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In Montana’s Rocky Mountains, you’ll find a wild, remote place with glacier carved peaks and valleys, stunning blue lakes, and diverse wildlife – Glacier National Park! For couples whose love story is better reflected in the mountains than in a venue, who want a wedding day that’s a little outside the box, who want to get married in a way that just feels right, a Glacier National Park elopement might be the perfect way to begin your marriage.

This guide will tell you all about getting married in Glacier National Park – and everything you need to know to plan the elopement day of your dreams!

bride and groom eloping in galcier national park

About Glacier National Park

You know that the scenery in Glacier National Park is pretty jaw dropping – but did you know that it was founded as the world’s first international peace park? Glacier is in Montana, and sits on the border of Canada and the US. On the other side of the border is Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada, and together the two parks were called the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, and they were established to celebrate peace, friendship, and unity between the two countries. That’s a pretty cute origin story – and a great symbolic location for the two of you to tie the knot!

Here are some other things to know about getting married in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park Weather Can be Extreme

Glacier sits along the Continental Divide – which is a mountainous region that separates watersheds that drain into the Pacific from those that lead to the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The clash in Pacific and Arctic air creates some harsh weather, which means Glacier’s weather can be unpredictable! 

The best weather is in July and August, and every other time of year there’s lots of snow covering Glacier National Park! Keep in mind that no matter when you plan to tie the knot, it’s best to be prepared for sudden chills – especially if you’re gaining a lot of elevation on a hike or scenic drive. Eloping in early summer or early fall can help you avoid crowds, while still having a good chance of favorable weather.

Wildlife in Glacier National Park 

Something that even experienced outdoor explorers might not be prepared for in Montana is the potential for wildlife sightings! Glacier is home to both grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, moose, and other wildlife. As part of Leave No Trace principles, it’s important to give wildlife their space and respect that this is their home. This keeps them safe, and it keeps you safe!

Encounters with mountain goats are very common in the national park – there are several trails where they often hang out! No matter how chill they seem, give them at least 75 feet of space – they may be used to people being out and about, but are still wild animals with huge horns.

Bear sightings are less common, but if you spot one, stay at least 300 feet away. Black bears venture out more often, and are usually harmless – they’ll likely go away if they see or hear you. Respect the wildlife and keep your distance, and make noise if you’re hiking in the backcountry to warn the bears to stay away! You’ll see a lot of signs recommending bear spray, so be sure to have a bottle handy incase of an encounter.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road is Glacier National Park’s most well known attraction. It’s a scenic drive through the park, offering 55 miles of insane views. It’s a two lane road that often goes along the cliffside, so be prepared if you’re weary of heights! Just driving down the road is an incredible experience, but you can get out and experience the sweeping vistas of Glacier National Park.

The Best Places to Elope in Glacier National Park

One of the first things you’ll need to do is decide on an elopement location! The park has several pre-approved locations where you can have your ceremony, so you will need to choose one from the list. 

You will also need a wedding permit to get married at Glacier, which can be found here, along with the most up to date list of pre approved locations. You can apply for the permit within one year, but no less than one month before your ceremony, and the application fee is $125.

Don’t worry, we can go explore and take photos in the other spots too, but for your ceremony, these are your options!

Lake McDonald 

The Lake McDonald district is the most frequently visited region of the park, as it’s close to the west entrance. 

These are the places to elope in Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald, with maximum occupancy for each location.

  • Apgar Amphitheater – 30
  • Apgar Picnic Area – 15
  • Fish Creek Amphitheater – 30
  • Fish Creek Picnic Area – 15
  • Avalanche Amphitheater – 30
  • Avalanche Picnic Area – 15
  • 7 Mile Pullout (Sandy Point) – 15
  • 10 Mile Pullout (Jackson Bay) – 15
  • Sprague Picnic Area – 15
  • Lake McDonald Lodge Beach – 15
  • Ryan Meadow – 15
  • Big Bend – 15

North Fork 

The North Fork area of Glacier National Park is less traveled, with more dirt roads and remote spots to explore.

These are the places to elope in this northwest corner of Glacier National Park, with maximum occupancy for each location.

  • Juniper River Access – 12
  • Bowman Lake – 12
  • Kintla Lake – 8

Two Medicine 

The Two Medicine Valley is in the southeast, and is one of the less popular areas in the park because it isn’t directly accessible from Going-to-the-Sun Road. It features lakes, waterfalls, and gorgeous scenery!

