An Eleven step guide to planning your unforgettable Sedona Elopement

Sedona elopement couple embrace on the red rocks

This 11 Step by Step Sedona elopement wedding guide will help you outline your One of a kind Sedona Elopement from start to finish! I hope this will help you avoid as much stress and uncertainty as possible as you plan your wedding day.

Sedona has long been described as one of the most beautiful places in the world. It should come as no surprise that it has also become a highly sought after place for couples looking for the perfect location for their destination elopement. 

You can’t go wrong with eloping in Sedona. Whether you are local to Arizona and fell in love with the majestic red rocks like I did, or traveling from another state or country.

Surrounded by towering red rock formations, Sedona has a robust outdoor community for the adventurous at heart. A seemingly endless trail system, off road adventure opportunities, helicopter tours, and so many more activitiess to choose from! For couples looking for a more relaxed experience, the nearby local wineries, historical sites, arts and crafts centers, and award winning restaurants may be more your preference. 

Or why not incorporate both? With so much to see and do, I highly recommend planning at least three or four days for your visit for this enchanting town. Check out this list of Romantic Things for Couples to do in Sedona, AZ to help you plan your wedding vacation.

Over the years as a Sedona Elopement Photographer, I realized that choosing to elope is a liberating decision, but the actual planning of an elopement can quickly become overwhelming for couples who have never planned, or in many cases- even been to, a destination elopement. I put together this Sedona Elopement Guide as a step by step roadmap to help you get started!

A few of the steps could change in order depending on your unique situation, but most Sedona adventure elopements will have each of these steps that will need to pull off the perfect Sedona Elopement Wedding!

Want your own one on one expert Sedona Elopement photographer & planning consultant to help guide you through the process right from the start? Let’s schedule a time to talk about your dream elopement!

Wedding couple kiss enveloped by setting sun rays during their Sedona elopement

Step 1- Choose the Best time of year for your Sedona elopement

The first step in planning your elopement in Sedona is to decide what time of year you would like to visit. Unlike many locations, Sedona is known for its relatively mild climate year round. There are still weather and scenery factors to consider based on your unique vision for your day.

The best times to elope in Sedona are in the Spring or Fall

Spring and fall are the easiest times to plan a Sedona elopement because of the mild temperatures, mostly sunny days and more predictable weather.

In the spring, the non-evergreen trees may not have all of their leaves yet, but as the weather starts to warm and days get longer, the blooming desert cacti and plentiful fruit trees add pops of color in and around Sedona. The days are generally drier, or dappled with light scattered showers with little to no cloud cover, really showing off those clear blue skies the desert is known for. Spring elopements have produced some of my all time favorite images in Sedona.

In the fall the landscape is generally still very green around the base of the red rocks after a summer of monsoon storms. We also get hues of gold and red fall leaves towards the end of fall/ early winter before they drop to the overnight frosts. The chance of cloudy skies is higher than in the springtime, but clear blue skies are still the norm. The evenings come with a chill once the sun goes down, so be prepared to bring a light jacket or cover of some sort.

groom carrying bride over his shoulder laughing while eloping in Sedona AZ
Bride and groom in a windblown kiss embrace during their Sedona elopement

You can still elope in Sedona during the Summer or Winter

While most people choose spring or fall for their outdoor wedding in Sedona, it is accessible all year. With sunrise ceremonies or shaded water activities during the summer, and cooler, shorter days in the winter- sometimes it pays to go against the norm and choose a less popular elopement time.

In the summer, sunrise elopements are the best way to beat the heat, monsoon storms, and the crowds! Summer is also nice if you are wanting to spend time down at Oak Creek wading or kayaking in the water. If you have your heart set on longer hike, I do not suggest late June-August, as temperatures regularly climb into the 90-100F range.  The chance for spectacular sunsets go up in the summer monsoon season, but you have to be flexible with the chance of rain.  Side note- I LOVE the rain!  If you want to dance in the rainy desert on your wedding day, I will 100% be there to photograph it with a cheesy hat and cover to protect my camera!

Another consideration for a summer wedding is that although it is hot, summer is a popular time for tourism in Sedona. Trailhead parking and privacy considerations definitely need to be factored into your decision.

In the winter we sometimes get sprinkles of snow (lovingly called Snow-dona by the locals) that spend a day or two nestled upon the red stone. Snow-dona is one of the most striking views you will ever witness. The skies are generally clear and blue, but we do get some overcast, chilly, and windy days perfect for cozy jackets and hot cocoa. Trails in the shade may have ice patches to look out for.

