The Guide for Planning Your Adventurous Sedona Elopement
Sedona, Arizona is one of the best places in the country for an adventurous elopement! If you love all things desert, spiritual, and outdoorsy, then Sedona is the perfect place for your wedding adventure. Planning your Sedona elopement doesn’t have to be stressful. I’ve compiled an entire guide to help you plan your Sedona elopement with ease so you can enjoy every step of the process.
This is everything you need to know for planning your Sedona elopement from a local’s perspective. From the best hikes, what time of year, my favorite local vendors, Sedona elopement packages, and everything in between.
Important note: As of January 2021, wedding set ups of any kind (arches, tables, rugs, candles, flower petals, etc) are not allowed in the public lands of Sedona. If you want to have this set up for your elopement you must have your ceremony on private property or at a venue.
Why Sedona, Arizona is the perfect location for your elopement adventure
Sedona is a magical little town that is less than a 2 hour drive from Phoenix that is filled with so much adventure. This red rock town is known for its energy vortexes perfect for those who want to feel grounded and close to nature on their adventure. With dozens upon dozens of hikes ranging in difficulties and sceneries, it’s a hikers dream! For those who prefer overloading and off-roading, there are multiple great OHV roads for all levels of experience! If you want to add more adventure to your elopement experience there are tons of epic companies that offer hot air balloon rides, Jeep tours, horseback riding, and so much much! For your more laid back days you can check out one of the local wineries or relax by Oak Creek. The possibilities are endless in this little town!
The Best Time of Year for a Sedona Elopement
One of the best parts about eloping in Arizona is that the weather is beautiful year around! Let’s chat about what time of year could be best for your wedding.
A Winter Sedona Elopement (December-February): Believe it or not, Sedona DOES get a real winter! Anytime between December and February there may be a light dusting of snow on the red rock mountains. Don’t be afraid though! This is one of my favorite times to photograph elopements in Sedona due to there being significantly less tourists and cheaper lodging. A Sedona winter means highs in the 60s, sunny most days with the occasional dusting of snow. Bring your layers and embrace the cooler red rock desert with no crowds!
A Spring Sedona Elopement (March-May): Spring in Sedona is always a dream for warmer weather (highs in the 70s-80s), blooming flowers, and clear skies. Spring is windy season in Sedona so be prepared for the gusts, otherwise it’s beautiful weather. Weekends start to become busy with tourists, but in general this is an amazing time to elope in the Sedona desert!
A Summer Sedona Elopement (June-August): Summer in Sedona isn’t necessarily the greatest time of year for a wedding adventure. Summers in the desert include monsoons (daily rain storms) that can produce dangerous flash flooding and lightning and warmer temperatures in the 100s with humidity. Trails tend to be busier, especially during sunrise and sunset. One of the perks is the epic cotton candy colored sunsets that happen almost every night. If you’re okay with some rain and heat, it could make for a fun adventure!
A Fall Sedona Elopement (September-November): By far one of the most popular seasons for Sedona elopements! The weather is perfect (not too hot, not too cold) with highs in the 60s-80s. September and October are by far the busiest months in this tiny town so I always recommend couples to stay away from eloping on the weekends. The leaves tend to change the last week of October through the first weeks of November. In general, I recommend November as the perfect month to elope for perfect weather and less crowds! Oh yeah, and the fresh apple cider is to die for.
Best Hikes & Places to Elope in Sedona
One of the best parts about eloping in Sedona is that the options for elopement locations are endless! There is a location for every accessibility and scenery. Yes, that means there are ceremony locations that even your grandma can get to! There are also locations perfect for adventure lovers who want to get their wedding dress a little dirty. These are a few of my favorite areas to explore in Sedona. Keep in mind that I do keep some spots a secret (and only tell my couples!) to help prevent them from getting extremely busy. I’m a huge lover of helping my couples find the perfect off-the-beaten-path location for their special day.
