THE ULTIMATE GUIDE ON HOW TO ELOPE IN ARIZONA
(updated for 2023)

When looking for a location to elope in, Arizona is such the perfect desert state with lots of hidden gems. Arizona has everything from scenic mountains you can exchange private vows in front of. Have your intimate wedding ceremony in the forest. Taking a helicopter tour across the Grand Canyon. Hike the red rock mountains of Sedona Arizona. Explore miles of slot canyons, sand dunes, and even kayaking! Did I mention we have mountains?

There’s plenty of activities for less outdoorsy people as well, like hot air balloons, wine tasting, pubs, and exploring historic towns to window shop around Arizona.

Arizona may not have all four seasons but there is nothing in Arizona you can’t do year round!

Horseshoe Bend Arizona Adventure Elopement

WHY ARIZONA IS THE PERFECT LOCATION FOR YOUR DESTINATION WEDDING / ELOPEMENT

Arizona is the perfect place to elope because there is a large list you can choose between desert landscapes filled with Cacti, red-orange sandstone formations, green forests, hidden waterfalls or even the famous Grand Canyon National Park or Horseshoe Bend!

Arizona also offers different weather climates like snow up to your knees or scorching hot triple digit summers (which we will talk about more in this blog!).

UNDERSTANDING ARIZONA MARRIAGE LAWS AND REQUIREMENTS

One awesome thing about eloping in Arizona is there is no wait period for obtaining a marriage license! You can apply for your marriage license and get married on the same day. If you are traveling from out of state, I recommend arriving 2 days early to obtain your marriage license and relax so you don’t have to start your elopement day waiting in the clerk’s office.

Marriage Laws and Requirements

Just like any other state, eloping in Arizona has different laws than where you might live or be traveling from.

– You must be 18 years of age to get married.
– You do NOT need to be an Arizona resident to apply for a marriage license in Arizona.
– Both parties (you and your partner) must be present to apply for your marriage license.
– The fee to obtain a marriage license in Arizona is $83.00. Payable by cash, debit or credit card, or money order.
– A copy of your birth certificate and either your current drivers license, state or military ID card, current passport, or other government issued picture ID. Remember to pack all the essentials with you!

Each clerk office / county in Arizona may have different requirements so I recommend reaching out to them or visiting the government website before your visit Arizona to learn about what you may or may not need to obtain a marriage license.

Is Eloping in Arizona legal?

Eloping is 100% legal in Arizona! You do not need to be in a church or courthouse in order for your ceremony to be recognized by the law. There are a few requirements in order to have your marriage recognized by the state (listed below).

Do I Need a Witness to Elope in Arizona?

You will need two witnesses ages 18 or older to attend your ceremony and sign your marriage license. Your officiant overseeing your ceremony does not count as a witness.

If you want to have a private, just the two of you, ceremony we absolutely can do that! I am a ordained so I legally can sign your marriage license as your Officiant recognized by the law in Arizona. After you two have your private ceremony we can find witnesses nearby and perform a simple 30 second ceremony that follows the legal requirements for your witnesses to sign your marriage license.

Can I Have a Family Member or Friend Officiate My Elopement?

If you prefer to have your close friend or family member officiate your elopement you absolutely can! It is so much fun and can make your elopement day memories more special to have them officiate your ceremony.

There are many options to choose from when searching to legally get ordained. I recommend (and personally use) the Universal Life Church (ULC), they are completely free. Some states require the officiant to show proof of their ordination (via paperwork) but Arizona does not. I personally carry my paperwork with my always but you do not have to! Just a good practice.

How Do I Legally Get Married In Arizona?

After your ceremony and all the legal requirements and signatures have been signed on your marriage license, you must return your license to the Clerk’s Office within 10 – 30 days (depending on the Office/ county you are in). Once your marriage has been recorded you can contact the office for a certified copy to be mailed to you for $37.90 (this will be required if you want to legally change your last name).

