Your guide on how and where to elope in Arizona
Written by an Arizona Adventure Wedding photographer based in Sedona, Arizona
How to Legally Getting Married in Arizona if Eloping
You must obtain a marriage license from the local justice court office. In order to do this you and your partner must appear at the office, be over the age of 18, provide a legal ID and social security number and pay the fee. There is no waiting period or blood test required. Your marriage license will be valid for 12 months. You do not have to be living in Arizona to get married in Arizona.
You must be married by a legal officiant (you can hire one or you can have a close friend or family member become ordained and do this for you) and you must have two witnesses over the age of 18 to sign your documents. Yes, I can count as witness, but also my husband and I are both ordained and can officiate for you, this is included in our services. After your ceremony your officiant is responsible for mailing in your paperwork. A few weeks later you will receive your final documents from the clerk office, if not you must call and request it to be mailed to your home.
For a complete list of all of the rules, list of justice offices you can visit to obtain your license and a list of local trusted officiants click here. If you are looking for an experience with just the two of you I suggest getting legally married at your local court house or in your home with close friends and family before the elopement day.
How much does it cost to elope in Arizona?
The cost of an elopement in Arizona really comes down to so many factors! I would say your average cost would be $8,000 to $12,000. Whereas the average cost of a bigger, more traditional wedding in Arizona is $18,000 as noted in 2020 by Value Penguin. When calculating the cost of your elopement in Arizona these are things you need to budget for:
- Marriage License – $83 dollars
- Travel – include gas, flight, rental car, food, stay, etc (if you are local this will for sure be cheaper than someone traveling into the state!)
- Officiant – on average $300, again this is already included in our services
- Flowers if having them
- Hair + Make up if having them – average $500 per person
- Photographer – average $6000 (Check out our Arizona elopement packages!)
- Misc – like vow books, details, snacks, adventure books like jeeps, horse back riding, tours etc.
It is important to note while elopements can be much cheaper than traditional big weddings they are not always. Some couples choose to spend the same or more, but put it towards bigger adventures, luxury stays or just things that truly matter to them more than catering a big event with a ton of people! Whereas, some folks elope spending as little as possible. This really comes down to budget + values, the cost can be whatever you want to spend.
The Best Places to Elope in Arizona
These are some the general areas + some specifically epic places to elope within the state of Arizona. I have organized the list starting at the most Northern part of the state making our way to the most Southern part of the state. Note that these are not your only location options for an Arizona elopement! Some of these unique elopement locations are super fun and adventurous to get to! A key factor to eloping in Arizona is selecting a location and then your time of year for the best experience. Some locations in Arizona are best in fall, some in winter and some in spring! Weather can be extreme in the desert so it is important to understand each location’s weather.
Lake Powell + Page Elopement Locations
Red rock canyons that are shaped by a beautiful lake is exactly what you will find in Page, but also so much more. Lake Powell is so beautiful with so many trails, off road vehicle routes, and dock accesses you are bound to find your own little nook at this elopement location. The sunsets in this area are so beautiful and its such a magical experience to watch the rocks turn purple and the sky to indigo. Have you ever imagined accessing your elopement location via boat? Here you can do it! You may also even find yourself a private slot canyon via a tour or by canyoneering if you have the experience. The other fantastic thing about Lake Powell is that its near Horseshoe Bend, which is perfect for an epic vista elopement over an iconic canyon or a two day kayaking/camping elopement along the Colorado River. We also can not get enough of Under Canvas as a place to stay, eat or have your elopement reception. We also LOVE Amangiri as a high end resort with exclusive adventures on private land like horseback riding, climbing, a swinging bridge and so much more.
- Pros of Eloping in Page: It is easy to find a pretty remote location that isn’t super busy here if desired, there are many fun activities and can be a bit more adventurous, unique landscapes with variety.
- Cons of Eloping in Page: This area can be pretty remote so you will need to do a bit of a drive from either Las Vegas or Phoenix, there are not many other vendors or restaurants in the area.
Flagstaff Elopement Locations
Flagstaff is a wonder high desert elopement location sort of in the heart of the state. We love this quaint small town, we actually base ourselves out of here mostly now when we are in Arizona for season. Flagstaff is sort of the gate way to Grand Canyon + Page, but that doesn’t mean you should over look it for it’s own elopement locations. There is a lovely crag in Flagstaff if you want to rock climb on your elopement day! There are some epic over looking camp sites, climbing areas and vista locations that look down into Sedona. There are parks in town for easy ceremonies with family and if you’re up for a big hike don’t skip on eloping at the top of Humphreys Peak, the tallest point in the state! There are also some lovely areas that are in meadows and surrounded by aspens, perfect for a Fall elopement! Or if you want a Winter elopement then this has the perfect ski resort for you! Also, did I mention there is a chocolate waterfall!? hehe 🙂
- Pros of eloping in Flagstaff: Lovely small mountain town with tons to eat and awesome cabins to stay in, beautiful mountain views in the high desert, quick access to other epic locations like Sedona, Grand Canyon and Page.