Cathedral Rock: Cathedral Rock is by far one of the most popular elopement locations in Sedona. This 1.2 mile roundtrip hike takes you to an epic red rock cliff, perfect for having a picnic, sharing a first dance, or watching the sunset. This hike is becoming more and more popular and can be extremely busy at times, so I always recommend taking this adventure on a weekday. Be prepared with lots of water, makeup for touchups, and be ready to use your hands to scramble up this steep mountain!
Bell Rock: Bell Rock is one of my favorite elopement locations in Sedona if you’re looking for 360 views that is easily accessible. There are dozens of different spots that are perfect for your ceremony. If you love vast scenic views and beautiful red rock mountains, you will love Bell Rock!
Slide Rock State Park: Slide Rock State Park is one of those spots in Sedona that is absolutely breathtaking. I love this location if you’re looking for beautiful views without any hiking involved. Another great part of Slide Rock is that variety of scenery ranging from red rock canyon, orchards, and Oak Creek. Slide Rock requires a special use permit that ranges from $100 to $200 to reserve your wedding date and space. Remember: This is a popular state park so there will be other people exploring the grounds.
West Fork: West Fork is a great location if you have fallen in love with the red rock canyon and Oak Creek. West Fork is the closest thing to a slot canyon that you can find in Sedona. Another great part about this location is the gorgeous greenery! There are beautiful trees and ferns that change along with the seasons. If you want golden leaves as the backdrop of your elopement, this is the perfect location! This a long hike with tons of different areas that you can hold your ceremony, some more private than others. This is one of the most popular hikes in all of Sedona so parking fills up fast. No permits are required for groups under 75 people.
Crescent Moon Ranch: Crescent Moon Ranch is another easily accessible location with a gorgeous view of Cathedral Rock. I love Crescent Moon if you’re looking with red rock views, along with wanting to be near Oak Creek. This location requires a reservation for a 2 hour time slot for $50 , and only allows groups under 15 people right now due to the pandemic.
Secret Off-Roading Locations: If you’re for an extra spice of adventure for your elopement experience, I highly recommend going on an off-roading adventure! This is one of the best things to do while visiting the red rocks. Off-roading allows you to get to some epic locations without much hiking. Some roads are more challenging to drive so depending on your prior experience, you can choose to go through a Jeep tour company or renting your own Jeep. You can have all of your guests join you on your adventure or choose to keep it private- totally up to you! I’m an avid off-roader so I have tons of epic locations to suggest to you.
Secret Hiking Location: There are so many locations in Sedona that aren’t popular but have EPIC views. The best part about choosing one of these locations for your wedding is that there will be less crowds and you will have super unique photos. There are tons of different hikes all around Sedona varying in difficulty, length, and scenery, but don’t worry! We can find a perfect location for you and your partner’s special day.
Meet Caitlyn, your Sedona Elopement photographer & Guide
Hi, I’m Caitlyn Jennings! I’m an adventurous traveling elopement photographer and guide based in sunny Sedona, Arizona. I’ve been lucky enough to live in Sedona for the past 4 years, going on 100+ adventures with couples from all over the world! I’d love to show you around my home.
I can help you plan your dream Sedona elopement experience.
I believe that all couples deserve to have an adventurous and meaningful wedding experience that reflects them and their love. We work together to design your “best day” from start to finish. I can’t wait to hear all about what you are dreaming for your elopement experience so we can work together to make it happen seamlessly and stress free.
Best Activities to Do in Sedona
Of course there is great hiking to do in Sedona, but what else? From a local’s perspective these are some of my favorite activities to suggest to everybody visiting Sedona, Arizona.
- A sunrise hot air balloon ride
- Wine tasting tour
- Guided yoga sessions
- Jeep tour
- Mountain biking
- …and so much more!
Best Places to Stay for Your Sedona Elopement
Hotels & Resorts:
Best Places to Eat in Sedona
Sedona has some amazing places to stop and eat for all food preferences; meat-eaters, vegans, gluten-free, etc. Here are some of my local favorites!
How to Get to Sedona, Arizona
Flagstaff Pulliam Airport: This is the airport closest to Sedona, Arizona. It is approximately a 45 minute drive from the heart of Sedona. It only has two main airlines- United and American, but does have most major car rental facilities. This is a great option if you are wanting to explore more of northern AZ (Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, etc).