So when is the right time for my elopement?

As your Sedona Photographer and elopement planning consultant, I’m here to help you as you choose the right time of year to fit your dream Sedona Arizona Elopement, along with tips on what to wear, how to stay cool (or warm!) and other recommendations for staying happy and healthy in the high desert.

Wedding couple looking at each other with a gorgeous sunset overlooking the red rocks during their Sedona Elopement

There really isn’t a “bad” time for eloping in Sedona, but I do strongly suggest fall or spring for most couples who are not used to the heat, want to avoid most of the monsoon storms, and those who prefer a more mild temperature outlook. Spring is the least busy of the two, but fall in the high desert is one of my favorite times of year.

Bride and groom on the ledge of Cathedral Rock during while the elope in Sedona

Step 2- Prepare your Guest list

Knowing the total number of people you will have in attendance, and what limitations you need to account for will be one of the largest determining factors in every other decision that you make for your Elopement in Sedona, AZ. I highly recommend spending some time to really figure this part out before moving too far forward into the process so you don’t find yourself planning, then re-planning your wedding over and over.

Eloping with just the two of you

Are you eloping just the two of you? Great! This offers the largest amount of flexibility both with locations available to you, as well as what activities you can include as it will be based solely on your needs and experience as a couple.

bride and groom hold hands as officiant reads ceremony during Sedona elopement wedding ceremony surrounded by red rock canyons
Elopement with family with views of cathedral rock towering behind the ceremony in Sedona, Arizona

Eloping with Guests

Are there people you can’t imagine saying your “I Do’s” without? Knowing who you will have with you will help determine where you can go based on accessibility, which locations are able to support the desired number of guests, transportation logistics (parking in Sedona can be a real nightmare), and whether or not you are required to rent out a space to support the size of your group. In general, expect to start seeing significant differences in ceremony location options for what is considered a Sedona wedding elopement once you go over 15 people total.

Step 3- Choose your Sedona elopement package

If you haven’t already chosen your Sedona Elopement Photographer, this is where you should definitely reach out, especially if you already have a specific date in mind! Wedding photographers who specialize in elopements help with more of the planning than a traditional wedding photographer. It’s normal that we begin working together earlier in the planning process.

Hi! I’m Shannon Durazo

and I would love to document your Sedona elopement!

Sedona is my home base for photography, and I love helping couples create the perfect destination elopement surrounded by the red rocks and enchanting energy of this desert oasis. The way your marriage begins matters, and I would love to help you tell your story through a wonderful experience and epic photographs so you can relive the moments for years to come!

Shannon Durazo- Sedona Arizona  Elopement Photographer

Sedona Elopement Packages

Four (4)+ hour to Multi-day Sedona Elopement Packages Available

Every Sedona Elopement package includes:

  • Access to my jam packed Client Elopement Guide with over 100 pages of pro-tips, vendors, timeline examples, and more!
  • Access to preferred Vendor Recommendations, Timeline creation, location scouting, and help answering questions along the way!
  • Personalized Client Portal to keep everything organized and on track
  • Digital gallery to view, download and share high-resolution digital files with personal printing rights
  • Package upgrades to include Adventure Session (engagement/ day after hike/ etc.), second shooter, albums, wall art, and more!
  • Officiant Signature- I am able to be your signature if your ideal ceremony involves the two of you saying your vows to each other without a ceremony
  • No added travel fees- I’m Local!

Starting at $2400

Step 4- Choose the best location for your Sedona Elopement vows and portraits

There are so many breathtaking spots to say your vows and take showstopping wedding day portraits, you really can’t go wrong. I will help you pinpoint the features that drew you to Sedona, give feedback on ease of access, accessibility for parking and terrain for you and your guests, and help you factor in all the unique details of your vision to find the perfect location for you. Most of the public locations in Sedona lie on either one of the State Parks, or on Coconino National Forest Land. I can help you determine which authorities to contact to make sure you elopement is allowed in the area and to obtain any necessary permits.

Great news! You don’t have to choose just one location! Many couples choose one Sedona wedding location for their ceremony, and a separate location for their adventurous portraits. This is especially so if family and friends are joining for the ceremony (an easy to get to location) and then they want portraits at a more adventurous epic view (hiking or off-roading to a more difficult location).

