| June 10, 2021

Your Sedona Elopement Guide

Table of Contents

Answering Your Questions About Planning to Elope in Sedona

Sedona is Absolutely Stunning

Where will you choose?

Sedona is known for its color—the towering red rock formations sparsely covered in scraggly green desert plants make this city one of the most recognizable desert landscapes in the southwest. Countless hikes end in viewpoints that will take your breath away as you explore the high, low, and in-between natural landscapes that make Sedona one of the most beautiful places to elope in Arizona!

Admittedly, all this natural beauty also makes Sedona a popular destination, so be sure to get connected with a local expert who can get you away from the crowds, and find the perfect place to say “I do.” Whether you choose a spot in Sedona or nearby, you’re sure to fall in love with this desert that inspires artists, photographers, and nature lovers to come from around the world to witness it.

Why You Should Elope in Sedona

You should elope in Sedona if you love dramatic, unique landscapes and world class outdoor recreation opportunities! If you can do it outdoors, you can do it in Sedona. The mountain biking, hiking, and off-road touring here is some of the best, and the 400+ miles of trails will take you out into nature to see places that seem almost too beautiful to be real. No, you don’t have to go to Mars to see the red rocks of a desert extending as far as you can see—that is right here in beautiful Arizona!

Turn your elopement into a multi-day adventure and stay in one of the cute local cabins, explore one of the many state parks on foot, or fly over the famous landscapes for a new perspective in a hot air balloon. Sedona is also one of the best places to experience a clear night sky—get out into the desert after sunset to witness an expanse of bright stars on your own, or take an official Sky Watching Tour.

Benefits of Eloping in Sedona

The weather is fantastic! Sure, sometimes it snows in the desert (which just makes the scene more dramatic in my opinion), but most of the year in Sedona is ideal for hiking, biking, and being outdoors. There are few places I’d argue are ideal for elopements year-round, but Sedona is one of them!

You have *literally* unlimited activities to choose from—even if you lived in Sedona, you’d be hard pressed to hike all the trails, see all the parks, eat all the food, and witness all the beauty. As a visitor, your biggest struggle won’t be finding something to do but simply narrowing down your options!

The sunrises and sunsets are the best. Bold statement, I know, but Sedona is top of my list of places I’ll refuse to sleep in. How can I when the desert sunrises are consistently golden masterpieces?! I always say you should aim for both, but sunsets in Sedona’s parks are often crowded. If you make the effort to get up in time for sunrise, you’ll be rewarded with a view of these landscapes that few others will witness, and you’ll be more likely to get to say your vows in total privacy.

How to Plan a Sedona Elopement

First, do some research. 

Below, we’ve answered frequently asked questions about elopements, and provided advice on choosing a location!

Second, connect with a photographer or planner who knows the area. 

All three photographers on our team have spent extensive lengths of time in the southwest desert, including Sedona—we can find just about any kind of environment, at any time of year, to fit whatever it is you’re currently imaging.

Third, narrow down the details of what you want.

Choose your ideal environment, time of day, season, activities, guest count, etc. We can absolutely help you out at this stage and give you our best advice to plan a stress-free wedding experience!

The good news is, we’ve been in your shoes. Not only have we helped hundreds of couples plan authentic, truly unique elopement adventures – each of us at Adventure Instead eloped ourselves! We know first hand how good it feels to get married by planning a day true-to-you, centered on your love for each other, and without the stress and chaos of a big wedding.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eloping in Sedona

How much does it cost to elope in Sedona?

It could cost as much or as little as you want to get married in Sedona. If you’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of the cost of elopements, we did that math and determined the average elopement costs a couple between $5,000-$15,000.

Where can you elope in Sedona?

The regulations depend entirely on what the land designation is—private, state park, forest service, BLM, and the list goes on. If there is a particular place you want to elope, reach out and we can give you insight into whether elopements are permitted at that location. If you’re set on Sedona but don’t have an exact location nailed down, we’ve listed some of our favorite Sedona elopement locations below!

What should we pack for a desert elopement?

We’ll go into more detail about this when planning for your exact elopement, but there are some specific things to pack when traveling to the desert that will ensure you have a more positive experience than if you left these things behind:

—Water. Plan to drink a minimum of 1 gallon each day.