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ELOPE IN ARIZONA?

When it comes to eloping in Arizona, it’s up to you to decide how much or how little you want to spend for your elopement. The marriage license fee in Arizona is $83.00, a small investment for your grand adventure.

As for activities, the options are endless.

Picture yourselves hiking through scenic desert landscapes. Exchanging vows against majestic red rock backdrops. Or exploring hidden waterfalls together. Take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Go on a thrilling helicopter tour. Or simply indulge in a romantic picnic next to a 200 year old saguaro cactus..

Arizona offers an abundance of different activities to enhance your intimate wedding celebration experience.

Is Eloping in Arizona Cheaper Than a Traditional Wedding?

Unlike a traditional wedding with its extensive guest list, elaborate venues, and various vendors, eloping allows you to focus on what truly matters. Your relationship and the love you and your partner share with each other.

By eloping instead of having a traditional wedding you can save significantly on venue costs, catering expenses, and other traditional wedding elements.

Instead, you can invest in creating meaningful experiences such as exploring stunning desert trails, exchanging vows amidst iconic red rock formations in Sedona, experiencing a high quality resort like Amangiri in Page, or going on exciting adventures like hot air balloon rides or helicopter tours.

Arizona offers a wealth of natural beauty and thrilling activities that can be tailored to fit your budget. So long story short, depending on your elopement vision and the activities you desire to experience for your elopement, eloping can be cheaper than a traditional wedding. But it doesn’t mean your wedding day is any less special.

What to Budget for When Eloping in Arizona

When it comes to budgeting for your elopement, it all depends on what you envision for your special day. The beauty of eloping is that you have endless opportunities to choose from and the freedom to create a celebration that aligns with your dreams and desires. No two elopements are the same because it is your wedding day that is a reflection of your unique relationship. However, you should keep in mind of the basics when it comes to planning your elopement in Arizona no matter what your elopement vision looks like.

  • Marriage License – $83 dollars for the marriage license plus extra for the certified copy (optional).
  • Travel – Consider how much it would cost if you’d rather travel by car or plane. If you’re driving to Arizona, will you need to stop at a hotel during your trip? How much will gas cost to and from your destination? If you’re flying into Arizona, will you need to rent a car?
  • Lodging – Whether you opt in for a cozy desert Airbnb or a luxurious resort to indulge in, like Amangiri, the prices vary greatly depending on what time of year and what area you’re staying in. This can range anywhere from $150 – $400+ a night.
  • Food – Are you wanting to splurge on high quality food and hire a private chef for your elopement experience? Or maybe go out to a fancy dinner with your close friends and family? Consider what your budget looks like and if you’d rather be budget friendly or experience high end luxury with the food choices you make during your trip.
  • Permits – Depending on where you want to elope, you may need to purchase a permit to legally have your elopement ceremony on public land. The cost varies from $0 – $450 for a permit (including application fees).
  • Attire – Depending on your look, you can spend as little or as much as you’d like for your wedding attire. Would you rather thrift your outfit? Make your own wedding dress? Or invest towards your dream wedding dress?
  • Hair & Makeup – I personally think that having your hair and makeup professionally done adds to your elopement experience. This of course is optional if you’d rather DIY. A hair & makeup artist can cost $500 or more depending on where you’re eloping.
  • Officiant – An officiant adds so much emotion to your wedding day. This is included in all elopement packages but if you’d rather have someone else officiate your wedding day, expect to pay $300 or more for travel and planning.
  • Photographer / Videographer – Here at Escape and Adventure, our average elopement is $6,000. See elopement packages here!
  • Floral – If you want to add some natural color to your portraits, floral arrangements are also another beautiful option to add to your destination wedding budget. Are you looking to have a bouquet just for you or you and your wedding party?
  • Activities – Take a moment to imagine what your wedding day looks like. What fun activities do you want to experience? Are you envisioning a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, horseback riding, kayaking across the Colorado River? Or you can include some more intimate and relaxing activities like having a picnic, reading a book, or stargazing.