Top Sedona Elopement Spots:

  1. Cathedral Rock
  2. Merry Go Round Rock
  3. Bell Rock
  4. Secret Slick Rock
  5. Doe Mountain
  6. Crescent Moon Ranch
Bride and groom kiss under a tree during sunset overlooking the red rocks of Sedona below

The best Elopement Locations in Sedona, Arizona

Below are a few of the top requested places to elope in Sedona that offer the striking, world famous red rock views as a backdrop. I’ve also listed a couple of my personal favorites. With so many choices for Sedona elopement locations, knowing where other couples have chosen to take their wedding day portraits can help you narrow down what look you are wanting for your elopement adventure. With over 200 official trails, and many more social trails to explore, there are many choices for Sedona elopement spots to say your vows. Whether you are looking for an easy to access overlook with minimal hiking, or are up for a longer more difficult access, there is something for everyone!

1. Cathedral Rock Trail

We will start with THE most requested elopement location in Sedona Arizona- Cathedral Rock Trail. If you have searched for pictures of elopements in Sedona- it is almost guaranteed your search included images of elopements at Cathedral Rock.  While this location is definitely high on the popularity list, there are pros and cons that come with these awe inspiring views.  If you are planning the main overlook, I highly recommend doing this hike Monday – Wednesday to be able to use the parking at the base without using the shuttle system. You will also avoid as much of the crowds as possible.  It is one of the busiest trails in Sedona, even in the summer heat, so be prepared that this is a location that rarely comes with much privacy. Many couples choose a less traveled location for their actual vow exchange, and then go to Cathedral for the epic views for their couples portraits either on the same day, or as a day after Adventure Session.

Cathedral Rock elopement wedding in Sedona Arizona
  • Setups: Not Allowed
  • Parking: Parking at the main trailhead is open open Monday- Wednesday, and spaces fill quickly.  I recommend planning extra time to wait for a space to open, and to carpool when possible. A Red Rock Pass or America The Beautiful Pass is required. Thursday – Sunday the shuttle system is required to the main trailhead.
  • Accessibility: The hike to the top of Cathedral is not for the faint of heart.  It is a shorter distance, at only 1.2 miles in length, but is straight up with some very steep slick rock spots.  Be prepared to use your hands and navigate vertical sections that require light climbing.  The slick rock is a different kind of balance game if you haven’t navigated it before. Good shoes with grip, plenty of water, sunscreen, and a secure bag to carry your items is a must.  I would rate this as kid friendly- possibly dog (2 of my three can do it with no issue), but not good for people with limited mobility, struggle with incline, balance issues, or struggle with fear of heights. 
  • Time of Day: The fiery views from the main ledge are best shot at sunset, although sunrise lends to more privacy and some unique shots as well, especially at the spire.

Pro-tip: There are several trails that offer incredible views of Cathedral Rock as a backdrop if you love the unique look, but don’t want to hike up the steep slick rock to the top.   

For more information and images of Cathedral Rock visit:

Couple standing on secret red rock spire during their Sedona Elopement
Couple dancing on the ledge of a giant red rock tower while eloping in Sedona

2. Merry Go Round Rock

Merry Go Round Rock, or Carousel Rock, is known as one of the most spectacular views overlooking Sedona down below. It can be reached both by hike (I do not recommend), or more commonly, by navigating the very bumpy, high clearance 4×4 Schnebly Hill Road.  While this is easily one of my favorite Sedona elopement locations, the rough ride and limited access make it best for smaller groups. Many jeep tours make a stop at this gorgeous overlook, but most have to be back down before the best lighting sets in. The best option if you do not have your own high clearance 4×4 is to rent a jeep for the day!

Couple dancing during their Sedona elopement at Merry Go Round Rock
  • Setups: Not Allowed
  • Parking: Limited at the base Munds Wagon trailhead, which requires a Red Rock or America the Beautiful Pass, and very limited up the 4×4 road that does not require a pass.
  • Accessibility: This location requires a either a longer somewhat steep hike- or an hour each way by an experienced 4×4 driver with a high clearance vehicle.  Kid and non-car sick dog friendly (the ride is VERY bumpy) If driving, there is still a short hike down to the overlook area and to the top.  Appropriate footwear and water is a must. There are no restroom or water facilities, so plan accordingly.
  • Time of Day: Merry Go Round is best at sunset.