—Good hiking shoes. 

—Comfortable wicking clothing.

—Sunscreen.

—A sun hat.

—Guide books & maps.

—A hiking backpack to carry it all.

Does Arizona have any specific laws for eloping?

Yes! Elopements are considered weddings when they occur on public lands, so many parks and protected areas will require wedding permits. The license requirements are pretty standard:

—A signature fom a licensed officiant

—Signatures from two witnesses

—Signatures from the two marriers

—Pay $83 filing fee.

The Best Time of Year to Elope in Sedona

Winter

Sedona in the winter is definitely chilly—high temperatures are in the 50s, with lows sometimes dropping below freezing. Occasionally it will snow, and that light dusting of white fluffy stuff only makes the iconic red rock stand out even more. Sedona is not the warmest winter destination by any means, but the dry air and low precipitation levels make it a mild place from December-February.

Spring

Sedona warms up quickly in the spring, with high temperatures reaching 80 degrees. March-May is also when the desert flowers are blooming from the moisture-rich ground, and these months are easily considered the most colorful time to visit. Spring is definitely the best time to visit if you want to see water and plants. If you want to hike or bike, you might find that the trails are a bit soggy or worn from winter.

Summer

Summer in Sedona is hot. June-August often sees 90+ degrees during the day, and I highly recommend considering a sunrise ceremony to beat the heat and the crowds. While this is certainly the most popular tourist season in Sedona, I’d argue that the spring & autumn are more all-around pleasant. However, you’re basically guaranteed to not see rain during the summer, so if a dusty dry elopement is your dream—consider this time!

Autumn

Fall in Sedona gives you a lot of the benefits of summer without the crowds—dry, well-trodden trails, all the same levels of accessibility, and stunning sunsets. I’d be hard pressed to say whether fall or spring is my favorite time in Sedona, and it would likely depend a lot on what you want to do. Fall is best for mountain biking and hiking.

The Best Sedona Elopement Locations

Red Rock State Park

This is one of the best spots to elope in Sedona if you want a more curated and established route into the iconic red rocks. A permit is required, and the park recommends larger groups choose one of the more established spaces—the visitor’s center rooftop patio or The Wedding Tree are great options for elopements with guests.

Cathedral Rock

This is definitely one of the most iconic places to elope in Sedona—as a result, it is *not* private. The trail is relatively short—less than 1.5 miles, so it’s pretty heavily trafficked year-round. I don’t want to get your hopes up that you could do this hike for sunset and have the place all to yourselves, because that simply isn’t likely. Instead, choosing a weekday or sunrise ceremony is your best chance to say “I do” without too many witnesses.

Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural stone arch in Sedona and the trail is nearly 4 miles, but not too strenuous. Similar to Cathedral Rock, I want to ensure you’re aware of how popular (for good reason) this spot is—I’ve heard stories about couples literally having to wait in line to get photos taken here. That said, going in the off season or choosing a time early in the morning is certainly going to find you a bit more free o enjoy this epic location.

Broken Arrow

This area is notable for its stunning striped red rock and OHV accessibility. Many overlooks and viewpoints along the way give you the opportunity to witness red rock spires soaring high above, thriving desert plants and animals lining the trail, and some off-shoot trails to add a bit of hiking to your tour.

Merry Go Round Rock

This unique rock feature can be accessed by a 6.5 mile trail, or via a 4×4 tour on some gnarly dirt roads. This trail is dog-friendly and gorgeous in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. What makes the rock so special is that you can walk out onto the outcropping (if you’re not scared of heights), and earn a truly heart-pumping image that will make your friends and family gasp! 

MORE: The Best Places to Elope in Arizona Guide

How to Get Permits to Elope in Sedona

The first thing you need to do to discover if a permit is required for your Sedona elopement location is to call the land stewards. Whoever is in charge of maintaining your spot is the only one who can tell you if an elopement is free or if you need to apply and pay a fee. The best way to discover the righ phone number is to Google search “[name of location] ranger district.”

For example, Cathedral Rock is maintained by the Red Rock Ranger District.

MORE: How to Elope: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Ready to elope in Sedona? Reach out!

We can’t wait to help you find the *perfect* place to say “I do” in this unique town!

Maddie Mae

Elopement Photographer

& Planning Consultant

About us

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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