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two brides eloping near snow bowl in flagstaff arizona

Vast desert views, cactus gardens, red rock formations, deep canyons, slot canyons, and so much more can be found in Arizona! For any adventurous couple who’s ready to ditch the traditional wedding and get married amongst the outdoors, the southwest is the perfect destination – whether you’re a local or you travel here to say your vows. Keep reading this guide to learn all about how to elope in Arizona!

Choose an Elopement Date

The first step to planning your elopement is to settle on a date to tie the knot. But, there are a few things you should know before anything is set in stone.

Weather in Arizona

Arizona is known for its nearly year round sunshine – but weather will depend a lot on where you elope! In most places, summertime heat can be, well, hot. In the desert, temperatures often reach over 100 degrees, which for most couples, isn’t ideal elopement ceremony weather. However, if you elope in the mountains of Arizona, summer is the best time to hike! The weather will be cooler at higher elevations, and you likely won’t run into any snow this time of year.

In the winter, visitors from colder parts of the country flock to Arizona’s deserts. Though mornings and evenings can get pretty chilly and there is the occasional dusting of snow, most days in the deserts of Arizona see moderate temperatures in the 50s. In the northern part of the state, the mountains get covered in snowfall – perfect for a couple that wants to include skiing or snowboarding in their elopement day!

Spring and fall are overall the best times to elope in Arizona, because temperatures are not too cold in the mountains and not too hot in the desert. It’s the perfect moderate weather!

Avoiding Crowds

With good weather, come crowds. The best times to elope in Arizona are late spring and early fall, as this will be right after and right before the peak. You’re still likely to get favorable weather, but with much fewer people around!

I also always recommend that couples plan their elopement day for a weekday, as weekends tend to bring out more crowds to national and state parks, and all outdoor recreation areas. Just by eloping while everyone’s at work, you’ll have a lot more privacy – but be careful of three day weekends!

Choosing an Elopement Location

With so many beautiful places in Arizona, this might just be the hardest decision you’ll make when it comes to your elopement day! Here are some ideas to get the gears turning.

Sedona

This town is thought to contain a spiritual vortex, meaning it is conducive to healing and self exploration. Whether or not you feel a spiritual connection in Sedona, you’ll be amazed by the red rock formations surrounding the town! You can explore the desert on your elopement day, and end the night wandering around the quirky artisan shops and local restaurants.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is often the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they think of Arizona. The iconic national park is especially beautiful at sunrise, when the colors of the sky accentuate the earthy reds and greens of the canyon. It makes an amazing backdrop for an elopement, whether you say your vows at the top, or hike all the way down to the Colorado River that carved the rock.

Superstition Mountains

Huge Saguaro cactuses, prickly pears, and a mountain range – all just a few minutes from Phoenix, Arizona! The Superstition Mountains offer incredible views, and a variety of hikes from easy overlooks to difficult, remote trails. You get to choose your adventure!

The Legal Stuff

To ensure you’re legally married when you elope in Arizona, there’s a little bit of paperwork you’ll have to handle.

Marriage License

To get a marriage license, you’ll need to visit any county clerk’s office in the state. All you need is an ID! If you’re traveling from outside of Arizona, many offices will let you apply for a marriage license by mail. Here you can see a list of counties and links to their websites with marriage license and fee information. Fees vary, but a marriage license usually costs around $80 to elope in Arizona. Marriage licenses expire after one year, but there is no waiting period, which means you can use it as soon as you get it!

Officiant

An officiant is required to sign your marriage license when you elope in Arizona. You can hire an elopement officiant to join you on your adventure, or ask a friend or family member perform your ceremony. ULC.org makes getting ordained easy, so if there’s someone you trust, this can be a great personal touch to your ceremony.

Witnesses

You will also need two witnesses to elope in Arizona, but if you weren’t planning to invite guests, don’t worry! The only requirement is that your witnesses be over 18, so you can ask your elopement vendors, or find any two people at your ceremony location to sign for you.

