How to have a Sapphire Point Elopement | Our Complete Guide To Your Mountain Wedding
Table of Contents
- 1 How to have a Sapphire Point Elopement | Our Complete Guide To Your Mountain Wedding
- 2 How To Have A Wedding At Sapphire Point
- 3 When To Have A Wedding At Sapphire Point
- 4 Booking The Right Wedding Vendors
- 5 Preparing for Your Colorado Mountain Wedding
Having a sapphire point wedding here in Colorado can seem a bit overwhelming since it’s not a part of a wedding venue that has everything packaged and ready for you to set a date and show up. But if you’re planning a small wedding or eloping and have fallen in love with Sapphire Point, look no further. I’m so excited to share with you all this complete guide for how to have a Sapphire Point wedding. We’ll be covering how to have your wedding here, when to have a wedding here, how to book the right vendors for this location, and how to be best prepared for a sapphire point wedding!
Hey, I’m Emmy one of the guides and small wedding and Colorado elopement photographers here at Searching for the Light Photography. Together with my partner photographer Brittany we love to help guide couples to wedding days that are focused on their passions, traditions and love story. We love to empower couples to make decisions about their wedding day that fits them and not feel forced into a wedding that isn’t reflective of the life they want to build together. We’ve been photographers here in Colorado for over a decade now and love to share with you ALL our knowledge about getting married at Sapphire Point.
Let’s get started! If you haven’t been to Sapphire point in person before and have only seen the absolutely gorgeous photos of the area then you’ll be surprised to know it is the only place in the Dillon Ranger District that allows wedding ceremonies.
- Ceremony: Rentals, Catering, Accommodations, Florist
- Reception: Chiefs, Catering, Restaurants, Desserts
If you love hiking, alpine lakes, evergreens, cliff sides and stunning views this is your wedding spot. It will also take your breath away at 9,500 feet above sea level this is a true mountain wedding spot! Sapphire Point is between Keystone and Breck on Swam Mountain and overlooks Dillon Reservoir. So you’ll love being near the lake but at a bit of a pinnacle point to view the surrounding area.
Sapphire Point is also a hiking trail and is only used for day use, meaning there isn’t camping on site. Another important fact to know is that for wedding ceremonies it is a non-exclusive day-use area: as in other people can be on the trail during your ceremony. BUT don’t let this deter you from using the area. In the many times we’ve photographed here only a few hikers walked by and were very kind to not step into the ceremony area. Also if you get married during a weekday it’s a lot less busy!
Not quite sold on Sapphire Point being your wedding location? Check out our guide to other Colorado Elopement Locations!
COVID-19 UPDATE: Sapphire point is revoking all permits for 2020. You no longer need a reservation for the area but it could contain hikers around for your ceremony
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How To Have A Wedding At Sapphire Point
In short, to have a wedding at Sapphire Point you need to reserve your spot with Recreation.gov website or call White River National Forest (877-444-6777) to get your permit. But here are a few important things you should know before getting your permit.
UNDERSTANDING THE RESERVATION
Who doesn’t love the Summit County area? ( i.e. Breckenridge, Keystone, Dillon, Silverthorne, Frisco, Cooper areas.) It’s a very good thing to know that in the Dillon Ranger District (basically summit county) this is the one of two only place wedding ceremonies are allowed to take place on public/federal lands. As awesome as it would be to get married anywhere in Summit County you only can if the land is privately owned. Meaning you still can get married at most of the ski resorts, a private event space or residence if the owner approves of it, but it may come with a larger fee. The second location is Windy Point Campground.
Sapphire Point wedding reservations require you to reserve your ceremony at the most 6 months in advance. For all of you planning your wedding further out, I highly recommend a backup plan just in case your date/time slot aren’t available come 6 months before your wedding date. Need more ideas check out our blog post on places to get married around Colorado
Reservations are also only 2 hour windows, in other words you probably won’t be able to have your reception here too. There is also a max capacity at 35 including yourselves. One other helpful thing to know is there are only 22 parking spaces in the parking lot which sometimes are taken by other hikers enjoying the area. Carpooling is a great idea!
