Our Adventure Elopement Story

When I was newly divorced and on my own, I had big dreams for myself.

First, to find agency and freedom to be the person I wanted to be. To live a life of possibility and adventure, not scarcity and imprisonment.

The second dream was to find a partner who desired the same things I did.

At the time, these dreams of mine were frightening.

I had lived for years – decades – being told that what I wanted out of life was too much.

Unattainable.

Impossible.

And yet, I found the courage within myself to dream anyway. I wrote it down what I wanted my life to look like. I pictured it in my mind. I read books, listened to podcasts, found a life-coach, and re-established my relationship with my therapist.

And after two years of healing from my divorce and building a life for myself, I began to imagine and ask for the partner I desired to share it with. Tired of settling for less than I deserved, I made a list of what I wanted and needed in a partner and began saying no to situations that didn’t align.

And, it didn’t take long for the universe to send me Mike.

His brother (my co-worker) and sister-in-law (a new friend) set us up on a pseudo-blind date shortly before the pandemic began, and afterward, we gradually began to get to know one another from afar. He in Kansas City, me in Jefferson City.

Thanks to COVID, our first few dates were virtual. Even so, he still found a way to make them meaningful. Dinner delivered to my door to be enjoyed together via Skype. Pretend we’re at the bar and make our favorite cocktails.

Eventually, our lengthy online chats became live, in-person dates. He met my daughter, my family, and my friends. We traveled, played, dreamed, and laughed. We kayaked, backpacked, and biked… flew in helicopters and even an airplane he piloted! He drove two and a half hours to see me every weekend for an entire year.

Attraction grew into a love and safety I have never known apart from him.

It took us quite a while to figure out how to practically meld our lives together – but I knew right away that Mike’s love of fun and adventure was something I couldn’t live without.

After months and months of seeking a solution to our long-distance predicament, the pieces finally fell into place. He found a great job, sold his house, and moved to his brother’s basement until we found a house together.

And on a Tuesday evening in December, he got down on his knee in front of the Governor’s mansion (Christmas tree lights glowing brightly), professed his love for me, and asked me to be his adventure partner for life.

I’m sure you can imagine my answer.

I had known long before we were engaged that I didn’t want a traditional wedding. We had both been married before, and the thought of saying “I Do” with hundreds of eyes staring us down was just too much pressure.

Instead, I wanted to do something intimate… something epic.

Thanks to Instagram and other friends who had broken the traditional mold, I fell in love with the idea of an “adventure elopement.”

Instead of making our wedding day a big stressful performance, we could pick a beautiful piece of nature, a small group of safe people (or no people), and get married on our own terms.

Where. Do. I. Sign. Up.

I knew right away that Laura and Hugo from Together We Roam would be the perfect fit for us. They are adventure-elopement photographers based in Denver, Colorado, and every time I saw pictures from one of their weddings, I would inevitably end up in tears. During our first video consultation, I could sense that their supportive, down-to-earth style was just what we needed.

They sent us a fun questionnaire as a jumping-off point, and then worked with us over the next four months to curate our perfect day. We decided that we would hike up Chief Mountain in Idaho Springs with a few close family members and friends, change into our wedding clothes, have a brief intimate ceremony, take a load of gorgeous photos, and then celebrate after with a steak dinner and cake.

Anytime I felt overwhelmed by decisions, Laura was so encouraging and did whatever she could to lighten my load and simplify things for me.

After all the preparations and waiting, and we arrived at our departure date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2022.

Destination: Idaho Springs, Colorado

We left after work to head for Hays, Kansas, where we would meet up with Mike’s siblings and stay the night.

The next morning, we woke up to some window paint shenanigans that had apparently transpired the night before…

You guys… lol…

The big goals for the day were to:

a. find coffee.
b. pick up our cake in Denver.
c. obtain our marriage license in Georgetown.
d. check into our Air B&B in Idaho Springs.

We accomplished most of the items without a hitch, though I had a little trouble adjusting to the altitude in Georgetown, about 8,500 ft. Thankfully, the gracious women at the Clear Creek County Clerk’s office were quick to get me water and offer a comfy spot to put my feet up so we could sign our marriage license.

Marriage license in hand, we drove to Idaho Springs to kill some time before we could check into our cabin. We found lunch, a grocery store, and this very friendly bear.

When it was time to check in to our Air B&B, we realized just how midwestern we were. Unloading all of our things required climbing up and down a flight of stairs – not an easy task when you’re at 8,000 ft.! We did our best to take things slow and hydrate as we continued to adjust to the altitude.

Before long, Mike’s family arrived, as well as the rest of our crew – my two best friends from college and Mike’s best bud.

Once everyone was cozy, I seized the opportunity to gather the gals together for a little gift exchange. Included in the gifts was a pair of ear plugs. Because… having your wedding night in a cabin with your best friends and new in-laws could get slightly weird, if you know what I mean. #sorrynotsorry

We finished the night eating at Beau Jo’s Pizza – and I LOVED that they had gluten-free/ dairy-free pizza I could eat! Anytime I can find these accommodations, it’s such a dang treat.

Adventure Elopement Day

I woke up early the next morning feeling anxious and tired – but SO excited.

To keep myself calm, I practiced some helpful self-care:

  • Enjoying the view from the deck as I sipped coffee and wrote in my journal.
  • Convincing my best friend to lead us through a relaxing and restorative yoga session.
  • Soaking in a luxurious bubble bath with a giant bottle of kombucha, a face mask, and a scented candle.

