A Rio Grande Gorge Elopement

Taos New Mexico Elopement Adventure Wedding

The Rio Grande Gorge is an incredible place to be married! If you’re interested in eloping here or anywhere in the area, check out my Guide to Eloping in New Mexico that’s full of tips and location suggestions. Or get in touch and let’s talk about what your elopement day could look like!

It was a beautiful fall day in northern New Mexico when Amy + Renee stood on the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge and married. This adventurous Taos elopement was such a joy to be a part of! These brides put so much thought into their little ceremony, and added so many personal touches. And the location! Taos is such a beautiful area, and I love that this spot was more than just a pretty location to the brides. Read all about it in Amy’s account of the day and all their special details!

“When we were planning our wedding, we knew we wanted it to be an intimate adventure ceremony, an elopement. At first, we were planning for only ourselves and a photographer to travel to a state where we could wed ourselves. We knew we wanted a beautiful mountain backdrop, as we spend so much time camping, hiking, traveling, and backpacking. Then the more we discussed it, we realized that we wanted to be able to share our day with some of those we hold dearest. We decided to move the elopement closer to home, to Taos, NM where Renée’s 92-year-old grandfather lives so he could attend also.

We kept the ceremony very simple and small, as we had always wanted, and planned for a larger backyard celebration the following weekend at Renée’s mother’s home in Albuquerque, NM. Our closest friends, and a few family members from each side joined us for our wedding day at the edge of the Rio Grande River Gorge during a beautiful autumn evening on October 8th, 2017. My dear friend Ashley acted as officiant, a promise made many years ago when Ashley was the first person I came out to as gay, long before marriage equality in the USA.

We did not want to have anything elaborate at our ceremony, as we wanted the focus to be on the gorgeous surroundings and each other, so we only brought a rug to stand on as a couple. We put thought into our attire, special ordering many details, and each picking a gift to send each other on the day of the ceremony along with a hand-written letter. We also asked each person attending to pick out a poem to bring with them to recite at the ceremony. Renée and I wrote half of our vows together and half individually, beginning and ending our vows with the same lines but speaking about our unique love for one another in the middle. We also each chose a poem to read to each other, Renée’s, naturally being her own poem from the book she proposed to me with.

The day before the ceremony, we all road-tripped and stayed together on the family property. As we drove to Taos, Ashley asked Renée and I questions about our relationship, love and what marriage meant to us as we finalized the ceremony script. We also added a few quirky additions like a surprise rock paper scissors contest for who read their vows first. There was nothing about our ceremony that wasn’t perfectly us.

The next morning, I made breakfast for everyone and then we all explored Taos until the afternoon when we began to get ready. Before the ceremony, Renée and I not only exchanged gifts and letters while getting ready, we decided to also have a moment to ourselves in the mountains. Renée was getting ready in one family home with the help of our friend Kale and I was getting ready with Ashley and my sister, Rosetta, in the other house. So, we had friends drive us up separately to the Taos Ski Valley for a reveal. Both of us had been so nervous all day and I am so glad that we decided to do the reveal in the mountains first. Immediately my nerves were gone when I turned to see Renée and only excitement remained. We drove to the ceremony site together, followed by our family.

We started our ceremony with the sharing of poems, all gathered in a circle at the edge of the river gorge with the mountains in the background. Each poem was so thoughtfully chosen and reflected the love that surrounded us. There wasn’t a dry eye to be found. Renée’s grandfather read from a book in both English and Spanish that he used to read to his late wife, also my favorite poet, so Renée’s Grandma, too, was with us. It was a very moving moment that we will always treasure. We followed that with rock, paper, scissors and laughs when I lost. I had my younger sister carry Renée’s ring, and Renée’s cousin carried mine, which we exchanged at the same time as our vows.

One of our favorite moments came after Ashley announced us wed when a pack of coyotes down in the canyon joined in the cheers of our friends and family and serenaded us all back with their howls. We also followed the ceremony with a toast and when I popped a bottle of champagne that had traveled up to our high elevation with us, the cork flew so far into the gorge that it looked like it could very well have landed on the other side. More cheers and laughter all around!

Looking back, there is not a single thing we would have changed or did differently for our ceremony. Having our celebration a full week later turned out to be a stressor and we would have had them closer in hindsight, but the ceremony was perfection. We do not regret the simplicity, or keeping it small. It was intimate, every bit the two of us, and so very full of love. The setting was breathtaking, and it is a place we can revisit often and easily. Everything was beyond meaningful! We were able to be fully present, along with all of those surrounding us, and relish each detail. After the wedding Renee and I stopped at the house to grab our overnight bags and whisked ourselves away to a romantic dinner alone flowed but a cozy fireplace lit stay in a yurt in the mountains.”

– Amy

Taos, New Mexico Elopement Wedding Vendors:

Florals | Floriography
Amy’s skirt | Jordan de Ruiter
Amy’s top | BHLDN
Amy’s shoes | Bali ELF
Amy’s necklace | With Love, Abella
Amy’s earrings | Maya Jewelry
Amy’s wedding rings | Alexis Russell
Renee’s suit | H&M
Renee’s shoes | Frye
Renee’s floral tie | Alex Hans
Renee’s ring | Wooden Wear
Renee’s hair | Sammy at Stay True Barber shop
Photographer | Julie Haider Elopement Photography

Same-sex couple kisses on the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge at sunset
Wedding couple looks out over the Rio Grande Gorge to the mountains of Taos.

Ready to plan your own elopement?

Hey, I’m Julie — I’d love to help you craft an elopement day full of peace, enjoying nature, and deep connection with each other and document every moment! 📸

Most couples lack the time and expertise to plan an epic elopement day. And that’s why I’m here to help you create a meaningful celebration with ease. ✨


  1. Brandi says:

    This desert elopement is perfect. This really makes me want to visit Taos, New Mexico! Also, they have the best style.

  2. Carey Nash says:

    Amazing day and such greta emotions throughout. That backdrop though, makes me want to visit the desert so badly. New Mexico here I come!

  3. Alexandria says:

    Aww, this is so perfect LOVE their emotions!

  4. SIenna says:

    Wow, Taos looks like such a magical place for an elopement! Loving those vast New Mexico skies. What a fun adventure!

  5. Emily says:

    Oh my gosh, their style is impeccable! I’m so in love the this desert adventure wedding and they’re lucky to have had you there to capture it.

  6. First off – WHAT A BADASS COUPLE!! How do I become friends with them? I love that they chose to elope in the New Mexico desert – the whole day looks like a dream. It should go without saying that you did a lovely job with the photography, but I’ll say it anyway 🙂

  7. Traci says:

    Looks like such a sweet New Mexico wedding lovely photos

  8. Maddie Mae says:

    This Taos elopement is a desert fairytale!!

  9. I’m convinced the Southwest is the most stunning landscape and this New Mexico elopement does not disappoint! Seriously so beautiful.

  10. Wow, the colors + love in this Rio Grande Gorge elopement in Taos are perfectly captured. Couldn’t imagine them choosing a better New Mexico photographer!

  11. What an incredible location for this elopement in Taos! And you have done such an incredible job capturing this gorgeous New Mexico adventure wedding, they will cherish those pictures forever!

  12. Kirsty says:

    Your creativity is amazing.

  13. Deborah Burns says:

    The wedding rings are beautiful. Where were they sourced?

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Julie Haider is an adventure elopement photographer + planner based in New Mexico and photographing destination elopements worldwide.


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