Grand Canyon Elopement Photographer
I’m Lucy, a Grand Canyon elopement photographer! I love Arizona’s many landscapes, and the Grand Canyon is about as well known and iconic as it gets. It’s the longest canyon in the world, and there’s absolutely nothing like it. I can’t wait to highlight why you absolutely should plan your Grand Canyon elopement on the edge! This is perhaps one of the most iconic features in North America, right up there with Yosemite, Arches NP, Horseshoe Bend and The Maroon Bells. The Park is bisected by the Colorado River into the North Rim and South Rim areas, and Grand Canyon West. The South Rim is more well visited and has many of the more famous viewpoints, accommodations and tourist services. But if you’re considering eloping at the grand canyon, don’t forget the North Rim.
Where is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is in northwest Arizona and is over 270 miles long. The huge area is made up of the Grand Canyon National Park, Kaibab National Forest, Parashant National Monument, and the Hualapai and Havasupai Reservations on Navajo Nation lands. From Las Vegas, the nearest airport, it takes 2 hours to drive to Grand Canyon west, and 4.5 hours to drive to either the North Rim or South Rim. The Phoenix, AZ Airport is about 4 hours from the South Rim. There is NO bridge across the Grand Canyon and the two rims are over 4 hours drive apart.
When to Elope at the Grand Canyon
I sound like a broken record, but the best time to elope at any National Park is on a weekday morning. The Grand Canyon is no exception. Avoiding the biggest crowds will give you privacy and your pick of the parking spots. Mornings often have the most clear weather with far less chance of rainstorm or wind. Park staff will also appreciate your efforts to avoid overcrowding and will be more likely to approve your ceremony permit. More on that later.
What Season to elope at the Grand Canyon
At the South Rim:
May through September are the best warm weather months at the Grand Canyon with highs in the 70s to high 80s. April and October are cooler but still pleasant with daily temperatures reaching the 60’s. For a winter elopement, pack layers because the high temperatures only reach the 40s and 50s from November to March.
At the North Rim:
Expect temperatures 10 degrees cooler at the North Rim. June, July and August are perfect here. Also, the access road to the North Rim closes in winter, so don’t plan an elopement here from November to the end of May.
At Grand Canyon West:
Grand Canyon west is the warmest of the three areas, with temps soaring into the 90s in July and August. Consider a May or October elopement at Grand Canyon West.
How to Elope at the Grand Canyon
You will need 3 things when you plan an elopement here. An Arizona Marriage license, a $240 Special Use Permit (SUP) from the park, and an experienced Grand Canyon elopement photographer to guide you along the way. I’ll detail everything in this guide so you know where to start. There are 6 designated ceremony sites on the south rim and 2 on the north rim, but you may apply for unlisted areas under the right circumstances. The application and information for the Grand Canyon wedding permit is here. You must apply between 1 year and 4 weeks before your date.
Elopement Rules at the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is suited for couples who want a simple, beautiful elopement in the majestic outdoors. A handheld bouquet and corsage are allowed, but no loose petals. You may not have amplified music, litter, confetti of any kind, an arch, chairs, tables, signs, balloons, tents, runners, glass containers, marijuana or shade structures. You also must clean up after yourselves and not impede the public’s access to any area. These rules are fair, and easy to abide by.
Step by Step Guide on How to Elope at the Grand Canyon
Planning an elopement is so much easier than a wedding. If you follow these steps, your dream elopement will be planned and ready for you to enjoy.
1. Choose a season and date range for your elopement date
2. Book a plane/car if needed
3. Hire your Grand Canyon Elopement Photographer. An experienced photographer will answer all your questions and recommend everything that comes after this point, down to specific locations.
4. Work with your photographer to create an ideal timeline blueprint and select a ceremony location. Apply for your ceremony permit from Grand Canyon National Park.
5. Purchase your best outfit ever, book accommodation and hire any additional vendors such as a picnic company or florist
6. Pick up an Arizona Marriage License at a courthouse on the way to the park!
Applying for the Arizona Marriage License
You can apply for your $83 Arizona Marriage license by making an appointment at any Arizona county courthouse. The closest one to the Grand Canyon depends on which area you’re in. You will each need a form of ID showing your name & photo and you both need to be at the appointment in person. More information about obtaining your Arizona marriage license is here. Once you have your license, you and your officiant fill it out at the ceremony and the officiant returns it to the courthouse of the county where you obtained it. For the ceremony, you will also need two witnesses.