You can reserve Sapphire Point at this website: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/234489
Or call White River National Forest 877-444-6777
KNOW THE TERRAIN
Make sure you have the right gear for your wedding here. Sapphire point is an outdoor wedding venue, know the weather ahead of time. Making sure you and your guests have the right clothing to enjoy the area can make your wedding enjoyable even if the weather isn’t 70 and pleasant.
The trail is only .6 miles or a 5-8 minute walk from the parking lot. It is fairly flat but not 100%. It is covered in dirt and has some twigs sticking out of the ground. There is a decline to the ceremony site but is only a 37 ft elevation gain. If you plan to wear heels make sure you’re ok walking on a hiking trail in heels. I usually wouldn’t recommend it, but if you’re a pro —own it!
A wheelchair could access this location but it is not paved nor is it 100% flat. If any of you or your party have a wheelchair I highly recommend they have assistance to navigate getting to the area.
RULES FOR SAPPHIRE POINT WEDDINGS
Some other important rules to note about the area:
- Portable chairs and other furnatures is allowed if you place it yourself.
- Delivery of rental/catering items require the vendor to have a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to operate a commercial business in the Dillon ranger district. Your rental/catering service providers can call the ranger district to get a valid permit at this number: 970.468.5400.
- Make sure the trail is still accessible by other visitors. The area is a very designated site for the ceremony and a trail cuts through the backside of the area. Make sure your decor doesn’t block the trail.
- Practice leave no trace principles. I’ll share a bit more about this below in booking the right vendors for your ceremony!
When To Have A Wedding At Sapphire Point
The beautiful thing about this area is that you can access it year round, but it may require different gear and comfortability levels for you and your guests.
SUMMER WEDDINGS AT SAPPHIRE POINT (JUNE-AUGUST)
Everyone wants a summer wedding, it seems, which makes sense because the weather is usually a bit more predictable and warmer, which is nice if you have your heart set out for any attire that shows a bit more skin or if you just love warmer weather.
Expecting 70s in the summer at Sapphire Point Colorado is a good guess but it could also be in the 50s or 40s with a decent breeze. My best advice to you is to pack layers, you and your guests.
If you’re able to book Sapphire Point for a morning time slot I highly recommend this too as afternoon thunderstorms are a higher chance than morning ones.
FALL WEDDINGS AT SAPPHIRE POINT (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER)
When are the fall colors going to peak?! Guess what, no one really knows. Historically, in these high altitudes like Sapphire Point it is usually in late August or September.
In the fall you can expect the weather to be a little cooler and snow may be possible late September into October. It can also rain and thunderstorm or be sunny, dry and absolutely perfect.
These transitional seasons are a bit unpredictable here in the high country but it is typically a slower season in Summit County, meaning the towns are less busy and any hotels or rental places may have a cheaper rate.
WINTER WEDDINGS AT SAPPHIRE POINT (NOVEMBER-FEBRUARY)
Sapphire Point winter weddings are absolutely gorgeous. The magical snowfall coating the grounds and mountains with beautiful fresh snow is every winter loving couples dreams.
I hate being a killjoy, but I also don’t want you to plan your dream winter wedding in a month that the rest of the world considers a snowy season and arrive on muddy or dry day.
It is impossible to predict the weather Colorado does have some traditionally snowier months than others. Get this, February and March are traditionally our snowiest months. Most ski areas don’t open until late November and sometimes mid December because we just don’t get enough snow fall for them to safely open unless they make their own snow. Yep, it’s a surprise to most around the holidays it may not actually be a winter wonderland.
That being said, we’ve had weird winters before we’re December brought some crazy snow storms. As with all things outdoors part of it will be just rolling with the beauty of the day and keeping your focus on getting married.
SPRING WEDDINGS AT SAPPHIRE POINT (MARCH-MAY)
As much as I’d like to say we have an actual spring out here in the mountains, the reality is it’s just still winter. It can snow into early June at these altitudes and may be muddy. The locals start to skip town this part of the year because it’s called “Mud Season”. But if that doesn’t frighten you away there are a lot of perks. You probably won’t be competing for the best dates like summer time or fall. All your other accommodations are probably going to be at a discounted rate. If you love skiing or snowboarding you can still enjoy those usually into April and in some resorts into late May and occasionally the first week in June.
