If you know that you want to elope in Sedona, Arizona but you’re not sure where to begin–let your elopement photographer be your guide! Photographing Sedona is one of the most popular activities for tourists experiencing Arizona. With over 3 million visitors a year, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out a unique place to stay, where to share your vows, and what time of year to visit. This is my complete Sedona Elopement Guide for couples considering this amazing location for their adventure elopement!

couple embraces at Arizona wedding

Top Tips to Plan a Sedona Elopement

After the Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona elopement locations are some of the most popular spots to get married in Arizona. Surrounded by unique red rock formations, lush valleys, and cliffs, Sedona offers endless miles of hiking trails, hidden caves, off-roading adventures, and local shops and restaurants.

couple kisses at Arizona wedding

Traveling to Sedona–How to Get There

When traveling to Sedona, the easiest and closest airport to fly into is Phoenix Sky Harbor. It is a two hour drive (without traffic) from this airport into Sedona. High traffic times for driving out of Phoenix are Monday-Friday 6-9am and 3-7pm. If there is a popular event happening, expect higher traffic in the Phoenix area. In my opinion, arriving in Phoenix during the morning or early afternoon is best.

If you’re driving into Arizona from the north, I highly recommend taking the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive (Route 89A) from Flagstaff to Sedona. It is the most beautiful drive in Arizona starting at the top of the Mogollon Rim down through sandstone canyons and red rock formations!

couple stands on cliff edge at  at Arizona wedding

Year-Round Arizona Weather

Once you decide to elope to Sedona, you’ll soon discover that the best part about Sedona, AZ weddings is that the weather is (almost) perfect year round! In my experience as your Sedona elopement photographer, the best time to visit is from October to December and late January to March. The weather is cooler and there aren’t as many tourists present at popular spots.

When it comes to which time of day is best to elope, consider a sunrise in Sedona! The weather is cooler and there are few to zero people present, even on some of the popular trails!

What to Expect According to Sedona Seasons

WINTER ELOPEMENT (December – February)

couple walks along snow-covered red rock at Sedona elopement

If you don’t mind the cooler weather and wetness from the rain and snow then this is the perfect time to elope. The tourism crowds are much smaller and lodging is also cheaper around this time of year. Temperatures can range from 20 to 60 degrees and you can expect a little bit of snow. Arizona winters vary on how much snowfall Northern Arizona expects. In 2023 it received up to 400 inches of snow and that was just from the beginning of the year!

SPRING ELOPEMENT (March – May)

couple kisses at cathedral rock elopement

The weather during this time starts to warm up with highs in the 70s. It is the windy season but with the blooming spring flowers and cactus blooms–it’s worth it! It is best to plan your elopement during the week due to crowds. Tourism traffic also generally increases due to Spring Break, but I can recommend some lesser known off-the-beaten-path Sedona wedding locations.

SUMMER ELOPEMENT (June – August)

flowing creek in Sedona Arizona

Arizona desert weddings in the summer are not the best experience for anyone. The area brings in monsoon storms, dust storms, and triple digit heat. The creek that runs year round is a great way to cool off but planning adventurous elopements during this time is not the greatest or safest idea.

FALL ELOPEMENT (September – November)

couple plays with leaves at outdoor fall elopement

Fall is my favorite time of year for a Sedona elopement! The leaves are changing on the trees and the weather is cooling down but it’s still warm enough for an adventure. Sedona is so beautiful during this time of year which also makes it the most popular elopement season.

September and October are the busiest time of year to book your Sedona elopement package so I highly recommend eloping during a weekday and near sunrise to avoid the larger crowds.

Sedona Elopement Permit Information

couple exchanges vows at sunrise Arizona elopement

To elope in Sedona you may need a permit, however, this is location dependent. Some locations like state parks do not require a ceremony permit but may require a photography permit or additional fees. For example, Red Rock State Park requires a permit for a group size limit of 70 people or less.

Most public trails in Sedona require a Red Rock Site Pass to park at trailheads. It is a small fee of $5 per day/per car or $15 weekly.

Other Sedona Rules

  • Elopements and portraits are not allowed on Wilderness Land.
  • Sedona does not allow groups above 70 people so a venue may be required if you have a large group.
  • Wedding ceremony decorations are not allowed (no matter how many pretty photos you’ve seen!). This includes ceremony arches, tables/chairs or picnic set ups, candles, flower petals, etc. If you want rustic wedding decor for your elopement you must have your ceremony on private property or at a Sedona wedding venue.
  • Non-native species are prohibited on Sedona lands (bird seeds, rose petals, rice, etc.).

Leave No Trace

couple walks along outdoor Arizona elopement

One of the most important things to remember during your Sedona elopement (besides getting married and having the best time ever) is to leave no trace! Keeping the places you explore clean will help maintain their beauty for years to come. We will follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles during your elopement which include staying on the trail, disposing of waste properly, and respecting the wildlife.

