For their summer wedding, Jared (he/him) and Ron (he/him) traveled from their home in Columbus, Indiana, to Ouray, Colorado. Jared is a fan of hiking, and the couple are fans of being outdoors. As the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado,” Ouray was a dream location, with mountains, water, cliffs and canyons. The grooms entrusted their photographer to find the perfect spot for their elopement and actually didn’t know the exact location until they arrived there by way of a Jeep. Their ceremony took place at 13,000 feet elevation, overlooking the San Juan Mountain peaks.

Jared and Ron’s wedding colors were navy and burgundy. The gay grooms wanted something that would stand out with the greens and grays of their natural surroundings and the August weather. Their ties were muted versions of each other’s suit colors, which were complemented by matching pocket squares and handmade paper flower lapel pins.

We caught up with Jared to hear more about this epic elopement.

Who proposed?

I wouldn’t say that we ever had a formal proposal. When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in 2015, we knew it would be in our future. We just didn’t feel in a rush to make it official, with Ron finishing his master’s degree and me considering a career change as well. In the last couple of years, we talked about starting a family and so the timing felt right for us to say “I do.”

Tell us your love story!

Our story began 13 years ago, so this was a long time coming. We actually met on Myspace when that was still a thing. We grew up in neighboring towns in Indiana, and Ron says that he first laid eyes on me when I attended his high school prom a few years prior to our official meeting. We began dating in 2009, and moved into an apartment together later that year. We later purchased our first home and have been there to support each other during our long career and academic endeavors. Ron just finished his master of science in nursing degree and has been working as a nurse practitioner, and I am almost finished with my degree in dental hygiene. The next step for us is a bigger home and starting a family!

Tell us about your elopement ceremony.

Our photographer, Sean, picked us up at four in the morning with his buddy who had a Jeep equipped for off-roading. It was chilly, dark and bumpy as we made our way up the mountains and exchanged stories. We arrived at the top of the mountains at around six, and the sun was just about ready to peek through. We grabbed our suits out of the bags and stood on opposite sides of the Jeep to get ready, using only the tinted windows for reflection. Since we couldn’t see each other getting dressed, this gave us the opportunity for a proper first look. I stood on a rocky slope while Ron came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder to signal for me to turn around.

Our ceremony was just us, standing on a rocky spot, secluded from the rest of the world and exchanging our handwritten vows with each other. It was a raw and emotional moment for us. The sun had begun to rise and the warmth was glowing on our cheeks as we read our promises and the things we loved about one another. We exchanged rings out of a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that had been hollowed to expose the chapter “The Unbreakable Vow.” You can actually self-solemnize in Colorado, so we were our own officiant!

How did you celebrate after the ceremony?

After our ceremony, we hiked and adventured around the area. This particular mountaintop had three lakes nestled within its ridges and snow banks that survived the summer months. It seemed you could walk just a few feet and your entire view would change. It was endlessly beautiful. We capped off our morning by opening a bottle of moscato that we enjoyed directly from the bottle.

Our honeymoon and wedding were all part of the same trip. We arrived in Colorado five days prior to our ceremony, where we enjoyed a ride through the mountains on one of the oldest steam engine trains in the United States along an old mining route on one particular day and went white water rafting and ziplining on another. We enjoyed the many dining options and walked around shops admiring the work of local artists. In the days after our ceremony, we traveled to more locations around the state partaking in the most beautiful hikes that I have ever seen.

What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples or marriers?

Your day is about the two of you, so you should do what makes you happy. Have fun, see the world and enjoy the company of each other. The most important thing is that at the end of the day, you are happy.

What advice would you give to vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples?

Please make it known that you work with LGBTQ+ couples! Include your work with these couples on your website and social media. That played a huge part in selecting our photographer because we saw that he had worked with same-sex couples in the past. You may know that you are inclusive, but your potential customers may not, so definitely put it out there.

Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as LGBTQ+ marriers planning your wedding?

Yes! Being from such a conservative state like Indiana, we are used to feeling like we maybe need to hide ourselves at times. Colorado was a completely different experience. Everyone we encountered was so friendly and inviting. The difference between the two states socially speaking was night and day. The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

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Photographer: Sean Oblizalo of Vows and Peaks
Location: Ouray, Colorado
Attire: Express; Dazi
Rings: Blue Nile
Hand-pressed vow books: LabyrinthPress on Etsy
Ring book: SecretSafeBooks on Etsy
Lapel pins: Darvart on Etsy

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