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Sedona Elopement Guide for a Stunning Experience

May 11

Education

Sedona is the kind of place that makes you feel small — it just has this feeling that is more grand than any other place I’ve been to. For those looking to get lost in the elements, to feel part of nature itself, Sedona should be a top consideration.

Sedona elopement photos

Why plan a Sedona elopement?

If you’re drawn to Zion National Park or even Joshua Tree, Sedona is like the perfect blend of the two — with red rock and desert vibes, but also high alpine flavors — it’s spectacularly unique.

The whole area is rich with diversity (giving us so many options for photos) while being wonderfully condensed. You can get around so easily and yet feel like you’re in a totally different place! There are so many hikes and options with plenty of things to explore without going very far.

And of course, one of my favorite reasons to elope is the ability to go back and visit your actual wedding location. As opposed to a wedding venue, Sedona is a destination you’ll want to go back and revisit! Bringing your family for generations to come would be so convenient.

Sedona elopement

Did someone say desert elopement?

If you’re aching to elope, but without the mountain or beach settings, it’s a great site for something different. Mild weather makes your entire wedding feel like an on-trend retreat.

Sedona elopement guide table of contents

Getting a permit

Elopement locations

When to elope in Sedona

Nearby airports

Where to stay

Elopement ideas

Elopement timeline

Honeymoon ideas

Elopement photos

Getting a permit to elope in Sedona

Simple elopements (a handful of people, no props and no disturbance) typically don’t require a permit, besides the Red Rock Pass itself — you can get a $15 permit for the week or pay only $5 for the day.

However, large groups or anything more extravagant requires a special permit. You can learn more from the wedding section of the Coconino National Forest website. It’s recommended to reach out at least two weeks in advance!

Sedona elopement locations

Cathedral Rock

This jaw dropper of an elopement destination is one of the most photographed sights in Arizona. Sometimes you have to wait in line just to get in! It’s a moderate, popular trail, which means that it’s easier for friends and family to come along, but you might have some tourists hiking alongside you. Although, if you have a fear of heights, I would not recommend this trail!

  • Gorgeous, cliffside views
  • More private at sunset (recommended)
  • 1.2 mile trail (round trip)
  • 740-foot elevation gain
  • Short, but with some scrambling
  • Popular trail
  • Includes river views
  • Dog friendly

Bell Rock

Now, Bell Rock, has gorgeous views of Cathedral Rock with a little less traffic and a slightly easier hike (half the elevation gain of the Cathedral Rock hike!). However, the trail is not well marked so definitely download a map ahead of time! I would only do Bell Rock at sunrise. Sunset is far too crowded.

  • Views of Cathedral Rock
  • Wildflowers
  • Best at sunrise (to avoid crowds)
  • 1.1 mile trail (round trip)
  • 380-foot elevation gain
  • Popular trail
  • Dog friendly

Jeep Trail: Merry Go Round

Eloping with a Jeep at this Merry Go Round trail is so rad! You’re out in the middle of nowhere with hardly a soul around. It’s a 6.5 mile hike without a Jeep or other off-road vehicle, so it’s very secluded.

  • Stunning views
  • Best with a Jeep
  • Very secluded
  • Dog friendly

Fay Canyon

Fay Canyon is just that — a canyon trail that takes you beneath the rocks, sometimes right alongside those gorgeous red cliffs. The lighting is beautiful and photos, even more so!

  • Waterfall views
  • 2.6 mile trail (round trip)
  • 383-foot elevation gain
  • Moderately trafficked
  • Dog friendly

Hidden Gem: Hot Air Balloon Views

Looking for something more off the beaten path? I found an amazing spot where you can catch a beautiful sunrise overlooking the valley with hot air balloons. It’s something that deserves to be preserved, which is why I’m not sharing it publicly! However, if you’re committed to keeping it to yourselves with a Leave No Trace approach, just reach out and I’ll share it with you! It’s the one spot that really avoids the crowds.

  • Hot air balloon views
  • Overlooks the entire valley
  • 1.5 mile trail (round trip)
  • Minimal crowds

What time of day is best for my elopement?

In Sedona, sunrise is the perfect time of day. You’ll avoid the crowds and catch the sunrise. It’ll be one of those wake-up-at-4-am kind of days with a story you’ll tell for years. I recommend hiking with headlamps. By the time we get to the top of the hike, the sun will just peek over. It’s gorgeously intimate.

But if you’re not a morning person, I’m down to work with the crowds if you are! Sunset is just as beautiful.

What seasons are most suitable:

The ideal seasons to elope in Sedona are absolutely spring and fall. March and April are ideal, but you may be with competing with spring breakers depending on the week you choose.

