The Sedona elopement guide for everything Sedona.
Maybe you're thinking about eloping Sedona because you love the red rocks and cacti, maybe you've seen Cathedral Rock in a photo before and knew you had to do it there. Either way, whatever your reason this guide is going to make that whole process a lot easier. Sedona has endless places to explore, making it basically PERFECT elopement destination to do whatever your heart desires in. From intense hikes to easy walks and jeep tours on your elopement day - Sedona is filled with a range of easily accessible locations to the more advanced hikes each with equally incredible backdrops to your wedding day. Everywhere in Sedona is surrounded by jaw-dropping buttes, canyon walls, and rock formations each with their own charm and beauty.
This Sedona elopement guide is filled with everything you need to know about planning your Sedona elopement, from the best elopement spots to advice on places to eat and sleep, I'm here to help you have the dream elopement you've been thinking of. Basically, I GOT YOU. Let's get this started!
Sedona is fairly unique in that in most places you don't need a permit to get married, except at Red Rock State Park. You will however need a parking pass for most areas in sedona, it's called a Red Rock pass. The Red Rock pass is available for $5 per day or $15 for the week.
Get the pass online: Red Rock Pass
In Arizona you need 2 witnesses, an officiant and a marriage license to get married. You dont have to be a resident of Arizona, you can get the license the same day you apply and there are no blood tests for the license. Easy as can be! Your photographer can be one of your witnesses and you can have an ordained friend perform the ceremony or hire an officiant.
How many people can attend?
To me an elopement is up to 15 people in attendence. So for your wedding to be an elopement you can bring up to 15 of your family and friends for the ceremony and dinners. I do recommend allowing time in the day to be away from the full group for adventures and private moments, you can always rejoin later on.
The Best Times of the Year to Elope in Sedona
There's never really a bad time to be in Sedona, but some times of the year are a little more optimal than others. Case and point, the average temperature in Sedona in july is 100° and while thats definitely not the warmest Arizona gets... It's a bit hot if you're hiking in wedding clothes.
March through May: Springtime in Sedona
If flowering cacti and temperatures between 68-80° are your thing, March to the end of May are definitely something to consider. With all the desert plants in bloom and the temperate weather this might actually be the best time of the year to be in Sedona for any reason.
Protip: If you prefer less crowds, you'll want to be in Sedona in the earlier parts of Spring.
End of September - November: Fall in Sedona
Fall is my preferred time of year to explore Sedona with less crowds than the spring. Temperatures are great, not too cold and not too hot. Flowers may not be blooming at this time, but Fall colors are here and you better believe they look INCREDIBLE with the red rocks of Sedona in the background. November is the beginning of off-season in Sedona so you can score savings on lodging and the crowds are significantly reduced.
BONUS: Winter is nowhere near as rough in Sedona as it is for the northern and midwest states (looking at you Indiana + Illinois) but it still can get cold. If you're willing to deal with a little bit of cold temps, you might get lucky and have Sedona with SNOW in your wedding photos. If not, you can always get snow in Flagstaff a short drive away.
Where to Elope in Sedona
What does real estate have in common with eloping? Location, location, location! Sedona is beautiful anywhere you look, but there are definitely some spots that just outshine the others. Deciding on which location might be the hardest decision you make about your elopement, but it is also kind of fun to look around in the meantime.
Hikes and impressive views for your Sedona Elopement
Cathedral Rock Trail: Cathedral Rock Trail is the most iconic trail in Sedona, and for good reason. It's a short but challenging hike, and there's a small amount of rock scrambling. It is more vertical than some of the other options. Still, it's hard to beat the views once you get to the top at sunset. Cathedral Rock is definitely my favorite: sunrise to avoid crowds, but sunset does just sing at these rocks.
Bell Rock Pathway: Bell Rock Pathway is a very nice lowkey easy loop around Bell Rock. This easily accessable location provides views all around and has an optional climb up Bell Rock itself (also fairly mild). Sunrise or Sunset for best colors and lighting.
Devil’s Bridge Trail: Devil’s Bridge Trail is a significant commitment on your elopement day. This is a 4 mile trail which is rated at moderate and brings you to one of the most unique red rock formations I've seen. This is super popular, so I'd recommend sunrise only here starting the hike with headlamps.
Airport Mesa Trail: Airport Mesa Trail is a 3 mile loop but has plenty of stop of points for views via car or hike. You won't have to hike the entire trail if you don't want to.
Bear Mountain Trail: The trail itself is a 5 mile trail rated as difficult, so I usually recommend this as a backdrop instead for most couples. This area is nice because it's significantly less trafficked than the other areas, possibly due to the trail rating.