Pro-tip: This location is less busy than many of the most iconic views because of the difficulty reaching it, but has an extra cost factors of time, difficulty, and rental expense if you do not have a high clearance vehicle to take into consideration while comparing places to get married in Sedona. But good news! I drive a lifted 4runner, so my travel is included!   

For more information and images of Merry Go Round Rock visit:

Sedona elopement wedding couple framed by red rocks
Bride and groom framed by juniper trees as they stand perched on a red rock ledge overlooking the Sedona sunset during their wedding portraits

3. Bell Rock

There are many easily reached locations with wonderful views of Bell Rock featured in the background available for you to say your vows.  With several paths to choose from, including a few secret locals favorites, you can have a beautiful 360 degree view of red rocks with minimal effort, making this an area that is a favorite for elopements with guests.

same sex couple saying their vows with views of Bell Rock in the distance during their Sedona elopement
  • Parking: There are three parking lots with access to views of Bell Rock depending on the exact location. All three require a Red Rock or America the Beautiful Parking Pass.  They fill up quickly, so like most of Sedona, carpooling and getting there early to wait for an open spot is key.
  • Accessibility: Most of these views require a shorter hike and can be extended for a longer full day hike, with options for local trail offshoots.  This area is kid and dog friendly.  Appropriate footwear and water is a must.
  • Time of Day: This area is beautiful at both sunrise and sunset.

Pro-tip: There are trails that go all the way around Bell Rock, so you can see it from many different angles depending on which area you choose making it gorgeous for both sunrise and sunset.  

For more information and images of Bell Rock visit:

Couple running after the sun goes down during their Sedona wedding
Sedona elopement framed by Bell Rock as bride and groom stand surrounded by their families

4. Secret Slick Rock

Secret Slick Rock is my personal favorite view of Cathedral Rock without the difficult hike in all of Sedona. The trail leading out has some beautiful overlooks that boast unique views of Sedona for portraits, while being very accessible for elopements with family and friends.

Elopement with family with Secret Slick Rock in the background
  • Parking: Parking is extremely limited and requires a Red Rock or America the Beautiful Parking Pass.
  • Accessibility: This location requires a short hike with a short moderate area leading down to the main slickrock.  There are no restrooms or running water on site. Secret Slick Rock is kid and dog friendly.  Alltrails lists it as Easy.  Appropriate footwear and water is needed.
  • Time of Day: Secret Slick Rock is gorgeous at both sunrise and sunset.

Pro-tip: If there has been rain, puddles form allowing for incredible reflections! 

Bride and groom kiss with their reflection in a puddle during Sedona elopement
Groom looks down on bride under a tree skeleton during Sedona elopement

5. Doe Mountain

Doe Mountain is another one of my very favorite picturesque elopement locations in Sedona.  It is gorgeous, and seriously underrated, in my opinion.  I love the diverse scenery with trees, cliffs, and red rock formations in the distance.

bride and groom in a dip kiss at the top of Doe Mountain
  • Parking: Parking is extremely limited and requires a Red Rock or America the Beautiful Parking Pass.
  • Accessibility: This location requires a moderate somewhat steep hike up switchbacks to the top.  There are no restrooms or running water on site. Doe Mountain is kid and dog friendly.  Alltrails lists it as Moderate, although my couples have expressed they would rate it as difficult.  Appropriate footwear and water is a must.
  • Time of Day: Doe Mountain is best at sunrise due to the way the light hits and also the tiny parking lot without overflow options.

Pro-tip: If you choose a sunrise elopement, you may get lucky and have hot air balloon rising up behind you in the distance! 

Eloping couple in Sedona on a red rock cliff
elopement couple walking hand in hand on the ledge of Doe Mountain

6. and many more “Locals Secret” locations

There are many more less frequented locations with gorgeous views, especially if you are up for a bit of a hike or 4×4 drive. There are also some spectacular nooks off of main trails that aren’t the “go-to” shots that are some of my all time favorites- but you have to know where to find them! Finding these hidden gems is part of the benefit of hiring a local expert to help you plan you day.

Deciding to elope in Sedona is the easy part.

The hard part is narrowing down where to Elope in Sedona.

