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Overland Elopements

How to Plan an Elopement in Sedona

February 26, 2021

Hi! We're Anna and Trevor.

We're big into hammocks, dim sum, and road trips.

We're a fun (and maybe a little dorky) couple of elopement photographers, traveling all over the country to help people get married in the most beautiful places mother nature has to offer.

We thrive with cameras in hand, and nothing resonates with us more than the intimacy & freedom of an elopement. We get that big events and old school traditions aren't for everyone, and that's totally cool! We're all about embracing our uniqueness and throwing tradition out the window.

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Why we Love Sedona, Arizona for Adventure Elopements

Picture a magical little town in the middle of the red rocks of Arizona…a town full of quirky charm, spiritualism, great hiking, and bomb views. Welcome to Sedona, our favorite destination for desert hiking elopements. We love Sedona because of it’s intense sunsets, dog-friendly locations, great shopping & food, & exciting off-road adventures. It’s like the town was perfectly curated to provide everything you could possibly want for your desert elopement, so here’s everything you need to know about the Sedona experience.

Keep in mind: Sedona is no longer a hidden gem, so it’s rare you’ll have the entire place to yourself. Choosing a weekday and visiting before the peak season are your best bets to make the most of the space without too many tourist distractions.

A couple stands together at the edge of the Devil's Kitchen sinkhole in Sedona Arizona.

Getting Married in Sedona: The Ins and Outs

To get married in Arizona you’ll need a few things: An Arizona marriage license, an officiant, and two witnesses.

Luckily, at the time of writing this there is no waiting period when applying for a marriage license in Arizona, but you will both need to be present to apply. It’s a really easy process.

Most people drive up to Sedona from Phoenix, so best to look into getting your license upon arrival. All the specifics about Arizona Marriage Licenses in Maricopa County can be found online! You’ve already got your awesome witnesses (That’s us, duh!). For your ceremony, consider bringing a friend, or hire a local officiant.

What are the Permit Requirements for Eloping in Sedona?

Most locations around Sedona are on National Forest Service land and do not require a special use permit to get married on! This is awesome, because it can be fairly tricky sometimes to acquire a special use permit for many of the National Parks. Arches, props, chairs and other large items are not permitted on Forest Service Land.

You will need a permit for certain locations such as Red Rock State Park, and a parking pass will be required for most areas around Sedona.

You can get the parking pass easily online and it’s only $5 per day or $15 for the week: Red Rock Pass

My recommendation is to always double check whether or not your chosen location requires a permit or fee, and check with your photographer (hiya!) about rules and restrictions. When in doubt, call the park and they can walk you through the process, since permit requirements are always changing.

We always take care of any professional photography permits for you so you’ll never have to worry about that when planning your day.

Candid photo of a couple in Sedona for their elopement

When is the Best Time of Year To Elope in Sedona?

Winter in Sedona

Welcome to the beautiful off season! Winter in Sedona is pretty mild compared to other parts of the state, and this is a much quieter time of year. The look of a little snow on the red rocks is awesome if you get lucky, and if you don’t mind bringing layers, this would be my first choice for a more intimate Sedona experience.

Springtime in Sedona

February through May: Most people say primetime in Sedona begins in March. Picture 70 degree days, cool nights, and flowering cacti everywhere. It’s honestly perfect, but since you won’t be the only ones there to enjoy it, I suggest visiting as early in springtime as possible. February in Sedona is magical – what you miss in flowers you make up for in more privacy and cooler temperatures for those longer hikes.

Landscape of Sedona's terrain

Summer Sedona Elopements

I’m going to be honest, summer is not the time to enjoy all that Sedona can be. Flash flooding and intense heat are two factors you probably don’t want to be worrying about for your elopement, and sunset and sunrise are very busy times for hiking. It can definitely be done, but you’ll need to make sure you’re properly prepared to handle the sun & elements.

Fall Sedona Elopements

I would consider September to November the perfect Fall season in Sedona. Red rocks, cacti and stunning fall colors all coming together to create a breathtaking backdrop for your elopement. The temperature is mild and the town is somewhat quieter than peak season.

What is the easiest way to travel to Sedona?

From Phoenix: 2 Hours Drive Time

Phoenix Skyharbor International Airport

Most people from out of state fly in to Phoenix and then rent a car for the two hour drive up to Sedona. Phoenix Sky Harbor International is one of the busiest airports in the world, which means there are tons of cheap flight options. The airport in Sedona is another choice, but you’ll be paying more for that convenience and the general rental car situation is a little less convenient, with limited hours and fewer options available. The drive from Phoenix northbound is beautiful. Something you definitely don’t want to miss seeing in the daytime (Plus, it gets extra dark out there at night). Highway 17 is the only way to get from Phoenix to Sedona, so give yourself extra time on the weekends.

Favorite Travel Tools

Google Flights

Expedia Car Rentals

How do we get around while in Sedona?

