Eloping in Arizona is a dream come true. From the red rocks of Sedona to the incredible Grand Canyon, there are so many amazing places for an adventurous elopement.
Where else can get married on the side of a cliff surrounded by spiritual energy, or take a Jeep 4x4ing to your wedding venue? Elope in Arizona and you’ll have a memory for a lifetime (and some absolutely amazing photos!)
If you’re looking to skip the traditional wedding day and have an elopement adventure that truly reflects your love, you’re in the right place. This is your complete guide to an Arizona elopement, including elopement packages, how to elope, the best locations, and everything else you need to know.
Eloping in Arizona
An elopement is all about doing what you want to do on your wedding day, and if you’re eloping in Arizona, there are so many amazing activities you can do! This is truly the place for an adventure elopement.
The Red Rock State is a world-class destination for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and off-roading. There are plenty of activities for the less outdoorsy as well, like hot air balloon rides, wine tasting, and exploring beautiful historic towns.
An Arizona elopement amongst red rocks and stunning views might sound like a dream, but there can be a bit more paperwork involved in Arizona than in other states when it comes to marriage licenses and location permits (another great reason to hire an elopement photographer!)
That’s why I created this guide of elopement planning resources. I know planning your elopement day can be stressful, so I wanted this blog post to be your ultimate guide to eloping in Arizona.
I’ve included everything you need to know to legally elope, as well as links and instructions for your marriage license and any permits you’ll need for the destinations on this list.
Arizona Elopement Locations
There are so many amazing locations in Arizona, choosing just one place for your elopement ceremony might be the hardest part of the planning process!
As your elopement photographer and an Arizona local (in winter), I can help you avoid crowds (which are unfortunately common in some places) and find an incredible location that’s unique to you.
And don’t worry— you don’t have to choose a single location if you don’t want to! I offer full-day coverage as part of my elopement packages, so you can incorporate more than one place into your special day.
If you’re thinking of a destination elopement in Arizona, you’ve likely seen some amazing photos of a cliffside wedding ceremony in Sedona or the Grand Canyon. I’m here to tell you there’s more to this amazing state than those two locations!
While Sedona and the Grand Canyon are amazing, there are lots of other places to elope in Arizona where you can avoid crowds and have a more intimate elopement experience.
Here are some of my favorite places in Arizona for an elopement:
I couldn’t do a round-up of the most beautiful locations in Arizona without including Sedona. This town is famous for its red rock formations, spiritual energy, and incredible views. If you’ve seen pictures of eloping couples in Arizona, it was likely here.
Here are some of the best places in Sedona for an elopement:
- Cathedral Rock - This is one of the most popular destinations in Sedona. A short, STEEP 1-mile hike takes you to beautiful scenery and sweeping views. I would recommend eloping here very early in the morning or at sunset. While Cathedral Rock is amazing, there are pretty much always other people there. If privacy isn’t as important to you, great! If you’re looking for a more private, intimate elopement experience, keep reading.
- Bell Rock Trail/ Courthouse Butte Trails - These are popular trails, but there are lots of beautiful ceremony locations all around the butte. Note that only very small groups are allowed here.
- Doe Mountain - An amazing choice for a sunrise or sunset ceremony. Especially beautiful scenery at golden hour. You can see more of this incredible spot here.
Want to do something different in Sedona? How about a jeeping elopement!?
This is a unique, adventurous elopement experience. Imagine taking to the back roads of Sedona in an adventure vehicle and finding your own perfect ceremony location!
I own a Jeep and I love off-roading, so if this is something you’re interested in, I can help you create an amazing day!
An off-roading elopement means you can bring just about anything you want to your ceremony, whether that’s friends and family or just a whole lot of champagne (and you don’t have to worry about hiking in your wedding clothes!)
Some of the best places in Sedona for a jeeping elopement would be the Broken Arrow, Devil's Bridge, or Schnebly Hill OHV roads, but there are SO MANY amazing places to off-road in Sedona.
There are so many more places in Sedona than these popular ones. I’m an Arizona local and I’m always looking for new places. I love working with couples to find a special, off-the-beaten-path place just for them.
