Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide (2023)

Planning a wedding in your hometown or city can be difficult enough, but it can be ten times more stressful and harder to plan a wedding or elopement in a completely different state, such as Arizona, for example. Knowing that, I’ve put this Arizona destination wedding planning guide together for you!

In this ultimate planning guide, I’ll be sharing some of my best tips and advice on how to plan the most amazing Arizona destination wedding or elopement. I’ve included some of my favorite wedding venues and locations as well as my simple step-by-step process for planning a successful destination wedding there.

Let’s get started!

A Step-By-Step Guide To Planning Your Dream Arizona Destination Wedding or Elopement

The first step is deciding whether you want to do an Arizona destination wedding or elopement. 

Step 1 – Arizona Destination Wedding or Elopement?

If you’re planning to tie the knot in Arizona, you will first need to decide what kind of destination wedding you’d like to have there. Either one is fine, but knowing which you’re going with will help you focus on developing the details.

Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide. Couple leaning in for a kiss during golden hour.

Step 2 – Choose Your Venue

Once you’ve decided on the type of wedding you’re going to have, it’s time to pick your venue. A little further down, you will find some of my favorite wedding locations and venues for your Arizona destination wedding or your intimate elopement wedding.

Step 3 – Pick A Date

It’s time to get your dream day booked on your calendar. There’s one thing you will definitely need to consider before settling on a wedding date, and that is the sometimes harsh temperatures of Arizona. Arizona is in the desert, so you will need to expect hot hots and cold colds. Planning for this ahead of time ensures proper clothing and a more satisfying wedding experience.

Bride and groom raising their intertwined hands during their elopement shoot in Arizona

Step 4 – Create Your Guest List

Whether you’re set on a simple elopement wedding in the desert or a larger Arizona destination wedding, you will need to create your guest list and get your invites out to your guests as soon as possible. Some of your guests may need to book vacation time from work or save up for the trip, for example.

Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide. Bride and groom sharing an embrace.

Step 5 – Book Your Vendors

If you’re planning to elope, you can get away with limited wedding vendors. Elopement weddings usually require the bare essentials, such as a marriage officiant and a photographer. For a bigger Arizona destination wedding, you may find it beneficial to hire a wedding planner that has experience with destination weddings and who can then arrange specific vendors on your behalf.

Bride and groom pressing their foreheads against each other and smiling during their elopement shoot with McKenna Christine Photography

Step 6 – Get Creative!

This is the fun part where you get to have fun designing the theme for your wedding and what you will wear. This is one part of wedding planning I love to help my clients with. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to wedding attire, after all!

Groom lifts bride up during their Arizona elopement shoot

The Best Locations For Your Dream Arizona Destination Wedding Or Elopement

I’ve had the pleasure of working at several weddings, elopements, and engagement shoots in Arizona over the years. I bring that up because I’d like to recommend a few destinations to you. Here’s what they are!

Eloping At Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a beautiful natural formation of the Colorado River. It’s a sought-after elopement location in Arizona for a reason, after all! Just in case you’re not familiar, Horseshoe Bend sits high above the river, so if you’re looking for a backdrop with a little adventure, it’s the place for you.

Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide. Couple sharing an embrace at Horseshoe Bend.

Just keep in mind you’ll need a special-use permit to have your wedding there. You’ll need to get it at least 45 days prior to your event. 

Destination Weddings At Legacy Golf Resort

I can’t go on writing this ultimate planning guide for an amazing Arizona destination wedding without mentioning one of my favorite venues. 

Legacy Golf Resort is an incredible location in Phoenix, Arizona, that offers amazing indoor and outdoor weddings, a world-class resort, and spectacular views of South Mountain. I had the pleasure of working at this stunning venue for a very special couple. 

Erin and Chase, a gorgeous couple from Nebraska, wanted to tie the knot in a warmer climate, so they opted to have an intimate wedding surrounded by their closest friends and family members in the Arizona desert. They got exactly what they wished for with their dream boho-glam-style Arizona destination wedding. 

I remember one of my favorite moments from this particular Arizona destination wedding was during the cocktail hour. I swept Erin and Chase away to chase the amazing Arizona sunset and to allow them time to embrace and enjoy some quiet moments as newlyweds.

Other Intimate Destination Weddings and Elopements In A National Park

Maybe Horseshoe Bend isn’t for you though. That’s okay because there are plenty more spots for an Arizona destination wedding in Arizona’s national parks. Here’s what a couple of them are!

Destination Weddings In Sedona, AZ

Sedona is an incredible location for elopements and Arizona destination weddings, and it has several destinations and venues to select from depending on the size and style of your wedding.

Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide. Couple holding hands and looking in different directions.

One of the best is Red Rock State Park. If you and your partner love adventure and activities such as hiking, watching wildlife, and enjoying all the outdoors has to offer, then this is the place to consider!

Intimate Weddings At Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff is another popular destination in Arizona, offering stunning locations for intimate destination weddings and elopements. Each park has its own unique offerings, features, and booking criteria, so you will need to get in touch with them directly to find out all the details you need for your Arizona destination wedding. These include the Grand Canyon National Park and the Petrified Forest National Park. Both offer unique experiences that will appeal to those looking for something outdoorsy.

Looking For A Wedding Photographer To Go Along With That Destination Wedding Of Yours?

There’s a process to finding the wedding photographer that’s perfect for you. As an experienced photographer that has a passion for destination weddings and elopements, I’m always happy to hear from couples planning an adventurous and intimate wedding. I’ve had plenty of experience working with couples that tied the knot in Arizona. So, whether you’re planning your dream Arizona destination wedding, a small adventurous elopement, or just a simple desert-inspired engagement shoot, I’d love to connect and discuss your ideas and inspirations in more detail.

Let me know! 


Bride and groom sharing an embrace; image overlaid with text that reads Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide
Collage of photos of couple during their elopement shoot; image overlaid with text that reads Arizona Destination Wedding: Ultimate Planning Guide

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Hey! I'm McKenna! I am a gal based in Nebraska who is passionate about traveling here, there, and all over the world to capture YOUR story!

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