elopement Coordination Service of which you speak and why do I care?

You will care about having a personal coordinator/concierge when something goes wrong, plans change, it rains, your vendor is late (okay–that won’t happen if you book one of ours) you need some elopement advice from an insider or Mercury is in retrograde (if you believe in that sort of thing). Into every wedding, a little rain must fall (don’t freak out–it’s a metaphor!).

Those are the funny stories you’ll tell your kids and grandkids. But they’re only funny if they’re resolved quickly and accurately. We’ve been doing this since 2002 and it’s the rare wedding (even a simple elopement) where there isn’t some sort of glitch that crops up between the day you book the package and the day you say “I do.”

That’s the day when (after the initial moment of panic subsides) you remember, “Hey! I could have had a V-8!” No–that’s not it. “I’m in good hands with Allstate.” Errr…no…Oh heck, just pick up the phone and call us and we’ll fix it! (Not a very catchy line, but it’s accurate.)

And please don’t confuse our coordination services with those offered by budget, cut-rate service providers. They’re apples and oranges! We include coordinating fees into our package pricing to allow sufficient hands-on time with you. And we don’t wait for you to reach out to us with a problem! We protect you from we know could be potential pitfalls right from the beginning.

So, while it’s certainly possible to elope without the need of an elopement ceremony coordinator, we wouldn’t advise it. If you enjoy doing lots of online research, if problem-solver is your middle name, or you’re so laid-back that you truly don’t give a fig if you arrive at your hotel to find that they’ve lost your reservation, then you may not need any additional coordination services. But if you’re part of the 99.8% of the rest of humanity, or you just want a bit more reassurance that the details are being handled, then you’ll want to delegate that task to us.

Okay, I think working with you to plan my elopement wedding sounds like the culmination of my every elopement planning, Disney-inspired fantasy. But seriously, I can handle that sort of thing on my own and I’m on a really tight budget. Can we work something out?

We offer a three-faceted approach to planning your elopement wedding:

#1. In-depth Location Consulting Services to provide you with comprehensive insider info on lesser known and private venues.

#2. Access to award-winning, superior wedding vendors that you might not be able to find on your own.

#3. Comprehensive, proactive, hands-on Elopement Wedding Coordination to ensure you don’t have anything to stress over from start to finish.

Think about our services as a three-legged stool. Without one of the legs, what happens to the stool? Right! it collapses. If you have professional, insider knowledge to pick the perfect venue (#1) and the best vendors available (#2), it won’t help if something else goes wrong before or on your wedding day. For that, you need someone at the helm 24/7 looking out for your best interests. Yes, it costs more, but the value in peace of mind is immeasurable.

We do understand that some of you are as much control freaks as we are (I say this with great admiration as control freakism is vastly underrated IMHO) and we do know budget is a factor for some. After reading this, if you want still prefer to go it on your own in the coordination department, talk to us about vendor-only pricing.

I have all my vendors and just want help finding a venue. Can I purchase Location Consulting Services on its own?

Yes. You can purchase Location Consulting Services for $500 per state. That fee includes a 45 minute phone consultation about the various venues. Bear in mind, we cater to small weddings, so if you’re using our Location Consulting Services to find a site for a larger wedding, know that some of our sites are not amenable to this.

Payments, Fees and Contracts

How much is it for just an officiant to come to our location and perform the pre-written Elopement Ceremony?

We’re all about providing an optimal intimate wedding experience. It makes the most sense to let us handle every aspect of your small wedding so you’re assured of receiving a totally stress-free experience. Many people have told us, however, that finding wedding vendors as proficient as ours (we only work with the best and we screen the heck out of our vendors!) is a challenge. So, if you have most of the pieces in place and just need one vendor, contact us and we’ll see what we can do.

Officiant only pricing (using one of our pre-written ceremony scripts) starts at $400. One hour of photography with full usage rights for edited high-resolution images starts at $800.

How much do your Elopement Packages cost?

That’s a little like asking, “How much does a car cost?” Do you want the bare-bones Ford or the Mercedes? Something in between? We can put together entry-level packages for a 2-person elopement for around $2,500 or a pull-out-all-the-stops version that runs several thousand dollars. The number of guests and day of the week also affect the price. We customize every elopement package. You can request our Pricing Guide if you simply want a general idea of pricing.

How much is the deposit? When must my total bill be paid?

We call our deposits “nonrefundable reservation fees.” To get started, we ask for $250 so we can provide you with location consulting services (a $500 service that we discount when applied to a package). After you choose your venue and confirm date/time of your ceremony, we ask for an additional $750 plus the amount of your venue permit or reservation fee (if there is one–many venues are free) so that we can reserve your venue, assign your wedding vendors and issue your contract. Your remaining balance will be divided into thirds and we’ll invoice you 1/3rd 90 days before your wedding, 1/3rd 60 days before and the final balance will be due one month before your wedding date. You may make partial payments at any time after signing a contract.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept credit card payments (MasterCard, Visa, Discover) as well as bank account transfers through our secure payment web page. We do not accept American Express.