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: This is the largest international airport closest to Sedona with only a 2 hour drive. This is a great option for cheaper flights, as well as if you are wanting to explore southern Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson) to see more of the Sonoran desert landscape with huge saguaro cacti!
Destinations Close By to Sedona
If you want to add some day trips to your time in Arizona, here are some of my favorite destinations that are close by.
- Jerome, Arizona: An old-mining town with lots of ghost stories and ton s of character that is only a 40 minute drive away.
- Flagstaff, Arizona: A small mountain town that’s on the way to the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff is about 10-15 degrees colder than Sedona, and has completely different scenery. If you want to make the 1 hour drive, make sure you stop downtown for a bite to eat or do some hiking with gorgeous mountain views.
- Grand Canyon National Park (south entrance): While you’re in town you should definitely check out one of the world’s seven wonders since it’s only a 2 hour drive! Stop along in Flagstaff, and then watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon. I promise it’ll be stunning!
- Page, Arizona: If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing Horseshoe Bend or Lake Powell in person, then you need to add a day trip to Page! It’s a 3 hour drive through the Painted Desert aka beautiful red mountains and canyons. Book a tour through a slot canyon while you’re there to get the full Arizona experience.
Sedona, Arizona Tips & Tricks
- Buy a weekly Red Rocks Pass to $$ on parking at trailheads. You can visit the main visitor’s center downtown or buy one at most trailheads.
- Drink lots of water! You can experience dehydration extremely fast in the desert, especially if you aren’t used to the elevation and dry heat.
- Try a prickly pear margarita. You’ll thank me later.
- Take a drive down Highway 89 along Oak Creek canyon. It’s one of the most scenic drives in all of AZ! Get ready for lots of switchbacks and gorgeous views.
- Arrive at trailheads early in the mornings or close to sunset for less crowds. Most trailhead parking lots are tiny and fill up fast!
- Book a Jeep tour to see the desert in a whole new perspective! This is always one thing I recommend to all people visiting!!
- Don’t be afraid to check out the non-popular trails. I love to use Alltrails to find more off-the-beaten-path locations!
- Visit a crystal shop to experience the hippie side of Sedona!
Sedona Elopement Packages
- Offering 6 hour, 8 hour, 10 hour, and 2 day Photography packages
- Unlimited planning assistance including help with locations, timeline building, permits, wedding licenses, & more.
- Exclusive list of location ideas for your elopement
- Custom day of timeline & itinerary
- Online gallery with your epic photos with personal printing rights
- The option to have me sign off as your ordained officiant if you want to a completely private, just the two of you elopement.
- The option to add on my awesome, adventurous ordained officiant Kat to your package.
- No travel fees since I’m a local!!
Packages beginning at $4000
Full Day Sedona Elopement Stories
Favorite Local Wedding Vendors in Sedona
Florists: Sedona Mountain High Flowers
Hair & Makeup: Sedona Beauty Team
Officiants: The officiant on my team, Kat 🙂 and Life Passages
Example Sedona Elopement Story:
Hannah and Matt’s adventurous Sedona elopement was a day filled with their closest family and friends, epic views, and so many sweet, intimate moments. One of the most epic parts of the day was getting to climb Cathedral Rock with their wedding attire in hand so they could share private vows and their first dance at the very spot that Matt proposed. This day was absolutely unforgettable and I feel lucky to have been the one to capture it!
Planning Their Day
Hannah and Matt met 8 years ago while in college and have been inseparable ever since. They love hiking, the fur babies, and trying new experiences in life. They recently moved to Phoenix for their jobs and fell in love with day trips to Sedona. Their love for Sedona grew more and more as they found new hiking spots. Cathedral Rock became their favorite hike and eventually the place that Matt proposed to Hannah. It only made sense for them to spend part of their wedding day up at their special spot.
One of my favorite parts of being a Sedona elopement photographer is working with my couples to plan their wedding day. The beautiful thing about eloping is that you get to design the day to be your perfect wedding experience. For Hannah and Matt they deeply cared for having their family a part of the experience, as well as having plenty of time for just themselves. While designing their timeline for their full wedding day I kept that in mind.
