How to plan your Grand Canyon Elopement
I wanted to write a little bit about what planning a Grand Canyon elopement can look like. Some of the major considerations are location permit officiant, accommodations, florals and details.
Even though we experience snow in the winter, the winter can be one of the best times to plan your Grand Canyon elopement or really any national park elopement. There are a lot less people here in the wintertime and it makes it easier to get your first pick on permit as well as to be able to create an intimate moment for the ceremony. Grand Canyon can sometimes experience road closures to some of the permitted wedding locations in the winter, so it’s also good to have a backup plan.
The South Rim is where i operate most of the time but if you MUST have a summer wedding, I can help you with how to plan your Grand Canyon elopement BUT on the North Rim of Grand Canyon. Reservations can be harder to come by on short notice for the North Rim, but not impossible. The North Rim of Grand Canyon is a very different place than the South Rim. Because its 8,000 feet above sea level, nearly 1k feet taller than the South Rim, it is only open seasonally from May to October. The North Rim is always a quieter experience than the South side of the park and that’s because out of the 6.2 million people who visit Grand Canyon yearly, only 10% of those visitors go to the North Rim.
Because the North Rim sits a lot higher, there is more of a dramatic view and many of the peaks that we call “temples” sit closer to the canyon rim and exist on the northside of the Colorado River. The features of Grand Canyon appear larger here on the North Rim, bur if you really want to see the river, I would recommend choosing an elopement location that is in the eastside of the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Locations: The best choices in the case of a winter road closure are Grandeur Point and the Rim Worship Site, both are gorgeous!
Shoshone Point – One of the most popular and secluded places to get married at Grand Canyon is the Shoshone Point. Best known as a local sunset spot, Shoshone Point can be reserved for weddings, has picnic tables, grills for use and a shaded area. I have photographed many weddings at Shoshone Point and it is still my favorite wedding location to date. This wedding was shot there: https://photographybyterri71.pixieset.com/biancaanddean-1/
Pima Point – located on the West Rim Drive/ Hermits Rest Route at Grand Canyon National Park, Pima Point offers supreme views and easy parking ideal for the smaller wedding ceremony. This is a great location for winter weddings at Grand Canyon National Park, as it is closed to weddings March through November.
Rim Worship Site – The view of the canyon from this location is expansive. Is on the west end of Grand Canyon and has a good flat section of ground to accommodate more than a small group for weddings. The Rim Worship Site can accommodate 50 people. There is no on-site parking bur I just shot a wedding here where the elopement couple stayed at Bright Angel cabins and walked to the site, only a 5 minute walk 🙂
Grandeur Point – I’ve photographed several weddings at Grandeur Point by the Yavapai Geology museum on the canyon rim. This location does not disappoint. There are plenty of places to get unique photos on the edge, and a couple of beautiful old twisty Juniper trees that I love including in photos. Its located near the Grand Canyon Village area, has a large parking area and weddings with up to 45 people work well at the point which is a nice large flat area with a great natural larger outcropping on the rim. This makes it very easy to see the wedding couple through the crowd of family and friends.
Moran Point – located on the East Rim Drive/ Highway 64 East/ Desert View Drive is a really great location for smaller weddings that want an intimate canyon experience. It is often less visited than other locations, has amazing views and plenty of easy parking. I’ve only shot one wedding here, but it was a real treat not to worry about other visitors in my wedding photos as there were not many visitors at Moran Point on my client’s wedding day. Some of these photos were taken at Moran Point: https://photographybyterri71.pixieset.com/jeffandmolly/
Lipan Point– Also on the Highway Desert View Drive/64 East/East Rim Drive, offers a view of the river and can is great for a smaller wedding of no more than 35 people. Parking is prevalent with room for buses and larger vehicles. Photos from there: https://photographybyterri71.pixieset.com/martonefamily
Makeup/hair: One thing we didn’t discuss was any hair or makeup option, my recommendation is: http://www.nazglamsquad.com/
Florals/ stylist: Would you like florals? You could get some fresh in Flagstaff but I also have a stylist that makes them so they are “keep-able”. She is also available to come out and move the dress around for photos and things, depending on what kind of dress you will have, it can be very helpful. I love Florals by SarahKay.
