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How to Have a Colorado Wedding Without a Venue

Published on March 5th, 2023

weddings without a venue

How to Host an Amazing Wedding without a Venue

Does the idea of having a wedding without a venue sound both amazing and complicated to you? That is what I’ve written this blog for. To show you the possibilities and the freedom that comes with not being tied to a venue. Plus it’s easier than you might think. Let’s dive in!

Weddings without a venue checklist

  •  Figure out your estimated guest count
  • Decide if you need to reserve a designated ceremony site
  • Figure out how do you want to celebrate
  • Pick the best destination to accommodate your ideas
  • Check with the appropriate authorities to see if you need a permit and honor the rules
  • Build your non traditional wedding day

Can I have a wedding without a venue?

Coming from a photographer who started in weddings and now specializes in elopements and intimate weddings, I can tell you that your wedding without a venue can be even more incredible than you imagine. It actually opens the door to be creative and build a day that fits you. Whether you decide on a backyard/airbnb wedding or end up renting out a favorite brewery. The setting is more relaxed and has a way of helping your guests enjoy themselves even more. Not to mention, many venues have strict time restraints resulting in less time together as a couple. 

It truly amazes me how little time is spent between the couple on their wedding day when it’s at a traditional venue. Not having a venue gives you the chance to adventure or get creative with your timeline. In my experience, couples have a much better time, are more relaxed, and make more meaningful memories when they don’t have a traditional venue for their wedding. SO yes, you can absolutely have an amazing wedding without a venue. Read on for more ideas to pull this off and have the best day ever.

Free wedding venues

While you can’t typically host your entire wedding at a free ceremony site, it sure does open the door to invest in something where your money goes a long way. More on this later, but for now I wanted to talk about how there are some amazing options for free ceremony sites. I suggest this more for smaller, intimate weddings with 25 people or less. However, there are places like Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs which allow you to hold a wedding ceremony with up to 50 people at no charge. It blows my mind because this is such a cool location that people come from all over to see. 

Parks are also a great option. This will vary greatly depending on the park and the city, however most cities have parks where wedding ceremonies and even receptions are allowed. The rules for obtaining the space will also vary. I suggest finding one you like and getting in contact with the right people to obtain permits, permission, and find out the rules involved in hosting a wedding at a park. 

National Park Weddings

This is one of the easiest ways to have a wedding without a venue. Sure there are more rules involved, but it’s usually a fairly easy process that is simple and clear. Weddings in Rocky Mountain National Park for example, has designated wedding ceremony sites that are easy to get to, but then you are allowed to go take photos anywhere else in the park. I love when couples get a chance to explore and take in some views on their wedding day.

National Forest Weddings

This is an amazing option to get married in epic locations with more privacy. These places usually aren’t destinations in and of themselves and you can find some incredible views. I really think this is one of the best options to have a wedding without a venue. Having a wedding in a national forest is great for an immersive experience for you and your guests. It pairs perfectly with having more time to explore other places near-by with just the two of you and then meeting up with your group to continue celebrating. Consider renting out a brewery or hiring a private chef to celebrate at an amazing airbnb. There are so many ideas!

That being said, please check with the ranger district of the area you are looking and see what the rules are for having a wedding ceremony in a national forest. Usually it’s allowed, as long as there are no props or chairs and under a certain amount of people. The ranger district or parks department should be able to tell you all you need to know and whether you need a permit.

VRBO and Airbnb Wedding Venues

There are so many rentals that are amazing places to hold a wedding without a venue. I want to start this off by saying you absolutely must clear this with the owner of the property and I really suggest keeping it to a small number of guests. It is seriously such a cool idea for a reception like gathering because it gives you privacy and views and access to amenities. I’ve had couples hire a private chef and have a fancy 5 course meal. Others have booked a place in a forest by a river and held a beautiful intimate ceremony that all their family could be comfortable at. Others have used it as a gathering place to celebrate with pizza on the deck. It is honestly so fun and one of my personal favorite ways to have a wedding without a venue.

Designated ceremony sites for a wedding without a venue

There are lots of places that you can reserve to hold a breathtaking wedding ceremony. I love this option for larger guest lists because then you don’t have to worry about whether it’s allowed or if you are overtaking public space. Not to mention, there places usually have a “deck” or something that makes it easy to have a ceremony and easy for you guests to access. Some of my favorites in Colorado are Sapphire Point Overlook, The Maroon Bells Amphitheatre, Garden of the Gods, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Campground Weddings

Gah! As someone who LOVES camping, I think this is such a cool way to have a wedding without a venue. Colorado has some amazing campgrounds, some of which you can rent the whole place. For example, Top of the Pines in Ridgway allows you the have the whole campground for 3 days and it has the most incredible views of the Dallas Divide. Each campground will vary about the rules, look for ones with group campsites or plan ahead and book out a large amount of the sites for your adventurous guests. 

Or if you want something a little more glamorous, there are numerous glamping options that would be such a fun experience for you and your wedding guests. 

Can I still have a reception if I have a wedding without a venue?

Absolutely you can! And I would argue that it’s infinitely more fun than traditional wedding receptions. You can incorporate all the heartfelt toasts, amazing food, dancing, and whatever else you want to do. It’s just a more intimate setting and from my experience, you and your guests are more comfortable to be yourselves. Instead of strict timelines, you have the space to forget about time altogether and enjoy spending time with the most important people in your life. 

What I love most is how you can get creative with a non-traditional wedding reception. Here are a few ideas:

  • Charcuterie boxes or catered fancy picnic (hey, I know a girl)
  • Tailgating
  • Renting out a brewery, distillery, or small event space
  • Hiring a private chef for a small gathering at your rental
  • Do an activity like hiking, horseback riding, lake or river activities, or even having a campfire.
  • Rent a pavilion at a park

My favorite places to have a micro wedding without a venue

Here are my top 5 places that are amazing options to have a small wedding without a venue:

Combine these ideas

I love the flexibility that comes with planning a wedding without a venue. I’ve laid out some ideas, but what is great about them is that you can do some sort of combination of all of them to build your dream day. It’s so much more exciting than an all in one place. Have an adventure and enjoy your day to the fullest.