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How to Elope in Arizona

KATIE BERG PHOTO || Arizona ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER - UPDATED GUIDE FOR 2023

Red rock deserts, massive canyons, giant saguaro cacti, otherworldly landscapes, national parks, state parks: no, I’m not talking about heaven itself – I’m just talking about Arizona! Welcome to my complete guide to how to elope in Arizona, where I’m walking you through everything you need to know to plan an epic Arizona adventure elopement, from getting your permits, to choosing your location, to picking a place to stay, and SO much more. Let’s do this!

In this guide, we will cover:

  • Where is Arizona?
  • Why elope in Arizona?
  • How to get to Arizona
  • The best time to elope in Arizona
  • Top 10 best Arizona elopement locations
  • How to Get Married in Arizona
  • Best Places to Stay in Arizona
  • Activities for your Arizona elopement
  • Arizona elopement vendors
  • Meet your Arizona elopement photographer
  • Arizona elopement packages + pricing

Where is Arizona?

Starting with the basics – where the heck is Arizona?

Arizona is one of the states that shares the Four Corners region of the western United States, located south of Utah, west of New Mexico, & southeast of Colorado. It’s also connected to the eastern parts of California, Nevada, and borders Mexico to the north! If you were to drive from Seattle to Phoenix, it would take you 22 hours minimum– so my PNW friends will probably opt to fly there (unless you’ve got a rad van you love to take road trips in)!

Why elope in Arizona?

Where do I even begin?! Arizona is one of the most epic states you could elope in, with SUCH a huge variety of opportunities for adventure.

Arizona might be the elopement location for you if:

  • You’re in love with the desert
  • You want to walk through vibrant slot canyons
  • You want to say your vows overlooking an unreal landscape full of textures & colors
  • You like getting up at dawn to experience a stunning sunrise
  • You want to go hiking
  • You want to elope somewhere warm
  • You want to find a desert/bohemian-themed place to stay
  • You love to go swimming on a hot day
  • You’re at your happiest when you’re on an epic outdoor excursion (such as sandboarding, riding a hot air balloon, or taking a 4x4 through a canyon)
  • You want to go stargazing under the clear desert skies, without too much light pollution

If you’re traveling to Arizona from out of state, you can either drive or fly!

There are 3 major airports in Arizona that you can fly into:

Smaller airports you may travel through in Arizona:

I definitely recommend renting a car if you’re flying into AZ so that you have the freedom to travel around wherever you’d like, and you won’t have to worry about getting an Uber or relying on public transportation.

With that said, if you’d rather not rent a car, you can travel via Amtrak train to certain locations around the state, take Ubers/Lyfts/taxis, or take public transportation such as a metro rail or transit bus. Check out your public transportation options for the larger cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, & more on the Visit Arizona website!

How to get to Arizona

Best time to elope in Arizona

“When is the best time to elope in Arizona?” is always a hard question to give a clear answer to, because it really depends on what kind of atmosphere you’re dreaming up for your elopement. So let’s go through what the weather tends to look like in each season in Arizona; that way, you can decide for yourself which season will help you craft the day you’re envisioning!

SPRING WEATHER

Spring is an amazing time to visit Arizona, because temperatures are still slightly milder, and you might get to see wildflowers depending on the locations you go to! That’s right, even the desert has flowers – if there’s a good amount of rainfall in the early spring, the deserts will bloom with gorgeous wildflowers that make for unreal views. Temperatures typically range from 75°F-100°F, so it is still pretty dang warm, but the evenings get to a perfectttt temperature to enjoy the desert.

SUMMER WEATHER

Summer is a popular time to visit Arizona because a lot more people have time off of work, but it’s really not the BEST time to visit – simply because of the heat! Arizona is obviously a desert climate, so it’s a dry, dry heat that you experience, with temperatures ranging from 85°F-115°F on average (whew – I’m sweating just thinking about it!). Evenings and early mornings are the coolest times to be outside, but not “cool” by any means. So if you’re eloping in Arizona in the summer, I highly recommend being outside in the early mornings and late evenings as much as possible to avoid the insane dry heat that the day brings – plus this way you can experience the magical desert sunrises & sunsets that Arizona has to offer!

FALL WEATHER

Fall in the desert is STUNNING if you’re eloping somewhere with a decent amount of foliage (and not the barren desert with no leaves/trees)! You’ll get amazing gold, red, and orange colors, milder temperatures, and long evenings (no Daylight Savings Time!). Arizona temperatures in the fall typically range from 60°F-95°F, so there’s a fairly big range of potential temps you could experience depending on your location & the month you choose.

