May 20, 2020

The BEST Places to Elope in Sedona

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Best Places to elope in Sedona and Full Guide to planning your elopement in Sedona.

scouted and written by your Sedona local Elopement Photographer Traci Edwards, owner of Adventure and Vow (updated for 2021)

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Sedona has become one of the most popular places in the United States for eloping. On any given day in the area you can expect 2-5+ weddings to be happening. Sedona is known for it's easy access to beautiful places, its spiritual energy, stunning red rock vistas, adventure and more. It is a great place to spend the weekend or a full week, depending on what all you want to do. It is close to Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Page and Phoenix. It is easy to see why Sedona has become such a popular elopement location, but this blog will tell literally very thing you need to know about planning an elopement in Sedona from a local elopement photographer and outdoor enthusiast. Before we dive into all things getting married in Sedona, let's talk about the logistics of just visiting the area!

How to get to Sedona and when is the best time to go to Sedona...

Sedona is pure magic throughout the entire year, although the best time to elope in Sedona is March to early May and October to December. The busiest times of the year in Sedona is spring break, fall break, mother's day and Easter weekend. We recommend avoiding the high times because of the limited parking available at the local trailheads. If you are hoping to see some Fall colors the best time is late October to mid November. If you want to avoid snow or see snow you can expect very minimal flurries in mid Jan to mid Feb. However, know that snow in Sedona only happens a few times during the winter season and when it does, it is so magical! The white contrast against the red rock is beautiful and the best part is that snow here typically is not enough to close down roads or stay around long. The summer months from late June to end of August are what we consider the no zone, the temperatures can be over a 100 degrees making it unsafe for some activity.

You will most likely want to rent a car to visit Sedona. The best airports to fly into are Phoenix for most convenient all round, Flagstaff for closest or Las Vegas for cheapest. We recommend either way being sure to drive the 89A through the canyon for some epic views! Also be sure to drive the 179 into Sedona from HWY 17 for great red rock views of Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock.

What is the cost of visiting Sedona? Cost during peak times is always more expensive, per typically tourist areas. A typical stay in Sedona can average $75-$500+ a night at a hotel or other rental. There is plenty of free camping in the area as well. Your average meal in Sedona for two can average $60-$150 per meal. Some our favorite restaurants we recommend out are Javelina Cantina, The Hudson, Mariposa, Layla's Bakery, Vino de Sedona and more!

First things first, How do you elope in Sedona?

Most importantly if you are coming to Sedona to get legally married let’s talk about how to make it all legal! In the state of Arizona you need an officiant and two witnesses. If you are working with Adventure and Vow for your elopement, we have you covered. We are a two person team and we are both ordained, so you can "self-solemnize" or have us perform your ceremony. Or we can count as your witnesses if you want to hire an officiant out, which we have recommendations for. Do not worry if you do not have guests coming to your elopement, it is never hard to get some fellow hikers on the trial to sign as witnesses or folks back in town near where you are staying. To get your marriage license, if you live in the state you can (currently due to Covid-19) get it mailed to you by ordering it online. If you live out of state, you will need to make an appointment online to pick it up at any Arizona clerk office. The state of Arizona does not have a waiting period from the time you get your paperwork from the time you get married, however be sure to keep their office hours in mind and make your appointment with the clerk office prior to booking your travel. Below are links to the clerk offices most convenient for getting your paperwork if you are eloping in Sedona.

Sedona Clerk Office

Flagstaff Clerk Office

Phoenix/Maricopa County Clerk Office

Airbnb elopements have become very popular, but it is important to know that in the state of Arizona it is illegal to hold an event at an Airbnb. It is also important to know that no matter what state you are in, if you have a photographer planning to take photos of you in an Airbnb you need to get permission from the home owner first. So while in Arizona you can not legally hold your ceremony at an Airbnb, you can get ready at your Airbnb or have dinner there after your ceremony with permission of the owner. Sedona is known for its Airbnbs being unique and plentiful. For places we recommend staying from resorts, VRBO, Airbnb check out our guide.

For elopements in Sedona out on the trials, it is important to follow Leave No Trace. Sedona sandstone is super fragile and crypto soil can be found on some of the trials. Sedona gets millions of visitors a year so it is important to treat the land with respect so people can enjoy it for the many years to come. Sedona is already seeing a large impact from social media with locations like Devil's Bridge becoming overwhelming popular from folks geo-tagging it on IG and FB. My suggestions is to never tag a specific trail. The other LNT principals to follow are: plan ahead and be prepared, travel on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize fire impact, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors. The last one is so important in place like Sedona, it is important to remember we all share the trail, even if it is your wedding day.

