Kari and Eric have traveled all over the US and outside of the US together. When it came time to plan their elopement, they wanted to pick somewhere that they had not been to together yet for new memories. Kari is a large event planner, so she wanted a day that would not be a larger production to maintain. The focus when planning was adventure on day one all over the Page, Arizona region and day two to be focused around an intimate ceremony. They flew in their own plane from Indiana to Page after exploring other parts of the desert during their flight to get ready for the next day of exploring. They picked us up bright and early at our camp site along the same road we needed to venture down to their first location! They had rented a jeep from a local company to be able to access the area. However, without Eric's past experience off-roading, I don't think we would have made it! It was a fun morning going through the slightly outlandish mud slide of a road hearing them think back on all the epic adventures they had been to together from many trips to Costa Rica and of course their first trip early on in their dating to the British Virgin Islands.
Upon arrival we hopped out intrigued to see just how muddy the jeep was. They changed into outfit one of the day and started exploring different areas of the big rock shelf as the sun started to rise. Once the sun had been up long enough to warm us all up, we hopped back into the jeep to head to location number two! Driving back down the Mars like road in the daylight, Kari and Eric were able to take in all of the odd beauty around. We got to Lake Powell and checked in, picking up the boat and kayaks to start our venture of boating, kayaking and hiking in a beautiful private slot canyon! For Eric, driving the boat was like going down memory lane as these two took in all the new beautiful scenes around them that we had seen earlier that morning from above and working together to navigate driving the boat through the rock walls. Once we navigated to our docking point it was exciting to get closer to the water and slow things down for the day as we all paddled through deeper into the rock walls. Hiking through the slot canyon was fun, touching all the different textures on the walls, admiring the different colors and shapes made by the water. After returning back to the boat we just cruised taking in the final bits of the day and views on the water. Day one of their adventure wedding was full of exploration, excitement, adventure and love. It was care-free and beautiful, setting the perfect tone for the next days ceremony and hike in Sedona.
Lake Powell is located in Page, Arizona but spans all the way past Bullfrog, Utah. The lake itself has over 2000 miles of shoreline, some of which you can dock at or even camp on. The lake has over 90 side canyons ready for exploring and is home to one of the largest natural arches in the United States. The water levels lately have been extremely low, even with the large amount of rain Arizona saw this year. This is because the water source for the lake is actually snow melt! The lake creates a water source and electric power for many on the Navajo Nation so while this is a man made lake, it is scared in use.
A lot of Lake Powell is located on Glen Canyon Recreational land, so yes you do need a permit to get married on this land! Specifically you need a Special Use permit and this can be obtained on the Parks website. Note that parks often change their policy so you as the couple and photographer should be in contact to get information at least 45 days in advance. Outside of a permit, you will also need your marriage license! If you are going to the lake from Page you can get your marriage paper work from the Page clerk office. It is important to note however, that when you are on Lake Powell, you are dancing between Arizona and Utah pretty much the entire time. The other option would be getting your paperwork in Kanab or if you are leaving from a different area look into other options in Utah.
Safety and understanding the desert is very important when exploring this area. It is important to understand the weather systems here and how they effect the area from the roads, to the big body of water and the canyons. If it has has rained recently (even a week ago) you may want to avoid going into any canyons. We have seen 40 ft sand walls be washed out of these canyons before within a few days span from rain. If there is harsh weather in the forecast, they highly recommend not going onto the lake with any boats because of the risk of flash flood and lightening. Also, when there are low water levels, there may be rock formations now visible and threatening to your boat if you are not aware of them or paying attention.
So in short, yes it is safe to elope on Lake Powell. It is important to be able to flexible in your day or have a back up plan in the event that weather has made it unsafe.
Personally we think the best time of year is late March to the end of April and October to November. These are not the warmest months, but they are also the months that avoid moonsoons and heavy summer crowds. Lake Powell has a strict policy of not moving boats on the water past sunset. So most rentals require boats back early. If you are wanting sunrise or sunset ceremony/photos I recommend getting a house boat to overnight on the lake or preparing to tent camp along some of the allowed shoreline for camping.
Along Lake Powell there are many shorelines you can get married at, different areas you can hike to and slot canyons you can explore. Importantly, pick locations you know you have time for and the ability to get in and out of. If you do not want to access your elopement location by water, you can always pick somewhere you can hike in from or off road from overlooking the lake as there are many locations like this in Arizona + Utah.
The next day Eric and Kari traveled in their plane from Page to Sedona, stalling to take photos from the sky of the amazing scenery. For day two we meet at the trail head that they would get married at. Kari's hairstylist had traveled to Sedona to do her hair which was so special for the both of them! We hiked to a secluded spot surrounded by red rocks that tested Eric's fear of heights just enough to get amazing views, privacy and still enjoy the evening. They shared their hand written vows together, laughter throughout the evening and celebration. Once the sun set behind the large rock canyons ahead of us, we started our hike down under the moonlight.
The next morning we met at the Sedona Airport before sunrise to hopefully take some photos of their plane flying among the red rocks. We got up into the air and immediately decided to abort the plan as the turbulence was very, very extreme. Once everyone landed safely we took some portraits of them together with their plane on solid ground. We grabbed a coffee in the airport away from the wind to chat about their next plans. We talked about their favorite places, where they will go next and swapped tips on some of our favorite places. We said our good byes as they set out to greet some of Kari's family to continue the celebration of their relationship and marriage in the desert.
Vendors that helped make this day possible:
Hair: @kellseymariie owner of @studio.3019