- Con of eloping in Flagstaff: The airport in town is super small making it expensive to fly into so you may want to fly into Phoenix and drive. In the Fall locations can be busy and in the Winter many locations can be closed.
WOAH! Sedona has an insane amount of locations for any couple to get married. If you are looking to get married in a church or at a venue and then want to venture out into the wild for portraits, this is your spot. If you are looking for a hiking adventure elopement this is your location. If you are looking for a place to go climbing to a wild sunset view this is your location! It really has something for everyone. Some places you’ve probably seen in Sedona that are popular spots for elopements and engagement sessions are Cathedral Rock, Merry Go Round and Bell Rock. The best way to select an elopement location in Sedona is to chat a lot with your photographer and find the perfect spot that fits exactly what you are envisioning for this day! Sedona is really a perfect elopement location almost all 12 months out of the year, however we recommend October to April for the best experience.
- Pros of eloping in Sedona: Beautiful red rock views, endless Airbnb options, no permit required, many different activities to choose from, lots of places to eat
- Cons of eloping in Sedona: In general Sedona can be VERY busy, this is probably the most expensive area to visit in Arizona, and expect lots of traffic. Some locations you have to take a shuttle to.
The most popular National Park within this great state is high on the elopement destination list for a lot of folks. The Grand Canyon is one of those places where you cannot explain the view unless you are standing there looking into its expanse. With quiet and beautiful sunrises and breath-taking sunsets, it will be sure to bring peace to your elopement day. If you are looking for an adventure on your wedding day you have come to the right location. If you are looking for an elopement location where you can have a two-day or longer elopement experience this is the best in the state! You can hike Rim to Rim with your partner and camp at the bottom of the canyon. If you pull a permit at the right time you can even do a trip to Havasu Falls which is within the park. No matter what you are considering, if you elope here you will need to contact the park and apply for a wedding permit. Your photographer will also need to pull a permit. Be sure to visit the National Park site to learn about any restrictions they have for ceremony locations and items you cannot bring into the park. Camping here is a great option for your elopement night and you might even have elk as some visitors. Or you can go the glamping route outside of the park in some unique stays!
- Pros of eloping in the Grand Canyon: Check off a bucklist National Park, beautiful canyon views, the chance to interact with wildlife
- Cons of eloping in the Grand Canyon: The location is pretty remote so there is not much to do outside of the park or many vendors around.
As you are probably aware, Phoenix, is the largest city in Arizona. There is a major airport to fly into and lots of places to stay, dine, go out, etc. But where would you elope here?! Believe it or not within Phoenix there are several very cool elopement locations and then even more just about 30 minutes outside of the city. Some of the best elopement locations within the phoenix area are: the Salt River, South Mountain, Lost Dutchman State Park and White Tanks. This is just the start, there are many other’s as well!! Adventurous activities within the area include, but are not limited to off roading, mountain biking, horseback riding, sky diving, hot air balloon rides and more! One of our all time favorite elopement vendors works in several of these areas, so if you are considering eloping here check out Cloth + Flame. We also typically recommend to couples to stay in Scottsdale or Cave Creek to be closest to cool places to stay and things to do.
- Pros to eloping in Phoenix: Lots to do, lots of places to stay, lots of great vendors around and tons of things to do so you could honeymoon here too. It is accessible because it is in a city and close to a major airport.
- Cons to eloping in the Phoenix area: Expect to it be insanely hot from April to September, like just avoid. The city itself is big and there is lots of traffic so try to stay near where you are eloping and lastly it is not as remote as the other places if you want more privacy.
Saguaro Naitonal Park / Tucson Elopement Locations
Just outside of Tucson you will find a national park nestled by mountains with tons and tons of old tall cacti. A true desert dream for your elopement day! The park is also close to many other great hikes and places to adventure like Mt. Lemmon home of hiking, camping and climbing in Southern Arizona. Tuscan has lots of fun places to stay, eat and drink. You can not go wrong here if you want an elopement with tall cacti surrounding you, especially in the spring when all of the wild flowers are blooming. Outside of Mt Lemmon, Saguaro National Park also within this area to consider would be Cornado National Forest, Mica Mountain and Cochise Stronghold (esp if you are a climber!)
- Pros to eloping in Tuscon area: Tons of National forest options + a National Park option, lots of places to stay from camping, glamping, Airbnbs, etc and lots of good restaurants and vendors around.
