| December 9, 2020

Arches National Park Elopement

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Holly and Zach’s Arches National Park Elopement

From the moment they began planning to get married, they prioritized adventure in a way that truly opened them up to an experience that would exceed their expectations. They chose Moab, Utah as their elopement destination by drawing it out of a hat – literally! After deciding on a handful of possible locations, they threw a list of “top picks” into a hat and committed to whichever was drawn – Holly actually told me she wasn’t totally sold on a Utah elopement, but followed through with an adventurous spirit and fell in love with the desert!

Neither Holly nor Zach had been to Moab before – they live in Austin, Texas and were astounded to see the towering rock formations and dramatic cliffs of Utah’s desert landscape. It was so special to witness their excitement exploring this place for the first time on the day they got married! They chose the perfect time of year to elope in Utah. An autumn wedding in Moab means the morning chill quickly burns off and turns into a dry heat of around 75 degrees in the afternoon.

Arches National Park Elopement Ceremony

The morning of their elopement we met at the trailhead. We arrived while it was still dark and reached the arch just as the sun was beginning to rise. It was alpenglow in the desert – the warm rocks and distant mountains all began to turn a dramatic orange. The lighting was particularly gorgeous all morning for this elopement. Holly and Zach had their first look there near the arch, and Holly’s untraditional black wedding dress and veil stood out beautifully against the desert colors!

We walked out under the arch itself for their ceremony. Other people were present taking photos and hiking around, but everyone graciously encouraged Holly and Zach to go ahead with their ceremony and stood back a couple hundred feet and watched. It was a small crowd of strangers, but Holly thanked them all for coming to her wedding. Everyone was so excited for them! It was a sweet ceremony, and the glow of the sunrise made it so dramatic. After exchanging vows and rings, I signed as their officiant and two strangers at the trailhead signed as witnesses.

We explored more of Arches after their ceremony – Holly and Zach had a list of locations they wanted to see within the park before we headed out toward a canyon nearby for a picnic. We took more photos with arches in the background, hiked under arches, and generally made the most of seeing this particular park’s namesakes. As we explored different hikes, we kept running into others who had been at their ceremony location for sunrise and witnessed Holly and Zach’s elopement in the morning. It was sweet – they kept getting congratulated throughout the day.

Both Holly and Zach were wearing all black, which was particularly stunning against the warm colors of the desert, and Holly also brought along a hat to match her dress (which blew off in the wind probably a dozen times). Adventure elopements are the perfect time to show off your individual style, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for colorful elopement dresses! If you’re looking for tips, we have a guide to help you choose the perfect elopement dress – it covers everything from materials to hiking in a dress, plus companies who carry dresses ideal for adventurous celebrations.

When we left Arches National Park, we headed to a state park located just outside Canyonlands National Park and features a distinctly different landscape than Arches. Whereas the morning was spent looking up at all the dramatic rock formations, the afternoon was spent looking out and down at the layers of rock built up over millions of years to create dynamic, colorful canyon walls. 

Holly and Zach laid out a blanket and brought out a cake they had traveled with all the way from Austin. They also popped champagne and ate a picnic while enjoying the scenery. After their meal we took some photos with their jeep, which they’d also brought with them from Austin – displayed on the back were cute “just married” signs. Finally, they decided to enjoy some well-earned relaxation for the rest of their day! After we parted ways they went back to their hotel in town and enjoyed a couple’s massage, which I think is just the best thing to schedule after a hiking elopement! Then, they had dinner reservations to cap off their perfect day.

xx Amber

Are you considering an Arches National Park elopement?

Check out our guide of the BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN UTAH!

If you’re ready to begin planning, reach out and let’s get started! 

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Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

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Adventure Instead

Your Elopement Photographers & Planning Consultants. We are Maddie Mae, Amber, and Tori. We're your photographers, your elopement consultants, your cheerleaders, and your go-to adventure buddy on the day you say your vows.

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