Why Plan an Arizona Elopement?
Planning an elopement is such an intimate affair and if you’re a couple looking for stunning backdrops and loads of adventure, then choosing to elope in Arizona might be right for you!
Not a lot of people consider Arizona when planning an elopement – usually because it’s thought of as being too hot – but if you go during the right months, it has a great temperament. Plus its diverse beautiful geography – the sun-drenched desert landscapes, stunning red rocks, scenic fields of cacti, dreamy lakes, and dramatic canyons – make it such an exciting location for a dream elopement adventure.
What Makes an Elopement in Arizona Special?
One of the main draws of eloping in Arizona is all the stunning natural beauty. A home to 6 different biomes – desert, grassland, shrubland, woodland, forest, and tundra – it really has it all!
Arizona also has three national parks. The Grand Canyon is well-known as one of the most visited national wonders in the world. Then there’s the Petrified Forest with its absolutely beautiful and vibrant scenery. And lastly, you can’t go wrong with the picturesque cacti and desert landscape of Saguaro National Park.
When it comes to an epic adventure with a wide variety of photographically gorgeous locations, Arizona is an incredible spot for an elopement.
When to Elope in Arizona
Best Time of Year for an Arizona Elopement
The ideal months to elope in Arizona are late fall and early spring and you’ll want to avoid the hot summer months because temperatures get into the 90s and 100s! Winter can be a great time to elope as well but it will likely be chilly depending on the elevation of your location, plus there’s also a possibility of snow in winter in highly elevated spots. Fall and spring are great times for an elopement at one of the many unique Arizona locations.
When planning your Arizona elopement, you should also keep in mind the holiday seasons and spring break dates because these times will become congested with visitors and tourists.
Best Time of Day and Week
Even in the best months, I suggest planning for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the strongest hours of the sun during your elopement day. It’s also a good idea to plan an elopement for weekdays to avoid the most foot traffic and so you truly get those candid special moments of feeling like the only people in such a beautiful landscape.
You might also want to consider elevation when planning your elopement. In the winter months, you could get snow at higher elevations. If you get elevation sickness, you’ll want to avoid some of the Arizona spots in higher elevations like Flagstaff. Check out this topographic map if you’re worried about elevation.
Where to Elope in Arizona – 9 Epic Locations
Arizona has so many fantastic locations to choose from. Here’s my detailed list of the top elopement spots, including an exciting itinerary idea for each so you can start to envision your dream elopement day together! Each place has such a different look and feel, so be sure to read through to better understand which places might be just right for the two of you!
Known for its red rock formations and stunning sunsets, Sedona is the perfect location for a romantic and picturesque elopement. With several outdoor venues offering packages for intimate ceremonies, you can exchange vows against the backdrop of the iconic red rocks and create a one-of-a-kind experience for your special day. Check out my blog post here about the best places to elope in Sedona.
Sedona Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Sedona and take a scenic drive along Red Rock Loop Road. Stop at Bell Rock for a short hike or simply admire the stunning views. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2 – Get ready for your wedding day! Have your hair and makeup done at a local salon, and then head to your chosen venue for an intimate and picturesque ceremony. Celebrate with a champagne toast and take wedding photos at various scenic locations. Pack a picnic and watch the sunset over the majestic red rock scenery, sharing your favorite parts of the beautiful day.
Day 3 – Take a hot air balloon ride over Sedona’s red rocks at sunrise. Spend the rest of the day exploring the town’s art galleries, shops, and restaurants. In the evening, enjoy a romantic sunset hike before departing.
Nestled in the mountains, Flagstaff offers a unique and serene experience if you’re choosing to elope in Arizona. The city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including several national forests and the San Francisco Peaks. Whether you choose to have your ceremony in a forest glade or on a mountain vista, Flagstaff offers a range of outdoor locations that are perfect for an intimate wedding.
Flagstaff Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Flagstaff and explore the downtown area, stopping at local shops and restaurants. In the afternoon, take a scenic drive along Highway 180 and stop at the Lowell Observatory for stargazing.
Day 2 – Time to get ready for your special day! Have breakfast together at a local spot then have a getting-ready photoshoot to capture the excitement. Then head to your ceremony location, like the popular Arizona Snowbowl or the Hart Prairie Preserve. Take photos in the beautiful mountain scenery and plan a champagne picnic to celebrate together and watch the sunset.