Courthouse Butte: One of the more gentle trails for those couples that want fun and adventure but maybe just a little less sweat. This is an excellent choice for a more relaxed vibe in your elopement.
Lover's Knoll: This one is for the couples who want to make multiple stops on their elopement. It's also excellent for avoiding adding a grueling hike while not sacrificing the views. You just pull of the road here, and you have incredible views of Cathedral Rock as the backdrop of your photos.
There are many, many more options to explore in Sedona. Feel free to ask about others on my contact page.
Wait, you don't know me yet.
Hey! I'm Roy and if you haven't guessed I'm a photographer. I specialize in weddings and elopements, but most of all: I believe in capturing couples and their relationship authentically and through amazing experiences.
TWO SOULS, ONE ADVENTURE.
Listen, a wedding day is your day, it's your adventure plain and simple. So if that means hiking in Sedona is your adventure that's what we'll do. If its jetskis and the beach or traditional wedding with family I'm there too. I just want you to have memories you'll love to relive ten years from now.
I work with couples to design their ‘perfect day’ and then help them make it happen. So I want to meet with you, I want to hear all about how you met and then I want to capture you being yourselves.
How to Travel to Sedona, Arizona
Spring and fall are the peak seasons, which can make parking a little tough at trailheads. The summer can be packed too with people tryign to escape the triple digit heat in Phoenix. If you want privacy for your elopement, I would definitely recommend doing it on a weekday instead of a weekend.
Flagstaff Airport (FLG): Flagstaff Arizona is roughly 50 minute drive to Sedona. This is not a large airport, but works well for some airlines like United.
Phoenix Airport (PHX): Phoenix is about two hours away, but it generally has better flight and rental deals. The savings in my opinion make the trip more than worth the scenic drive.
Sedona is a place where you can't really explore without a car. My usual go to before living in Phoenix was flying into PHX and renting a car there. The deals are just better, I liked Enterprise, Alamo, and Sixt the most. You can use your phone as GPS just about everywhere in Sedona, so no worries there.
Where to stay during your Sedona Elopement
To Airbnb or not to airbnb... Listen, I am a HUGE fan of hotels but I airbnb a lot. Sometimes I just like having a house to myself to come back to without worrying about hearing the kids or families running down the hotel hall in the middle of the night. That said, the hotels in Sedona are of the fancy variety. Resorts with like incredible views and the comfiest of beds. The choice is yours, but keep in mind the place you stay is likely to be where we start getting those fun getting ready photos so choose wisely. That said, I have made very basic hotel rooms look super dramatic and pretty so no pressure. Here are a few of my stay recommendations in Sedona.
Beautiful Airbnb's in Sedona
This is like a very small hand-selected group of Airbnb's I found looking around. I love this option for the privacy, especially since this is kind of your honeymoon suite. Some of them I have stayed at, some of them I've worked in and all of them are unique. Airbnb has been subtly inspiring my home design since I learned what a Mid-Century modern is.
Incredible Sedona Hotels
Amara Resort is a great spa location for your Sedona elopement. Wine hours, Yoga classes, and world class spas are sure not to disappoint.
Sky Ranch Lodge is the hotel you go to if you want to watch the sunset. I'm sure they have a lot of other stuff, but I'm always so mesmerized by the view.
They have views, amazing rooms, an incridible swimming pool, and honestly so much more than that. This place is almost as beautiful as Sedona itself.
Where to eat in Sedona
I was kind of looking forward to this part of the elopement guide. Arizona in general is home to A LOT of really good food from a ton of different places, but Sedona is on a whole different level. I honestly don't think I have ever had one bad thing but my absolute favorites: Mesa Grill + Gerado's Italian Kitchen
Final Sedona Elopement Tips
- March and November are my favorite months to visit. The weather is a little more temperate, and the crowds are usually a bit lighter.
- Hike early morning or later afternoon in the summer shade, like water, is a rarity on the hiking paths. You'll need to avoid mid-day sun.
- Buy a Red Rock Pass & leave it on your dashboard
- Bring water with you, a lot of it I've hiked a lot, and the Arizona sun literally dries me out, I can't recommend this enough.
- Hike popular trails at sunrise to avoid major crowds and to have the amazing Sedona views to yourself
- Make sure to be prepared with proper must haves for the time of year, sunscreen, sunglasses. water, a jacket - research what you need for the season and then PACK IT.
- Use the AllTrails app to find unique trails & track your hikes AllTrails is a great way to prevent getting lost, and seeing the difficulty of the trails you might want to explore.
- Looking for some Off-Roading Jeep Trails? Barlow Adventures has some great Jeep Rentals with trail-maps and instructions on how to go on off-roading in Sedona. Super helpful info for 4x4 lovers!