Remember, it’s your wedding day, so budget according to what will make your elopement truly unforgettable. Customize your budget to reflect the experiences and elements that matter most to you, creating a celebration that perfectly aligns with your love story.

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ELOPE IN ARIZONA

Arizona has a range of seasons, temperatures, and weather conditions from the low 20s to 115 degrees (Fahrenheit). Depending on what time of year you’re planning to elope you can expect harsh summer heat to foggy mountains covered in snow.

My opinion? February – April or October – November are the best times of the year to elope in Arizona. These months in Arizona are neither too hot, too cold, or too busy. Besides the triple digit summers and monsoon season, most Arizona days consist of sunny and clear skies. Great weather for hiking, swimming, and adventuring.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, when is a good time to elope in Arizona? Well it all depends on what you want your experience to be during your wedding day. How do you want the temperature to feel? What do you plan on wearing during your elopement? What type of activities do you want to include?

Spring (March – May)

Spring is a beautiful time to elope because the trees are slowly growing their leaves back and the wildflowers are in bloom! Temperatures can vary from the 60’s to the upper 80’s (Fahrenheit) during March and April. Because May is towards the beginning of Summer you can start to expect mid 90’s to the triple digits (low 100’s) during the daytime in the Phoenix Valley.

This time of year does tend to get a bit busy depending on where you want to elope. Locations like Sedona, The Grand Canyon, or Page start to get more traffic because of the tourist and families traveling during Spring Break. But if you still want to elope during the Springtime I can recommend some not-so popular and off-the-beaten-path locations for you to elope at.

Summer (June – August)

I do not recommend eloping in Phoenix during this time. The temperatures range from 110 – 120 degrees (Fahrenheit) and do not cool down after the sun sets.

Northern Arizona is a good option if you want to avoid the scorching sun and dry heat. The temperatures in Northern Arizona are between the 80’s – mid 90’s but depending on where you elope it may feel unpleasant to adventure or get married in the Arizona summer sun. If you still want to elope in Arizona during the summer I recommend indoor, air conditioned venues, or water activities like swimming at a lake.

Additionally, Summer season is Monsoon season where the seasonal rain is unpredictable and brings flooded roads, potentially dangerous storms, and dust storms (or what we call, haboobs).

Fall (September – October)

Fall in Phoenix isn’t what a lot of people think when they think of Fall: Fall foliage, leaf piles to throw around, and cooler weather. It’s still usually 80 – 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) and because Phoenix is full of cacti and Palo Verde trees there are no changing leaves or Fall colors to enjoy.

If you do plan to elope in Northern Arizona during the Fall season (October – November) you’ll get the chance to see some of the most stunning autumn colors and wildflowers before the cold wind blows them away. Temperatures are a lot more cool than the valley and perfect for wedding and family portraits before the holidays begin.

Winter (November – February)

In the Phoenix valley you can expect temperatures between 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) to 75 degrees during the winter. Winter is one of the perfect times to elope in Phoenix, especially if you are traveling from out of state, because the weather is not too cold to explore. The temperatures do get a bit chilly and drop down to an average of 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) at night. But besides the cold do not expect a lot of rain during this time period.

Although Phoenix does not get snow, if you travel up North to Flagstaff or even The Grand Canyon, Page, or sometimes Sedona, temperatures can range between 20 degrees to 60 degrees and can expect snow. Arizona winters vary on how much snowfall Northern Arizona expects. In 2021 Flagstaff had a total of 191″ of snowfall. This year (as of April 2023) Northern Arizona received up to 400″ of snow! And that is just the beginning of the year.

THE BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN ARIZONA

From Northern Arizona all the way to Southern Arizona there are lists of general to very specific locations to choose when planning your elopement in Arizona. From National Parks, Regional Parks, State Parks, National Forests, even Bureau of Land Management (BLM) there are hundreds of miles with endless and scenic views offered in the beautiful state of Arizona. Some location require hiking, backpacking, off-roading, rock climbing, and even kayaking.