What I love about Sedona in the spring is how surprisingly green it is for the desert. It’s an exotic mix of cactus, desert and pine trees.

Sedona proposal

Nearby airports

Flying into Phoenix International Airport is your best bet. It’s so easy to get to Sedona from Phoenix — just a two hour drive. The Flagstaff Pullium Airport will bring you even closer, only 40 minutes from Sedona. However, flights are limited!

Where to stay during your Sedona elopement

I haven’t stayed there myself just yet, but I noticed it during my last trip in Sedona. It’s worth checking out! Lantern Light Inn Bed & Breakfast is in the heart of Sedona and looks like the sweetest Oasis! It’s right across the street from my favorite local florist, making it so convenient to stay there, grab the flowers and head out for your elopement.

You can also stay in Cottonwood, which is on the way from PHX to Sedona, just about 30 minutes from Sedona.

Sedona Airbnbs (+Cottonwood)

  • This Superhost Airbnb has the most charming touches — a wood stove, luxe wood floors and that feel of a chic desert cabin.
  • A Santa Fe inspired retreat, this Airbnb Plus has a queen bed, kitchen and adorable desert seating right outside.
  • If you’re not afraid to go back in time (in a good way), check out this historic Airbnb with panoramic views and amazing stargazing.
  • Right in downtown Cottonwood, stay in this cute studio for walking distance to restaurants, cafes and wine tastings.

Sedona elopement ideas

  1. Elope at sunrise and then enjoy a picnic brunch on the ledges of those spectacular red rocks.
  2. Go Jeeping — maybe another picnic with a cute basket.
  3. Elope at sunset and then enjoy coffee and brunch at the local marketplace.
  4. Love South American cuisine? Elope at sunrise and enjoy dinner at Mariposa — a grill with delicious food and breathtaking views.
  5. Grab lunch at a local organic, chocolate-inspired restaurant and then elope at sunset.
  6. Plan your elopement in time to take photos with air balloons in the background — or elope in an air balloon!!
  7. Start your day with yoga on the red rocks, or end it with a sound bath — elope in between.
  8. Elope at sunrise and enjoy lunch at your Airbnb with pre-ordered tastings (think cheese boards, wine and all the goods). Go for a sunset hike and then enjoy a private dinner too.
  9. Get married in a garden or vineyard!
Sedona elopement with a picnic

Sedona elopement timeline samples

Sunrise, half-day elopement

Based on 6 am sunrise

4:30 am - meet at trailhead w/ headlamps + coffee (it is still dark!)
4:45 am - start hike 
5:45 am - reach the peak and change into wedding attire 
6 am - exchange vows at sunrise 
6:15-7:00 am - take intimate couple photos
7 am - picnic brunch (maybe something from Oak Creek Espresso or a local juicery)
8 am - hike down
8:30 am - return to trailhead 

Sunrise, full-day elopement

Based on 6 am sunrise and 7 pm sunset

4:30 am - meet at trailhead w/ headlamps + coffee (it is still dark!)
4:45 am - start hike 
5:45 am - reach the peak and change into wedding attire 
6 am - first look
6:05 am - exchange vows at sunrise 
6:15-7:00 am - take intimate couple photos
7:30 am - return to trailhead 

9 am - meet family and friends back at Airbnb for breakfast 
12 pm - have a family member pick up the Jeep from the rental company
1 pm - Get hair and makeup professionally done
3 pm - change into second wardrobe 

4 pm - meet at Jeep trailhead 
5 pm - arrive at Merry Go Round (hike)
5:30pm - enjoy cake and champagne at the overlook
6 pm - take sunset couple photos 
7 pm - back in Jeep and head to 2nd location for stargazing and astrophotography 
8 pm - back at Trailhead 

Honeymoon ideas 

If getting married isn’t quite enough excitement, you can hope into some jeeps and explore terrain and vistas you would have missed otherwise. Red Rock Rubicon is a good place to start. Get a feel for the local culture by hitting up the Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village. The wine tasting at Vino Zoa is also a local delight. Here are some more ideas!

  • Hiking
  • Picnics
  • Yoga
  • Jeep rides
  • Stargazing — yes this is another dark sky destination
  • Shopping at the local marketplace, Tlaquepaque, that’s filled with European vibes
  • Vineyards, wine tastings and charcuterie!
  • Horseback riding
  • Heal — sound baths, Reiki treatments, saunas, readings
  • Eat — so many local options in Sedona. There is a lot of fresh Thai food actually! ChocolaTree is a fun vegetarian and gluten free restaurant with a garden feeling.
  • See the hot air balloons

Sedona elopement photos

Craving those stand-over-the-world photos you look for in Sedona? Reach out for details here.

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