These are the places to elope in the Two Medicine District of Glacier National Park, with maximum occupancy for each location.

  • Running Eagle Falls – 12
  • Pray Lake – 30
  • Two Medicine Campground Site – 12
  • Two Medicine Campground AMphitheater – 30
  • Two Medicine Picnic Area – 12
  • Walton Picnic Area – 15

St. Mary 

St. Mary is the east entrance to Glacier National Park, and offers lodging, food, and other amenities.

These are the places to elope near St. Mary, with maximum occupancy for each location.

  • St. Mary Amphitheater – 30
  • Rising Sun Amphitheater – 30
  • St. Mary Lake Shoreline – 20
  • Sun Point – 12
  • 1913 Ranger Station – 20
  • Wild Goose Island Pullout – 6
  • Cutbank – 12
  • Red Eagle Trailhead – 12

Many Glacier

Many Glacier is located in the east side of the park, north of Going-to-the-Sun Road. There are tons of hiking trails around, and it’s one of the best places to see the wildlife.

These are the places to elope in the Many Glacier area of the park, with maximum occupancy for each location.

  • Josephine Lake Shore – 20
  • Many Glacier Hotel Beach – 15
  • Many Glacier Hotel Green – 15
  • Many Glacier Hotel Southwest Beach – 15
  • Hotel Deck – 10
  • Many Glacier Amphitheater – 20

Logan Pass

Wedding ceremonies are not allowed at Logan Pass – but I wanted to mention it anyway, as it’s the last area in the park, and one of the most scenic! It’s the highest elevation reachable by car, and offers incredible trails. Mountain goats are often spotted here!

Getting Legally Married in Glacier National Park

To get legally married during your Glacier National Park elopement, you’ll need to get a marriage license! You can get one for $53 at any county clerk’s office in Montana, and you can submit an application online, but you’ll have to go to the office in person to sign the application and pick up your marriage license. There’s no waiting period, and the marriage license expires after 180 days.

An officiant and two witnesses will need to sign the paperwork before you send it back!

Glacier National Park Elopement Packages

If you’re ready to elope in Glacier National Park, I’m ready to help you plan! As an elopement photographer, my job is to help couples find the best spots, navigate permit rules, and plan a day that they’ll remember forever. 

Contact me to plan your adventurous Glacier National Park elopement!

Glacier National Park Elopement Guide – Getting Married at Glacier

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two brides kissing in a park

Sometimes, the perfect wedding venue is closer than you think! While I love climbing red rock trails and chasing waterfalls, tying the knot somewhere meaningful – like your own backyard or at your family’s home – can be really special. 

A backyard wedding is intimate, convenient, and often easier on the wallet than a traditional wedding venue. So if you’re planning a small ceremony, like Paige and Alyssa did for their intimate Upstate New York wedding, here are some tips!

Perks of a Backyard Wedding

Here are a few reasons why a backyard wedding may be the way to go! 

Wedding Dates are Flexible

If you’ve ever looked for wedding venues, you know that their calendars fill up way early! You don’t have as much of a choice over your wedding date – but a backyard wedding erases all of that stress. Especially after all the rescheduling that happened during COVID, venues are more booked up than ever – which means if you have a certain date in mind, you might have a hard time finding a venue.

A Smaller Guest List

At their intimate upstate New York wedding, Paige and Alyssa had their closest family and friends around them as they said their vows – and if a huge wedding doesn’t seem right for you either, a backyard wedding might be perfect. Unless you tie the knot at a huge estate, the backyard likely won’t be able to accommodate a ton of people. While you never need an “excuse” to keep your day small, if you’re stressed about backlash from people who insist that they should be invited to your elopement or intimate wedding, the lack of space can help you explain that it’s not personal.

No Restrictions

Well, maybe some restrictions if your backyard wedding is at your parent’s house. But unlike at a traditional wedding venue, you get to make the decisions. That means you can use whatever decorations you want, bring your dogs, serve any kind of food and alcohol you’d like, and completely customize the celebration! 

It’s Sentimental

This home has been totally remodeled by Paige’s parents and they’ve always loved hanging out down by the creek. And now, on her wedding day, she and Alyssa got to splash around in their wedding attire! That’s what’s so special about a backyard wedding – adding a new memory to a place that already has so much significance. Your guests will feel at home and so will you, and you can’t get that at a wedding venue.

It’s Less Expensive – or Free!