Booking The Right Wedding Vendors
Since Sapphire Point weddings don’t include an all inclusive package like other wedding venues do I highly recommend you hire wedding vendors that can truly support your wedding dreams. Here are a list of the different vendors you may need as well as some of our past client or other couple’s recommendations
VENDORS FOR YOUR CEREMONY:
Chairs: The question to ask yourselves is if you need chairs. We’ve photographed a lot of small weddings that just have guests circle around a couple to exchange their vows and have a short ceremony. You may want to rent chairs if you know you have any guests who are unable to stand for long periods of times (it can help to ask them!) and if you personally prefer the look of that.
Florist: Do you want any ceremony decor, many times a florist can step in here to help you create a portable archway or flowers to line an aisle etc. A few things you’ll want to make sure you talk to your florist about with Sapphire Point specifically are:
- Make sure flowers will not harm the native environment if some of their seeds get blown into the wind.
- Make sure all your pieces are portable as they cannot install any pieces permanently or attach to any trees.
- Make sure you have family/friends to help you install pieces or have your vendor apply with the Dillon Ranger District to get a permit to help you commercially 970.468.5400.
Catering Company: Many larger catering companies have chairs you can rent from them if you want to have chairs at your ceremony. Do keep in mind if you don’t place chairs there yourselves (or family or friends) they too will need a permit to do so.
Officiant: In the state of Colorado you can marry yourselves! Say what!? Yep, just apply for a marriage permit, follow the steps to be legal and that’s it! Some of our clients have had a family or friend lead the ceremony even if they weren’t ordained! Or if you really would love an officiant we have loved working with Phil Gallagher
Leave No Trace Rules for your ceremony at Sapphire Point:
- Make sure to not use rice, confetti, bird seeds, balloons, birds or butterflies at the end of your ceremony. A release of a small amount of the butterflies is allowed of these types Monarch, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, American Painted Lady and Mourning Cloak but will they not survive in the environment so we discourage this. –All of these things are harmful to the environment even if you pick everything up after.
- Pack out anything you bring in including trash: guests water bottles, tissues, etc.
- Stay on the trail and designated areas
- Your ceremony cannot be held outside of the ceremony spot blocking any of the trail
- You cannot block any of the trail or close it off to other hikers. You can place a sign against a tree so people walking by know a ceremony is going on and can walk behind the trees around the area to not behind your ceremony space.
- Don’t feed the wildlife. As cute as they are, it makes it harder for them to survive when they are fed. Also wildlife may be dangerous so keep your snacks for yourselves.
VENDORS FOR YOUR RECEPTION:
Since Sapphire Point doesn’t have a wedding package and is only available for 2 hour windows you may want to find your own solution to a reception. Here are our favorite ideas as well as restaurants our past clients or other couples have loved who married at Sapphire Point.
Hire a private chef or caterer to cook for you too at your hotel or rental property. If you do have a large guest list make sure you check with your rental property that they’d allow this many guests in their home.
Make a picnic for two! Grab your favorite blanket, better yet have your vows written on this blanket and have a meal made for you too to enjoy by the beautiful Dillon Reservoir or hire a boat ride for after your ceremony. If it’s just you two you can make your reception as romantic as you’d like!
Book a private room or book out a small restaurant for you and your guests. Some of our past clients and other couples have loved these restaurants.
Don’t forget your dessert! If you’re caterer or restaurant does not offer the desert you like you can check out this vendor we’ve loved working with in the past. Some of these are in Denver so you’d have to pick up your deserts before you head up to Summit County.
Since you won’t be on site in an indoor venue we highly recommend getting ready some place indoors. This could be done at a rental property like VRBO or a hotel. If you’d like your hair and make up done we’ve loved working with the Breckenridge Hair Company.
