A couple is seen embracing during their elopement in Sedona

How To Elope In Sedona

Filed in elopements, Intimate weddings — June 30, 2023

Sedona is known as the relaxation hub of the West. With rejuvenating resorts, incredible outdoor activities, boutique shopping, and indulgent restaurants for foodies, there’s no wonder why it’s continuously voted one of the best travel destinations in the U.S. While its year-round warm weather is certainly an enticing enough reason to consider it for your elopement location, Sedona’s expansive desert landscape is what sealed the deal for many of my previous couples who chose to elope in Sedona.

Full of monumental red sandstone structures, hiking trails, wineries, wellness experiences, arts, culture, and more, Sedona is THE elopement mecca for adventurous couples looking for an experience of a lifetime. I’ve packed this guide full of my favorite Sedona spots, from ceremony locations to accommodations, tips, tricks, and advice. Keep reading to learn more about how to elope in Sedona stress-free!

A couple admires on another while holding hands in the Arizona Desert near Sedona

Things To Know About Eloping In Sedona

Beware The Heat & Flash Floods

In Summer, Seddona gets extremely hot. If you’re planning a hiking elopement in Summer, pack plenty of water, food, and a hiking emergency pack. Flash floods are also common, especially during monsoon season. When a rainstorm hits the Arizona Desert after a dry spell, rainfall can’t soak through the desert soil. The water sits atop the ground and causes rapid and major flooding. 

A storm can form out of nowhere, especially during monsoon season, which runs from May – October. Always monitor weather conditions, even on sunny days. Avoid venturing into slot canyons and dry stream beds. Always stick to high ground when possible, and never drive through flood waters. 

Hike Early 

Sedona is a popular hiking spot with over 200 beautiful trail systems for you and your partner! No matter the time of year you decide to elope in Sedona, plan to hike early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and crowd levels are low. Pack ample water and emergency supplies, and tell a friend or relative where you’re hiking and when you’ll return! 

Leave No Trace When You Elope In Sedona

Sedona is a popular tourist destination, with over three million visitors yearly. Its red rock-filled horizon holds some of the West’s most spectacular canyon systems, hiking trails, and desert ecosystems. Your Sedona adventure elopement is sure to be full of epic experiences in the great outdoors of Arizona. While you’re out having fun on your desert elopement, it’s important to do your part in protecting Sedona’s beauty for generations to come. We can protect the ecosystems we visit by practicing Leave No Traces’ 7 Principles

How To Leave No Trace In Sedona: 

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

A couple walks hand and hand in the Arizona Desert in Sedona during their intimate wedding

When To Elope In Sedona

Since Sedona gets super hot in Summer, it’s important to consider which time of year will be best for your Sedona elopement!

Summer In Sedona

While warm Summer evenings are beautiful in Sedona, the days are extremely hot. Sedona regularly sees triple-digit temperature days from June – August. If you are set on planning a Sedona Summer elopement, plan to have your ceremony in the very early morning or very late evening to avoid the desert heat! 

It may also be helpful to know that Sedona has an IDA designation, meaning it’s a designated dark sky community by the International Dark Sky Association. If you’re eloping in Summer, dreamy stargazing may be right up your alley! You’ll avoid the daytime heat and tourist crowds, all while having a unique and intimate ceremony experience beneath the stars!

Fall In Sedona

Fall has my heart in Sedona. Beginning in September, temperatures dip down to the mid-70s. Crowd levels dissipate while Autumn foliage pops up between red rock formations and Ponderosa Pines. While fall colors aren’t able to be seen everywhere in Sedona, Coconino National Forest is THE spot to see all the bright red, yellow, and orange Aspen leaves. The Oak Creek Canyon area within Coconino National Forest is the perfect location for an Autumn Sedona elopement.

Winter In Sedona

While it’s rare for Sedona to see snow, it does happen a few times throughout the Winter months at higher elevations. Iconic red rock structures in Sedona, such as Cathedral Rock, get dusted with snow and make for a magical sight. In Winter, daily temperatures average in the 60s, with lows in the 30s during the evenings. Crowd levels begin to tick back up as December approaches. Snowbirds flock to the area, and crowd levels slowly begin to rise as March approaches.

Spring In Sedona

Spring is the most beautiful weather season in Sedona, with morning temperatures in the 60s and midday to evening temperatures in the 80s. Not to mention, flowers begin to bloom during this time of year in areas like Coconino National Forest. The only downfall of eloping in Sedona from March-May is that it’s peak tourist season. 

However, because the weather is so beautiful this time of year, it may be worth considering working around the Spring crowds with a weekday elopement. Crowd levels in Spring are at their highest on weekends but see a slight dip during weekdays. Eloping in Sedona on a weekday in Spring will not only allow you to enjoy the beautiful Spring weather but popular ceremony locations with fewer crowds.

A groom kisses his bride on the check in celebration as they elope in Sedona

The Best Places To Elope In Sedona

There are so many incredible places to elope in Sedona that it can be hard to choose the absolutely perfect location for your ceremony. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite spots below in the hopes that it’ll help steer you in the right direction while planning your perfect day!

Cathedral Rock

A nearly 5,000ft natural sandstone butte that’s best accessed by the Cathedral Rock trailhead or Templeton trailhead. Couples can choose to elope at the base of Cathedral Rock or on an overlook near the top of the structure. No permit is required to elope at Cathedral Rock, but a $5 Red Rocks parking pass is required! This dog-friendly ceremony location is one of Sedona’s most popular hiking/sightseeing spots. For couples wanting a more private ceremony experience, it’s best to plan to have your wedding here at Sunrise or Sunset on a weekday to avoid large crowds. 

