A bride leans on her grooms shoulder as they watch the sunset together.

The Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Phoenix, Arizona

When it comes to choosing an elopement location, there is no shortage of beautiful locations all across the United States. From towering snow capped mountain peaks, snow flats, alpine lakes and the cactus filled desert, any dream you have is a possibility on your day. If you’ve been thinking about dramatic desert mountains, cactus, rivers and wild horses, then Phoenix is definitely a top contender for you to consider. As you read through, envision the experience that you’d like to have and put yourself in this space through your minds eye. Definitely look over the photographs, but be sure the experience matches your hearts vision. The city and surrounding landscape has so much to offer, so let’s dive in!

Why elope in Phoenix?

To start, one of the great perks to choosing this area for your adventure wedding is that in Phoenix you are close to an Airport which makes traveling in from out of state easier. Not only does the phoenix area have stunning cholla and saguaro cactus scattered all throughout the landscape, it can also save you some money eloping in Phoenix compared to the cost of hotels and food being a location that is not based solely around tourism like Sedona. The trails will also be less crowded on the week day than the Northern Arizona trails and finding vendors for hair and makeup, florist, caterers, you name it! Since it’s such a large city, finding all of the services you want for your wedding will be easy. Eloping in the Phoenix region you can go out on your own adventure deep in the desert, but also come back into town for great cocktails and food since there are so many amazing places to dine. You also get the chance for many different options of adventure on your elopement day in Phoenix. Starting with a hot air balloon ride, picnics, off roading, horseback riding, climbing, or water activities. From Phoenix your honeymoon options are vast as well without needing to leave the state and with just a short drive away you have access to Sedona, The Grand Canyon, Page, Tuscon or Joshua Tree.

Phoenix has the perfect blend of urban meets adventure elopement.

A bride and groom hold hands staring at each other with a large cacti behind each other.

How do I legally get married in Phoenix?

To get married in the state of Arizona you will need an officiant to perform the ceremony and two witnesses. You can pick up your marriage license at any clerks office within the state of Arizona. Most of the offices follow bank hours, so we always recommend that our couples make an appointment if possible. The marriage license must be returned to the office that it was obtained from either by mail or in person. You both must be 18 years old or older to be married without parental consent. You will need to go into the clerk office together with your valid photo IDs, a passport, birth certificate (it will very depending on the office so be sure to check ahead of time!) to obtain the paperwork. You can expect this process to take 15-30 minutes. (side note: we are both ordained and can perform your ceremony for you if you do not want to hire this out or if you want to elope with essentially no one else there!)

When should I elope in Phoenix?

As you may already know, Phoenix is HOT nearly all year round. This doesn’t mean that it is out of the question for an epic elopement though! If you want to elope in Phoenix, consider a date between late October and early March for the best temperatures. We strongly urge you to stick to these months. While it can be cool in the evenings and mornings in the desert when the sun isn’t out, that mid day heat and sun while in your wedding attire can be over bearing. It’s not just about worrying about sweating too much, it’s also about what the experience will be like. It’s your wedding day and you want to enjoy every moment of it! We also tell our couples eloping here to try and avoid weekends or holidays so the trails are less crowded and parking is easy to come by.

Where to elope in Phoenix

The Phoenix area spans over a great deal of desert. Within the Phoenix city parameters, there are even mountains and stunning pockets to elope in. Outside of the Phoenix area you will find a lot more privacy and even more beautiful places to elope. Let’s start with the most popular and well known location.

Lost Dutchman State Park Elopement

Lost Dutchman State Park is the most popular place to elope in the Phoenix region. Located just outside of the east side of the city sits this piece of paradise with amazing views and epic hikes that is the perfect place for an outdoor wedding. It offers a great space for family too with communal fire pits, cabins, tent space, RV space and locations where family wouldn’t have to hike for a ceremony (Looking for more information on your Elopement Ceremony?) but you could after! The state park does require a special use permit to get married here. We work with our couples and pull these types of permits all the time, so don’t worry it’s a very painless process. Requiring a permit is great though because this means for your ceremony you will be the only couple at that spot at that specific time sharing your vows!