Pro-Elopement Planning Tip: Invite your closest friends and family to your elopement day if you want to! You don’t have to miss out on those special moments. We can work together to find an accessible location site that also has beautiful views, just like Hannah and Matt’s!
The beginning of Hannah and Matt’s adventurous Sedona elopement began at their beautiful Airbnbs in West Sedona. They had slow mornings with their family as they prepared for the day. I arrived and instantly connected with Hannah! It seriously felt like we had been friends for years! I got to meet their cute pups and all of their sweet family and friends. It was awesome!
Pro-Elopement Planning Tip: Get a big Airbnb for your friends and family to stay at during your elopement experience. It’s perfect for hosting meals and getting to hang out with all of your favorite people!
One of the biggest reasons I encourage my couples who have chosen to elope to book full day coverage is for the special moments beyond just the ceremony and couples session. You deserve to have so much more documented! I mean, just look at those precious moments! Hannah got to have with her family while getting ready for her elopement. After lots of happy tears, it was time for Hannah and Matt to share their first look. It was another beautiful moment with even more happy tears!
Pro-Elopement Planning Tip: Have a first look if you want to get out some nerves before your ceremony. It’s also a great way to spend a little bit more time with your soon-to-be-spouse!
One of the best parts about Sedona elopements is that most parks allow for weddings without a permit! That means you can find your favorite spot in the red rocks and get married right there! Hannah and Matt chose a spot at one of my favorite parks in Sedona that has 360 views of the red rocks. The family set up some benches and rugs beforehand and bam! A perfect spot for a wedding ceremony was born.
Another special part about this day was Matt’s grandmother officiating their wedding ceremony. It had everybody in the crowd in tears! She gave them a beautiful blessing, included their parents during some rituals, and pronounced them married! To celebrate, they popped some champagne and shared some toasts before heading off to finish the adventurous Sedona elopement at Cathedral Rock.
Pro-Elopement Planning Tip: Have a close friend or family member get ordained for your elopement. You won’t have to worry about finding a local pastor and it makes the day even more special.
The Cathedral Rock Adventure
After spending the morning and ceremony with their friends and family, it was time for Hannah and Matt to have a private adventure. We got our hiking gear on and prepared for the trek up Cathedral Rock. If you’ve never been to Cathedral Rock you have got to add it to your list! It is a tough hike, but it’s less than a mile up!
Pro-Elopement Planning Tip: Change into your hiking attire for your adventurous elopement. If you are only hiking a short distance to your location then I’d just suggest wearing hiking shoes and staying in your dress. If you’re hiking to a further location I would definitely suggest wearing some comfy hiking clothes that are easy to change in and out of.
Once we made it past the hardest part of the hike they put their wedding attire back on and started adventuring around the red rocks. We found a private spot for Matt and Hannah to exchange private vows. It was a beautiful moment! This is an amazing thing to do if you don’t feel entirely comfortable saying your vows in front of your family. After exchanging their vows they shared their first dance on the edge of the cliff. Talk about gorgeous!! Matt and Hannah ended their adventurous Sedona elopement by watching the sun set below the horizon. We hiked back in the dark and then they went off to enjoy a private dinner with their family.
Here’s what Hannah and Matt had to say about their experience of having me as the Sedona elopement photographer:
“Caitlyn is amazing! We’re so glad that we chose her to capture our day. She was so helpful throughout the planning process and provided great guides that helped us plan our perfect elopement. She also provided a timeline that was so helpful and led us throughout the day to help stay on time. I was so impressed by how she guided everyone during family pictures and how she just made us feel so comfortable. It really was so great working with Caitlyn! She is so friendly and easy to get along with! She is SO talented and we are obsessed with all our photos!! Highly recommend Caitlyn to be your photographer!”
Want to see another Sedona elopement? Check one out here!
Shout out to all of the awesome vendors who helped make this day possible:
Florist: Sedona Mountain High Flowers
Hair & Makeup: Sarah Cross
Videography: Riley Hicks Video
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