Day 3 – Go on a hike in Coconino National Forest or explore the Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments. In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Northern Arizona to learn about the region’s Native American history and culture. In the evening, enjoy a romantic sunset hike before departing.
3. Horseshoe Bend
The horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River is a stunning natural wonder that provides a unique and dramatic backdrop for an Arizona elopement. With the sheer sandstone cliffs and the emerald green river below, Horseshoe Bend is a breathtaking location that will make your special day unforgettable.
Horseshoe Bend Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Page and take a scenic drive to Horseshoe Bend for sunset. Afterward, check into your hotel or campground.
Day 2 – Wake up early for a wedding morning hike! Then have a getting-ready photoshoot as you prepare for the big day and have breakfast in your hotel. When you’re ready, head to your ceremony location, and afterward take stunning pictures against the backdrop of the sandstone cliffs of the Horseshoe Bend. In the evening, enjoy a sunset dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 3 – Go on a scenic boat tour of nearby Lake Powell or visit Antelope Canyon for stunning photography opportunities. Depart in the afternoon.
4. Grand Canyon
As one of the most visited natural wonders in the world, the Grand Canyon is a popular spot to elope in Arizona. You can exchange vows against the stunning backdrop of the canyon and create a one-of-a-kind experience for your special day.
Grand Canyon Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive at the Grand Canyon and take a scenic drive along the South Rim. Stop at several scenic viewpoints and go on a short hike, if desired. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the lodges or restaurants.
Day 2 – Prepare for your wedding day! Have your hair and makeup done at a local salon or hire someone to come to your hotel. Have a getting-ready photoshoot with your partner to make the most of every special moment! Then head to your ceremony location such as Hopi Point or Shoshone Point. Afterward, take gorgeous photos against the epic canyon backdrop. Pack a picnic for a celebratory champagne toast while the sun sets over the Grand Canyon.
Day 3 – Go on a guided hike or scenic flight over the canyon. In the afternoon, visit the nearby Tusayan Ruins or explore the Grand Canyon Village before departing.
5. Petrified Forest
The Petrified Forest is a unique and otherworldly location for an elopement. The park features stunning rock formations and petrified wood that date back millions of years. With several outdoor locations available for elopements, you can exchange vows in a surreal and otherworldly landscape.
Petrified Forest Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive at the Petrified Forest and take a scenic drive along the park’s main road. Stop at several scenic viewpoints and go on a short hike, if desired. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
Day 2 – The day is here! Get ready separately and then have a “first look” moment at the hotel. Then when you’re ready, head to your ceremony location, such as Blue Mesa or Crystal Forest. Exchange sweet vows and take wedding photos among the unique petrified wood formations. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
Day 3 – Go on a guided tour of the park or explore nearby attractions, such as the Painted Desert or the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook. Depart in the afternoon.
6. Saguaro National Park
With its towering cacti and stunning desert landscapes, Saguaro National Park is a unique and picturesque location to elope in Arizona. The park offers several outdoor locations for intimate ceremonies, allowing you to exchange vows against the stunning backdrop of the desert and a forest of cacti.
Saguaro National Park Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Tucson and explore the city’s cultural and historic attractions, such as the Mission San Xavier del Bac or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2 – Have breakfast together and then blast music as you have a fun and exciting getting-ready photoshoot. Then head to your ceremony location, such as the Cactus Forest Loop or the Mica View Loop. Exchange personal vows and take wedding photos against the iconic saguaro cacti backdrop. In the evening, stop by a local restaurant for a romantic dinner.
Day 3 – Go on a guided hike in the park or visit the nearby Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. In the afternoon, explore Tucson’s vibrant arts and culture scene or relax at a local spa before departing.
7. Monument Valley
Known for its dramatic sandstone formations and stunning sunsets, Monument Valley is a breathtaking location for an elopement. With several outdoor venues available for intimate ceremonies, you can exchange vows against the beautiful backdrop of the valley and create a wonderfully unique experience for your special day.
Monument Valley Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Monument Valley and take a scenic drive along the park’s main road. Stop at several scenic viewpoints and go on a guided tour of the park. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at the View Hotel, which offers stunning views of the valley.