Afterward, we all worked together to prep for the adventure – organizing and loading gear, packing wedding clothes in backpacks, getting dressed in our hiking attire, and finally – tackling my hair and makeup.

Now, let me just tell you: For a non-girly girl, the task of making myself up in such a way that would a) look good in pictures and b) hold up during a day of hiking in the mountains was a teensy bit stressful.

Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to our elopement, I managed to acquire all of the necessities and do a few practice runs to make sure I’d be ready.

Once I was gorgeous and ready, we packed up the vehicles (one for girls, one for dudes) and headed to the trailhead to meet Laura and Hugo in person for the very first time!

It was a windy road with a steep drop off, so we drove slow. I didn’t feel the need to die on my wedding day. The boys were behind us, and I can only imagine the snarky comments they made about our driving.

Whatever, boys. Get over it.

When we arrived at the Chief Mountain trailhead, Laura and Hugo were there waiting for us. They were so patient and kind as we clumsily worked to gather our gear and suit up. As soon as we had our trekking poles in hand and ice-spikes on our boots, we were off!

Starting elevation: 10,800 ft.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

I don’t remember much from the hike up the mountain – only that I kept stopping to marvel at the incredible beauty. The crispy white snow juxtaposed against the deep alpine green… the love and support I felt from our friends and family… the pure joy on Mike’s face as he hiked with me…

I couldn’t believe we actually made this happen, and more importantly, I couldn’t believe that once we reached the top of the mountain and got married, that I would need to hike down the mountain… in my wedding dress.

Instead of worrying about it, tried to focus on the beauty of the day, and how incredibly happy and excited everyone was. Especially Mike.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Just before we summited, Laura & Hugo staked out areas for us to change. The girls getting the bride ready, and the guys helping the groom. My nerves were flying high trying to remember everything I needed to do. The temperature had dropped significantly at the edge of the tree line (around 40 degrees), and I knew it was going to be super cold at the peak with the 20+ mph winds that were forecasted for the day. I reminded myself to take deep breaths and trust that everything would be okay.

Summit elevation: 11,710 ft.

Laura and the rest of my girl gang were so helpful as I prepared myself – being careful to not tear my dress as I stepped in with ice-spikes on my boots, painstakingly looping all of my buttons, covering me in body warmers, and offering refreshments when I forgot to eat.

A very special item I brought that day was a silver locket with a picture of my daughter. She wasn’t able to make the trip with us, but I needed her to be with me as Mike and I joined our lives together.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Meanwhile, the guys were joking around and being silly as they got ready. Is he seriously flipping someone the bird?? He’s lucky he’s cute. lol.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Once we gave them the all-clear, Mike headed up near the peak and positioned himself with his back toward me. I snuck up behind him very quietly and gave him a tap on the shoulder.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

In the two years I had known him, this was the first time I saw him cry. Those tears melted my heart, and I knew I was marrying someone who would cherish me forever.

After the first look, Laura & Hugo corralled us together for the ceremony. The spot they chose was epic. The panoramic view of the alpine peaks below and the blue sky soaring above left me breathless.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Mike’s brother gave a brief homily and then we read our vows we had written for one another. I was shaking from the cold, trying so hard to stand still and take in the moment.

His vows were beautiful – mine paled in comparison.

We then exchanged rings and my dear friend read a special prayer she wrote for us. It was gorgeous and perfect.

We were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Katie Dancer, and then we CELEBRATED!

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

And what an occasion to celebrate.

This vision I’ve had for so long. The longing for someone to come along who would share my adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors. Who would be willing to do wild and crazy things with me without a second thought. Who would make me laugh until I cry… help me to be free… love me for who I am… welcome me into his family…

And yes, even get married on a mountaintop…

was finally coming true.

I look back at the woman I was ten years ago, and I am so damn proud of her for refusing to settle for less than she deserved. Less than she needed. For struggling through years of darkness, despair, and the incredibly tough work of internal healing. For feeling scared – terrified, really – but trusting that God had a life for her more wonderful than she could ever imagine.

Marrying Mike on that mountaintop was a symbol to me of God’s unrelenting love. For his undying quest to fight for me. To strengthen me. To answer my prayers. To heal me.

And now, I have in Mike a partner who sees me and accepts me for who I am – and loves me fiercely. Even when it’s difficult. And that, my friends, is a wonderful place to be. It’s safety. It’s home.

After much rejoicing, we made the trek down the mountain to hit all the gorgeous photo ops. My female entourage McGyver’ed my dress up so it wouldn’t tear or get dirty as we hiked, and it made the trek so much easier. The journey down went smoothly as we chatted with Laura and Hugo and learned a little more about them.

Before I knew it, we were back at the Chief Mountain trailhead and ready to find more scenic spots on the way back to the cabin. One at Three Sisters and another at Echo Lake.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Back at our Air B&B, I was SO RELIEVED to put on warm clothes, sign our marriage license, and go to dinner.

We enjoyed a low-key reception at MTN Prime in Idaho Springs feasting on steak dinners, cocktails, and a wedding cake that even I could eat!

Laura & Hugo were able to join us, and we had a great time winding down after our amazing day.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Sitting around the table with our amazing crew and my new husband, I realized that though I was utterly spent, I felt so very lucky, so very happy, and so very ready for our next big adventure.

(photo cred: Together We Roam)

Published by adventurewithkatie82

Newbie adventure writer! Learn more about me at www.adventurewithkatie.com.

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