How to Get Married at Garden of the Gods
YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO HAVING A GARDEN OF THE GODS WEDDING OR ELOPEMENT
Garden of the Gods is one of the most iconic Colorado locations in the state. And by far, one of the most unique and beautiful ones as well. Located in Colorado Springs, CO, Garden of the Gods makes for the perfect location to say vows to your loved one. And guess what.. It is completely and utterly FREE to get married at Garden of the Gods. You can go and elope just the two of you. Or have a small wedding ceremony in Garden of the Gods with your closest friends and family. Garden of the gods weddings can take place at any time of the day without a reservation. Below I will tell you just how this all works!
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN GETTING MARRIED AT GARDEN OF THE GODS
Obtaining a Marriage License
The state of Colorado doesn’t require blood tests or witnesses, and you don’t have to be a Colorado resident to get married in the state which makes it a great state to get married or elope in. The state technically requires couples to apply for a marriage license in person at a County Clerk’s office and both parties must bring valid identification. One of the two to-be-weds can be absent as long as an Absentee Affidavit is completed, along with a notarized signature and a copy of the absent party’s valid identification. Approved forms of identification include:
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificate
- Military identification card
The state requires each to-be-wed to be 18 years old or older. If a person is 16 or 17 years old, he or she must provide consent from both parents.
Solemnizing and Self-Solemnizing
Whoever solemnizes the Colorado wedding must complete the marriage certificate and return it to the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office within 63 days of the wedding date. Colorado is awesome and they allow couples to self-solemnize their own marriage. This means it can be just the two of you, without anyone else there. You can sign your own license and turn it in and it is completely legal!
However if you want someone to officiate it, approved officiants include:
- Judges and retired judges
- Public officials
- Clergy members
- Ordained friends or family
Really, anyone can “officiate” even if they are not ordained. They will just not be signing your license if they are not. (Basically a self-solemnization with someone else present and officiating)
(PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO COVID MANY COUNTIES ARE ALLOWING YOU TO APPLY ONLINE WITH A VIRTUAL APPT. HOWEVER THE LICENSE HAS TO BE MAILED TO A COLORADO ADDRESS)
Also… There’s actually no waiting period for your marriage licenses in Colorado. This means you can technically get married the same day as you apply for your license. But Garden of the gods does sit at 6400 feet elevation. And while there isn’t any strenuous hiking involved for Garden of the gods Weddings, I still recommend that you arrive in Colorado at least a few days before you plan to elope. This will allow you to acclimate to the elevation if you are not from here. Elevation sickness is no joke!
Making Your Garden of the Gods Wedding Or Elopement About YOU
Some things to think about when planning for your GOTG wedding or elopement…
Decorations / Arches / Tables Etc. Are not allowed to be brought into the park. Nothing is allowed to be released (such as butterflies, birds, etc.) and you are not allowed to throw things like rice or confetti. Chairs can only be brought in for the elderly or disabled. So keep that in mind when planning your Garden of the gods wedding.
Instead, personalize your wedding with the clothing, jewelry, florals, and things of those nature. Garden of the gods itself is so magnificent, not bringing in decor is totally ok. You will be so in awe just from your surroundings.
Alcohol is not permitted in the park. So save the champagne popping and toasts for your reception! Speaking of Receptions… There are two picnic areas that allow for food and hanging out, however not to the full extent of a reception. Especially since Alcohol can’t be brought in. I suggest looking at different restaurants and event venues throughout Colorado Springs for this part of your celebration.
GARDEN OF THE GODS WEDDING AND ELOPEMENT CEREMONY LOCATIONS
Throughout Garden of the Gods, there are designated sites that the city allows for ceremony’s to take place. Four of those sites give different and spectacular views of the red rock formations. Two of the sites are simply picnic areas and do not offer much for views. I will be showing you the four main ceremony locations that will offer you the best views throughout the park for your Garden of the Gods Wedding.
JAYCEE PLAZA – IN THE MAIN GARDEN AREA
Jaycee Plaza Is one of the larger designated Garden of the Gods Wedding Sites and allows for up to 50 people. It is a beautiful location that sits in the main area of the Garden. You would access this spot by parking in the main parking lot in the central garden area. This spot is ideal for the larger Garden of the Gods Wedding Ceremonies that you might be planning. It also has a low wall that surrounds the area, and can give seating to some of your guests. You are only allowed to bring chairs into garden of the gods for the elderly, and those who have disabilities where a seat would be necessary. So this spot is great if you have guests that will want to sit during your ceremony.