Day 2 – Time to get ready! You can have your hair and makeup done locally or hire someone to come to your hotel. Get ready separately and then have an intimate “first look” photo shoot at the hotel. Then head to your ceremony spot, such as John Ford Point or the Mittens. Have an intimate ceremony and photoshoot with the remarkable sandstone formations as a backdrop. Pack a picnic to share a celebratory champagne toast as the sun sets over the stunning valley.
Day 3 – Go on a guided horseback ride or hike in the park, or take a scenic flight over the valley. Depart in the afternoon.
8. Canyon Lake
Nestled in the Tonto National Forest, Canyon Lake offers a serene and picturesque location for an elopement. With its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain vistas, the lake provides a memorable backdrop for your special day.
Canyon Lake Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive at Canyon Lake and take a scenic boat tour of the lake, which offers stunning views of the Superstition Mountains. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at the Canyon Lake Marina Restaurant.
Day 2 – The day is here! Have a getting-ready photoshoot together and celebrate the excitement. Then head to your ceremony location, such as Boulder Canyon or Palo Verde Beach. Exchange intimate vows and rings and take photos with the picturesque lake as a backdrop. In the evening, hire a private chef to cook up something special for your day.
Day 3 – Go on a guided hike in the nearby Tonto National Forest or explore the nearby town of Tortilla Flat before departing.
9. Apache Lake
Another stunning location in the Tonto National Forest, Apache Lake is a picturesque location for an elopement. With its stunning mountain vistas and crystal-clear waters, the lake offers a serene and romantic location for your special day.
Apache Lake Elopement Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive at Apache Lake and check into your hotel or campground. Take a scenic drive along Apache Trail and stop at several scenic viewpoints along the way. In the evening, enjoy a romantic dinner at the Apache Lake Marina Restaurant.
Day 2 – Get up early to enjoy a gorgeous sunrise kayak on your special day. Head back to the hotel to get ready together and have a big breakfast. Then head to your ceremony spot, such as Burnt Corral or Fisherman’s Point. Have a fun intimate ceremony and take wedding photos against the beautiful lake backdrop. If you’re adventurous newlyweds, take a sunset hike around the lake to fully take in your beautiful surroundings and the exciting journey you’ve begun together. Celebrate afterward with a romantic dinner at the Apache Lake Marina Restaurant.
Day 3 – Go on a guided boat tour of the lake or explore the nearby Tonto National Forest. Depart in the afternoon.
Legal Requirements for Eloping in Arizona
Arizona is a beautiful state with many scenic locations that are perfect for an adventurous elopement. If you’re choosing to elope in Arizona, there are some legal requirements you should know about to ensure your marriage is valid.
Obtaining a Marriage License
The first step in legally eloping in Arizona is to obtain a marriage license from a county superior court. This can be done by both you and your partner appearing in person and providing valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. The cost of a marriage license varies depending on the county, but you can expect to pay between $70-$80. It’s important to note that the license is only valid for one year from the date of issue.
Once you have your marriage license, you can choose to have a civil ceremony performed by a judge or justice of the peace, or you can have a religious ceremony performed by a member of the clergy.
Waiting Periods and Expiration
One of the benefits of choosing to elope in Arizona is that there is no waiting period for a marriage license, which means you can get one and be married on the same day. However, it’s important to note that the license will expire after 12 months if it’s not used to officiate a marriage ceremony. This means that if you obtain your license but don’t have your ceremony within a year, you’ll need to obtain a new license.
Required Documentation and Identification
In addition to valid identification, you’ll also need to provide social security numbers and the full names and birthplaces of both parents when applying for a marriage license. If either you or your partner has been married before, you’ll need to provide the date, place, and reason for your divorce or the death certificate of your former spouse. Keep in mind that blood tests are not required in Arizona.
Overall, choosing to elope in Arizona can be a beautiful and stress-free way to get married. By following these legal requirements and obtaining your marriage license, you can ensure that your marriage is valid and recognized by the state of Arizona.
No matter what part of Arizona you choose, you can’t go wrong with the stunning natural beauty and the possibility of a unique adventure. If one of these fun Arizona locations seems like the right adventure for you, Amelia Marie Photography is here to bring your elopement adventure to life!
Your Arizona Elopement Photographer
Amelia Marie Photography specializes in guiding adventurous couples to plan and photograph their perfect elopement day. If you’re ready to pull the plug and plan the most epic, fun, and – dare I say – badass elopement celebration, contact me today to get started on bringing your elopement vision to life!