Bell Rock 

Another natural sandstone butte that towers nearly 5,000ft above the Arizona Desert. No permit is required to elope at Bell Rock, but a $5 Red Rocks parking pass is required! This intimate wedding and elopement location may be accessed along the Belle Rock Pathway. As a popular hiking/sightseeing spot that is dog-friendly, Bell Rock can see high crowd levels. For couples wanting a more private ceremony experience, it’s best to plan to have your wedding here at Sunrise or Sunset on a weekday to avoid large crowds. 

Courthouse Butte

Just a few miles east of Bell Rock is Courthouse Butte. Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock may be accessed by taking the Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock Loop. This very popular hiking trail allows dogs and is relatively flat. A $5 Red Rocks parking pass is also required here, but parking is limited, so be sure to plan your ceremony for Sunrise or Sunset to avoid large crowds and parking issues. 

Chapel Of The Holy Cross

A beautiful Roman Catholic Chapel is built into the side of a red rock structure in Coconino National Forest. This venue is ideal for couples of Catholic faith that love the outdoors. Couples eligible to get married in the Catholic Church may inquire with the parish of St. John Vianney to make ceremony arrangements at the Chapel Of The Holy Cross

Oak Creek Canyon

Known as the smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon, this elopement location offers spectacular views of red rocks, rivers, and the Arizona Desert! There are many vista points and hiking trails in Oak Creek Canyon, from Midgley Bridge to the Wilson Mountain Summit – South Overlook Trail and more! Oak Creek Canyon is an ideal elopement location for couples that love an adventure and want to incorporate hiking into their wedding day.

Airport Mesa

Best accessed via Airport Rd, Airport Mesa offers a variety of hiking trails with panoramic views of Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and other red rock formations spread across Sedona’s Arizona Desert. The Airport Loop Trail runs along the edge of the Airport Mesa and is the best way to see all the views this desert point offers. 

Doe Mountain

This is a short out-and-back hike that spans about 1.5 miles round-trip. While this trail can be narrow and steep in many parts, the views at the top of Doe Mountain are well worth the brief trek! This location is a great option for couples that want to incorporate hiking into their elopement in a short amount of time.

Merry Go Round Rock

To get to Merry Go Round Rock, couples will need to take an off-roading vehicle or adventure on a 6-mile hike via the Munds Wagon Trail. Merry Go Round Rock is a fun elopement spot for couples that crave adventure and want to experience the rush of a 4×4 trek. The view from atop Merry Go Round is jaw-dropping, especially at Sunrise or Sunset!

Devil’s Bridge

As Sedona’s largest natural sandstone arch, Devil’s Bridge is an iconic spot for couples and tourists alike. While this hiking trail requires a 4×4 vehicle like a Jeep to access, it’s well worth the rocky adventure. A magical spot at Sunrise and Sunset, we recommend planning your Devil’s Bridge elopement for a weekday to avoid crowds. 

A photo of a red rock structure in the Arizona Desert is pictured at Sunset

The Best Accommodations In Sedona

Sedona has many beautiful resorts, bed and breakfasts, cabins, tiny homes, and Airbnbs, so here are a few hidden gem accommodations perfect for any Sedona elopement!

Creekside Inn

A beautiful bed and breakfast nestled on a creek bank serving gourmet breakfast and southwestern hospitality. The Creekside Inn is a green oasis and retreat amidst the Arizona Desert and is conveniently located in the heart of Sedona. 

Hiker’s Haven

This peaceful home has all the cozy amenities needed for a relaxing elopement getaway. After a long day of hiking, couples can unwind in the backyard of Hiker’s Haven, equipped with a fire pit, BBQ, and lounge chair set. 

Renew Cabin

This simple and sweet cabin is rustic, with red rock views and access to a private saltwater water hot tub. Renew Cabin is a home-away-from-home accommodation nestled amidst a luxury tiny home community. 

A large red rock structure near a creek in the Arizona Desert is seen in the sunlight

Getting Legally Married In Arizona

If you plan to elope in Sedona, the best place to obtain your marriage license is in the nearby town of Camp Verde. You and your partner can fill out an Arizona marriage license application online, then bring it to Yavapai County Superior Court located on Highway 260 in Camp Verde. 

Once you get your marriage license, there is no waiting period. You can say I Do immediately! Arizona’s marriage licenses are valid for 12 months, meaning the marriage must be solemnized and the signed licensee returned to an Arizona Superior Court location within that time frame. If it isn’t solemnized, the license will expire.

You will need to do the following to obtain a marriage license before you elope in Sedona:

  • Both marrying individuals must appear at the Yavapai County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office to 1) sign the marriage license application previously filled out online and 2) take an oath.
  • A valid picture ID, such as a passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, or state ID card, must be presented by both individuals marrying.
  • The fee for the marriage license is $83.00, payable by cash, money order, or credit card.
  • Once the license is issued, it is valid for 12 months.
  • Two witnesses and a legally-permitted officiant must be present during your ceremony to sign your marriage license. 
  • Licenses must be brought to the Camp Verde office or mailed to the Clerk of Superior Court’s Prescott Office by the officiant. 

Sedona Elopement Packages

As your Sedona elopement photographer, I’m here to help you find your dream elopement location. Apart from location scouting, I’ll also ensure you and your partner have the right location permits and a detailed and personalized elopement day timeline. 

If you’re ready to start planning your adventurous, meaningful, stress-free wedding day today, contact me to learn more about my Sedona elopement packages!