Lake Dillon Anniversary Session // Silverthorne, CO


Bride and groom elope at Lake Dillon in December

Stephanie and Spencer braved one of the coldest sunrises I've ever experienced for their magical winter photoshoot on Loveland Pass. The dashboard of my car read 17 degrees as I pulled into the snowy parking lot at 11,990 feet. It was 6:45am and the snow was falling gently outside. I spotted a white Dodge van in the parking area, and at that moment Spencer opened the door to flag me down. He looked around at the December morning and I snapped my first photo of the day.


You may already be asking yourself: why wake up so early just to freeze your butt off? Most of the world would agree with you. Hardly anyone was on the road that morning. The snowboarder I stopped for on my drive up said it had been weeks since his last runs in this area. This morning's snow was powdery and perfect, but in many areas it sat on top of a windblown icy crust. He didn't seem to care as we wound up to the top - snow is snow. I'll also take a moment to mention that picking up hitchhikers on Loveland Pass is common. Skiers and snowboarders drive to the bottom, catch a ride up, and ski back down to their car. Repeatedly! I've even seen groups of 4 crouching in the bed of a pickup truck on the drive to the top. Considering the steep drop-off and the fact that there are no guard rails on the Pass, I doubt you could ever convince me to do that. It's certainly cheaper than a lift ticket at a fancy resort where the safety of a chairlift and some groomed runs await, but for some folks the resorts can't hold a candle to the backcountry adventure.


So why were we freezing our butts off (and our fingers, toes and noses)? This December morning was the first anniversary of Stephanie and Spencer's elopement. One year before we had met for photos in Boulder after they went to the courthouse to sign a marriage license. They had planned to have a wedding with family and friends in February 2022 that I was excited to photograph for them. But, as fate would have it, the Air Force wanted them relocated to Florida before they could have the wedding they planned for.


Eager to make as many memories in Colorado as they could, and to still celebrate their marriage, they emailed me with the subject line "Photoshoot in the Mountains." Well, you had me at hello Steph. We started to plan this special day for them, and so there we were - freezing butts and all.


We started the morning in their van. Stephanie put the kettle on while Spencer tidied up their living space and pulled out a Pendleton blanket of his father's. They made hot cocoa and ate muffins and watched the snow accumulate around them. I photographed from a distance with snowflakes in my hair, running around as happy as a little kid. And, lucky me, when we took our first warm-up break I received a mug of hot cocoa for my icy fingers from Stephanie.


We wandered around the trails at the top of the Pass that morning waiting for a sunrise that came just as we were about to head down the mountain to Lake Dillon. At high elevations you never know what you're going to get. Being ready to embrace all weather, and often extreme weather, is a prerequisite! Embrace it we did. We laughed, we shivered, and we shared many glances that seemed to say "what the f are we doing up here?!" By comparison, the 35 degree morning and the warmth of the sunlight in Silverthorne felt tropical. The wind was calm at lower elevation and Stephanie and Spencer renewed their vows in comfort on a beach that looked straight out of Iceland. As our two hours together came to a close, Stephanie tossed her bouquet to Spencer, these two gifted me a bottle of wine and chocolates (thank you!), and we parted ways with big hugs. They climbed back into their van to nap as I started my drive home. The whole day stretched out before us, and I personally felt fulfilled knowing I had a more epic experience before 9am than most people would have that day, week, or even month.


Do you have any questions about anniversary shoots, preparing for a winter elopement, or traveling in Colorado? Let me know in the comments!


Groom in snow in Silverthorne, CO

Bride getting ready in snow in Silverthorne, CO

Bride prepares hot chocolate for winter wedding

Bride and groom keep warm under blanket for winter wedding

Bride and groom bundle up in their van on snowy day

Bride and groom sit in van at top of Loveland Pass

Groom and bride warm up in van before winter wedding on Loveland Pass

Bride and groom prepare hot chocolate for winter wedding on Loveland Pass

Bride and groom get ready for their winter wedding on Loveland Pass

Couple prepare for snowy ceremony in Silverthorne

Bride and groom drink hot chocolate at top of Loveland Pass

Bride and groom enjoy hot chocolate on snowy wedding day

Bride and groom drink hot chocolate in van

Bride and groom sip hot chocolate before winter wedding

Couple warms up in van before snowy wedding day

Bride and groom pose in front of van on Loveland Pass

Winter wedding ceremony at Loveland Pass, CO

Couple embrace at Loveland Pass during winter wedding ceremony

Snowy panorama of winter wedding ceremony on Loveland Pass

Snowy winter ceremony on Loveland Pass

Lace wedding dress on Loveland Pass

Couple walking through snowy mountains during winter wedding ceremony

Bride in lace wedding dress in the winter

Bride and groom hike in mountains for winter elopement

Bride and groom hiking in the snow on Loveland Pass

Couple hug in snow on Loveland Pass during winter elopement

Bride and groom stand in snow on Loveland Pass

Bride and groom embrace in snow in Silverthorne

Bride and groom exchange vows on Loveland Pass in the snow

Bride and groom kiss in the snow on Loveland Pass

Bride and groom embrace on snowy mountains on Loveland Pass

Bride and groom pose on Loveland Pass for winter elopement

Winter bride in hiking in hiking boots in the snow

Snowy mountain view of Loveland Pass during winter elopement

Bride and groom walk on snowy shore of Lake Dillon

Bride and groom embrace on Lake Dillon during winter elopement

Couple exchanges vows in Silverthorne during winter elopement

Groom reads vows during winter elopement at Lake Dillon

Bride reads vows at winter elopement in Silverthorne

Bride and groom kiss at Lake Dillon during winter elopement

Bride and groom exchange vows at Lake Dillon in winter elopement

Panorama view of bride and groom marrying at Lake Dillon

Bride and groom hug on Lake Dillon during winter wedding ceremony

Hugging bride and groom on shore of Lake Dillon in December

Groom kisses bride at Lake Dillon in December

Bride and groom pose at Lake Dillon during winter wedding ceremony

Bride and groom walk toward snowy mountains during winter wedding ceremony

Bride and groom embrace on Lake Dillon with a mountain backdrop

Groom holds bride in lace wedding dress during winter wedding ceremony

Bride and groom hold hands during winter mountain wedding

Bride and groom poses on shores of Lake Dillon in December

Groom poses on Lake Dillon in December

Bride in lace wedding dress on Lake Dillon in December

Wedding ring and flower bouquet in winter wedding ceremony

Bride tosses flower bouquet during winter wedding ceremony

Bride tosses flower bouquet on shore of Lake Dillon

Bride with flower bouquet in winter wedding


Bride and groom embrace on shore of Lake Dillon in the winter

Bride and groom hold hands at Lake Dillon

Diamond ring and gold ring with snowy mountain backdrop

Bride and groom smiling at Lake Dillon

Bride flower bouquet in winter wedding ceremony

Bride and groom walk to snowy Lake Dillon

Couple overlooking Lake Dillon during winter wedding ceremony