I'm a fine art wedding and portrait photographer — creating a space that welcomes creativity and inspiration. Based in Colorado, my work has taken me across the globe.


Self Solemnization in Colorado

tips for couples

Aside from the endless places to explore and stunning backdrops, there is another major perk when planning your elopement or adventure wedding in Colorado- self-solemnization.

What is Self-solemnization in Colorado?

Self-solemnization means that a couple can legally marry themselves without an officiant or a witness being present to sign their marriage certificate, which in Colorado is legal!

Another fun + interesting fact about Colorado is that for all those fur baby parents- you can have your pet sign your marriage certificate if you want! Just grab an ink pad with you to bring to your elopement or intimate wedding day and slap their paw print where the witness would normally sign- how cool is that?! If you’re like us and treat your pups like literal children, this is a cute way to include them even more in the memories of your elopement day.

How do we get our marriage license in Colorado?

So you’ve planned your big day, but now we need the official docs. Good news: It is easy to get your marriage license in Colorado. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to a county clerk and recorder’s office, preferably the county you’ll be having your ceremony in
  2. You both must bring your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, and social security numbers to apply for a marriage license. The fee is $30.00
  3. Complete your marriage license within 35 days.
  4. Once married, you will need to file your marriage license back at the same county clerk and recorder’s office within 63 days of your elopement date. You will receive a late fee if you file it late.

Here is an example of how to fill out your marriage license for reference.

Are there other self-solemnizing states in the U.S?

Yes! Here is a list of self-uniting marriage states but be warned, they’re a little bit more complicated than Colorado. Included in the list of self-solemnizing states in the U.S. are California, Washington DC, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

That is why I think Colorado is the best place to elope because there aren’t many hoops to jump through. It’s pretty easy!

Then why have a ceremony?

If you have decided to self-solemnize that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a close friend or family member there to walk through vows etc for your ceremony – and they don’t have to get ordained.

You can absolutely stand together, read traditional vows or put a fun twist on them. You can choose someone close to you to read a poem that may resemble you two as a couple. They can share a fun story etc. You can forgo the traditional vows and take a minute to write them on the spot, or exchange meaningful letters. It is all about what you two want. Let your imagination go wild! The best thing about eloping is that there are no rules!

4 reasons why you should consider having a self-solemnized ceremony:

  1. You want to have an adventurous elopement. There aren’t many officiants who are willing to hike up a mountain with you, go skiing or ride a snowmobile, go on a jeep adventure, etc.
  2. You want to keep it just the two of you to be as intentional and intimate as possible. If you are a couple that wants to have their wedding day with just the two of you! This is the perfect reason to self-solemnize.
  3. You want your family member or friend to conduct your ceremony. This is a special way to include a family member or friend in your elopement.
  4. If you aren’t religious, this is the perfect way to craft your ceremony the way you both want and to think outside the box.

Whitney Rae Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer

If eloping or self-solemnizing in Colorado sounds like the perfect vision for your big day, head to my contact page, and let’s plan your dream elopement!

Call it authentic, candid or genuine. Whatever the adjective, I want to create a wedding celebration that resembles you, from the big celebrations and the in-between moments to the images I deliver that help you relive the day for years to come. When it comes to your wedding day, the moments you want to remember aren't always perfect, staged or scripted, they are uncut, raw and true to you.


I believe in

Dorothea Lange

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still”

Words I Live by

Let's Connect


*Virtual Wave*

Hello! I feel beyond honored that you've made your way here! In order to give you the best representation of who you'll be spending your wedding day (one of the best days you'll live) with, here's a brief run down!

First and foremost, I'm a mountain gal through and through. I was born and raised in Vail, Colorado and unless it's another mountain town, my husband and I will always call this home. It's the tightly knit community, the fresh air (but really, it hits different here), the scenery and most importantly for us, the recreation + lifestyle. This is something that will always come through in my work, and what I believe sets me just a little bit apart - I am, and will forever be, inspired by the poetry of love in landscapes. 

I have a deep desire to be on the move, to see everything before I don't have the opportunity to, and are therefore happiest when traveling and exploring new places (which I feel so lucky is a part of my work!) 


Spending quality time hiking/biking/skiing/camping with my husband and our two border collies, clocking in some R&R at home or catching up with a friend over a glass of wine/craft beer are things that always sit at the top of the priority list.

If you're in to it- I'm a Libra, A Manifesting Generator (6-2) and an Enneagram 7 Wing 6/8. In short, I'm a people person, an optimist, and for lack of better terms- like to get shit done and make things happen. I'm a feeler, with a strong sense of empathy and sense of what people are experiencing, both when it comes to myself and others. I'm a bit of a goof, a tiny little thing packed with some sass, and ultimately just want to live a fun and adventurous life that's packed with new experiences and people. 

..I guess that's why I do what I do. I feel so grateful to be on this journey of having my own business where I have freedom to curate the life I want to live, where I get to connect with truly so many amazing humans, travel to some really beautiful places, and document that as a whole, as creatively and beautifully as I can for you.

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