You will need permits to elope in Sedona, which are issued by the Forest Service.
What could be more memorable than an elopement at the Grand Canyon? The northern Arizona national park is everyone’s favorite for a reason.
A cliff-side elopement is the obvious choice in Grand Canyon National Park, but there are some even more adventurous options for a couple that really wants something special.
For example, a helicopter elopement or even a multi-day backpacking elopement would be an amazing choice. Imagine saying your vows thousands of feet in the air, or taking your first steps as a married couple on a trail deep in the backcountry.
I’m a LNT certified photographer and I have a Wilderness First Aid certification, so I’m prepared to make your most adventurous Arizona elopement come true!
Like most national parks, you will need a permit to elope in Grand Canyon National Park, which you can find here.
Lake Watson, Prescott
If you’re looking for more off-beat places to elope in Arizona, Watson Lake near Prescott is a great choice. You get dramatic rock formations, beautiful clear water, and an awesome location for rock climbing or kayaking.
Best of all, there are no permits required! (Unless you want to rent space for a larger event)
Information on permitting and rentals for eloping at Lake Watson can be found here.
Located in eastern Arizona, the Superstition Mountains are home to absolutely classic desert scenery, and they’re convenient to Phoenix and Mesa.
Lost Dutchman State Park, with its fabled lost gold mine and dramatic cliffs, makes an amazing backdrop for an Arizona elopement.
You will need a permit to get married in Lost Dutchman State Park, which you can find here.
Saguaro National Park
Of Arizona’s three national parks, Saguaro National Park is probably the most relaxed and least “touristy”. The park surrounds the city of Tucson, so it makes a convenient elopement destination.
Activities in Saguaro include dirt road drives with lots of views and hiking among the massive cactuses. If you elope here in mid-May through early June, the cactus flowers will be in bloom!
Permits for an elopement in Saguaro National Park can be found through the National Park Service here.
This iconic Arizona spot is simply magical. Antelope Canyon is famous for its undulating red rocks and ethereal light beams that steam down into the canyon at mid-day.
While Upper Antelope Canyon is the more famous portion, Lower Antelope Canyon is equally beautiful and photogenic.
It’s important to note that Antelope Canyon, and several other slot canyons in the area, are on Navajo land. You’ll need to enter the canyons on an official tour, accompanied by a Navajo guide. Restrictions and permitting requirements have changed during Covid.
There are other very similar slot canyons not super far from there that are not as well known and may allow for more privacy. (Some of which don’t require a permit)
If you’re looking for an Arizona slot canyon elopement, I can help you find a magical location as part of your Arizona elopement package.
Another amazing Lake Powell area location for an elopement is Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend features stunning, thousand-foot cliffs that drop to the Colorado River. It’s a short, easy 1-mile hike (more of a walk) from the parking area to the edge of the cliffs.
You’ll need a special use permit to have an elopement at Horseshoe Bend. You can find the permitting information here.
Monument Valley, with its iconic, sweeping views, would make for a beautiful elopement location. There are lots of places that would make an epic ceremony backdrop, and most of them are accessible with a short walk.
As this is Navajo land, you’ll need a permit from the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department, which you can get here.
Arizona Elopement Packages
Different elopement photographers and vendors offer different Arizona elopement packages. Some things you’ll want to look for in an Arizona elopement package include:
Location Scouting - Does your photographer know the area? Are they willing to help you find the perfect elopement location, or are you on your own to find your location?
An experienced photographer will know the best places for an elopement, and crucially, how to get there are when to visit. Given the immense popularity of some of these destinations, location scouting is especially important if you want to elope in Arizona.
Permitting & Paperwork Help - I get it— between the national parks, tribal nations, and the local and state authorities, finding the right permits for your elopement can be confusing. Especially if you’re coming to elope in Arizona from out of state, this stuff can be challenging.
Your photographer should be able to make sure you have all the right permits and documents so you can be legally married at the spot you chose for your elopement.