While most people choose to hold their wedding here at sunset, we think the best time to elope here is during sunrise. For one, the trails are quiet and you’ll have so much more privacy and second, as photographers, when the sun comes up over the mountains it creates the perfect lighting for those dreamy romantic photographs to document such an important moment. Lost Dutchman is not just great for the park, hiking trails and ceremony space itself, but it’s also in a prime location close to several lakes, the old gold mining town and horse back rentals.

Superstition Mountains Elopement

Lost Dutchman is actually a part of this mountain range, but it is managed separately by the state. This area is ran by the Tonto National Forest Service Land which is a federal agency. This means a whole different set of rules to consider. It encompasses the Salt River area which is stunning with a few different spots you where can hold your ceremony, have a picnic or even float the river if you want. There is a herd of wild horses that live in the area and you can often spot them at sunrise or sunset. There are also several areas you can hike up and be surrounded by the desert mountain peaks, cacti and catch those stunning Arizona sunsets.

The forest service here have a list of specific places you can hold your ceremony. The other great thing about this area is if you want an adventure, but you have guests then you can check out several small venue options right in the mountains and vendors that will come set up a private chef dinner. Cloth and Flame puts together some gorgeous dinner setups for outdoor events!

Within City Limits

Within the city limits you have the South Mountain area with great hikes and vista views, Squaw peak and Camel Back Mountain! If you want to go further out, then we highly recommend that you look into the Cave Creek region, Four Peaks, White Tank Mountains. Even further south you will find more mountain ranges.

Outside of the peaks there are also many lakes in the Phoenix Region: Canyon Lake, Reflection Lake and Roosevelt Lake just to name a few! These are great options if you want to hop on a boat, kayak or have a picnic by the water for your elopement. If you want to stay fully in the city then I would recommend eloping at the Desert Botanical Gardens, which is a paved walkway path through tons of cacti and plant life all native to Arizona.

What to Do in Phoenix for your Elopement

A great tip in helping you decide where to elope in Phoenix would be to think about what activities you want to include. Here are some of the epic things you can do on your wedding day in Phoenix:

  • Rock Climb/Boulder in the mountains
  • Soak in a spring/river/etc
  • Horseback Ride through the desert on a trail
  • Dirt Bike/Off Road
  • Hike
  • Kayak in one of the lakes
  • Water Skiing/Boating in one of the lakes
  • Bar hop
  • Go to an Art Gallery downtown
  • Star Gaze outside of the city
  • Enjoy a chef dinner with your guests
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Line Dance in Cave Creek
  • Go golfing

Do I need a Permit to Elope in Phoenix?

This all depends on where you elope in the Phoenix region! A lot of the areas are within the Tonto National Forest region and if you are eloping with no guest and no set up you do not currently need a permit. South Mountain, Camel Back, Papago Park and other things within the city will be a part of Parks and Recreation, and you would need to contact them. You will notice with permits, just like every elopement is different, every location is different. What we urge our couples to do and we do ourselves is to call the park service to get the initial information and get in contact with the right ranger. From there, we email over all the specifics of the day to see if permits are needed. Some areas it’s obvious and listed on their website if it’s needed, but sometimes it is necessary to reach out and ask. We recommend acquiring your permit at least 30 days in advance from the elopement date, but as soon as you’re sure on the date is best to start the process.

A couple stands on a hiking trail near a large cacti as they explore Lost Dutchman State Park.

What do I need for a Phoenix Elopement?

Desert weddings are a lot different than high alpine elopements. You may not need bear spray, but there are some things to keep on hand! One of the most important things to have on you at all times in the desert is WATER!!! How much water depends on how far you are hiking, how hard the hike is and how hot it is. Staying hydrated in the desert is so important. No matter what you are doing, keep at least one liter on you per person. Here is a list of other items to pack for your Phoenix elopement:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray pending time of year/location to water
  • Proper Hiking Boots
  • A sun hat
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • A white neck fan! If you are a bride worried about heat on your hike this is perfect, we’re taking this idea from one of our past brides!
  • Tweezer’s if you are the type that may accidentally run into a cactus 🙂

Where should I stay in Phoenix for my elopement?