Lake Powell + Page Arizona Elopement Locations

Page, Arizona, offers an enchanting backdrop for your desert elopement adventure. This breathtaking destination is a hidden gem nestled amidst stunning natural wonders, such as the iconic Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Eloping in Page, you can fully immerse yourselves in the beauty of the red desert landscape and create unforgettable memories.

Whether you choose to exchange vows against the backdrop of swirling sandstone formations, embark on a scenic boat tour along Lake Powell, or kayak across the Colorado River, Page offers endless opportunities for breathtaking and adventurous experiences. You have the freedom to design your perfect elopement day surrounded by the stunning landscapes and red rocks of Page, Arizona. Let your love story be told through your adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Grand Canyon Adventure Elopement

Grand Canyon National Park Elopement Locations

Eloping at the Grand Canyon offers miles of the perfect backdrop for your unforgettable destination wedding. Imagine exchanging vows as the sun sets over the canyon’s stunning vistas, painting the sky with vibrant colors. Whether you choose a secluded spot along the rim away from tourists, take a helicopter ride to see a birds eye view of the canyon and Colorado River, or venture into the Grand Canyon itself for a rim to rim hike, the Grand Canyon offers endless possibilities for creating an intimate elopement experience.

Flagstaff Arizona Elopement Locations

Flagstaff Arizona is one of my favorite locations in Northern Arizona if you’re wanting a forest ceremony. Surrounded with mountain peaks and miles of pine forests. This historic town is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Picture you and your partner saying your vows in a secluded meadow in the aspen forest, exploring a lava tube, or taking a nap in a hammock under a canopy of vibrant autumn leaves. With Flagstaff being only an hour drive from Sedona, you can experience the cool weather and forests of Flagstaff and go on a beautiful hike in Sedona as the sun sets!

Sedona Arizona Elopement Locations

Surrounded with Red Rock mountains and lush green forests, Sedona is the perfect desert hidden gem if you enjoy hiking, art, spiritual vortexes, and don’t mind getting your wedding dress dirty. It is honestly so hard to pick which location is my favorite because every part of Sedona offers different scenic views and experiences.

With over 3 million tourists a year visiting Sedona, eloping in Sedona can be difficult because of the popularity of some hiking trails, like Cathedral Rock or Bell Rock. But if you choose a not-so-popular location (which I know many), a location with a long hike, or requires a 4×4 vehicle there will be less people around you during your elopement. There is a perfect fit for every explorer, no matter what your adventure experience.

Payson Arizona Elopement Locations

Payson, Arizona is full of hidden wonders you wouldn’t believe unless you’ve seen it. Imagine exchanging vows beside cascading waterfalls, exploring hidden hiking trails through towering pine forests, or sharing an intimate picnic by the shores of crystal-clear lakes. Payson’s breathtaking landscapes overlooking atop the Mogollon Rim is the perfect forest backdrop for your intimate wedding whether you’re seeking adventure or a peaceful retreat within nature.

Phoenix Arizona Elopement Locations

Phoenix, Arizona is a paradise with surrounded with mountains that offers a remarkable setting for your desert elopement adventure. From the rugged beauty of Lost Dutchman State Park to the tranquil waters of the Salt River, the opportunities are endless.

Imagine saying your vows against the backdrop of towering saguaro cacti, embarking on a romantic kayak trip down the Salt River, or exploring the scenic trails of the Desert Botanical Garden, with its charming downtown and vibrant arts scene, provides a perfect blend of culture and natural beauty.

If you’re seeking panoramic desert views or picturesque desert gardens, Phoenix has it all. Let the warm desert breeze and golden sunsets create an unforgettable atmosphere as you celebrate your love story in the heart of Arizona (except in the Summer).