The wedding venue is one of the biggest expenses for many couples, but Paige and Alyssa didn’t have to worry about that with their Upstate New York wedding! Tying the knot in your backyard is much more budget friendly, and can definitely be a great way to save some money.

Tips for Planning a Backyard Wedding

Here are some tips for planning your own backyard wedding!

Have a Rain Plan

Hosting the wedding indoors may not be ideal, so having a Plan B in case of rain is a must! This Upstate New York wedding took place during the state’s rainy season, so Paige and Alyssa rented a canvas tent – something I recommend for every couple, regardless of the season. It’ll ensure that your party isn’t cut short, and it gives you the opportunity to hang some string lights and decorate the reception space! 

Think About Amenities

Bathrooms aren’t glamorous, but we all need them! If your wedding includes more than a couple guests, you may want to consider renting some additional facilities. You can find some pretty nice restroom trailer rentals if you need to add a couple bathrooms to your backyard wedding!

Another thing to think about is parking – will your guests all be able to park in the driveway or on the street?

Talk to the Neighbors

If the property where your backyard wedding is happening is within earshot of any of the neighbors (or if you need a few more street parking spaces), it’s important to talk to them in advance to let them know what you’re planning. They’re much less likely to complain if they know this is a one time thing and you let them know ahead of time. For an intimate wedding you likely won’t have to worry about this, but if you have a lot of guests noise ordinances might be worth looking into as well!

Travel for Photos

You can totally take all your wedding photos at the house and in the backyard, but you can also head somewhere close by for some couple’s photos and a change of scenery. This woodsy park made the perfect backdrop for their first look, added some different scenery to their Upstate New York wedding, and gave the couple a moment alone before heading back to the parent’s house.

Another thing to think about is the size of your backyard – if there isn’t a ton of room, it might be hard to get some space for your photos once your guests start arriving.

Ready to Plan an Intimate Wedding?

I’m all about couples planning a wedding day that’s authentic and reflects them – so whether your day is a tiny elopement shared between just the two of you, or an intimate celebration with the people you love most, I’m here to help! From finding nearby places for photos to helping you create the timeline, I’ve got your back. 

Contact me if you’re ready to plan your unique day!

An Intimate Upstate New York Wedding – Tips for Saying “I Do” in Your Backyard

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Bride and groom hold hands while walking through a desert during their elopement; image overlaid with text that reads Adventure Elopements, what they are & how to plan one!

I love photographing adventure elopements – these exciting mini-weddings always seem to radiate a sense of joy and fun that’s hard to forget. Picture hiking boots under a wedding dress, the pop of champagne on the crest of a mountain, a newlywed couple heading off into the sunset in a kayak – adventure elopements truly create the most one-of-a-kind memories!

What are adventure elopements?

I’m glad you asked! These days, when people say ‘elopement’, they tend to mean any kind of marriage celebration that is different from a classic wedding. Normally elopements are small, with under 20 guests, and often it’s just the couple and their officiant with a witness or two. One of the great things about having an elopement is that you can do basically whatever you want – you aren’t confined by traditions or the expectations of the people around you.

Bride and groom kiss in the desert during their adventurous elopement

Eventually, people took that freedom a step further, and adventure elopements were born! Instead of getting married in a courthouse or a church, couples began to plan adventure into their wedding days. Adventure elopements usually happen out in the wild beauty of nature, often somewhere dramatic and remote. No two adventure elopements are the same – some couples will craft a luxurious day in a beautiful part of the world with their nearest and dearest, and some choose to celebrate their marriage with all kinds of adventurous activities. Boating, hiking, camping, skydiving, ziplining – if you can dream it up, it can form part of your adventure elopement!

Planning adventure elopements: These are the steps to take 

Everyone knows that planning a traditional wedding is no small feat – it usually takes months! Adventure elopements aren’t usually as complicated, but while they’re definitely easier to organize than a huge white wedding, you absolutely do need to plan some of the details. Here’s how to start!

Make your adventure elopement official

One of the first things you need to decide is where you’re going to make your marriage official. Now, all of the adventure elopements that I’ve photographed have had an officiant and witnesses to make sure that all the legal requirements are being met, but you might not want even that many people present. If it’s a completely private and intimate elopement that you’ve set your heart on, you might want to plan a visit to the registry office before you head off on your adventure – and then make your own personal vows just the two of you.

Close up image of bride signing her marriage certificate

Otherwise, make sure you’ve registered for a marriage license at least a month ahead of your elopement, and ask your officiant if they are up for going on this adventure with you!

