One of my most popular winter locations for engagements, proposals, and bridal sessions is the Ice Castles in Dillon, CO. The elaborate castle-like structures make for a super unique backdrop, especially as the sun sets and the vibrant LED sculptures give off a cool (pun intended) neon vibe.
Wayne contacted me to plan a surprise proposal to Michelle while they were visiting the mountains from Texas. We originally discussed a different location after dark, but a last minute change of plans found us at the Ice Castles in the early afternoon. As they wandered through the mazes and paths of the castle, Wayne dropped onto one knee to ask Michelle to be his wife. Of course she said yes! The Ice Castles is (almost) always busy so although it's not a super private location for a proposal, it's very easy for a photographer to hide in the crowd and capture the moment with some pre-planning and communication.
Eric and Lauren planned their engagement photos at the Ice Castles in the late afternoon. They came with 2 different outfits and the staff at the castles were kind enough to let them step out the exit to change and then come back in with their second look. The cloudy, flat light afternoon and blue ice popped with Lauren's bright red dress and the cozy knit blanket they wrapped up in until sunset gave way to vibrant colors in the sky and from the sculptures. Bringing two outfits and choosing the late afternoon provides 2 completely different looks for engagement photos - one more classic and sophisticated and one that is fun and vibrant.
After dark is the most magical time in the Ice Castle and that's what Paul and Daisy chose for their bridal session. After doing a first look on Lake Dillon, we braved sub zero temperatures in January to capture some of the incredible colors of the castle after the sun had set. The neon lights gave their photos a whimsical, fairytale feel (and we even had an unbelievable moon overhead to add to the drama). After dark is the busiest time of day at the Ice Castles, so expect to spend a fair amount waiting for the right moment when there's no people in your background for each photo.
Pros of an Ice Castle session:
It's a cool experience - there only 4 of these Ice Castles in the country
The LED lights make for a great after dark location
Open 7 days a week during the winter
Easy to access and not hard to navigate through
You can spend as much or as little time as you want inside
No special permits or fees for photography
Cons of an Ice Castle session:
The castles are typically very crowded
You need to plan far in advance to ensure you have a ticket (very few walkup tickets are sold)
Costs about $18+ per person depending on the day of the week
Parking can be a challenge
There's not always a place to change if you plan for multiple outfits
Beginning increasingly popular and less unique
If you're willing to bear the cold and crowds for some incredible photos, the Ice Castles might be a cool option for your winter session! Visit www.icecastles.com/colorado for more information and to purchase tickets or comment with any questions/experiences you've had at the castles.