Phoenix is a unique city, where you can fly directly into the Tempe area by landing at the Phoenix Airport and from there you can uber or take public transit to tons of hotels, resorts, Airbnbs and food. However, a lot of the adventure aspects are outside of the city meaning you 100% should get a rental car if you want to get out of the city at all. If you have a car, it also opens up many more options for where you can stay.

We personally recommend Airbnbs or VRBOs so you can have a cozy space to hangout and get ready at. The Phoenix, Cave Creek and Scottsdale area are known for having very beautiful and unique Airbnbs. Outside of Airbnb’s you will find there are SO many hotels in the region. Some of the top resorts or hotels we recommend are Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona and Baltimore or Royal Palms. Anything in the Scottsdale area will be super nice and near a lot of the great places to dine. If you are eloping at Lost Dutchman and looking for something quieter, we recommend one of their cabins. Not wanting to stay inside somewhere or maybe you’re a van lifer like we used to be and you don’t need a place? There are huge stretches of land to camp on the outskirts of the city near the Superstitions and Cave Creek.

When it comes to choosing your stay location, it really comes down to what your plan is while you’re in the area. Keep in mind that Phoenix is a big city by most peoples standards, so depending on traffic and where you’re heading it can take over an hour to go from one end of the city to the other. If long drives aren’t something you want to be a part of your experience, then keep in mind where you plan to hold your ceremony and adventure when it comes to booking your stay.

How much does it cost to elope in Phoenix?

Elopement cost is so different per couple, it all depends exactly what you want your day to look like. Some elopements can be $5,000 and some can be $25,000. A simple way to break down the cost of your elopement would be to fill this in:

  • Travel – including but not limited to food, flight, rental car, place to stay etc.
  • Photography and Videography
  • Attire (Dress, suit, etc)
  • Your Marriage Paperwork the paperwork depends on the office ranges from $60-$100
  • Officiant – If you’re having guests and one of them is already ordained and performs your ceremony that’s always a great perk! Hiring an officiant can cost anywhere from $100-$1000, but we include officiating as a part of our services!
  • Flowers
  • Adventure Costs – this could horse back riding, boat rental, kayak rental, trailhead parking, off road rental etc.
  • Permit – in this region it mostly ranges from $50-200

Phoenix Elopement Packages

We work in the Arizona and Phoenix region yearly from October to April! I used to live in Phoenix, my partner Bill and I met each other in Sedona and lived there for years! Now we split our time between Washington and Arizona. We know the desert well. We have hiked, backpacked, rock climbed and off roaded many areas of the Phoenix and Arizona region. Our packages include officiating, working together to create your dream day, capturing the moments with photo and even video coverage if you’d like that too! We treat each of our couples just like family and want each of them to have the most authentic and captivating experience!

We’d Love To Hear About Your Elopement!

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“I don’t even know here to start!

When my husband and I reached out to Traci, we were feeling lost and overwhelmed trying to plan our elopement in a 4 month timeframe, 2 of which had already passed by the time we found Traci. If we hadn’t found her blog post that led us to see her work, I truly don’t think our day would have been the same experience.

From the day we reached out, she was so kind and responsive. She eased our nerves instantly with her knowledge on photography, the location we had chosen, and all the nitty gritty details of what an elopement entails.

We were lucky enough to meet Traci the day before our ceremony and although our nerves were high, it felt like we were instant friends. It was such a calming feeling going into our elopement day! She was willing to answer all questions, go through all the worst case scenarios, and help us stay positive and upbeat for the next day. On the day of our ceremony, Traci was all business. She is extremely punctual and knows exactly what needs to get done in order to make your dreams come true.

We are so thankful to have met and get photographed by both Traci and Bill and we are so hopeful to cross their paths again someday! Thank you both so much for making our elopement the very best day of our lives!!!!”

-The Seibergs <3