Accomodations/ Dinner reservations:
I can help you with all of this as well. If I know you a little bit better. There are some adorable historic cabins at the Bright Angel Lodge, that I personally would like to stay in. If you are up for a real hiking adventure, we could try to get Phantom Ranch lodging, dinner and breakfast. It’s an amazingly magical place at the bottom of Grand Canyon and is 20 degrees warmer than the rim. If you don’t go during your elopement, I highly recommend coming back for an anniversary to do this, one of the most memorable experiences for people but reservations can be harder because it’s a popular destination.
My basic rate for a sunset elopement is $800. It does not include the permit fee but otherwise my rate is all-inclusive, included in my price 30 minutes – hour worth of photography services, the time it takes to actually take the photos, the post production/ processing of the photos (usually this takes me about the same amount of time as it takes to physically take the photos). the rights to the photos and high resolution digital images that you can have printed anywhere you like, at a lower costs than photographers usually charge for printed packages. I upload all of the images within 3-5 days and to a site you can download from for family and friends and remote access.
If you think you might like to make a big event of it, hike around or do a half or full day elopement, we can add some fun things, like a jeep tour, hike, picnic. etc. This whole day in its entirety can be an elopement. Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean this wedding is less-than or hasty or anything that your grandma might associate with eloping
In order to hold the date, a non-refundable deposit of half is required. Appointments are rain or shine however, if there happens to be a photo session scheduled on a day when there is no break in the weather, I will do my absolute best to offer up any additional availability. If you are able, I would schedule at least one night at Grand Canyon. Clients who schedule the portrait session only at Grand Canyon, sometimes have trouble if a flight is cancelled or if they do not leave enough time for anything but the portrait run the risk of losing that appointment if the weather is bad for the duration of the scheduled session.
Time: I usually allow 45 minutes to hour/ hour and a half but less is more or or if you are intolerant to the cold (it is often cooler in the eve) or don’t think you would like to take a little walk on a short trail below the rim.
Clothing: I recommend dressing in layers and clothing that is easy to bend, sit and move in. If you’re planning on wearing heels in photos, have a pair of shoes ready to put on for moving through any uneven ground. The more comfortable that you are, the more genuine the photos will be and the more poses we will do. Earth tones are good, wearing the exact same colors top or bottom, doesn’t work well.
Some other details to consider in how to plan your Grand Canyon elopement :
At an average elevation of 7100 feet, The Grand Canyon is high and far away from anywhere.
It’s best to be prepared for the long trip.
DISTANCE AND “NO TRAFFIC” DRIVE TIME TO SHOSHONE POINT
(just one of the permitted locations)
Flagstaff: 81 miles, 1.5 hours
Las Vegas: 277 miles, 4.5 hours
Phoenix: 231 miles, 3.5 hours
Sedona: 166 miles, 2.25 hours
Tucson: 346 miles, 5.5 hours
Williams: 61 miles, 1.25 hours
Remember, these drive times can be affected by weather, traffic and the wait time at the National Park entrance. Add much more time if driving through Cameron and the National Park East Entrance.
We always make a Plan B as the roads periodically close due to snow from October through May.
How to plan your Grand Canyon elopement checklist:
National Park Wedding Permit
Tentative or firm plans for lodging and meals
Full tank of gas in Flagstaff or Williams
Contact Information for everyone involved
Cell phone with a good weather app and car charger
Cameras, batteries, storage
Drinking water, bottles or cups (The National Park only sells empty refillable bottles)
Sunscreen (all seasons)
Marriage License & Pen
Vows (if personalizing)
Comfortable walking shoes
Hat (can be removed for ceremony & photos)
Attire in layers
Tires Chains & Shovel (winter)
There are restrooms at El Tovar Hotel, Yavapai Point,
Bugler Picnic Area, Grandview Point, Tusayan Ruins Museum
and Desert View.
VISITING GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM
As for things so do these are some of my favorites:
Breakfast at El tovar (if you are spending the night)