Renting a Car

If you flew in for your elopement, you will definitely need to rent a car to get in and out of town. Once you’re in town, there are some really popular elopement destinations with trailheads just minutes away, but you’ll need to drive if you’re hoping for something a little more intimate feeling.

There will be moments as you’re heading out to your elopement locations that there may be spotty or no service. Make sure to map things out ahead of time!

Ride Sharing

There aren’t usually any options for Uber or Lyft, so it may be better to hire a driver or rent a car instead of relying on spontaneous transportation requests.

The parking situation at some of the popular trailheads can get pretty crazy. On weekends you can end up waiting up to an hour just to park.

An update for 2022: There is now a free Sedona Shuttle service that runs during peak season in the spring (Mid march through April) . They provide transportation from two Park and Ride locations, to the most popular trailheads.

There’s also Sedona Quick Rides, who allow you to schedule a ride ahead of time so you aren’t struggling to find a drive when you need it! They’re super friendly and know the area well.

Self-Guided 4×4 Rentals: Some great elopement locations require an off-road capable vehicle to comfortably get there, so consider renting a Jeep! There are multiple companies to go through, but check out MYE Jeep.

What other activities and adventures can we include during our Sedona elopement?

Chauffeured Wine-Hopping Tour: Sedona Quick Rides offers an all-inclusive 4 hour winery tour around the valley.

Hiking: This may seem obvious, but Sedona offers some of the best hiking around, with scenic views and rewarding climbs for any comfort level.

Off-Road Adventures: One of the most popular off-road tour companies is Pink Adventure Tours. They have a long list of different excursions options that’ll take you in their fun pink Jeeps to all the best views of the red rocks.

ATV and UTV Rentals: These are so much fun! Explore Sedona in the coolest way possible by renting an ATV for a true off-roading excursion. Check out Sedona Offroad Center as one of your many options. https://sedonaoffroadcenter.com/

Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride: Gain a unique perspective of the Sedona landscape from the air through Red Rock Balloons.

Sedona’s Spiritual Side: Sedona has a worldwide reputation for its metaphysical side, and attracts thousands of people hoping to visiting one of the many vortexes of the area. You can pick up a vortex guide in almost any of the shops in town, with each spot thought to radiate its own particular energy. You’ll find people meditating, doing yoga, or performing their own private rituals at these spots. Perhaps this is why Sedona feels like such a transformative, enlightening place.

A couple watching the sunset during a sedona elopement hike

What are the best locations for Sedona elopements?

People flock to Sedona every year for very good reason…this area has some of the best views and hiking trails in the country, and some of the most iconic trails can be quite popular. We love these popular destinations, and are so down to take you there, but there are so many quieter trails to choose from that give you a little extra peace and quiet together…From hidden caves, pools, and truly off-the-beaten path locations…we’ve got you covered with ideas. Your elopement guide will share dozens of options so you can choose the spots you vibe with most.

Some of the most popular locations for Sedona Elopements include:

Cathedral Rock

Bell Rock

Red Rock Crossing

Merry Go Round Rock

And again, our advice will always be to elope on a weekday in Sedona. Get out on the trail early at sunrise to avoid the crowds so you can enjoy each other instead of waiting your turn at the big viewpoints. Most of the top trails will be very crowded on the weekends. For truly awesome golden hour portraits, we recommend arriving at your destination (hiking in) by an hour or two before sunset. You can use Google Earth Pro to see exactly what the light will look like on your elopement day.

Where to Stay in Sedona

Do you want to rough it a little, or do it up at a luxury resort? We like to stay on BLM land just out of town in a camper van. That’s just our preference, but you have so many options! 

Home on wheels: For the camper van experience, check out Escape Campervans for a simple and efficient choice, or rent something more off-road capable through MYE Jeep!

All the amenities: Sky Ranch Lodge

This beautiful retreat with a private hiking trail: The Elysian Retreat

For all of your guests: This Luxurious Home with Epic Red Rock Views

Something Totally Unique: This amazing GeoDome!

Bonus: Sedona’s Proximity to Other Destinations

Turn your elopement getaway into a proper road trip. 

Phoenix – 117 Miles (2hrs)

Flagstaff – 30 Miles (50 min)

Grand Canyon South Rim – 110 Miles (2.5 hrs)

Las Vegas – 280 miles (4.5 hrs)

Zion National Park – 265 miles Drive Time (5 hrs)

Sedona Elopement Photography Packages

Gosh, we just love it here in Sedona, and we get so excited to show it off to eloping couples.

As specialized elopement photographers and planning guides, we can help you put together your dream Sedona elopement!

Elopement packages range from 4 hours of coverage to multiple days of epic adventures. Let us know if Sedona is calling your name and we’ll walk you through planning the ultimate elopement experience.

Read more about the Elopement Photography Experience

  1. […] Looking for more Arizona elopement information? We’d put together a helpful guide specifically for our favorite Arizona elopement destination, Sedona. Check out our Sedona Elopement Guide here! […]

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