Bride and Groom standing on the edge of a cliff during their Sedona elopement

Special Use Permits for Elopements in Sedona

One of the incredible things about Sedona is that most outdoor areas controlled by the Coconino Forest Red Rock Ranger District do not currently require a special use permit for ceremonies without props (arches, tables & chairs, etc…) with limited guests. BUT, this is does not mean you don’t need to reach out to the proper land managers to gain written permission prior to your event. Permitting and rules on specific areas are always in a state of flux, and can change depending on your specific needs. For most of Sedona this will be the Red Rock Ranger District of Coconino National Forest.

If you do want an arch, seating, or other setup items, there are several state parks and properties that allow them with a permit/ reservation fee.

Leave No Trace

What are LNT principles, and how do they affect my wedding? 

Leave No Trace (LNT) is a simple set of principles designed to help you leave public places as good as (or better!) than you found them.  This means following common sense principles- like not popping confetti (yes- this includes those that advertise themselves as biodegradable!)on the trail or leaving trash behind, to principles you may not think of like not spreading non-native flower petals in an area or walking off trail on cryptobiotic crust.  Don’t worry- I’m not here to be a party pooper- but I WILL help you find ways to have your perfect day while also helping ensure you can still come back and visit your wedding location 10 years from now!  

Leave No Trace Aware Photographer

Step 5- Plan your Travel

Sedona is relatively close to a major international airport and has many lodging choices ranging from resorts, vacation rentals, and unique alternatives readily available, making it an easily accessible location for your destination elopement. Transportation within Sedona can be a bit more challenging to navigate, as there is little to no ridesharing options, so I highly recommend renting a vehicle even if you plan to access trails by shuttle or trolley.

Getting to Sedona

Phoenix Sky Harbor is the nearest major international airport.  You will need to rent a vehicle and drive approximately 2 hours north to Sedona. The drive back down can get backed up with traffic, so I recommend leaving ample time to catch your flight. There are car rentals on site.

Flagstaff Airport is a small regional airport with limited flights in and out each day about 45 minutes north of Sedona.  I always suggest checking pricing, because sometimes they run good deals that make it worth it, especially if you are planning to check out some of the attractions in northern Arizona on your trip like the Grand Canyon (hello- wonder of the world!), Page (Horseshoe Bend), the Vermillion Cliffs (the Wave and slot canyons), Flagstaff itself, or Monument Valley.  There are car rentals on site.

Sedona Airport is a private airport if you have your pilot’s license and plane or wish to charter a flight in.  It is also one of the most beautiful airports I’ve ever seen, set on the top of red rocks with one of my favorite restaurants in the area on site.  Flying into the Sedona airport is a sight to behold, and I highly recommend it if you have a chance.

Bride and groom holding hands with Cathedral Rock in the background during their Sedona Elopement wedding
Bride and groom looking at each other during their elopement in Sedona AZ

Lodging Options

For a searchable list of where to stay including local Hotels, Resorts, Bed and Breakfasts, and more, visit this Sedona Chamber of Commerce Where to Stay Web Search tool.

Consider staying at a unique Sedona location

While Sedona has world class Resorts and Spas, there are also more unique vacation rentals and Bed and Breakfasts that can elevate your stay in Red Rock country.  Options like Tiny Camp, Creekside Inn Sedona, where you can wake up to red rock views in a more secluded atmosphere.

Transportation in Town

  • Personal or rental vehicle. I highly recommend picking up a Red Rock Pass for the length of your stay if you plan on hiking.
  • Ride the Trolley
  • Take the Sedona Trail Shuttle
  • Local Jeep Tours
  • Rent a Jeep or OHV to get to more adventurous places
  • Uber or Taxi* very limited in Sedona
Pink Jeep elopement in Sedona

Step 6- Brainstorm Activities to Maximize those unique Sedona vibes during your elopement day

The draw is all about the surreal red rock formations, so a heavy emphasis on outdoor activities and incredible views is the priority for most couples eloping in Sedona. Enjoying the landscape can be as adventurous or easy going as you wish as you maximize those quintessential Sedona vibes.

Say your Vows at the top of a Hiking Trail

Choose a hike in mother nature as your venue.  Almost all Sedona outdoor elopements involve at least a short hike to one of our many magnificent canyon overlooks.  With so many gorgeous options to choose from, saying your vows beneath blue skies surrounded by sprawling red rock valleys and towering mesas is the epitome of a Sedona elopement experience.