Booking Elopement Vendors

Elopement vendors will make such a huge difference in your experience – because you’ve probably never planned an adventure elopement, but they’ll be there to guide you through it all. Planning a wedding day, no matter how small, can be stressful – so make sure you hire people who put you at ease and ensure everything goes according to plan! 
As an elopement photographer, a huge part of my job is helping couples plan a day that’s unique and perfect for them – because every elopement day is different, and it should reflect who you are! That means customized location recommendations, elopement tips and advice, vendor recommendations, and basically everything you’ll need from beginning to end. If you’re ready to elope in Arizona, contact me!

How to Elope in Arizona

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bride and groom kissing during beach wedding ceremony in Cabo

On the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula is the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, famous for nearly year round sunshine, white sand beaches, luxurious resorts, authentic local cuisine…. I could go on forever, but you get it! It’s easy to see why Cabo draws couples from all over the world, whether they’re tying the knot, celebrating an anniversary, or just taking a break from the hustle and bustle back home. If you’ve recently gotten a new piece of bling on your finger and the blue waters and sunny skies are calling your name, consider a Cabo elopement! 

Though the thought of planning a destination wedding, no matter how small, can seem a little daunting, don’t let that stop you! I’ve got your back with tips, tricks and advice to make your international elopement a breeze. By the time you’re through this guide, you’ll be an expert on how to elope in Cabo!

view of beach at dreams los cabos resort and spa

About Eloping in Cabo

Getting There

To the west of mainland Mexico and 1,000 miles south of the US border is Cabo! You can book a flight from any major US airport to the Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) and land just 23 miles away from Cabo San Lucas.

Once you’ve landed, there are tons of taxis and shuttle services that can take you to almost any resort, so renting a car may not be necessary! But, if you’re planning to wander away from your resort and explore Baja throughout your stay, you can rent a car for a day, or a few.

Weather

Temperatures are warm year round, making Cabo a popular winter destination for those trying to escape the cold in their home states. Here is a graph of weather averages in Cabo:

monthly temperature chart or weather for weddings in cabo

As you can see, June through August can get very toasty. So, unless you’re planning on spending all of your time in the water, I recommend avoiding Cabo in the summer months. Summers also tend to be rainy (with a small chance of hurricanes), so it’s not the best time to elope.

The most optimal weather comes in December through April, but this also means higher rates at hotels and resorts, and more crowds.

Avoiding Crowds

And speaking of crowds, let’s talk about how to avoid them! Though all of Baja is a popular destination pretty much year round, there are a few ways that you can get a little more privacy for your Cabo elopement.

The best times of year to elope in Cabo when it comes to missing out on the crowding are May and November. In May, tourist season has just ended, but stormy season hasn’t yet started! Vice versa in November, when rainy days become fewer and farther between, but crowds haven’t yet come out in full force. When you decide on an elopement date, make sure to also check that you aren’t eloping around any holidays!

Choosing an Elopement Location

Eloping in Cabo means you get an all-in-one. When you choose your resort, it’ll be your home base, your wedding venue, your party location, and probably your honeymoon destination! There are tons of places to choose from for your Cabo elopement, but here are a few to get the gears turning.

Dreams Los Cabos

Dreams Los Cabos is a luxurious resort featuring rooms with ocean views, professional golf courses, swimming pools, and so much more. Though the architecture is reminiscent of the charming, traditional Mexico, the resort is complete with all the amenities you can dream of. You can relax at the resort’s world class spa or take a snorkeling tour, lounge by the infinity pool or take a dance lesson, watch big screen movies poolside or go bungee jumping, or all of the above! You might even get the chance to witness the sea turtles hatching on the resort beach. All of the images in this blog are from Dreams! It’s definitely my favorite of the resorts listed.

Club Cascadas de Baja

This resort is located on the white sands of Medano Beach, home of some of the most iconic ocean views in Baja. The resort is located close to downtown Cabo for those who want to do some exploring through town, though you’ll find anything you need at Club Cascadas! Wander through pathways that wind through charming villas with thatched roofs, relax poolside, take in the views at Land’s End, and enjoy sunsets on the beach!

