Storms create some of the most awe inspiring moments in nature and this October morning’s rain shower at Sprague Lake was no exception! Erin and Bradley awoke well before mornings first light in Estes Park, Colorado, to say their vows at sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park. Before their elopement these two fell in love in Austin, Texas. Bradley had just moved to a new city for a new job and they met online while Erin was in law school. These two spent time getting to know one another in a group as they had a few mutual friends they hung out with. Before long they began falling in love - taking time apart from their friends for private weekends together while hiking, exploring new trails, and traveling. Since those early dating days, these two have grown close and extended their adventures by taking numerous backpacking trips together and traveling across oceans to multiple countries together. As we worked towards finalizing their elopement plans in Rocky Mountain National Park they stated that they feel happiest together when they’re surrounded by beautiful nature - mother nature really took this to heart and made sure they had an epic ceremony that fulfilled this on their wedding day.
I awoke to low hanging clouds after car camping in Estes Park and hoped we’d catch some sunshine if the clouds would break. As I drove through the foggy road towards the Inn on Falls River I watched closely for Deer and Elk who like to roam in the early morning twilight. Erin, Bradley, and their close family met me in the parking lot where we packed everything before heading out to Sprague Lake. Erin and Bradley’s few guests were very special to them and they were excited to celebrate together - in Erin’s words “It should be a really joyous day for everyone!” Bradley’s mom had just finished her last round of radiation after undergoing two surgeries for breast cancer between their engagement and wedding and their officiant was entering her second trimester with twins after her and her husband had gone through IVF! Their chosen small group made for an intimate and emotional morning filled with so much love and shared happiness.
When we arrived at the trailhead I hiked with Bradley to an outcropping where the Sprague Lake Dock once was. The Rocky Mountain National Park rangers had just taken the dock down two days before (we were so sad about this!) in order to begin rebuilding a new dock. The sun was casting a soft glow and the sunrise would begin shortly. The storm clouds had lifted from a fog but sat heavy and intense on the mountains behind us. I walked back to photograph Erin as she hiked in towards the lake. As her and her sweet friend wound their way around the path towards the Sprague Lake’s dock ceremony site, a gust of wind hit us hard and sucked our breath away. It wasn’t extremely cold out but Fall had begun to sink its roots in deep and the temperature dropped with the breeze. Alpine glow suddenly swept across the clouds filling each highlight with brilliant pinks, oranges, and reds - one of the most stunning sunrises I have ever seen in Colorado! Erin smiled as she saw her friends, family, and Bradley waiting for her. And she looked so unbelievably gorgeous! Wind tousled Erin’s hair and whipped her flowy dress behind her with intensity - her Lulu’s gown looked amazing in the midst of the storm. The looming clouds and the scenery surrounding them created a reverent atmosphere for her to walk “down the aisle” to and everyone in attendance already had tears in their eyes when they saw her arrive.
As Erin stood across from Bradley the sky behind them grew more intense. The clouds billowed up overhead and continued to glow with color - I’ve never seen anything like it and I couldn’t help but think how perfect it was for these two adventurous souls to experience on their wedding day. Bradley and Erin exchanged vows, each looking at the other with such sweet adoration and tearful smiles. Before they could give one another their wedding rings, a short cold rain shower doused our party in wedding day luck. Erin shivered as they finished their readings and we all huddled in a little bit closer. As outdoor enthusiasts, a little rain couldn’t stop the ceremony from proceeding and if anything it made it all the more incredible to be a part of. Luckily I had a UV filter on one of my lenses and was able to take it off to clear the lens from the droplets - this made it look less foggy and the rain slowed which helped too! As the wind swept the rain clouds away from the lake a bright rainbow appeared behind Erin and Bradley. I mean, seriously, could this elopement location and ceremony get any more beautiful?
Erin and Bradley kissed as the sun began to shine again. They sealed their commitment to one another and as they rejoined their friends and family, many hugs and tears were shared. We spent the next few moments enjoying the scenery surrounding us before taking group photos and walking back around the lake. Erin and Bradley changed into their hiking boots and planned to go to Nymph/Dream or Emerald lake later that afternoon when the storm passed. We said our goodbyes and I headed back towards Estes for some breakfast and a hot cup of coffee! I hope you enjoy looking through their sunrise elopement gallery and maybe one day find yourself enjoying Rocky Mountain National Park as well! It is definitely worth the trek and there are so many amazing trails to hike on - whether you decide to wake up early for sunrise or not!