How to Get Your Arizona Marriage License

If you are planning an Arizona elopement, you have to take into consideration how laws may differ from your own home state. The following are Arizona’s marriage license requirements.

  • You do NOT need to be an Arizona resident to apply for a marriage license in Arizona.
  • Both of you must be 18 years old and physically present to apply.
  • The fee ($83.00) is payable by cash, debit or credit card, or money order.
  • You both must provide a copy of your birth certificate and either your current driver’s license, state or military ID card, current passport, or other government issued picture ID. Remember to pack this documentation!

The Sedona Municipal Court does not issue marriage licenses so you can choose from the following courthouses:

Where to Stay For Your Sedona Elopement

couple exchanges vows on cliff edge at sunrise Sedona elopement

The type of elopement you’re planning will determine where you stay. For a family elopement, there are great restaurants and lodging around Sedona that can host a private dinner with guests. When making this decision, consider the following:

  1. How far is the hotel/Airbnb from your elopement location(s)?
  2. Do the indoors have natural light and decor fit for photos?
  3. How much time will you be spending there? Is it just a place for sleeping and getting ready or returning just the two of you with a private chef?
  4. Do they offer more space for a gathering with guests?
  5. How good are the reviews?

Airbnb Recommendations for Your Sedona Elopement

Hotels for Your Sedona Elopement:

Recommended Restaurants

couple exchanges vows at outdoor elopement

There are so many yummy local places to eat in Sedona. The area offers everything from quick grab-and-go cafes to fine dining date night experiences. Some locations may require a reservation, so it’s always best to call ahead to confirm. The town of Sedona also likes to close early (especially on the weekdays) so be sure to confirm hours. Many restaurants in Sedona do not offer seating for groups larger than eight so if you want to have a nice dinner following your elopement consider hiring a private chef!

BREAKFAST

LUNCH

DINNER

GROUP-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATIONS (reservation required)

Sedona Elopement Activities

couple runs down road at sunset Arizona wedding

My favorite part of being your Arizona wedding photographer is that everywhere you go there is beauty surrounding you. You’ve chosen to have a Sedona elopement that is focused on you and your relationship which means you have the freedom to have a full-day adventure experience! Here are some elopement activity ideas for your Sedona adventure:

couple enjoys picnic at outdoor Arizona elopement

Favorite Sedona Hikes

cathedral rock sedona arizona

The biggest reason why you’ve selected a Sedona elopement is due to the iconic red rock formations. Sedona is filled with so many hikes from easy to difficult and I recommend taking into consideration the length of the hike to your ceremony spot. Consider if it’s accessible to your guests or whether it’s a super popular route. Here are some of my favorites!

couple walks along forest path at Arizona elopement

CATHEDRAL ROCK (the most popular hike in Sedona)

  • I personally consider this trail more of a climb than a hike. It offers beautiful views of the mountain at the base and a stunning sunset at the peak.
  • The parking lot to Cathedral Rock is closed year round from Thursday – Sunday and requires taking the Sedona Shuttle to and from the trailhead.
  • I recommend hiking this trail during the weekday and not during the busy tourist season when there is a lot of traffic on the trail. The main photo spot at the peak of the trail can also be up to a 45 minute wait just for a photo!

BELL ROCK

  • There is no official ending to this easy-access hike. You can endlessly walk around the beautiful Bell Rock formation or climb to the top.
  • This can be a busy trail and parking fills up quickly so be prepared to wait for a parking spot or hire a drop-off shuttle service.

DEVIL’S BRIDGE

  • This is a moderate hike that has a great Sedona photography opportunity at the end. I recommend hiking during sunrise to avoid the crowds and having to wait up to an hour for your photo on the natural bridge.

What to Pack for Your Sedona Elopement

couple sits on cliff edge at Arizona outdoor wedding

This is a general list of what to bring for your Sedona wedding. Closer to your elopement date I will send along a more customized packing list.

General Packing List

  • Permit (if needed)
  • Rings + ring box
  • Vow book
  • Unity ceremony items (optional)
  • Water & healthy snacks (required)
  • Sunscreen & sunglasses
  • Hiking boots
  • Change of shoes/socks for portraits
  • Blanket for sitting/changing behind
  • Portable phone charger

Winter Add-ons

  • Sweater or jacket to wear during portraits and a casual one for warmth
  • Hand warmers
  • Gloves
  • Beanie or ear muffs
  • Thermos with a warm beverage like hot cocoa or coffee
couple watches sunrise on cliff at sunrise wedding

Hey, I’m Kelcee!

I would love to be your Sedona elopement photographer

I’ve been capturing Sedona elopements since 2021, and it’s my passion to help adventurous couples like you create the perfect wedding day.

Your elopement is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you deserve the support to make it uniquely yours. Together, we’ll create quality memories that beautifully tell your love story, lasting a lifetime.