This Mountaintop Elopement in the Colorado Rockies Is Small-Wedding Goals

A private, personal ceremony with breathtaking vistas sounded like a dream wedding for Kami Batzel and Thomas (Tom) Jarding. So, they made their elope

A private, personal ceremony with breathtaking vistas sounded like a dream wedding for Kami Batzel and Thomas (Tom) Jarding. So, they made their elopement vision a reality over an unpredictable Colorado summer. Traveling in secret from Pennsylvania, the sweethearts arrived in Boulder and hiked the two-and-a-half miles to a scenic alpine lake in the Rocky Mountains to exchange private "I dos" on a sunny July day.

"Tom and I were both widowed with each of our own children. It was important to us to keep our wedding vows private and personalized," Kami explains. Having met through mutual friends two years prior, the couple hadn't been looking for love—but it was hard to deny their connection. Tom and Kami were passionate about walks and hikes, which often hosted their dates. "We met during Covid. We couldn't date traditionally as no restaurants, concerts, movies, etc., were open. So, we walked, hiked, kayaked and got to know each other in a simple, sweet way!" After getting engaged during a family dinner on New Year's Day, the couple planned a big reception with friends and family but secretly chose to elope a month prior.

As the bride, groom and their photographer began their hike, the volatile skies over the mountains cleared up and the sun shined bright. Nearing the trail's end, Kami grabbed her simple bouquet, and they both changed into their wedding attire to hold their first look. Staring at one another, Tom began to sing the song "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker to his beloved. "And then it was finally time for their ceremony, but one large obstacle was standing in the way… a deep and quick-moving water crossing," notes the couple's photographer. "We stood together at the edge of the water, and Kami wasn't sure if she could make it, but with Tom's support (literally and figuratively), they crossed the water together."

The edge of the lake played host to the intimate ceremony. Both partners had written personal vows to share with one another. "We most anticipated standing together at the lake, just the two of us, so thankful that we met," Kami says. Wearing their wedded best—Kami in a lace gown and Tom in a sleek blue suit—the newlyweds took stunning photos all over the mountaintop. At one point, they held up a sign that read "Surprise! We're Married!" to send out to their wedding guests ahead of their larger event to announce that their "wedding" would actually be a celebratory reception.

The group returned to the lake for a Champagne toast as the sun dipped behind the mountain behind them. To end their adventure, Kami and Tom shared a perfect first dance at the waterfront. "On our hike back to the trailhead, we saw a moose off in the distance, which was such a perfect way to cap off their elopement day," the photographer adds.

The couple has a few poignant words of wisdom for those who are just setting off on their planning journey. "Plan your special day to include what brought you together. Make it personal to the two of you."

An Alpine Lake in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado as an Elopement Spot
A Bride and Groom Hiking in the Rocky Mountains to a Private Elopement Lakeside
A couple in their casual hiking gear share a kiss as they hike toward their lakeside elopement site in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
Bride in Gown and Groom in Blue Suit Have First Look on Mountain for Elopement
Bride and Groom Hold Each Other Close in Wedding Attire at Mountain Elopement
Bride and Groom Say Personal Vows at Rocky Mountain Elopement by a Lake
A groom in a navy suit pops a bottle of Champagne as his bride in a fitted wedding gown watches at their lakeside Rocky Mountain elopement.