Southern Arizona Elopement Locations

On the opposite side of Arizona, where there’s more cacti and desert than trees, Southern Arizona is the perfect destination for couples seeking an adventure filled day with hiking, mountains, and even Sand Dunes! The Imperial Sand Dunes create a surreal backdrop and unique experience of sand in your shoes, sand boarding, and one of the best places to star gaze – or even have a lightsaber fight if you’re a big Star Wars fan.

In Tuscon, Arizona you can explore the enchanting Saguaro National Park or watch the sunset atop of Mt. Lemmon. I personally don’t travel to Southern Arizona often but it does have some amazing spots if you’re into traveling far for your adventure!

PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR ELOPING IN ARIZONA

When you’re chose to elope in the beautiful world we live in instead of having your wedding at a venue, some ceremony locations you’re considering may require a permit. But don’t stress! As your elopement planner that is one of the first things I look for when creating a personalized location list for you to choose where you want to elope!

Some locations do not require a ceremony permit but may require a photographer permit.

If you are planning to elope in Sedona, only the Red Rock State Park requires a permit. There is a group size limit of 75 people or less. Wedding arches, table or picnic set ups are not allowed (no matter how many pretty photos you see on the internet).

Other locations like a State Park or National Park you will 100% need to purchase a permits.

  • Grand Canyon National Park – The famous and one of the most popular attractions of Arizona. Read all the rules and apply for your permit here. Want to learn more about How To Elope at the Grand Canyon? Here’s another blog I wrote to check out!
  • Petrified Forest National Park – Such a cool and historical location I recommend everyone checking out at least once during their visit to Arizona. Permit information and application link
  • Glen Canyon National Recreational Area – Anywhere you plan to elope and have a ceremony, including the beautiful Horseshoe Bend, you will need a permit. Permit information and application here.
  • Saguaro National Park – Never seen a cactus before? Why not elope surround with thousands of Saguaro Cacti as your witness? Permit information
  • Lost Dutchman State Park – Home of my favorite mountain, the Superstition Mountain. This is a perfect location for a small wedding with little to no hike. Permit information here

When it comes to applying for a permit, I always say the sooner the better! Permit turnaround times can take anywhere from 4 – 12 weeks (even if the website says sooner). Always remember to do your research! I will do my best as your elopement photographer to find all the correct information in regards to if you need to apply for a permit but it is always a good idea for you to reach out to the rangers and communicate with your photographer.

Bride and Groom running down street with red rock mountains in Sedona Arizona in the background

TIPS FOR HAVING THE BEST ARIZONA ELOPEMENT EXPERIENCE

There are so many things to do in Arizona! From the red rock formations of Sedona to the pine forests of Flagstaff, Arizona offers a diverse range of landscape for your elopement. Imagine exploring with a thrilling helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, venture into mesmerizing slot canyons, or embark on a kayaking adventure. With so much natural beauty to explore, Arizona allows you to create meaningful experiences that is a true reflection of your love story.

Remember that Arizona is a desert, so avoid traveling to this beautiful state during the summer, and drink lots more water than you usually do. The best time of year to elope in Arizona is Fall or Winter, depending on where you want to elope. Those are also the busiest months of the year so be prepared if you’re exploring around Northern Arizona to see a lot more hikers and tourists where you’ll be.

Lastly, remember that this is your wedding day. You get to choose how your day looks. You may need a permit depending on where you want to elope or a tour guide. Please do your research before visiting this beautiful state and Leave No Trace!

YOUR ARIZONA ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

Hey, I’m Kelcee!

As an Arizona born and raised local I know everything from the secret hidden elopement locations that aren’t overpopulated with tourists to the best time to elope!

I’m here to help you with all things adventure & elopements. From scouting out your ceremony location to planning your adventurous elopement timeline, I’ll help you plan your best day ever, take away any stress you are experiencing, and support you as your new best friend.

Your elopement is the experience of a lifetime and you deserve not only the support for doing what you love but also the best quality photos that tell your love story that will last a lifetime.

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