WINTER WEATHER

Finally, winter is one of the most popular times to visit Arizona because it’s not exactly “winter” – it’s still warm(ish)! That explains why so many people from the PNW and other places with cold winters visit often between November-February/March – we’re just looking to escape the cold and get some sun & warmth on our faces! Winter temps in Arizona usually fall between 44°F-75°F, so there is a pretty big range of possible temperatures depending on where exactly you’re at. Desert temperatures are wild because it can be super warm in the daytime and drop drastically once the sun goes down, so be prepared for that if you’re sleeping outside.

Overall, if by “best” you mean the time of year with the most comfortable temperatures and humidity levels, that would be spring or fall. If by “best” you mean when the amount of crowds will be lowest, that would be winter! And if you mean when you’ll get the best desert sunrises/sunsets, and the longest days + most light, that might be summer. Think through what’s most important to you (temperatures, comfort, humidity, potential extreme weather, tourists/crowds, etc.) and pick the season that accommodates that best for you.

Top 10 Best Arizona Elopement Locations

You’ve probably seen photos of Horseshoe Bend before and didn’t even know it! It’s a super iconic spot in northern Arizona, near Page, where you get THE most unreal views of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is a must-visit if you’re in the area and are looking for easy access to some of the freaking best scenery in the entire state!

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Flagstaff Pulliam Airport; 2 hours

Best Time of Year to Elope: Fall (October-November)

Permit(s) Needed: Special Use Permit

2. Sedona

Sedona is an area of northern Arizona famous for its red-rock buttes that surround massive canyons you could only dream of. There are tons of spots in Sedona that make for amazing elopement locations (such as the ones mentioned below), especially within the Coconino National Forest, where you’ll find some of the most beautiful ponderosa pine forests, red rocks, and southwestern desert landscapes!

Some of the best locations to visit in Sedona: Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, Merry Go Round Rock, Lover’s Knoll, Bell Rock, Airport Mesa

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; 2 hours

Best Time of Year to Elope: Fall (October-November)

Permit(s) Needed: No permit needed for most trails; Special Use Permit needed only for weddings with 75+ people in the Red Rock District

You may have seen photos of the famous Monument Valley road before, too – it’s a stunning 17-mile loop that takes you through dramatic sandstone buttes, crimson mesas, and plenty of spots to stop & take in the incredible views. The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park lies on the Utah-Arizona border and is actually a part of the Colorado Plateau.

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Flagstaff Pulliam Airport; 3 hours

Best Time of Year to Elope: Spring (March-April), Fall (September-October)

Permit(s) Needed: Monument Valley Entry Pass, Navajo Tribal Park Special Use Permit for groups of 5 or more

Behold, one of the most famous national parks in the country! The Grand Canyon is famous for pretty dang good reason, featuring some of Arizona’s most breathtaking views. Whether you want to go on a hike through the park, go white water rafting in the river down the Colorado River, or simply park your car & enjoy the scenery, the Grand Canyon offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure for everyone.

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Flagstaff Pulliam Airport; 1.5 hours

Best Time of Year to Elope: Early summer (April-June)

Permit(s) Needed: Special Use Permit

The slot canyons of Arizona are one of the most jaw-dropping features of nature you will ever see. There are tons of slot canyons throughout Arizona to visit, such as the iconic Antelope Canyon, where you can take tours through the magical world of the slot canyons and have a truly otherworldly experience! Slot canyons are a great option for couples looking for a beautiful place for portraits or just to explore, as many of them unfortunately do not allow wedding ceremonies anymore.

Some of the best slot canyon areas to visit: Antelope Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon, Mountain Sheep Canyon

Best Time of Year to Elope: March-October

Permit(s) Needed: Varies by location

Lake Powell is a part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, a crazy popular destination for tourists looking for some of the best views of Arizona & Utah. The area encompasses more than 1.25 million acres of land between the two states and offers absolutely unreal views of Lake Powell, which is an artificial reservoir along the Colorado River!