Groom reading vows overlooking the canyons of Sedona AZ

Rent a Jeep to Get Out Amongst the Red Rocks

Not into a long hike, but still want a bit more privacy than the easier to reach spots?  Rent a jeep!  Some of the most incredible views of the red rocks are most easily reached by an off-road excursion that requires high clearance 4×4 vehicles.  The good news is that most are not super technical, so are beginner friendly with an experienced travel companion to follow (me!).  Or, you can hire a driver to navigate the more technical aspects for you so you can sit back and relax during the drive, then enjoy a shorter hike/ walk down to a secluded ledge to find the best place to elope in Sedona.  Added bonus: headlight photos after the sun goes down!

silhouette of couple in headlights of offroad vehicle during Sedona elopement

Celebrate with a Toast 

Large weddings generally have a cocktail hour following the ceremony, elopements often celebrate with a champagne toast!  Not a champagne lover?  Bring a couple of your favorite micro-brews or non-alcoholic beverages instead.

Champagne spray after Sedona elopement vows at Merry Go Round Rock

Enjoy a First Dance On the Red Rocks

Having your wedding out in nature does not mean that you have to give up your first dance as a married couple.  You can download your favorite song, have a family member or friend play an instrument or sing, or hire a private musician for your elopement music.  There are limitations on decibel levels allowed, but a small portable speaker or live musician falls within those limits in most locations.

Golden light washing over bride and groom during their first dance in the Sedona red rocks for their wedding day

Have a Private Picnic or Cake Overlooking the Sedona Canyons

Speaking of celebrating, enjoying a picnic overlooking the canyons is a relaxing way to really be in the moment with your partner and enjoy the scenery as a newly married couple.  It can be as simple or extravagant as you wish, but most couples like to bring a blanket and snacks in their backpacks, then choose a spot off a trail that speaks to them.  

If you would like a more grand setup with a table, cushions, and consider hiring a local company to do the heavy lifting for you!  

Wedding couple enjoying a picnic on top of Doe Mesa with cake and champagne

Hire a local Officiant to Perform your Ceremony

Hiring a local officiant to create a personalized ceremony for you helps take the pressure off of your individual vows and adds a touch of structure for the flow of your day.  You can choose a traditional reading, or go with a more spiritual celebration such as a hand tying ceremony or sage ritual.  Several of the local officiants are even willing to hike or drive an off-road trail with you to your perfect ceremony location!

intimate elopement ceremony surrounded by Sedona red rocks

Cool off down by Oak Creek

Are you a water lover?  Consider a trip down to Oak Creek to enjoy the sound of rushing water while having a picnic down by the edge of the creek, or wading through the cool water rushing over red sandstone to say your vows framed by mini waterfalls and towering cottonwood trees.  This is an especially nice activity to add to summer elopements as a reprieve from the strong sun and summer heat.

More Sedona elopement Activity Ideas

Check out this list of Romantic Things for Couples to do in Sedona, AZ for a ton of local activity options that you can incorporate into your elopement day or wedding trip to Sedona.

Check out this post of 101 Fun Elopement Activity Ideas for even more Sedona Elopement Activities inspiration to make your wedding day unforgettable!

Bride in a long lace dress and floral crown on a horse overlooking Sedona's red rocks

Step 7- Book additional vendors for your Sedona Elopement

From Officiants, Florals, and Hair and Makeup Artists to Jeep tours, musicians, furniture rentals, and other activities- Sedona has a wide range of service providers to help make your elopement everything you’ve imagined. Below are just a few from my preferred vendor list to get you started!

Step 8- Build out your ideal Timeline

This is where having an experienced Elopement Photographer or planner really comes into play! Making a timeline of events for your eloepemnt day (or multiple days) is important to be able to communicate times with additional vendors like hair and makeup, officiant, and any meals to make your day run smoothly. It is also common to underestimate how long things like hiking or driving to and from your location will take. I have found that a minimum of 4 hours is needed to capture your elopement without feeling pressed for time, rushed, and to leave space for you to enjoy the experience. Remember, this is NOT a 4 hour photoshoot or portrait session. Just like a more traditional wedding, I am there to document the activities of the day- getting ready, first look, ceremony, post vow celebration, etc… In many cases, these images will be all you have to share your day with family and friends afterwards. You won’t have a ton of cell phone pictures from a bunch of guests to look back on, so the more I am able to help document your day, the better record you will have to look back on for years to come.