Esperanza Resort

At Esperanza Resort, you can enjoy small casitas, luxurious villas, or large haciendas on the beach. An infinity pool overlooks the resort’s private beach, and dedicated butlers and private chefs ensure you won’t have to lift a finger on your elopement day! Horseback rides on the beach, tequila tastings, snorkeling, and so much more make this beachfront resort the perfect getaway.

bride and groom running on beach

The Legal Stuff

So, this isn’t the most glamorous part of your Cabo elopement. But, to make sure you’re legally married at the end of it, there are a few things you’ll need to know! Many couples find it easier to handle the paperwork at home – that way, you can focus on the fun stuff when you’re in Cabo! Many resorts also offer a wedding coordinator to handle the logistics.

Marriage License

To get a marriage license in Cabo, you will need to arrive at least three days before your ceremony. Couples are required to take a blood test no more than two weeks before the ceremony date, and once your results are ready you can go to city hall to apply for a marriage license. Blood tests are typically $300, and your marriage application is $80.

After the ceremony, your marriage certificate is only valid in Mexico – so you will need to send it to be validated, which costs an additional $165. You will then receive it at your home address about three months later.

Officiant

In Cabo, wedding ceremonies are performed by a judge. This means you may need to pay an additional travel fee to have a judge come to your elopement! If you have a symbolic ceremony (which means the paperwork was done at home), you can have a friend or family member officiate!

Witnesses

Your marriage license must be signed by four witnesses. If you’re planning a guest-less elopement, any of your elopement vendors can sign! The only requirement is that your witnesses have a passport, and if necessary, resorts are usually able to provide witnesses for an additional fee.

Cabo Elopement Planning Tips

We’ve talked about logistics – but how the heck do you actually plan a destination elopement?

Send Invitations Early

You can elope completely by yourselves, if that’s what feels right! There’s something magical about jetting off to a different country alone. But, if you have some people you want around on your elopement day, whether it’s friends or family or both, that’s totally fine too.

If you’re inviting guests, make sure to loop them in on your plans early, so that they have time to plan and make reservations – international travel can be tricky!

Have Guests Stay at the Resort

You certainly don’t want your guests boarding a flight to Cabo with no clue where they’ll be sleeping. Having your guests stay with you at your resort is a great way to celebrate with your friends and family before the elopement ceremony – make sure to make bookings early so that you can all stay close together!

Spend Time with Your Loved Ones

Though of course, your elopement ceremony is the main event, you’re in Cabo! Take this time to celebrate – whether it’s partying on a booze cruise with your best friends, spending nights by a bonfire with your family, or hanging out by the beach with all your people. 

Take the Honeymoon for Yourselves

After your ceremony, you’ll probably want to stay in Cabo for a little while longer – and I totally recommend it! The time before your ceremony was for celebrating with your guests, now it’s time for romantic spa dates and celebrating your first days, or weeks, of marriage! Talk about the logistics with your guests beforehand, and let them know that you totally want them with you for the days leading up to the ceremony, but after that, you’ll be celebrating a little longer after they’ve flown home.

Have Your Photographer There for the Fun

While having a photographer there for your Cabo elopement is a no brainer, consider having them around for more than just the wedding day! That time spent with your friends and family before the elopement is so special, and you deserve to have photos to remember all of it… especially for when tequila gets involved!
And if you’re ready to plan your Cabo elopement and need a photographer who will join you for booze cruises and relaxing nights by the pool, contact me!

Cabo Elopement Guide | How to Elope in Cabo

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When you hear the word “elopement,” what do you think?

A cheesy, rhinestone-studded chapel in Vegas?

A secret marriage that your parents don’t approve of?

A rushed, last minute ceremony that takes all of five minutes?

Well, you wouldn’t be alone! There are a lot of misconceptions out there about elopements, and a lot of outdated ideas. But elopements have changed a lot over the past few years, and they’re no longer something that happens, or stays, in Vegas.

Eloping is all about reclaiming your wedding day! Somewhere along the line, weddings turned into a performance. It became about throwing the best party for everyone else to enjoy, and couples would spend all that time (and money!) planning, for the day to go by in a blur while they’re busy running around making sure everyone is happy. The best day of your life shouldn’t be about pleasing everyone else – it should be about you! Which can mean anything you want it to – there’s no idea that’s too crazy, and nothing that you can’t do on your day. And that includes bringing your horses along for the ride. Pun totally intended.