What is your cancellation/postponement and refund policy?

All fees paid are nonrefundable. Our contract for services is legally binding and we expect that Clients will honor their financial commitments to us (as we have to honor ours to our vendors once they commit to a wedding). Our contract stipulates that if you notify us of a cancellation in services, your remaining unpaid fees will be due within 10 business days. Sometimes we can work with you on this (on a case by case basis) if your wedding is still more than two months away or if you have extenuating circumstances (such as a military deployment, severe illness or death of an immediate family member).

If you need to postpone your wedding, all fees paid will be transferred to the new date as long as your new wedding date is within six months of your previously booked one. (We can work with you on this if there are extenuating circumstances.) Note that additional fees will be added to accommodate re-booking vendors, issuing a new contract etc.

Once I commit to a package and a quoted price, are you going to sneak in any extra fees when I’m not looking?

Oh no! You’ll definitely be looking! Kidding! We’re not about nickel and diming couples to death and we didn’t get this far by treating our clients with less-than-honorable standards in the billing department.

Having said that, it’s not always possible to give you an exact dollar figure that we can stick to from start to finish. There are variables that must be factored in and many couples make changes to things as we go along. We want to make sure that you have the freedom to do that (make changes, that is). Changes will most likely affect the price of your elopement package. IMPORTANT: once you commit a package level, you cannot downgrade to a lesser level of service; you can only upgrade. So if you’re unsure, always book the smallest level of service to start with. You can upgrade until 30 days before the wedding.

We are quite respectful of our clients’ budgets and make every effort to stay within any (reasonable) parameters that we’re given. We’ll always inform you of additional fees that are associated with any item or service that you may decide to add later.

Other fees: We impose late payment fees (yep–everyone agrees to payment due dates when we sign the contract and yep–we do add financial penalties if your payment is late; kinda like our bank does to us when we’re late with our payments! If we gotta pay ’em, you gotta pay ’em). We also charge late start fees if an elopement ceremony starts more than 15 minutes after the scheduled start time. While we’ll never rush you through your elopement (how tacky!), substantially late starts affect our ability to ensure you an optimal elopement wedding experience, and for obvious reasons we like to discourage that from happening. We’ll do everything in our power to get you (and your elopement entourage) to the (metaphorical) church on time. If you’re late, we ask you to respect that your professionals’ waiting time must be compensated.

Are your prices negotiable?

Absolutely! You bet! Totally negotiable. Here’s how it works. You tell us what you want to remove from your package and we lower the price. What? That’s not what you meant? Ohhhhhhh! You meant to ask, “Will you lower your price if I whine about it, tell you I’m paying for the wedding myself, am on a tight budget and/or found a lower quote from the guy down the road?”

Let me think about that…

Ummm…No.

As a matter of practice, we don’t negotiate on pricing without a corresponding reduction in services provided. We set our pricing at the lowest amount possible while still compensating our vendors and ourselves in accordance with our level of expertise, experience and quality of work. (Or, as Maureen is fond of saying, “We are not the flea market…or Craig’s list.”) Our humor, however, is included at no extra charge.

Seriously, we’re all about quality, exemplary customer service and convenience. While we’re not the most expensive show in town, we’re also not the cheapest (nor do we aim to be).

Does the day of the week or time of year when I get married affect the price?

Yes. The price we quote you is for weddings held Monday through Thursday. In our quote, we will also tell you how much more it is if you prefer a weekend or holiday wedding. It can be difficult to line up vendors for weekend ceremonies. Also, venues can be VERY crowded on weekends. You’ll definitely get a more intimate experience all the way around if you opt for a weekday elopement.

If the date and timing of your ceremony results in extra work for our vendors, then we may quote you a bit more for your package. Many of the areas where we offer packages are tourist areas and so in high season, it may be next to impossible to find parking close by and it’s going to take our vendors a lot longer to get there. So, yes we factor that in.

The only other time we may add an additional fee to your ceremony relative to when you’re getting married might be if you’re asking us to marry you at a very unusual time. For example, the officiant and photographer need to get up at 4:00 AM to meet you on the beach for your sunrise wedding, or you must be married at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. Those are definitely above and beyond occasions! Deprivation of our beauty sleep must be compensated.

Is my quote price guaranteed?

Due to the variable nature of our packages, we cannot etch our quote pricing in stone. We do our best to quote the most accurate price. For many of our clients, the price we quote is the price you’ll pay. However, certain things will increase a final price paid–things like changes to the services you’re seeking, unforeseen planning time to give you everything you ask for, and additional referrals and recommendations that we didn’t know about at the time we put together your quote (to name a few). Please note that we’ll never raise your fee simply because of a “price hike,” but only because of unanticipated time that must be invested either by us or our wedding vendors. And additional fees will always be documented for you.

When it’s time to sign the contract, you’ll know exactly how much our fees are and yes–once the contract is signed, the fee is guaranteed not to increase.