Timeline example- Full day (sunset) Relaxed

9:30 am – Photographer arrives at Bed and Breakfast to capture detail shots & getting ready photos
10:45 am – First look outside Bed and Breakfast
11:00 am – Head to ceremony location, stop along the way for photos at scenic overlook
2:30 pm – Arrive at location; ceremony followed by exploring & portraits
5:00 pm – Head back to Bed and Breakfast (30 min drive)
5:30 pm – Arrive back at the Bed and Breakfast for dinner catered by local restaurant overlooking the red rocks
7:30 pm – Photo coverage wraps up- we say goodnight!

Bride and Groom embrace during their Sedona Elopement
Intimate elopement ceremony on a cliff overlooking Sedona during adventurous off-road elopement

Timeline example- Full day (sunrise) with family

3:00 am – Meet at the trailhead, gear up
3:15 am – Begin hike in the dark with headlamps (1.8 miles)
4:45 am – Arrive at first look location, golden hour begins, change into wedding apparel
5:30 am – Sunrise first look followed by portraits & exploring
8:00 am – Begin hike back to trailhead, portraits along the way (1.8 miles)
9:30 am – Arrive back at trailhead, head to vacation rental (30 min drive)
10:00 am – Arrive at vacation rental for ceremony
10:30 am – Ceremony
11:00 am – Family photos
11:30 pm – Brunch party with champagne popping & Brunch
12:30 pm – Detail shots
1:00 pm – Photo coverage ends

Step 9- Prepare for your visit to Sedona

From proper gear, to what to wear during your stay, getting prepped ahead of time for your Sedona adventure will make your trip go smoothly for you and your guests!

Preparing for your Elopement day

  • Travelling with your wedding attire. Having a plan on how will you pack your dress and other delicate items while you travel.
  • Pre-shipping items ahead of time if you are flying in for your wedding. This is something I offer all my clients to cut down on what you have to travel with.
  • Having proper shoes so you don’t slip and slide across the flat rock. This means having good grips on all shoes. Function over fashion! You can always bring a change of shoes for portraits on location.
  • WATER! Sedona is still in the desert. Hydrating for several days beforehand and having water on hand on your day will not only make you feel better, but you will look better and have a clearer head as well- win, win, win!
  • A well fitted backpack (or 2) to carry all of your items in. Whether you are walking 0.5 miles, or heading up a more difficult mountain, having a safe easy to carry bag makes life so much more comfortable all the way around! You will want it to be large enough to carry any additional clothing, shoes, touch up makeup, sheet or blanket if changing, an easily accessible outer pocket for phones, keys (no bulging pockets allowed!), and of course your normal hiking gear of water, sunscreen, and snacks.
Couple hiking up a mountain for their elopement wedding in Sedona, Arizona

Step 10- How to get legally married in Sedona

Getting legal 

Sedona, Arizona requires a MARRIAGE LICENSE, an OFFICIANT and TWO (2) WITNESSES to sign your marriage license.  There is no waiting period once you obtain your marriage license from the courthouse. You can even apply ahead of time online for your license at the Maricopa County Clerk’s office website- one less thing to worry about on your travels!

A common misconception is that you do not have to have the legal signing of your marriage license in the same location as your wedding ceremony. This is not the case!

Example: If you are eloping as just the two of you, you can say your vows in private in the red rocks, but sign the legal paperwork with your getting ready vendors before heading out to your elopement vow location, or find “trail angels” to act as witnesses after your vows to get signatures while you are out on the trail. I am able to sign as your officiant in Arizona.

For a more detailed list of ALL the steps and links to where and how to get your marriage license, and how to file it, visit the link below.

Arizona marriage license

Step 11- Plan the rest of your visit to Sedona

Historic & Artistic attractions to visit while in Sedona

  • Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Center
    One of my favorite places to visit in Sedona is the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Center. It is gorgeous to just walk around for the day, or stop into one of the many restaurants to have a bite. This is a must see for me, and I always tell visitors if you don’t have time to do anything else- spend a couple hours enjoying this wonderful area.
  • Sedona Heritage Museum
    The Sedona Heritage Museum are the caretakers of Sedona area history. Visit them for personal enjoyment, entertainment, education and research.
  • Sedona History Walk
    A Self guided stroll through art, cinema, history, geology and nature. For more information visit https://walksedona.com/
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross
    The Chapel of the Holy Cross was designed by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude (a student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright) in the 1950s and is studied by students of architecture. The main stained-glass window is held together by a giant cross and overlooks the Verde Valley.
  • The Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
    Many people don’t realize that you can visit the Amitabha Stupa- a symbol of the Buddha- in the middle of the red painted desert for prayer, meditation, and the experience of peace and balance.
Statue at Tlaquepaque in Sedona Arizona

Easy day trips near Sedona

The Grand Canyon
There is a reason the Grand Canyon is considered one of the seven wonders of the world. There is this feeling you get while standing on the edge, peering into the vastness, that can never be described with mere words or experienced through an image. I believe everyone should go at least once in their lives.

