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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!