If you’ve found yourself here, chances are you and your partner are ready to throw out the wedding rulebook and get married in a unique, special and adventurous way that is true and meaningful to just the two of you!
Maybe the traditional wedding isn’t what you’ve always envisioned. Perhaps the pressure of spending tens of thousands of dollars for a wedding experience is making you sweat in your boots. Or maybe you’ve just always dreamed of traveling, creating new memories on your wedding day together without the added pressure of a large guest list.
If you’re ready to pull the plug and plan the most epic, fun, and - dare I say - badass elopement celebration, I implore you to read on! I’m here to guide you to plan your Sedona Elopement in some of the most stunning and unreal locations in the entire state of Arizona!
An adventure elopement is about experiencing the joy of being with each other in a truly special and unique way to create the wedding day of your dreams.
You don’t need to worry about being an elopement expert, I will help you scout locations, connect you with an amazing team of elopement vendors, and capture all of the awesome and amazing moments of the day!
An elopement can be absolutely whatever you want it to be, without all the added stress and production of a bigger wedding.
Hike Cathedral Rock to watch the sunset over the red rocks with a picnic and bottle of champagne
Take a helicopter ride through Sedona Air Tours for the most exhilarating and breathtaking view Sedona
Go off-roading with a Jeep rental to get to the most epic spots in the area
Have an intimate dinner at one of Sedona’s best restaurants or host your own dinner with a private chef
Go on a private wine tour and kayak down the Verde River
One of the greatest parts of planning an adventure elopement is that the sky is truly the limit. You can throw away the rule book of the “traditional wedding” planning, and focus on creating a ceremony and celebration that is most meaningful to the two of you.
If you’re just starting to think about planning your adventure elopement, I challenge you to start brainstorming by answering this question:
On your one perfect day to celebrate your love, what would you do together?
Sedona is truly one of the most magical places in the Southwest, one that has spoken to bring me back time and time again. That's why elopements in Sedona are so special to me - I want my couples to experience the enchantment of the red rocks and the vortex of love that draws people to this place.
why plan a
Some of the most beautiful and breathtaking locations in Sedona for your elopement can be accessed by hiking, biking, or driving with an off-road 4x4 vehicle. There are miles of stunning red rocks, mountains and deserts that will make any backdrop for your elopement worth the adventurous journey!
However, it’s important to note that permits must be obtained for many locations in Sedona, and some spots are off-limits. For more information on obtaining permits for your Sedona elopement, click here.
If it’s your first time in Sedona, you’ll notice signs for Cathedral Rock as you drive up from Phoenix and this is a location that you certainly shouldn’t miss! The rock is a natural sandstone butte on the Sedona skyline, and is a short yet moderately difficult hike of 1.2 miles round trip. To reach the top, there are a few steep inclines, but the view is well worth it!
MERRY GO ROUND ROCK
This location is best accessed through a Jeep rental, as the trailhead is located about four miles up Schnebly Hill Road. However, once at the start of the trail, there is an easy, 1.2 mile path that circles Merry-Go-Round Rock. This spot easily has one of the best views at sunset, and plenty of space to walk and adventure around the paths for some epic views!
SECRET SLICK ROCK TRAIL
This path is one of the MOST accessible trails in Sedona, with some of the best views of Cathedral Rock. A popular spot for sunset as well – and because it so easy to get to – it’s perfect for a small ceremony if you have a few guests that are not big hikers.
With a summit of almost 5,000 feet, the Bell Rock butte is one of the first red rock formations you’ll see as you enter Sedona. There is a four mile trail that goes around the whole rock, but you can also walk up about a half mile from the start of the path to get amazing views. This is an accessible and popular spot, so keep in mind, parking may be crowded!
SEVEN SACRED POOLS
This beautiful trail leads to the seven pools that fill with water after rainfall in Sedona. This is a moderate to easy hike, with some awesome views of the rock formations!
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when you’re thinking about when to plan your Sedona elopement.
The weather in Sedona is generally dry and sunny, though during the summer months it can get up to 100 degrees. My favorite time of the year to visit Sedona is during the fall and spring months, where the temperatures are more moderate (50’s to 70’s) and the flowers and trees are starting to pop!