For a lot of people, their wedding day just wouldn’t be complete without their horse – they’re part of the family, after all! The good news is that it’s totally possible to bring your four-legged best friend along, but there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Here are my tips for eloping with your horses!

Choosing a Location

One of the first steps to planning any elopement is to choose a location! But, if you’re eloping with horses, this might take a little bit of extra planning. 

Distance

The first thing to think about is how far you’ll be able to travel with your horse. If you have a horse trailer, or you’re able to rent one, you’ll definitely have a lot more options. But, it’s important to know how your horse will react! Of course, horses have all kinds of personalities, so some are happy to take a roadtrip, while others bolt at the sight of the trailer. If you haven’t transported your horse before, take them for a test run! See how they react and get them used to the trailer before your elopement day, to ensure there aren’t any surprises the day of. You know your horse best – so you’ll know if anything is too far outside their comfort zone.

Accessibility

Many parks and outdoor areas have rules and regulations when it comes to allowing horses on the trails. And of course, some trails are just too difficult for horses to maneuver. When looking for the perfect spot to say your vows, make sure to do some research before you commit! Look up whether horses are allowed, and then do some research to figure out if the trail works for your horse. Again, you’ll know best what your equine friend is comfortable with, so make sure your horse is ready for the terrain, and able to handle the length of the trail!

As an elopement photographer, one of my favorite parts of my job is helping couples plan their perfect wedding day! From beginning to end, I’ll be your guide and cheerleader the whole way. I love exploring (for work and for fun), so I’m always ready with location recommendations that would be perfect for eloping with your horses. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need advice!

Permits

A lot of parks require permits to have a wedding ceremony (even for tiny elopements), so this is something you’ll be looking into regardless, but you may also need a permit to bring your horses! This varies from location to location, so make sure you do some research. You definitely don’t want to be stopped by a ranger on your elopement day!

What to Wear

When it comes to eloping with your horses, you’ll need to plan ahead when it comes to choosing your dress! When you walk into the bridal shop, you’ll likely be greeted with hundreds (if not thousands) of white dresses in different lengths, cuts, and styles. But not all of them will work for your elopement!

Elopements in general involve a lot more adventure, and a lot more movement, than a traditional wedding, so wearing a dress that’s comfortable and easy to maneuver around in is key, but especially if you’ll be spending some of the time on horseback! Mermaid style dresses are gorgeous, but they’re notoriously difficult to sit down in – a nightmare for horseback riding! If you’re comfortable riding side saddle you may be able to get away with a tighter skirt, but otherwise, stick to lightweight fabrics and dress styles with loose skirts, like A line, empire, or princess gowns.

Fabrics like tulle, chiffon, and lace are ideal for eloping with your horses – they’re lightweight (which will make saddling up much easier), and flow beautifully (just make careful of too much flow to avoid spooking your horse). I also recommend wearing shorts or spandex under your dress to avoid chafing!

Have a Dedicated Horse Wrangler

There will be times when you two are taking photos, or popping champagne, or even having your ceremony (the main event!) where you won’t be able to attend to the horses. That’s why it’s amazing to bring someone along who can take care of your horses, maybe give them some treats, and make sure they’re happy and safe while you’re busy.

Most states require witnesses to sign your marriage license, so if you’re bringing a few guests along for your elopement, ask someone you trust to handle the horses! That way, you can spend your elopement day being present and enjoying every moment without worrying.

Ready to Plan Your Elopement?

If eloping with your horses and having a peaceful, intimate ceremony in a beautiful location sounds like a dream come true, let’s make that dream… actually come true! I’m ready to help you plan a unique, adventurous day that reflects who you are as a couple, and I’ve got your back every step of the way. From location recommendations, to getting the right permits, to building a timeline, I’ll be your guide to planning the perfect elopement. 

Ready to get started? Contact me!

Check out Jess + Jon’s elopement video!

Photographer: Makayla McGarvey Photography | Dress: Bliss Gown | His shirt: Wrangler | Boots: Boot Barn | Hat: Charlie 1 Horse | Bourbon: Adventurous Stills

Tips for Eloping with Your Horses

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Specializing in Elopement & destination wedding photography

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