- Con to eloping in Tuscon area: There really aren’t many! You can be limited to time of year here, ie avoid summer, late spring and early fall to avoid high temperatures!
Understanding permits for elopement locations in Arizona
Depending on where you have selected to elope you may need to pull permits to get married there. If you are eloping at any of the the National Parks within Arizona you will 100% need a permit. Here are the appropriate links to help you apply for your permits within the Naitonal Parks of Arizona:
- Grand Canyon elopement: apply for your permit and read all of the rules you will need to know here.
- Saguaro National Park Elopement: you will need to apply for a permit as well.
- Glen Canyon National Park: special use permit application.
- Petrified Forest National Park: Weddings here can only happen in Jasper Forest and must have an Special Use permit.
If you are eloping in Sedona you will not need a permit to get married on any of the trails. If you do plan to elope in Sedona, outside of the parks, please not that you can not go off trail or set up any tables, arches or have chairs. Group size is restricted to 75 people or less and you can not release birds, butterflies, use smoke bombs, throw rice, flowers, etc. For further information speak with your photographer (hey, hey!) or you can reach out to the local forest service ranger.
Lost Dutchman State park is a very popular place near the city for elopements and small weddings. You will also need to read about their rules and restrictions as well apply for a permit to get married there.
A good rule of thumb is that no matter where you have selected to elope communicate with your photographer to see if you need a permit or do a quick google search to ask a Ranger for that area. Try to plan in advance, because often times not only will you need a permit, but your photographer will need to pull a permit as well. Sometimes, especially in Northern Arizona, you may not need a permit but your photographer will. It is best to plan at least a couple of months in advance so permits can be pulled!
Tips for making your elopement in Arizona an epic experience!
- Come early and/or stay later than your elopement day! Arizona is truly a rock climbers, hikers, explorers, foodies dream! There are so many things to see and do and if you’re taking the time to come out here check some of those things out!! Coming to Arizona can be your elopement location + where you honeymoon. So rent a car so you can for sure get around!
- The best time of year to elope in Arizona is typically October-June. This really depends which part of the state you are eloping in and if you are okay with snow or not. In Sedona there is a rare chance you will get snow and if you do it will most likely be in December or January, but friends snowy red rocks is beautiful, I would not rule it out. The Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon does close during most of the Winter, but the South Rim will stay open with some daily closures. No matter where you are eloping in Arizona you will mostly likely want to avoid the July and August months due to the heat. If you wanting to elope in Arizona from mid September to mid November note that is the busiest time of year in the state for weddings and elopements so be sure to plan and book your stays and vendors early! Even restaurants in Sedona can book out 2 months in advance during season.
- If you are coming from out of state and you have never been to the desert before here are some tips and things to know! Drink lots of water! The desert is dry and in good weather it is easy to forget to drink plenty of water! Note that it may be warm or hot during the day, but the desert nights can be very chilly so be prepared if you are camping! Keep an eye out for wild life. Here in the desert we have a lot of coyotes, javelina and rattlesnakes! The rattlesnakes blend in well on the trail, especially the trails within the Phoenix region. Keep an eye out for them where you step and an ear open because they will for sure let you know when you are too close! Arriving at least two days before your elopement can be super helpful in getting acclimated + settled in without being stressed before your elopement.
- There are lots of areas that are super cool to visit that are on reservation land. Please do your research before visiting to know if you need a tour guide or a permit to visit the specific area you are going to. Please be respectful of their land and their culture when visiting. No matter if you are visiting reservation land, state park land, national park land or forest service land always practice leave no trace behind! (Note as of mid 2022 – some reservation lands are still closed due to covid and some are still requiring masks on their tours)
Hey! It’s us, your Arizona Elopement Photographers!
Looking for extremely passionate people to capture your day that are stoked on the adventure, the connection and the planning?! Then we are the right team for you. We have been capturing elopements + exploring the depths of Arizona for over four years now and we can not wait to help you have your big day here! <3
“My husband & I have been close friends for many years. When he asked me to marry him, we wanted to make sure we hired someone that would come to understand us & who we are- and stray away from a traditional wedding.
We emailed Traci & Bill after reading their blog in regards to “why you should elope” which solidified our decision to skip the stress, & just make it about us.
Traci was there every second, every question, every recommendation. She got to know us as individuals to listen to what really meant most to us to allow us to ensure we had the most perfect day.
Bill was able to officiate the wedding with our own personal vows, plus additional legal vows, and he also added his own beautiful message in there as well that was perfect for our setting in Sedona.
Both of their dedication to their craft is not only admirable, but sincerely shows in all our wedding pictures that we will continue to cherish forever. Thank you Bill & Traci!” – Ashleigh – Sedona, AZ Oct 2021