LOCATION # 2
HIGH POINT – OUTSIDE THE MAIN GARDEN
This is by far my favorite Garden of the Gods Wedding or Elopement Ceremony Locations. You get different views of the entire park and an AMAZING view of Pikes Peak (when there isn’t crazy fog and low clouds of course). This location can have up to 50 people. Again, great for those of you who are planning a ceremony with a few more people. There is plenty of room in this area for your guests to stand.
High Point is located on Ridge Rd. You can actually access it from a different side entrance that is just to the south and head into the park that way. Just head down W. Pikes Peak Ave. in old Colorado city to get to ridge road and take ridge rd. into the park. This is what I recommend vs. entering from the main entrance on 30th street. This way you avoid having to circle the main garden on a one way road and miss tons of tourist traffic. Here are some photos of a few different sessions/elopements at this location:
Another Great thing about High Point for a Garden of the Gods Wedding, is that it looks amazing at different times of the day. First off, I am a huge fan of Sunrise Elopements or Sessions. High Point is extremely beautiful at sunrise. Yes it calls for an early wake up but just look at these beautiful colors that pop during a sunrise session!!
Sunrise Session at High Point
These photos below were taken at one of my recent Maternity/Couples sessions at sunrise in October. It really makes for a great session time. Secondly, No matter the weather, High point always looks good. Fog, rain, clouds, open sun, it’s all beautiful. These were during a time where the clouds were not low and it was not foggy, so it gives you a great view of Pikes Peak. High Point does not disappoint no matter what time of day you choose to have your ceremony.
LOCATION # 3
SENTINEL PLAZA – LOCATED IN THE MAIN GARDEN
This location is just a few minute walk from Jaycee plaza down a sidewalk. You will park in that same main parking lot to access it. This little plaza area allows for 25 total people. While no pikes peak view, this area has towering red rock formations. It makes for a beautiful location for any Garden of the Gods Wedding.
Please note that with any Garden of the Gods Wedding, a ceremony site cannot be reserved. This means your wedding will have many tourists and park visitors walking around and passing by. This spot being centrally located in the park can often be crowded with people. Don’t be surprised if you have lots of people stop and watch as you get married!
A few shots from my most recent Garden of the Gods Elopement that were taken at Sentinel Plaza.
THREE GRACES PLAZA
This spot is a little farther away from the main lot. You will pass Sentinel plaza and keep walking to the south side of the central garden to get to Three Graces. (Don’t worry, I have attached a Garden of The Gods Wedding Ceremony Site map below just for you guys!) Like Sentinel Plaza, Three Graces Plaza holds up to 25 people. This is also a very crowded spot, so I often tell couples to just be ready for lots of people to be around and possibly get into your ceremony photos as well. (I know the photo above doesn’t look crowded but I actually had to ask about 6 people and a few kiddos if they wouldn’t mind moving for a second so I could capture few wide photos of my couple)
To avoid crowds, opt for sunrise or a weekday wedding. Sunrise will ALWAYS have the least amount of people. And usually on a weekday at sunrise you will be the only ones at your spot. On the weekend Garden of the Gods can get insanely crowded, especially on a beautiful day with good weather. So I always suggest a sunrise ceremony on the weekend.
This rock formation has a heart shape embedded in it, and I think it’s the coolest thing ever. See it?
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GARDEN OF THE GODS WEDDING SITE MAP
I know having all of these locations to choose from can be overwhelming. Just navigating through the park might seem like a lot. But all of these locations are actually very easy to access with multiple parking lots near them. The main lot is the biggest parking lot in the park. Can easily hold 50+ cars and has room for oversized vehicle parking like busses or RVs. And has Handicap spots as well. The other lots are much smaller, and have limited parking. Especially the lot closest to Three Graces Plaza. The High Point Lot isn’t crazy big, but can easily hold 25 cars or so.
Another thing to keep in mind are bathrooms. There is only a bathroom (and its a nice one!) located at the main lot. The other bathroom is at the visitor center outside of the park. Depending on the day and time of your ceremony, the visitor center might not be open! So your only option might be at the main lot. So plan accordingly.