Another thing to keep in mind when you are planning your Sedona Elopement is the peak tourism season, which can be tricky to navigate if you want to avoid crowds. Sedona becomes a popular place to visit during school breaks during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or spring break in March and the beginning of April. My tip is to avoid these peak times and plan on going a week or two before or after.
I advise all couples to plan their Sedona elopement timeline around either sunrise or sunset to capture the most golden and soft light of the day. During the middle of the day, the sun can be bright, harsh, and hot – so adventuring during the start or end of the day allows for better lighting and cooler temperatures.
So you've made the decision to elope – I'm so pumped for the two of you! There are a few things to keep in mind when you're starting to plan your Sedona elopement.
Obtaining a permit from the Forest Service is often a necessary step for planning your elopement in Sedona – however this will depend on several factors like location, guests, setup, and more. Additionally, there is generally a fee of $50-$150 per day to obtain a permit to photograph within the Coconino National Forest. To get more information on necessary permits for hosting your elopement, you can reach out to the Forest Service or ask your elopement photographer to guide you through the process.
Elopements and portraits cannot take place on any Wilderness Land (that includes Devil’s Bridge)
Setups of any kind are not allowed (ceremony arches, tables, chairs, etc.) on National Forest Service Land
Introduction of non-native species is prohibited. This means, use of birdseed, rose petals, rice, etc. are not allowed.
Some areas of the forest will not accommodate groups due to resource damage. (karencastorphotography.com)
According to The City of Sedona, “you must contact one of the county superior courts to obtain a marriage license. The superior court closest to Sedona is Yavapai County Superior Court located on Highway 260, in Camp Verde.”
To obtain your marriage license from the Clerk of Superior Court, you can visit their website here. The fee is $83, and both parties must be present in person at the Clerk’s Office to sign the marriage license application.
While you do not need witnesses to obtain a license, you’ll need two witnesses and an officiant to sign your license at the ceremony. If you want to keep it super easy and simple, Amelia Marie Photography is a licensed officiant and can help you say your “I Do’s”!
WHAT TO BRING
It’s always important to be prepared for your adventure elopement in any location, and the desert of Sedona is no different! Make sure you’re all geared up if you’re planning on doing any adventurous activities like hiking or exploring! Here are some ideas of gear that will keep you prepared and make your experience more enjoyable:
Extra socks / clothes
Sunscreen & bug spray
Towels or blankets
Rings, vow books, florals, and any other wedding essentials
LEAVE NO TRACE
If you haven’t heard of the Leave No Trace principle, it’s extremely important to ensure that all explorers and adventures follow guidelines to keep nature and our environment sustainable for the future.
Plan Ahead & Prepare
Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate of Others
PARKING AND SHUTTLES
Parking at Sedona’s popular trailheads may be limited, especially during peak tourist season. Here are a few options to help you skip the nightmare of circling that parking lot:
Get to the trailhead early (like SUPER early) to avoid crowds.
The city of Sedona offers a free shuttle service to trailheads from a designated park & ride within central Sedona. The service operates Thursday through Sunday and is free and open to the general public.
Make sure you don’t park in a neighborhood closeby, make sure there aren’t tow-away signs so your car doesn’t disappear!
Carpooling is always a great option to reduce the number of cars needed to park at the trailheads.
Planning and photographing an adventure elopement in Sedona is more than just about capturing some nice photos of you smiling at the camera. Your elopement day photography should tell the story of your day from start to finish, capturing all the raw emotions and memorable moments in between.
If you’re just starting your adventure elopement planning journey, I highly recommend that you begin by downloading the FREE elopement guide! Whatever your perfect elopement day looks like, you’ve got to start somewhere! As your adventure elopement photographer and planner, I’m here to give you all the tips to start planning the most epic day together and turning your vision into reality!
I am a New England and Southwest-based photographer who is about more than just your typical posed photography. I’m here for the loving, passionate, adventurous souls out there who are not afraid to get their feet a little dirty and their hair a little messy while having a TON of fun exploring Vermont and New England. I’m here to capture all the moments that show the REAL you in the best light.
I love wine, beach days on Lake Champlain, and hiking the gorgeous Vermont Green Mountains in the fall. Click below to learn more about Amelia Marie Photography!