Start with location

Adventure elopements revolve around the location. Your location is what’s going to create the atmosphere for the day and crystalize the memories you will cherish forever – so when you picture your dream elopement, where are you? Pledging your love on a white sand beach? On the dunes of an epic desert? At the edge of a green cliff top overlooking the sea?

Once you’ve decided on your dream location, everything else can start to come into place.

Apply for permits

If you want to get married in a public space like a national park, be sure to do the research to see if you need a special permit. The last thing you want is for your dream elopement to be broken up by park rangers! 

Get your guest-list

This might not take all that long! Who do you want to be with you on this special day? Is it just you and the one you love, or do you want some family and friends to be present? Get your guestlist together and you can start booking!

Book travel and accommodation

So many adventure elopements happen off the beaten track, and that’s part of what makes them so exciting! So, one of the most important things about making sure your day goes smoothly is to organize your transportation. Do you need to book accommodation for the night before or can you drive there in a day? Do you need to fly there? 

Some couples rent AirBnB cabins or bungalows to house the whole family, others will book a honeymoon getaway in a gorgeous hotel, or maybe you want to spend your wedding night sleeping under the stars. Whatever you’re picturing, be sure to book it beforehand!

Decide on vendors

One of the most freeing things about adventure elopements is that you can do away with any of the wedding traditions that you don’t absolutely love. Instead, you get to design a day that’s perfectly attuned to who you are as a couple, and if that looks more like beers and barbecues than dinner and dancing, make it happen!

With that said, here are some of the vendors that many adventure elopements will incorporate for you to consider:

Photography: I might be biased, but I hope you’ll agree that a photographer is a must-have! Capture these incredible moments so that you can look back on them forever. It’s best to work with a photographer who has experience in shooting adventure elopements – if you want to chat about what this could look like, get in touch!

Cake: If you want a mini wedding cake, consider local bakeries.

Catering: What are you going to eat on your wedding day? Whether you want to hire a chef to cook a lavish meal for you and your nearest and dearest, or you want to grab some takeout to round off the evening, just make sure you think ahead. My top tip for adventure elopements? Go heavy on the snacks!

Music: If you want music to be part of your day, how are you going to do that? Bluetooth speaker, a friend with a guitar, or even a live band you book just for the two of you?

Flowers: It’s best to get a local florist to make the bouquet and any floral arrangements you want – you can swing by and pick them up the day before or on the morning of your elopement.

Activities: Is there a special way you want to celebrate with your new spouse? No idea is too out-of-the-box! You could go horse-riding, jet skiing, or even bungee jumping! 

Final thoughts on adventure elopements

Adventure elopements are an incredible way to kick off your marriage in style! And if you’re looking for a photographer to fully enter into the spirit of this joyful experience with you, get in touch. I would love to help you have the adventure elopement you’ve always dreamed of!

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Images of a bride and groom holding hands and walking or dancing on a beach during their elopement; images by Makayla McGarvey and overlaid with text that reads Adventure Elopements: what they are and how to plan one!
Brides hold hands while walking through a field together; image overlaid with text that reads Adventure Elopements: What they are & How to plan one!

Adventure Elopements: What They Are & How to Plan One!

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bride and groom walking by the edge of the grand canyon

Over billions of years, the Colorado River cut through the rocky desert, forming deep chasms and revealing layered bands of red rock. Today, this natural wonder is known as the Grand Canyon, and its breathtaking vistas draw millions of visitors each year. Whether you watch the sunset from the top of the mile-deep canyon or hike down to the river that still flows through the park, a Grand Canyon elopement is the perfect choice for any adventurous couple who’s decided that getting married in a venue just doesn’t feel like them!

Getting to Grand Canyon National Park

Though there is a small airport by the Grand Canyon, it has very limited service – so it’s usually easier to fly into one of the major airports if you’re traveling from out of state for your elopement. There are airports in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Las Vegas!

Once you land, you’ll probably want to rent a car to get to the national park. Most places in the park can be accessed by car, but there are a few overlooks and trailheads that require you to take a shuttle. These shuttles can get pretty crowded – but we’ll talk in the next section about how to avoid that!

When to Elope at the Grand Canyon

One of the first things you’ll need to do to plan your Grand Canyon elopement is to set a date! You’ll want to do some research on the weather, as well as the best time to avoid crowds.

Best Time of Year at Grand Canyon National Park

Peak season at Grand Canyon National Park is definitely summer. The long, sunny days and warm temperatures bring out lots of crowds, so if you elope during this time, you’ll probably run into a lot of other visitors! 