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Flagstaff Pulliam Airport; 2.5 hours

Best Time of Year to Elope: Spring (May-June), Fall (September-October)

Permit(s) Needed: Special Use Permit

Saguaro National Park is the place to go if, when you imagine your Arizona desert elopement, you picture yourselves out in the middle of land filled with giant cacti & a glorious sunset in the background. Saguaro NP has the largest cacti in the whole country and offers plenty of hiking trails + camping opportunities for couples looking to take advantage of their time in the true desert!

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Tucson International Airport; 30 minutes

Best Time of Year to Elope: Spring (April-May), Fall (September-October)

Permit(s) Needed: Special Use Permit

This location is *technically* in Utah, but it’s too beautiful for me not to mention!! Amangiri Resort is a freaking unreal desert resort located right on the border just 10 minutes from Arizona. It provides the most luxurious, secluded desert experience surrounded by vast canyons, mesas, and vibrant red rocks, along with delicious on-site dining, spa services, and incredible accommodations. Amangiri is the place to beat if you’re looking for somewhere that doubles as a place to stay and an elopement location!

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Page Municipal Airport; 30 minutes

Best Time of Year to Elope: Late spring through early fall

Lost Dutchman State Park is one of Arizona’s stunning state parks, located in the Sonoran Desert at the base of the beautiful Superstition Mountains (see the next section). You can enjoy a variety of hiking trails through the Tonto National Forest, find a campsite to spend the night at, or head on a mountain biking adventure if that’s more your thing!

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; 40 minutes

Best Time of Year to Elope: Winter

Permit(s) Needed: Entry Pass, Wedding Permit

Last but not least, the Superstition Mountains are another iconic piece of Arizona’s landscape, located just east of Mesa! The volcanic mountain range provides a unique backdrop to the desert of jagged rock formations, changing colors, and beautiful textures to die for.

Closest Major Airport + Driving Time: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; 40 minutes

Best Time of Year to Elope: Winter

Permit(s) Needed: Entry Pass, Wedding Permit

For more incredible options, head over to my full guide to the 25 Best Places to Elope in Arizona in 2022!

How to Get Married in Arizona

Arizona marriage license + laws

The first step to getting legally married in Arizona is to get your Arizona marriage license. The rules & requirements for marriage licenses varies by state, and may be different from your home state – so let’s go through what you need to know about getting a marriage license in Arizona!

You can obtain your AZ marriage license by visiting a Justice Court office together in-person

Arizona marriage laws:

  • License filing fee: $83
  • Legal age to get married: 18
  • Waiting period: none (meaning you can get married as soon as you have your license!)
  • Witnesses needed: 2 witnesses over 18
  • License expiration: 12 months after you obtain it
  • Blood test required? No

AZ residency required? No

Obtain necessary ARIZONA wedding permits

In addition to getting your Arizona marriage license, you’ll also need to obtain the appropriate wedding permits if you’re getting married on public land, such as a national or state park. Below are the permits you’ll need to get married in AZ national & state parks, in addition to links that will take you to further details on the specific permit rules and restrictions!

Grand Canyon National Park: Special Use Permit

  • Cost: $240+
  • Application process:
    • Email the park office to check if your desired location & date is available
    • Fill out this application form (at least 4 weeks in advance to allow time for processing)
    • Send your completed form to grca_permits_mail@nps.gov
    • Wait for instructions from the park office on how to pay your nonrefundable application fee
    • Wait for permit approval
    • Wait for your permit to be sent to you, then sign & return it to the office
  • Things to note:
    • You may schedule your wedding in the park up to 1 year in advance
    • Chairs, tables, flowers, loud noises, signs, balloons, etc. are not allowed

Saguaro National Park: Special Use Permit

  • Cost: $100 + potential additional monitoring fee of $35/hr
  • Application process:
    • Fill out this application form (at least 4 weeks in advance to allow time for processing)
    • Send your completed form & $100 application fee via your credit card information to nps_sagu_sup@nps.gov
    • Wait for permit approval
    • Wait for your permit to be sent to you, then sign & return it to the office
  • Things to note:
    • You may schedule your wedding in the park up to 1 year in advance
    • Chairs, tables, flowers, loud noises, signs, balloons, etc. are not allowed

Petrified Forest National Park: Special Use Permit

  • Cost: varies
  • Application process:
  • Things to note:
    • You may schedule your wedding in the park up to 1 year in advance
    • Chairs, tables, flowers, loud noises, signs, balloons, etc. are not allowed

