Even if you’re from Colorado, it’s important to consider the affects of altitude on your day. You should definitely consider the thinner air and possible effects (aka altitude sickness) but also take into account the strength of the sun and the changes in temperature.
First up, altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is no joke and can make you feel awful for 24-48 hours. If you don’t currently live in Colorado, you have family coming in from out of state, or you’re planning a wedding in a Colorado mountain town (aka, at higher elevation), you’ll want to take some precautions. Some people think that being in shape can help you ward off altitude sickness, but it’s not a guaranteed action plan! And altitude sickness can strike almost anyone, even those seasoned in spending time in the mountains of Colorado.
Check out the Tips for Getting Married at Altitude below.
Altitudes around the United States (ft above sea level):
Seattle, WA = 187 ft
Burlington, VT = 200 ft
Washington DC = 410 ft
Chicago, IL = 594 ft
Charlotte, NC = 761 ft
Oklahoma City = 1201 ft
Santa Fe, NM – 7199 ft
Altitudes in Colorado
Denver, CO = 5280 ft
Boulder = 5328 ft
Carbondale = 6181 ft
Ouray = 7792 ft
Vail = 8022 ft (though some venues, like Piney River Ranch, are 10,000 feet)
Aspen = 8000 ft
Telluride = 8750 ft
Winter Park = 9121 ft
Breckenridge = 9600 ft
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
Shortness of Breath
10 Tips for Getting Married at Altitude in Colorado
The tips below can be helpful in helping you and your guests prepare for a Colorado Mountain Wedding
- Drink water. And I mean gallons of it. In fact, start hydrating the week before your wedding, especially if you’re flying in from out of state. I would recommend adding an extra Nalgene of water to your daily intake for the few days before you enter Colorado
- Acclimate at lower elevations. If you’re coming from out of state, consider driving into Colorado from your home. Driving takes longer than flying and the extra time helps you acclimate to altitude changes more slowly. So you’re less likely to feel the affects when you finally arrive.
- If you’re flying into Denver from closer to sea level, plan to spend a couple of days in the city before heading up in to the mountains. This gives your body time to adjust to being a mile up in altitude before you ascend several thousand more feet.
- If you can arrive early, plan a day or two of hiking and excursions in the mountains and then come back to Denver to sleep. These up and down shifts in altitude will help your body cope on wedding day.
- Bring portable oxygen for your guests. You can purchase portable oxygen cans at outdoor stores. Consider having some on hand on your wedding day in case guests start to feel affected during the party.
- Go easy on the drinking. Alcohol hits you harder at elevation. Make sure your guest (especially your out of town ones!) know this ahead of time and ask them to go easy.
- Eat your carbs. Carbs help our body absorb oxygen better so plan on a meal or two of good Italian after you arrive.
- Wear sunscreen. The air is thinner in Colorado so the sun’s rays have less atmosphere to pass through before they hit your skin. Couple that with the 300+ days of sunshine we get, and you might end up burnt. If your wedding outfit is sleeveless, take extra care to liberally apply sunscreen to your shoulders and back on the days prior to the wedding. Or you might end up with some unsightly tan lines!
- In addition, the sun can feel super intense, even if the air temperature isn’t very hot. It’s common for people to feel light headed or dizzy in intense direct sun. If possible, make sure that you have shade options for yourself and your guests throughout your wedding day, and places for people to sit down.
- Bring layers to your wedding. Even in the summer, the air cools down significantly in the mountains after dark. It’s not uncommon for an 80 degree day to drop down to mid 50’s after the sun goes down. Considering that most weddings end after dark, you’ll want to make sure that your guests are comfortable. Consider wraps, sweaters, fire pits, and portable heaters to make your outdoor reception cozy and comfortable.
Love the idea of a wedding in the mountains, but aren’t sure which venue is right for you? Check out my venue resources to help guide you to the perfect one!