In contrast, winter is the most peaceful time at Grand Canyon National Park. The chilly temperatures scare away visitors, and the parts of the park close for winter. If you’re down to brave the frosty conditions, this can be a really unique (and private) elopement experience!

But the best times to elope at the Grand Canyon are fall and winter! The weather is much more mild – though mornings and evenings are often significantly cooler than daytime temperatures – and there are significantly less people visiting the park. Keep in mind that snow starts early and melts late (especially at the North Rim), so eloping later in the spring or earlier in the fall will give you the best chances of open trails! Another thing to be aware of is that the Grand Canyon shuttle service usually runs from May 15th to October 15th – with some variation depending on the weather – so if your location requires you to hop on a shuttle, make sure your elopement date falls between those times.

Best Time of Week at Grand Canyon National Park

Once you’ve narrowed down which season you want to elope in, you’ll need to pick a day! On your elopement day, you probably want to be able to say your vows without an audience, and be able to explore nature without running into people – but this can be easier said than done, as the Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the country.

However, if you elope on a weekday, you’ll have a much better chance at finding a secluded spot! Weekends are always busier in the national parks, so by eloping while most people are at work or school, you’ll have a much easier time catching shuttles without too long of a wait, and getting to explore the park before the crowds roll in. Be careful of holidays and three day weekends, as these get extra crowded!

Best Time of Day at Grand Canyon National Park

Now that you’ve narrowed it down some more and after you’ve picked a date for your Grand Canyon elopement, you’ll need to decide on a time for your ceremony!

The best time to elope at the Grand Canyon is definitely sunrise – even if you aren’t an early bird! Waking up early and heading to your ceremony spot will guarantee that you have the place to yourself (or at least almost to yourself), and you’ll get to enjoy the peace and quiet as you tie the knot. If you take one of the shuttles, you won’t have to wait in long lines! Plus, as the sun comes up and the layered colors of the Grand Canyon glow in the orangey light, you’ll forget all about that early wake up call.

The Best Places to Elope at Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park only allows wedding ceremonies (regardless of size) at a few places – but don’t worry, you can always explore before or after the ceremony and take photos at other spots! You can find the most up to date list of ceremony locations, as well as the required permit application, at nps.gov, but here are some of my favorites.

Shoshone Point

This is one of the most secluded spots in the park – because you need to go down a dirt road, and there are only 5 parking spots! It offers incredible views of the Grand Canyon from above, and even has picnic tables, grills, and a pavilion so you can celebrate after the ceremony.

Pima Point

Pima Point is located along Hermit Road – which is only accessible by shuttle for most of the year. However, December through February it’s open to all vehicles, making this a great place for a winter elopement at the Grand Canyon.

Lipan Point

Here, you’ll find some of the widest views of the Grand Canyon, as well as the Colorado River flowing through the bottom of the canyon. Lipan Point is an incredible place for an elopement ceremony, with some of the most jaw dropping views in the park.

Get Legally Married in Arizona

You’ll need to get a marriage license for your Grand Canyon elopement, which can be done anywhere in the state of Arizona. The Coconino County court is closest to the national park, and you will need to go in person – so if you’re travelling from out of state, be sure to get there early!

You both will need to appear in person, with photo ID and $83 for the license fee. You’ll get your marriage license the same day, and you can use it right away! It expires after 12 months, and your officiant will need to send it in no more than 10 days after your ceremony.

Things to Do at Grand Canyon National Park

Your elopement should be an adventure – so plan something fun! It’s not just about your ceremony, this should be the best day of your life. Here are just a few of the things you can experience when you elope at Grand Canyon National Park.

Hiking

You can take easy strolls at the rim of the canyon, or descend down between the rocky walls – whether it’s a day trip or a backpacking adventure!

Rafting

You can take rafting trips on the Colorado River! The park offers one day trips in smooth waters, along with some more exhilarating white water adventures.

Helicopter Tour

You thought the view from the rim of the canyon was epic – now imagine flying above it! Helicopter tours offer a birds eye view of the entire canyon, with landings on the rim or down in the canyon.

Grand Canyon Elopement Packages

As an elopement photographer, I help my couples plan the wedding day of their dreams – from location recommendations, to planning assistance, to being your adventure buddy. So if you’re ready to start planning your day, contact me to learn more about Grand Canyon Elopement packages!

Grand Canyon Elopement Guide | How to Elope at Grand Canyon National Park

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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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