Arizona State Parks: Wedding Permit

  • Cost: varies by location
  • Application process:
    • Find the application for your desired location here
    • Call your desired park to inquire about date & location availability, and to start a reservation request
    • Fill out the general wedding pre-application form & send it to your park contact
    • Arrange for payments to be made with your final park contact
  • Things to note:
    • You may schedule your wedding in the park up to 1 year in advance
    • Chairs, tables, flowers, loud noises, signs, balloons, etc. are not allowed

Best Places to Stay in Arizona

Arizona is chock-full of unique accommodation options, from desert-themed resorts to glamping Airbnb’s to campgrounds in national parks to A-frame cabins with mountain views! I highly recommend finding a place to stay that you LOVE, and spending not just your elopement night there, but a few nights (or even a week) if you’re able to. This is your big celebration after all, and you deserve a beautiful place to stay, whether you feel most at home sleeping in a tent under the stars or in a 5-star luxury resort out in the middle of the AZ desert. Below are some of the most epic Airbnb’s, hotels, resorts, & campgrounds to look into!

Activities to Do during your Arizona Elopement

Your trip to Arizona should include so much more than just your elopement ceremony – this is your time to have fun, escape from normal life, and celebrate with the people you love most (whether that’s just the two of you or you & your BFF’s)! That’s why it’s important to plan some intentional activities during your time in Arizona, both on your actual elopement day (so I can be there to capture it all!) and on the days surrounding it, to make the absolute most out of your trip.

Luckily, Arizona is FILLED with incredible activities, especially for those of you who love exploring the outdoors more than anything. You have to take advantage of the insane variety of otherworldly landscapes and explore as much as you possibly can! Pick out the activities that will bring you the most joy, make you feel most alive, and be able to celebrate as meaningfully as you can with your partner and/or your loved ones. Here are some ideas to get you started – the world is your oyster, and you can truly do whatever the hell you wanna do!

Looking for the perfect elopement vendors can be a daunting task when there are SO many out there! I always recommend asking friends or vendors you’ve already hired (such as your photographer!), first, so that you can get recommendations from people you trust. Then Instagram, Google, & directories like Wandering Weddings will be your friend after that as you continue your search! Below are some rad Arizona elopement vendors to consider hiring for your big day.

Arizona elopement videographer

Jocund Bliss

Brette Morgan Films

Arizona elopement officiant

Let’s Knot & Say We Did

AZ Weddings by Amy

Arizona elopement florist

Cienna’s Florals

Best Elopement Vendors in Arizona

Meet Your Arizona elopement photographer

Hi friend, I’m Katie – your Arizona elopement photographer, adventure buddy, right-hand woman, tour guide, lover of all things outdoors! I’m a big believer in the power of crafting an intentional elopement day that represents you & your partner in the most authentic way possible, so that’s what I’m here to help you with.

Not only will I capture the moments of your day for you to have as magical memories forever; I’m here to encourage you to build a day that looks & feels like YOU, not anybody else. I’m pretty freaking bomb at doing this – just ask any of my past couples! – so I’m confident in my ability to give you an incredible elopement experience as a whole, in addition to telling the story of your day through photographs.

Click here to inquire

Arizona Elopement Packages & Pricing

Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about eloping in Arizona & have gotten to know me a little bit, ya might be wondering what it would be like having me as your elopement photographer!!

You can take a look at my Arizona elopement package & pricing below, and then head to my contact page to get in touch about your elopement – I’d be SO honored to photograph your epic day in the desert!

  • 7 hours – 3 days of elopement photography coverage anywhere in Arizona
  • Your own personal elopement guide & consultant
  • Unique and personalized location scouting
  • Local vendor recommendations
  • Arizona permit and marriage license assistance
  • Hand-crafted elopement timeline
  • Created just-for-you activity list
  • Unlimited guides and resources
  • 100+ page How to Elope Guidebook
  • Optional complimentary officiant service
  • Digital online gallery with full resolution image and printing rights
  • Sneak peak images within 1 week
  • Photographer travel fees covered anywhere in Arizona

Starting From:

$6,500

book with me

Other Elopement Destinations to Consider in the United States

It’s not easy to choose your elopement location when there are SO dang many incredible options! That’s why I’ve put together not just this guide, but also full elopement guides to some of my favorite locations in Washington, Oregon, & California, from state parks to national parks and more. Check them out below to help get your ideas flowing, and to get you closer to finding your dream adventure elopement destination!

California Elopement Guides

Washington Elopement Guides

Oregon Elopement Guides

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