Lidia and Jack’s 2 day Adventure Elopement
Bell Rock wedding ceremony with day after Adventure Session at Merry Go Round Rock
Lidia and Jack’s love of the striking red rock landscape of Sedona began when they planned back to back bachelor/ bachelorette adventure holidays here in 2019. Then covid hit, and their original big wedding plan to have a steampunk themed celebration back home in Chicago was pushed back multiple times, and ended abruptly when their venue went out of business due to the shut downs.
Rather than giving up, Lidia and Jack decided to change direction and embrace an intimate wedding retreat in the red rock dreamland they had fallen in love with.
It was important to Lidia to include original touches that she had created for their original wedding plan. She brought a gorgeous ring book she made herself to show off their wedding rings along side the blue stone ring Jack made her himself when he proposed. Lidia incorporated a piece of her heritage by having her custom dried florals flown in from the Ukraine, a neighboring country to her and Jack’s homeland of Russia. She also incorporated name place holders made from old skeleton keys, wine bottles filled with twinkle lights, lanterns with sparkling crystal pendants, and an inflatable unicorn- because every wedding needs a unicorn! At the head of the table she placed a framed picture of her ultrasound picture, so their little one on the way was an important part of their wedding.
To “top it all off” one of her best friends made her the most perfect cake topper to immortalize the feeling of “Fucking Finally”, and then decorated their cake with live florals and fruit.
The elopement ceremony at Bell Rock
As we went through the location planning process, we knew that we had two big hurdles to overcome in finding the perfect ceremony location. First up- parking. Sedona is known for having extremely limited parking options, and even a small wedding with less than twenty people could put a major stress on the already overcrowded trail heads. Enter the solution- a trolley! We all piled in at the house, and were dropped off at the base of the trail to head up to the ceremony spot.
Which brings me to our second problem to solve- finding a suitable location with as much privacy as possible, while also being easy enough for family to get to. The area with views of Bell Rock in the background is one of my favorites for this, because there is a spiderweb of trails that branch off from the main trail where you can find wide open flat rocks less trafficked.
Side note: if you do this, please make sure you follow an established trail and walk on durable surfaces. Walking through the “sand” can actually be destroying delicate cryptobiotic soil that takes tens to hundreds of years to heal.
When I sent over a list of scouted locations in the area, and they chose one that allowed the iconic formation to be directly behind them for their Bell Rock wedding backdrop. Map in hand, we hiked from the parking area up to the lookout surrounded by vast open views of Sedona red rocks in all directions.
Once set up, they laid a small rug as an alter, with friends and family lining both sides, as they exchanged vows and were married by their long time friend. After their ceremony they popped sparkling water (same great spray- without the sticky mess left behind), and shared water and champagne in plastic flutes to celebrate.
Including their loved ones in their Bell Rock wedding
Lidia and Jack’s outgoing friends and family were full of silly antics and laughs while we celebrated and took group photos with white parasols as the sun set in the distance after their wedding vows overlooking Bell Rock.
Enjoying a quiet moment together
While the family was gathering the plastic flutes and making sure there was not trace left, Lidia, Jack and I snuck in a few couples portraits enveloped in golden light with Cathedral Rock peaking up in the distance, and wind sweeping Lidia’s veil in the glow of the red rocks. We were even greeted by a little mantis who had made his way up the layers of Lidia’s dress to catch a ride at some point in the day.
Heading back to the AirBnB
After, we hiked back down to the trolley and rode back to the house where a private caterer had their dinner ready to go. A quick signing of the marriage license to make it official- and we said goodnight!
Off-road Adventure Portrait Session up Schnebly Hill Road
Lidia and Jack knew they wanted to spend their time after their ceremony with their family and friends, but didn’t want to limit their time taking epic couple’s portraits out in the wild, so they opted for a package with a day after Adventure Portrait Session- best of both worlds!
I met them at their Resort, and we headed up the super rocky Schnebly Hill Road to Merry Go Round Rock (Read more about MGR Here). This drive is not for the faint hearted, and I only suggest it for couples willing to spend and hour there and back being bounced around like a ping pong ball. But boy- those views are worth it!!!
Bell Rock Wedding in Sedona, Arizona
Bell Rock is not only one of the most well known hiking areas in Sedona, it is also a gorgeous and easy to access location for your Sedona elopement or intimate wedding!
While the actual Bell Rock Trail can be packed with people, there are many trail off-shoots that are less traveled, offering Bell Rock as a backdrop while also maintaining a bit more privacy to exchange your vows. Be aware that besides the privacy factor, the actual Bell Rock trail is in what is considered Wilderness area, so is not allowed for ceremonies. There are plenty of non-wilderness spots with fabulous views of Bell Rock.
Pro-Tip: As with most of the Sedona trail locations, parking is limited. Consider hiring the trolley like Lidia and Jack did, or carpooling to your location.
Bell Rock Wedding planning Information at a Glance
- Location Cost: No special permit at this time
- Guests: 0-25
- Setups Allowed: None
- Accessibility: The area around Bell Rock Trail has a spiderwebbed network of trails that vary in difficulty. Most are easy to moderate and vary from 1-3 miles roundtrip.
- Parking: Limited parking- Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required
and I want to be your Sedona Elopement or Wedding Photographer!
I love helping couples visualize and craft an experience that feels true to you. The way your marriage begins matters, and I would love to help you tell your story. Set your marriage up for success by allowing yourself to get married your way! As a local Sedona Elopement Photographer, I can help with all the things!
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