How to Plan a Wedding at Bear Lake in Colorado

Bear Lake is arguably one of the most majestic places in the Rocky Mountains and it is the perfect place to have a small, intimate wedding or elopement. You’ll be with the most important person or people in your life and surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Given the location of Bear Lake, there are many things to consider in planning your wedding. We’ve highlighted tips and resources to help you plan and prepare for one of the most important days of your life.

Bear Lake Colorado Wedding

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Bear Lake is the Perfect Location for a Small Ceremony

There are so many reasons why Bear Lake is an ideal option for a small wedding or elopement.  Primarily if your dream is to have an intimate gathering at a jaw-dropping scenic location – this is the destination for you! If you love the outdoors, there really aren’t many better options that provide such a dramatic and gorgeous location, while also being convenient.

Bear Lake is a highly sought after venue location in the Rocky Mountain National Park because it is gorgeous and easily accessible. So no hiking boots are needed under your wedding dress unless that’s the look you’re going for! This location allows your guests that may be mobility challenged to make the scenic trek.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is well maintained all year-round, so you can count on it being stunning and with unadorned views. If you want some variety in your wedding photographs, you are more than welcome to take pictures at other locations. Everywhere you go within the park will be picturesque and have breathtaking landscapes.

Another great bonus is that having your ceremony at Bear Lake is incredibly affordable compared to more traditional options. According to ValuePenguin, the average cost of a wedding in Colorado in 2018 was higher than the national average at $31,435, or around $225 a guest. The entire price of Bear Lake is less than that of a single guest at standard venue. What a great deal for such a unique location!

Getting to Bear Lake

Getting to Bear lake is easy. It is about 2 hours from the Denver Airport which has hundreds of direct flights across the country, making it easy for your family and guests to attend.

Bear Lake is one of the easiest access locations in the park. You can easily park your car at the trailhead and then take a quick, flat, 256 feet walk – about 10 minutes.

Attractions Around Bear Lake

There are so many things to do around Bear Lake. Like checking out other amazing sites of the Rocky Mountains National Park –  including Longs Peak, the tallest summit in Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier Gorge and Horseshoe Park. You are also surrounded by other equally beautiful public lands like the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forest.

If your feet hurt and you’re tired of hiking and want a fast-paced sightseeing experience, drive through the North Colorado Loop Tour. The loop is 360 miles long and takes you to many of the most awesome places in Northern Colorado.

The town of Estes Park is very close to Bear Lake and is the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park. It is only 13 miles from downtown and is an ideal basecamp for you and your guests to stay. It’s also a perfect location for a reception and intimate dinner for two to celebrate your marriage. This historic and trendy town is known for outstanding restaurants, shops, spas and entertainment – there is something for everyone to enjoy!

When Should You Get Married at Bear Lake?

Bear Lake is stunning year-round and thankfully it is also an all-year destination by the park service. This means you can have a spring, summer, fall or winter wedding. Deciding when to get married is a personal decision, but there are a few things that you need to know to ensure there are no surprises.

As you can imagine, this beautiful spot has the most sought after views for everyone, including tourists. The Rocky Mountain National Park peak season is between June and September and you may have a lot of uninvited guests sharing this moment with you.

Due to the rise in visitors during this time of year, the Rocky Mountain National Park does not allow any marriage ceremonies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day. And you can only get married on weekdays – weekends are off-limits all year. These restrictions end up being really helpful because it means you will have more intimate moments with your loved ones.

Bear Lake Colorado Weddings

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How to Reserve Your Wedding Date at Bear Lake?

First things first, how early should you reserve your date? The park only books a year in advance, but definitely try and book your spot at least 6 months ahead of time. The park honors on a first-come, first-serve basis and allows only two ceremonies at Bear Lake and six total for the entire park per day.

If you already have a date in-mind, you can call the Concession Management Office to confirm that Bear Lake is available for your date. The phone numbers are (970) 586-1482 or (970) 586-1209. We recommend doing this before booking your photographer, catering and etc. to make sure your date is available.  You can also call if you have any outstanding questions.

To reserve your date, you need a permit and you can apply here! The permit costs $250 and it includes two hours for your ceremony – this means setup (if any), the ceremony and photographs. The permit is for you, your officiant and photographer. It does not include passes for your vendors and guests and they will have to pay the standard entrance fees.

Things You Need to Know About Bear Lake

Like other popular natural sites, there are some strict rules to help preserve Bear Lake and the park as a whole. Here are some things to keep in mind while planning your wedding or elopement.

Your ceremony size at Bear Lake can have a maximum of 20 people and 5 cars, including your photographer and officiator. Perfect for those who want an intimate experience.

We recommend getting ready for your big day at your hotel or Airbnb because you will not have any options in the park. Park visitor centers, restrooms and other buildings cannot be used for wedding preparations like dressing, waiting areas or rehearsals. Even if the weather is bad.

Your ceremony will be very rustic and that is perfect! The park does not allow you to bring tables, chairs, floral displays, etc. And you cannot throw bird seeds, flower petals or other prohibited materials. Make sure to check out the “Leave No Trace” guidelines. We recommend keeping it simple. You don’t need much because Bear Lake is already picturesque.

If you have a four-legged guest, they are unfortunately not allowed on the park grounds. It is understandably a guideline to protect the park.

If nature’s music isn’t your jam, you can absolutely have a band.  But keep in mind that that amplified music is not permitted and it needs to be 60 decibels or less. Think a single acoustic guitar playing soft melodies.

Please click here to check out all the rules.

It may seem like there is a lot of information to absorb, but it is really simple and straightforward.  There are some rules in place, but they help to safeguard one of our most beloved natural treasures. The most important factor is that you and your partner are making the most important commitment of your life. While being surrounded by love and nature.

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