Where can you elope in Sedona?

This is a very important question! Sedona is millions of acres of red rocks, mountains and beautiful deserts, but you can not elope just anywhere in this wide spread wilderness. It is important to know that in Sedona you are not allowed to elope on Wilderness Land, this mean you can not elope at Devil's Bridge, West Fork or at other popular areas you may have seen images of floating around on Pinterest, Instagram and other places. This rule is in place by the Red Rock Forest Service. Other rules that apply to eloping in Sedona are no set ups, no groups larger than 75 people and the only paid vendors that can be present without pulling a permit are the officiant and the photographer. If you have any questions about permits/rules you want to reach out directly to the Forest Service Rangers for the Red Rock District. My biggest advice is to not assume something is okay just because you saw it on social media. A great map resource for seeing what is Wilderness Land and what is not is Gaia. Do not worry though, we are local to Sedona and know the area like the back of our hands. We are always happy to help with suggestions that would best fit your elopement day from a specific adventure to any amount of privacy desired.

The top two elopement locations in Sedona based on location, light and their popularity are :

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Cathedral Rock

I call this THE classic Sedona hike. There is just something about this rock that is beautiful and draws people in from all over. The hike itself is straight up the rock and about two miles round trip. Cathedral rock offers amazing views, epic and easy places to get to for a ceremony with friends and family. The location is best at sunset, but can also be amazing at sunrise and way more private. It is one of those hikes everyone is happy on! It is important to know how busy this trial is! Parking can be a huge challenge here and I would not expect to be the only couple eloping at this location on any given day.

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Merry Go Round

This spot is big! Yes, I mean big like spacious so it is great for a ceremony, but also big for all of the jeep tours in Sedona, hikers and folks with their own off road means. This place is so worthy of whatever journey you take to get there. Easily one of the best views at sunset in Sedona. Since the Jeep tours come here, it means you can get to your elopement location without the hike and you get to bring anyone in the family along for the adventure! This location is not as busy as Cathedral Rock, but in the last year it is picking up popularity fast. Your best bet is to elope here in the middle of the week, but again do not expect to be the only couple there.

There are so many other locations you can elope in Sedona that may be less crowded than these areas, offering privacy for your vows and/or ceremony with some epic views. We work closely with our couples to insure their location aligns with their vision for their elopement day. Typically in Sedona you can get to any elopement location with a .5 mile to a 5 mile hike or by off-roading.

Things to do in Sedona for your Elopement Day

There is no shortage of adventures available to you in Sedona for your elopement day, but the other plus is there is no shortage of things to do that do not include adventuring, making it also a family friendly elopement location.

Here are some adventurous things you can do in Sedona on your elopement day:

Things you can do in the area that do not include adventuring and are more family friendly:

Things you may want to bring with you to your Sedona Elopement:

Wildlife you may encounter in Sedona:

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Looking for a Sedona Elopement Photographer?

We are a husband and wife team who have explored the climbing routes, the off roads, the campsites, the trails and more! We know the area like the back of our hands. We have been capturing elopements in Sedona since 2018. We are both ordained, offer planning assistance and capture photo and video!

We truly believe in the magic of a location, what type of feeling and the experience it can give you on your elopement day. We also believe that location knowledge is what really sets apart a lot of elopement photographers. Sedona still leaves us in awe even after living here for years. It’s stunning and surreal. We are dedicated to this place as much as we are dedicated to your day, your experience and telling your love story authentically. To learn more about the elopement packages we offer and what it is like to work with us check out our process page.

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38 comments on “The BEST Places to Elope in Sedona”

  1. Holy crap. Your photos are stunning! I've been through Arizona, but haven't been to Sedona and now I'm DYING to go because these location options look AMAZING.

  2. The pictures are stunning and the information is wonderful!! How kind of you to put all this amazing information together for couples who want to elope in Sedona.

  3. As I was scrolling I thought "Wow! The Merry Go Round looks beautiful! I think that's my favorite!" And then I kept scrolling and my thought immediately changed. They're all so beautiful. I don't think I can pick now!

  4. My husband and I eloped at Cathedral Rock 5 years ago and we didn't have a photographer. πŸ™ I wish we had known about you!!!

  5. It really resonated with me that you included "the adventure creating the experience" in determining the perfect place to elope for a specific couple. I feel like many elopement photographers don't consider this, and it's so beautiful and important!! <3

  6. Wow ! Gorgeous photos.... Gotta give it to these people .. they are willing to put in that effort for great photos.

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