I offer permitting help as part of all of my Arizona elopement packages, and I love being able to do this because I know my couple’s day will be totally stress-free.
Photography & Coverage - How long will your photographer be with you on your elopement day? Some elopement packages include one, two, or three hours of photo coverage (I offer full-day coverage)
While you might think you’ll remember everything, your wedding day can be a blur. Most couples say they appreciate having the whole day recorded for them to look back on, and it gives them a chance to share the day with friends and family who weren’t there.
Think about how long you’ll want to have a photographer on hand during your elopement adventure (For example, maybe you’re having a ceremony at noon, but you want to take some sunset portraits as well) Make sure your photographer understands your timeline.
Here's a guide to questions you should ask your elopement photographer to be sure your elopement day goes off without a hitch.
Travel Fees - Does your photographer charge extra to travel to your destination? Some photographers will charge extra fees outside their normal working city (All my travel fees are included in my elopement packages!)
Elopement Vendors - Does your Arizona elopement package include any other common wedding vendors, such as flowers, hair or makeup? Usually, your elopement photographer can recommend great vendors in the area to help with your planning process.
Just because you’re having a small wedding doesn't mean you don’t deserve everything that you’d find at a traditional wedding.
If there’s something you want to be part of your elopement, whether it’s live music, perfect hair and makeup, or even a special animal guest, you should have it. Start by asking your elopement photographer for recommendations. I genuinely love making couples’ wildest visions come true.
Permits, Marriage License, Etc.
Marriage laws in Arizona are pretty straightforward. Here’s what you need to legally elope in Arizona:
- An officiant (People ordained online can legally perform marriage ceremonies in Arizona)
- Two witnesses
Your photographer can be a witness, or you can usually find two people at a trailhead or parking lot who are very happy to sign the paperwork as witnesses. They just need to be over 18.
- A marriage license
Marriage licenses are issued by the individual counties in Arizona. To get an Arizona marriage license, you and your fiance need to physically go to the courthouse with two forms of ID.
Luckily, there’s no waiting period for a marriage license in Arizona! You’ll be issued your Arizona wedding license that day and it’s valid for one year (but you will need to mail it back to the courthouse within 30 days of your wedding). So if you’re coming from out of town, you don’t need to worry about a waiting period.
Depending on the county, marriage licenses cost between $70 and $86.
You don’t need to be an Arizona resident to get a marriage license. Couples need to be over the age of 18 to get married in Arizona, but don’t need to show blood tests or divorce decrees.
Once you’ve performed your ceremony and your marriage certificate has been signed by your officiant and witness, just drop it off or mail it back to the courthouse!
This site has links to the requirements to get a marriage license in each county. If you’re coming from out of state or just a little confused by the process, your elopement photographer can help you with obtaining your marriage license.
Elopement Vs. Traditional Weddings
What does eloping mean? Why would a couple want to elope?
There are lots of reasons to elope, but for most couples, it’s about focusing on love and having a day that’s authentic to them.
Maybe a traditional wedding has never appealed to you, or you don’t love the idea of being in the spotlight for 10+ hours. Maybe a day catering to your guests, distant relatives and in-laws just isn’t how you want to start your marriage. A traditional wedding also comes with a much larger environmental footprint.
No matter the reason, a small wedding or an elopement is becoming an increasingly popular choice.
Ok, so what does “elopement” mean today? In the past decade or so, what an elopement can be has changed dramatically. I say, an elopement can be anything you want!
For most couples, an elopement means having a small wedding ceremony with just the couple and their officiant present, or a few family members and closest friends. And it does NOT have to take place in a courthouse!
A common misconception is that elopements have to be simple. An elopement can be every bit as dramatic, lavish, and romantic as a big wedding— just a whole lot more intimate and personal.
Increasingly, more couples are opting to have a small elopement ceremony, and then a traditional reception at a later date. That way, you can focus on your partner and enjoy your wedding day to its fullest, but still celebrate with friends and family at another time.
No matter what direction you choose for your elopement day, you know that it’s true to you. And if you’re eloping in Arizona, you can be sure it will be absolutely beautiful!
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