Horseshoe Bend & Page, AZ
Nestled on the border of Arizona and Utah, Page has activities ranging from tours through slot canyons (most famously Antelope Canyon), kayaking up the Colorado River, boating on Lake Powell, and watching the sunset overlooking Horseshoe Bend. It is well worth a full day or more to explore.

Monument Valley, AZ
One of the most iconic desert views made famous by old western movies is even more breathtaking in person.

Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma’s Castle is a FIVE (5) story, 20 room cliff dwelling high in the walls of the cliffs by the Sinaqua Indian Tribe in the early 1300s. A very cool visit.

Does this sound like what you want for your wedding day?

I would LOVE to help you plan and capture your red rockin’ wedding! Let’s Chat 🙂

Champagne pop at the end of Sedona elopement

The most common Sedona Elopement faq’s at a glance

Everywhere! For more expansive red rock views, the most requested spots include Cathedral Rock, Merry Go Round Rock, Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Vista. Keep in mind that “most requested” may not be the best choice for your wedding.

Probably not. The Coconino Forest encompassing most of the land around Sedona does not require a permit if you have under a certain number of people, and are not including any props (arches, chairs, free standing decorations, etc…) You will need to reach out to ask the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino Forest about your chosen location for rules, how many people can attend, and what you are allowed to have. The state parks do require reservations and permits, but are able to accommodate certain décor and comforts not available on forest land.

The best time to Elope in Sedona is Fall or Spring.

As a local Sedona elopement photographer, my *most requested* location to elope in Sedona is Cathedral Rock. Actual elopement locations chosen varies wildly because there are so many beautiful options.

Not sure if an elopement or a larger wedding is right for you?

What to read next:

Additional Resources & inspiration for planning your unforgettable Sedona elopement

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101 Fun Elopement Activity Ideas

101 Fun Elopement Ideas to help brainstorm activities for your unique wedding day. From traditional, to adventurous- fun ideas for everyone!
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15 Comments

  1. I’m blown away by the pictures. They’re beautiful! I would love to take my wedding pictures in Sedona. I love mountains and the scenery is breathtaking. This will definitely be something my husband and I will never forget!

  2. This is such good information – thank you so much for sharing so many amazing locations and logistical tips for eloping in Sedona. Sedona has been on my bucket list for so long, so I’m going to have to bookmark this one!! <3 (Gorgeous images by the way!!)

  3. This is such a thoughtful, well-put, and informative guide for couples wanting to elope in Arizona!!! Sedona and just Arizona in general is such a beautiful and magical place. AMAZING guide, Shannon!!

  4. There’s so much value in this blog! I don’t even know where to start! Book marking for sure!

    1. Awesome! Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  5. The one stop shop for all things Sedona Elopements! So much useful and important information here … and soooo many stunning images! It just looks like the most gorgeous place to elope!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      Sedona is one of my favorite places on the planet! Glad you found it informative

  6. Wow, I am obsessed with how helpful this article is! Thank you so much for including tips such as wedding venues, and things for couples to do during their stay in Arizona!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      You are very welcome. Thank YOU for taking the time to read through, and let me know if you have any questions at all!

  7. Okay Sedona! You have my heart! I never knew Sedona was such a beautiful place to elope! Your guide made it so easy + simple to plan a sedona elopement! The table of contents helps to make it easy as a reader too! Totally saving this for our future trips to Sedona!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      Sedona has my heart as well. I can never get enough of this beautiful area!

  8. How are these pictures even real?! I mean, I wish I could take a plane and fly to Sedona right now to have you capturing me and my boo!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      The red rocks of Arizona and Southern Utah are like something out of a painting. The still catch my breath with their beauty.

  9. Ahhhhhh this is pure gold! You are clearly such an expert on the entire Sedona region, I’m sure this guide would be SUPER helpful for anyone wanting to elope there!! Thanks so much for providing this!

    1. Shannon Durazo says:

      Thank you so much! It’s easy to become an expert when you love a place so much.

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