Originally from New Jersey, in 2009 I picked up a book called “Delaying the Real World”. It had a section about jobs in National Parks, so applied for Grand Canyon without ever having been to Arizona or the canyon. Twelve years later, I guess the rest is history. I’ve always been a photographer and dreamed of being location scout, now I do both and I think I’m well equipped in helping you look at Arizona elopement locations.
I started my love affair with the southwest, and photographing peoples love. I have worked myself into a bit of a niche, photographing weddings at Grand Canyon. I’ve really become quite the expert in all things Grand Canyon but it isn’t the only Arizona elopement location.
For weather, you can’t go wrong with Arizona. You can really have it all, from snow to sunshine to fall foliage, this is one of the most bio-diverse states of the country. Northern Arizona elopement locations are vast from the Nordic Center and cross country skiing elopements, staying in yurts nestled amongst the aspens or in the mountains of southern Arizona with the iconic saguaro trees, we really have it all.
Great Winter Arizona Elopement Locations
Northern Arizona – Winter Wedding Ideas for Snowy Scapes
If you are looking for a backcountry skiing wedding, staying in a cabin or yurt – Northern Arizona is the spot to be. Flagstaff is known for skiing, the San Francisco Peaks and the close proximity to Grand Canyon National Park. Skiing in Flagstaff is a big draw for a lot of people and more and more people are interested in getting married on their skis. It’s part of a new trend in adventure elopements. As a skier myself, I can’t waiiit to ski for your wedding.
Flagstaff isn’t the only high elevation city in Northern Arizona, for something a little more off the beaten path, I would look into an elopement in the White Mountains. Also, high in elevation, the white mountains hosts a small ski resort and many beautiful lakes for snowshoe weddings, and even ice-skating. There are lots of cute towns to stay in and lots of things to do including ice fishing and horseback riding. This is a real treasure.
Northern Arizona- Elopement Locations with Fall Color
Every season Flagstaff becomes inundated with folks from southern Arizona looking to see the brilliant golden aspen color. The Nordic Center is a popular location for fall weddings as there are aspens surrounding the ceremony location, yurts to stay in and beautiful string lights hung over the dance floor in the trees. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting here and would definitely do it again.
You don’t have to rent a place like the Nordic Center in order to have a beautiful ceremony in the aspens. If you’re more into the DIY wedding, the forest service allows wedding permits as well. One of my favorite locations to shoot a do it yourself elopement is off the FR 151 (forest road 151) and Hart Prairie Road. It’s also an excellent location if you are looking to include the peaks AND fall foliage in your photo.
The White Mountains are also excellent this time of year and with all of the lakes in the area, you could easily do a private canoe wedding to any lake with a little fall color. Luna Lake in Alpine is beautiful and easily accessible other lakes in the area are off dirt roads but that’s a great excuse to rent a Jeep and do a glamping wedding. Other lake locations can be found here.
Northern Arizona Elopement Locations in Summer
All of the locations listed above are excellent for summer because they are higher in elevation than the rest of the state so usually it stays quite cool in the northern part of the state for summer. We are pretty spoiled in Flagstaff with summer weather being 75-85 degrees but every year we get a week or so of hot weather. Though the 90s aren’t really considered hot in this dry climate (the 90s in the humidity is awful!), the people of flagstaff get a little grumpy for a couple of weeks before the Monsoon season.
How to Plan Your Wedding Around the Monsoon Season in Arizona
Every year we experience a couple weeks of hot weather in Northern Arizona. With the hot dry climate, we also can experience wildfire. This year wildfire shut down the national forests. Currently, they are still shutdown. With wildfire all over the southwest, we are anxiously awaiting a break in the heat, and rain for the fires.
Because of this, I recommend holding off on planning any weddings in June and July. Avoiding planning your elopement for these two month will ensure that nor wildfire or monsoon activity will prevent the wedding from taking place. Some locations might not be vulnerable to closures, like Grand Canyon or locations not on public lands but even so, you may run the risk of having cloudy smoke in your photos from other fires in the state.
Southern Arizona Winter Locations
The great part about being in Arizona is the ability to have whatever you want weather-wise. Though the summertime weather down south might be unbearable in the summer, its really gorgeous in the winter. The fall and spring are on the warmer side but not too hot, if you like the idea of saguaros but don’t want to be chilly in the evening.
I love being in Southern Arizona in the winter. I shot a wedding in Saguaro National Park and also the Dragoon Mountains in January. We actually had a little bit of weather and it was colder than I’d expected but totally normal. The couple that I took photos for were from Tucson.
Even though Tucson is more southern than Phoenix, it’s higher in elevation which makes it a nice option for spring and fall and a little bit cooler than one might expect in the winter. Having a wedding in Tucson area works really well. We took some photos at for a Saguaro National Park wedding at sunrise and made our way to Cochise Stronghold, a popular climbing area in the Dragoon Mountains for the wedding. Afterwards, we all got a burger in historic Tombstone.
Bisbee is also a great location for wedding reception and or lodging. In Bisbee, they boast the best year-round climate of the state. Thought it’s only about 20 miles from Mexico, Bisbee is also a mountain town and higher in elevation. It is one of the most beautiful historic towns I’ve ever been to. Quirky Bisbee is definitely worth a stop, even if it isn’t your chosen Arizona elopement location.
Sedona as a wedding location is one of the best Northern Arizona elopement locations but I think it fits better here. It’s about 4,500 feet in elevation and more north in the state of Arizona. Sedona is incredible, that being said everyone thinks it’s incredible and its now more popular than ever.
I recommend Sedona as a spring, fall or winter wedding location. Not only is the weather perfect, the visitation is lower in the winter. It’s still a busy place on holidays and weekends so if you are looking for a quieter elopement location, I would definitely choose a weekday in winter.
If you are interested in fall foliage, Sedona has that too. There are very many locations along the water, like red rock crossing that have deciduous trees changing color in the fall time. Fall happens a little bit later there as it stays warmer in Sedona into the winter. I would recommend looking at Sedona for mid-November, if you are interested in experiencing fall color for your elopement.
Grand Canyon is my specialty. I’ve lived here on and off since 2009 and know it like the back of my hand. Like Sedona, its pretty packed in the summertime with families off school. Spring break is about March 10 to the end of April. I think that’s the absolute worst time to experience more touristy areas of our state like Grand Canyon and Sedona. Instead, consider a quiet winter wedding at Grand Canyon.
Winter at the canyon is personally my favorite time to be there. When the canyon is covered in snow, It’s truly magical. It looks just like a pink and white birthday cake. In the winter, the views are the clearest. There is less particulates in the air and you can see very clearly to the North Rim and even can see the mountains in Flagstaff and the Navajo Mountain, on the Navajo Reservation in the distance.
In conclusion, the state of Arizona is amazing for both winter and summer weddings. Depending on what area you choose, there are mountains, aspens, lakes and rivers. The varied landscape and changes in elevation offer snowy landscapes and red rocks. There are so many Arizona elopement locations that I’m glad I’m not getting married as it would be awfully hard to choose any one location or season.