November 11, 2022

So many modern couples are opting for unique ceremony locations to tie the knot. If the wedding day you are envisioning falls outside of the norm, you’re not alone. Desert elopements and other adventurous elopements are becoming much more popular. If you’re leaning towards a desert setting for your elopement day, here are the recommended steps to plan a beautiful day and also recommendations for some of my favorite locations.

Desert Elopement – Step 1: Choose your location and date

  • Pick a time of year with the weather in mind
  • How accessible is it? Will you be able to invite guests?
  • Do you need a permit?
  • What are the marriage laws for the states you are considering?
  • Is it going to be overly crowded with hikers or is it more off the beaten path?

It’s important to factor in weather when choosing what time of year you plan to have your elopement. Picking a milder season will ensure you and your special someone (and any guests you may bring along) aren’t at risk of getting overheated. You’ll also want to consider how easy of a hike it is. If you aren’t avid hikers, you don’t want to choose a location that requires an 8 mile hike to reach your ceremony spot. With easier-to-access spots, you may run into a lot of foot traffic so sometimes choosing a spot off the beaten path can be more ideal. Certain locations will also require a permit that you can apply for. I’d give yourself plenty of time for this to process just in case it takes longer than expected. Some states will allow you to self-solemnize while others will require an officiant and possibly witnesses. Some couples choose to do a symbolic ceremony and sort out the legal matters before or after the elopement.

Desert Elopement – Step 2: Choose vendors and attire

  • Keep it simple – Hair, makeup, photographer, videographer, florist, planner, and officiant (if you aren’t self-solemnizing or doing a symbolic ceremony).
  • Set a budget with your planner.
  • Find wedding attire that fits your look but is also comfortable and breathable. Bring layers just in case, because desert temperatures can change dramatically. You can also pack your wedding attire and use a changing tent or change in your car if you prefer. This will prevent wrinkles or accidental stains on the way there. 

Desert Elopement – Step 3: Create Your Timeline 

  • Start with the ceremony time (golden hour)
  • Decide what you want to incorporate into your day
  • Consider a reception dinner or picnic after your ceremony depending on the time and location

The most beautiful wedding portraits are taken about an hour before sunset or shortly after sunrise. This is the time of day I recommend you schedule your elopement around. If you’re wanting to do an all-day elopement, we can go to a location in the morning, take a lunch break and relax midday when the sun is the highest in the sky, and then go back out for more photos later in the day.

Desert Elopement – Step 4: Plan the rest of your trip

  • Find an airbnb or hotel that has a lot of natural light and fits the vibe of the day where you can take beautiful getting ready photos. Make sure it’s within close proximity to your vendors as well as your elopement location.
  • Decide how many days you want to stay – I recommend making at least a 5-day trip out of it so you aren’t feeling rushed and have time to adjust and account for any travel delays
  • Plan other fun activities to make your trip even more memorable
  • If you’re planning a sunset elopement, be sure to bring flashlights, trail maps, or other gear to make the return easier. It also helps if your photographer is familiar with the area. 

Desert Elopement – Step 5: Final Touches

  • Decide on any accessories or details you want to incorporate. Flat-brimmed hats, bolo ties, jewelry, shoes. 
  • Details – Family heirlooms, “We Eloped” signs or cards, ring boxes, Vintage Postcards, or any other details you’d like captured. 

It’s all in the little details. You don’t have to overthink this step but think of it as an opportunity to incorporate personal details that will infuse your personality into your elopement day.

Recommended Desert Elopement Locations:

Dead Horse Point, UT

Goblin Valley, UT

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, HI

Horseshoe Bend, AZ

Zion National Park, UT


If you’re planning a desert elopement and would like to work with me, feel free to contact me here! It would be an absolute honor to capture your elopement day and I’d be happy to help you make your dreams a reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2021 Jaimie Renee Photography | Brand & Website by Wild Soul Studio