Star Gazing Mountain Engagement Adventures



Star Gazing Mountain Engagement Adventures | Julianne + Darren


We started our adventures few months ago when I first met these two adventurous souls at my studio for just a conversation about mountains, Colorado, plans for Julianna+ Darren’s  timeless wedding at Della Terra Mountain Chateau

May 2019, and adventures around Rocky Mountains for their engagement session. “Della Terra is a luxury, boutique inn and wedding venue located above Estes Park at the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The Chateau rests atop fourteen secluded acres, nestled in untouched nature and the majestic grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. Escape to Della Terra, your romantic Colorado Mountain Getaway.”

When we envisioned our wedding in our own separate minds we had one common theme – mountains. With both of us believing that the mountains were a place of spiritual sanctuary, we knew that we wanted to say our vows in witness not only of our family and closest friends, but surrounded by the majestic beauty of the peaks.


Hiking has been a hobby that has bonded us since the very beginning, and over the past four years we have loved every opportunity to lace up our boots and hit the trails together. We love nothing more than to choose a hike less-traveled and enjoy a well-earned PBJ sandwich at the top, or as we like to call it, “lunch with a view.” With no cellphone service, we are at the mercy of the elements and our own devices, so our hiking adventures have served as reflections to some of the pillars of our relationship: support, encouragement and trust.


As a couple, we have not only climbed physical mountains together, but metaphorical ones as well. When people say their vows, they speak the words “to have and to hold… through sickness and in health”, but many have not truly experienced what that may mean. In 2016, Darren underwent a bone marrow transplant at the National Institutes of Health. It was a time that tested us not only as humans, but tested the strength of our relationship.  In a world of uncertainty, we found solace and strength in our unwavering commitment to each other and continue to do so to this day. We are partners in life and in love. We are each other’s person, best friend, confidant and hero. We are soulmates. “In a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”


Why we chose Justyna:


We desperately wanted to find a photographer capable of capturing all the nuances of our love. Upon googling “Colorado adventure photographers”, we found Justyna’s portfolio and it was immediately obvious that she was “the one.” She is exceptionally sweet, enthusiastic and passionate about the work she does, and we absolutely loved her desire to photograph raw, organic images rather than staged poses. We are very excited for Justyna to be a part of our story– from alpenglow to “crazy-in-love-we’re married-glow!” – let the adventure begin!”




On the morning of our engagement shoot, the alarms sounded at 2:15am. Normally it would feel like pulling teeth to wake up so early, especially on a Saturday, but instead we rolled out of bed without even hitting snooze—fueled by the excitement of what was to come! When we arrived in Estes Park shortly before 4:30, it was a ghost town. Not a creature was stirring, not even the Starbucks. We met Justyna in the library parking lot and despite the early hour, she was bubbly and full of energy. “Are you ready for snuggles?!” She called out her window to us, clapping her hands with excitement. “Let’s go!” On this particular night it was a new moon, so as we weaved our way up Trail Ridge Road into Rocky Mountain National Park, we had only our headlights to guide our path.


Adorned in headlamps, we made our way out onto a small, rocky outcropping. Hands clasped tightly, we gazed out into the night. The stars twinkled overhead – all the constellations smiling down on us. As Justyna’s camera clicked quietly in the background, we couldn’t help but whisper to each other how amazing this was already.


With blue hour starting to reveal the silhouettes of the peaks, we moved to our second location as it would only be a matter of time before the alpenglow was upon us. With Justyna’s guidance, we made our way to a high rock point that jutted out like a reaching arm to the sky. It is hard to truly capture with words the experience of watching the sun kiss the mountain tops while holding the person you love in your arms. It is nothing short of magical, and an experience we won’t soon forget. For the next hour we danced, we laughed, we kissed and snuggled. We were completely lost in each other’s eyes as the warm sun finally crested, bathing us in golden light. We spent the rest of the day after our shoot buzzing about the experience. It was everything we had hoped it would be and so much more. Later that night Justyna texted us a sneak peek of what was to come. As expected, the picture was one word – perfect.

About Justyna

Colorado & Worldwide

Colorado-based adventure elopement photographer Justyna Butler is truly an adventurous soul, specializing in elopements and intimate weddings both locally and around the world. Inspired by the beauty surrounding her in nature, she loves mountains, light, and intimate connections — all of which she combines flawlessly in her images. She not only captures the biggest moments on your wedding day, but also the in-between moments that make your story unique, the ones you’ll want to remember for a lifetime. Hire Justyna E Butler Photography wherever your adventure takes you.



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  1. Oh wow, this star-gazing mountain engagement adventure is so freaking cool! Those star shots with the headlamps are incredible! I bet they love these!

  2. Oh my gosh what a unique idea! Love the night time ones and the up close ones. I might also add, she has such nice lips haha!
    Well done!

  3. They are so adorable!!! That yellow dress is to die for!!! OMG! I love them all. The headlamp photos are so much fun too. Beautiful job Justyna <3

  4. Epic photography as always! Your work is incredible! This couple truly compliments each other and I love the words from them you included.

  5. What a killer session in RMNP! The headlamps made for some great shots. Emotional and beautiful as always!

  6. I love this adventure session! What a sweet couple- I love that they got up so early to capture these with you!

  7. What a special adventure in the Colorado Mountains! They are so lucky to have had you along to share their story, with both your words and your camera!

  8. Colorado will always be the perfect spot for adventure sessions. I love the first headlamp shot in this post as well!

  9. oh my goodness, these are literally unreal. Obsessed with this alpine adventure engagement session. Love love love how well you told this story. All of the colors & emotion in every photo is breathtaking, but those first blue hour star images are unreal beautiful. You are an incredible artist & storyteller!

  10. Loved that first image with the headlamp lighting their faces and the stars in the background. Your adventure photography in Colorado is truly top notch!! Cheers.

  11. What an incredible Alpine adventure engagement. The colors and location are epic, and so is this beautiful couple! The star shot looks breathtaking!

  12. Ahhh, this alpine adventure engagement is incredible! I am CRAZY loving the night shots with the headlamps! So original.