Sedona is one of those places I think everyone should take the time to visit at least once in their lifetime. Before visiting, I knew it would be beautiful but little did I know it would quickly become one of my favorite places on Earth. Not only is the red rock scenery breathtaking, but the serene energy is something I’ve never experienced before. If you’re looking for the perfect location for your destination elopement, Sedona is the one. In this guide I’ll cover everything you need to know for how to elope in Sedona, Arizona.
Sedona is one of those places that is beautiful all year round. Meaning of course, it’s a pretty popular place. Peak tourist season is during the spring and fall months when temperatures are warming up but not quite as high as they get in the summer (over 100 degrees!)
I visited in early February to capture this Cathedral Rock elopement and I have to say I might have discovered the best time to go. Tourists were at a minimum, there were plenty of availability for accommodations, and the weather stayed at perfect 60-70 degrees (but I will say it gets pretty chilly once the sun goes down!)
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and insanely high temperatures, I’d recommend visiting during the late winter/early spring months. I’d also consider having your elopement on a weekday!
Sedona truly has an endless amount of possible elopement locations. No matter which one you choose, it’s sure to be stunning. There are plenty of hikes to choose from ranging from easy to difficult and as short or long as you please. During my visit I had the privilege of capturing both an elopement and a couples session at two different locations that both make an amazing location for your adventure elopement.
Probably the most popular hike in Sedona but for good reason. This relatively short hike takes about 30-40 minutes to reach the top where you’ll be met with stunning views of Sedona and the most gorgeous ledge to walk out on for photos. Now I will say, this is definitely a moderate hike. There’s a good 10 minutes spent scrambling on all fours, but can easily be done by someone who doesn’t consider themselves a hiker.
There was a last minute change of plans for which hike we were doing for this elopement and I’ll admit when I found out we were doing Cathedral Rock I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the rock scrambling section, but I completed the climb with no trouble at all (I was a little out of breath by the time we reached the top but it was totally worth it).
Because of how popular Cathedral Rock is, I’d recommend eloping here at Sunrise.
I think Bell Rock might be my favorite place on earth (so good I went back 3 times during my time in Sedona). Said to have an energy vortex, this spot is one of the most serene, relaxing places I have ever been. After only an easy 10 minute hike from the parking lot, you’ll reach a flat area with stunning views overlooking Sedona. This hike offers so much variety from the trail, to the red rock, to the view this spot has it all.
Once again, I’d recommend eloping here at sunrise to avoid the crowds.
All locations require a $5 Red Rocks Pass to park at the trailhead and parking is very limited. Arriving at sunrise can help raise your chances of easily finding a place to park. During my time in Sedona I arrived to a couple of hikes before sunset and had to wait for spots to open up.
Most locations in Sedona, including hiking trails, do not require a permit to elope. But, gatherings cannot exceed 75 people and free standing items such as arbors, tables, and chairs are not allowed.
If you’re not looking for anything fancy and saving most of your budget for photography/videography, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which may offer a cheaper option.
Sedona is situated right between Flagstaff and Phoenix.
Flagstaff Pulliam Airport is the closest airport about 40 minutes outside of Sedona. Now let me tell you, this airport is TINY with only two gates. American and United are the only two airlines that fly in and out. Because of this, delays are more likely meaning it’s important to plan to arrive plenty of time in advance. Luckily I didn’t have any issues flying in, but flying out the only plane available had a busted tire and I didn’t get home for an entire day later.
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is the next closest airport about 2 hours away from Sedona.
Now if you happen to be flying in on a private jet, you can fly directly to Sedona Airport.
Eloping doesn’t mean you have to leave out any special traditions, you can still make a full day out of it just like a wedding day. When you hire me as your Sedona elopement photographer, you’ll get up to 8 hours of photography coverage. Here’s what a potential elopement day timeline might look like:
6:00am Arrive at trailhead to begin hike
7:00am Reach viewpoint at sunrise for ceremony and vow reading
7:30am Newlywed photos
9:30am Celebratory picnic breakfast full of all your favorite foods and mimosas, of course!
10:30am Hike back down the trail, stopping for photos along the way
11:30am Choose another hike for additional photos
1:00pm Arrive back at AirBNB for first dance and lunch
2:00pm Celebratory champagne pop photos
1:00pm Getting ready photos at AirBNB
3:00pm First look at the trailhead before beginning hike
3:30pm Hike to viewpoint, stopping along the way for photos
5:30pm Ceremony and vow reading at sunset
6:30pm Hike back down for night photos
7:30pm Arrive back at AirBNB for first dance and dinner
9:00pm End the night with a campfire under the stars
Eloping in Sedona doesn’t mean you can’t wear normal wedding attire – if you want to wear your dream dress or a custom suit, do it! Because you’ll most likely be hiking for your elopement, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider.
Main attire – I’d recommend going for a loose and flowy dress so you can easily move around comfortably. Tight dresses aren’t great for the hiking and possibly climbing you’ll be doing. A good flowy dress looks amazing in the wind. Imagine those photos of you with your dress flowing behind at the top of a mountain AHHH. For suits, I recommend something comfortable that you’re okay with getting dirty. Also remember, your dress WILL get dirty. I love a good red rock stained dressed, such a special symbol of a special day.
Layers – Depending on what time of year you’re eloping in Sedona, the weather can get pretty chilly when the sun goes down. You’ll want to bring some layers to avoid getting cold! If you don’t want to bring a coat and want to go for something more stylish, pack a faux fur shawl to keep you warm!
Shoes – For your hiking elopement, you’re gonna want some hiking boots. You’ll want a pair that’s comfortable with good grip and support. Consider sizing up by half a size so there’s plenty of room for thick socks. They’ll help keep your feet warm and dry!
Hair and Makeup – Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you can’t hire a hair and makeup artist. Having professional hair and makeup done will add another level of WOW to your photos and your confidence! Make sure you choose a hairstyle that’s comfortable and will still look good wind-blown.
Eloping is definitely a lot cheaper than having a big wedding day, but the costs can still add up fast. Here’s the main things you’ll need to account for when creating a budget for your Sedona elopement.
Of course, you can choose which of these things are the most important to you. You don’t necessarily need a bouquet, but it definitely adds to your photos.
When you’re eloping, your photographer will double as your planner so it’s important to choose someone who is experienced with your elopement location and can help with logistics. When you hire me as your Sedona elopement photographer, I help with locations, where to stay, timeline planning, and more!
Need to see a little more visualization of what your Sedona elopement could look like? Keep scrolling for Cami & Shem’s Cathedral Rock elopement!
Reading to chat about capturing your Sedona elopement? Click here and let’s do it!
February 15, 2022
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