Last but not least don’t forget your photographer! We would absolutely love guiding you through this whole process as Colorado elopement photographers. We even love to help make sure you have some back up locations! We love to explore with couples around the Summit County area! Let us help you with your location scouting and timeline to catch the best light before you apply for your permit so you know the best time to have your ceremony for the wedding day that fits your loves, passions and story together. LEARN MORE ABOUT WORKING WITH US
Preparing for Your Colorado Mountain Wedding
Now, that you have your heart set on a Sapphire Point wedding we want to make sure your wedding day is a success. After you’ve decided when to have your ceremony keep in mind if its a summer wedding morning times are ideal. I’d even go as far to say that morning times are best for Sapphire point because the light is so magical then too. Late evening and sunsets may not be ideal at Sapphire Point because of where the sun ends up at this location. But if you have a great Colorado elopement photographer they can help you find epic places to catch the beautiful sunset in Summit County! LET’S CHAT ABOUT YOUR WEDDING
Prepare For Your Colorado Trip & Mountain Weather
Having the right gear for your weather you may experience can make or break you and your guests experience.
Summer or Fall you may just need an umbrella, raincoat or jacket for 40/50 degree weather. Keeping in mind wind chills may make it seem colder. Alternative shoes are a good idea in case it is muddy or slippery from recent rain. If anyone is unstable walking I do not recommend them wearing heels but good traction shoes.
Late Fall and Spring I’d recommend having layers you can strip off to adjust as the weather can fluctuate. Prepare for snow, rain, thunderstorms having plan B’s or options to add on more layers for you and your guests. Having crampons may also be a good idea to prevent any slipping on snow or slick ground.
Winter: Layers are your best friend. Make sure you and your guests are dressed for the weather. Small thin cotton gloves will not keep your hands warm in 40 degree or below weather. I suggest thick gloves, hand warmers, toe warmers and thermal layers for everyone. If the sun is out and warm people can take off layers as needed. Don’t forget sunscreen as the snow reflection can burn your skin too. Snow shoes and or crampons will be a must for this time of year. Depending on the time of year one or the other may be a good option. Good snow boots are a good idea. Thin fake leather boots or stylish fashion boots will not keep your feet warm. Staying warm can make the difference between hating your experience of missing your wedding day because you’re cold and cannot think of anything else and actually being warm enjoying your day.
Here are some of my favorite must have items for enjoying winter here in Colorado:My Favorite Winter Elopement Items
- Traction Cleats Ice Snow Grips Crampons Shoes Boots Anti Sl… $23.99
- Burton Women’s Women’s Prospect Under Glove, Crabapple, X-… $32.97
- lamibaby Women’s Opaque Tights Fleece Lined Thermal Winter Ti… $9.99
- HotHands Toe, Hand, & Body Warmer Variety Pack – Long Lastin… $12.59
For a more extensive list of what to pack I created this Colorado Packing List so you make sure you have everything you need.
PREPARING FOR THE ALTITUDE:
If you or your guests have never been above sea level or at higher altitudes 5,000+ I highly recommend having a plan for a wedding in Denver just in case your bodies react severely to the altitude. Or if you’re able make a trip out here ahead of time to see how you tolerate it. Some signs of altitude sickness include but are not limited to: fatigue and dizziness.
Make sure to drink a lot of water or add lemon/lime to your water to keep up your electrolytes. You’ll need to make sure you’re drinking an extra 50oz of water out here. Also fun fact, alcohol will get you twice as drunk, so go easy until you know your tolerance level at different altitudes. If in doubt call an uber. 😉
Make some plan B and C’s. Work with your vendors, or if you’re hiring a Colorado elopement photographer like us that does location scouting for you to have some different plans if the weather isn’t safe. Thunderstorms, avalanches, road closures, high winds are such cases that may cause a need to change a venue.
Plan to have a meal or two in preparation for your wedding day. I know its SO hard to eat with all those nerves and excitement running through you but the last thing you want is anything to happen because you didn’t eat. Also no one wants to be hangry (hungry/angry) because they didn’t eat enough on their wedding day! Plan to have a family or friend bring you meals while you get ready, call room service, high uber eats, or pack something with you to enjoy as you get ready.
Above all enjoy your day you created to fit you too. Things will may go wrong, but if you keep in mind and hearts focused on your partner it will all be worth it. The experience you can have is more important than if all the details align, trust me, having a grateful heart serves us all a lot more than a fretful one. 😉