Do I need an officiant at the grand canyon?
Your photographer can act as your officiant in Arizona, if they are ordained of course! Which I am. I’d be happy to handle the marriage license so you don’t have an additional expense. Or, you can choose to have a friend get ordained online. It’s a simple and easy process that costs nothing. You will also need two witnesses, so if you aren’t bringing anyone along, your fellow hikers may be giving you the honor of their signature.
– Elect for me to officiate and create your ceremony for $0
– Bring a friend who gets ordained $0
– Hire a professional officiant ($500 to $1500)
– Get legally married in your home state and have a non-legally binding ceremony in the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon South Rim
The South rim of the Grand Canyon is where most of the visitors go, so it can be quite crowded. The South rim is open and accessible year-round. It’s also almost 1,000 feet lower in elevation than the north rim, making it hotter during the summer months. It generally has less vegetation, but don’t let that stop you. The abundance of accommodation and tourist services make it a comfortable option to elope at the Grand Canyon, especially if you’re willing to get up at sunrise to avoid the congestion. One of the best features of the South Rim is the availability of Helicopter Tours! You can board a helicopter from the rim area for a once in a lifetime elopement experience. This will be absolutely unforgettable!
Places to elope at the South Rim
There are 6 designated ceremony sites on the South Rim, each with slightly different characteristics. However, if you have no guests, you may request a ceremony site not on their list. I’ve got some ideas in my back pocket.
- Lipan Point
Beautiful views including the river. Up to 35 people. A very busy location and a small area without railing.
- Moran Point
Less railing, less visited, good views. Up to 35 people.
- Shoshone Point
The best spot! Accessed by a 1 mile flat hike. Only available May 15th to October 15th. You may have an outdoor reception here at the picnic tables and pavilions. Up to 85 people. Reservations at Shoshone point are $500.
- Grandeur Point
A busy and gorgeous unobstructed site just a short walk from Grand Canyon Village. Up to 45 people.
- Rim Worship Site
A short hike on the paved rim trail to a vista point with no railing and a stone “altar”. Mixed shade and sun. Up to 50 people.
- Pima Point
Only available December to March, this small spot is a long drive along hermit’s rest road and has steel railings.
South Rim Elopement Timeline
Here is an example timeline for a stunning full day elopement at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
5:00 Get dressed before dawn. Let your hair down.
5:30 Sunrise first look at the Canyon’s Edge. Beautiful gold light surrounds you.
6:00 Share your vows as the warm sunlight fills the canyon.
7:00 Head back to your lodge for breakfast and reading together.
9:00 Board a helicopter for a 1 hour tour of the Grand Canyon from the air.
10:30 Walk as little or as much of the rim trail as you’d like. Stop at my favorite viewpoint for total epic views.
12:00 Time to EAT!
1:30 Lay in the shade and make shapes out of clouds. Cuddle up on a blanket and take a nap. Or do a horseback ride!
3:00 Time for ice cream at the desert watchtower.
4:30 Have your first dance at sunset at Lipan Point
Grand Canyon North Rim
At around 8,000 feet in elevation, you’ll feel the lack of oxygen at the North Rim. In some places, that’s more than a mile up from the bed of the canyon. Ponderosa pine forest and some deciduous aspen woods make up much of the landscape. In spring the greens of the foliage compliment the layers of rock that dominate the canyon. There’s more biodiversity and birdsong in the trees, too. Did you know there are BISON on the north side? You might even see the Kaibab Squirrel, endemic to the North Rim. Grand canyon Elopement ceremonies are allowed at both Point Imperial and Cape Royal. In my opinion those are the two best spots on the North Rim!
Grand Canyon Elopement at Cape Royal
If this view doesn’t make you want to say your vows at Cape Royal, I don’t know what will! Cape Royal is one of the 2 designated ceremony sites on the North Rim. This stunning vista is incredible at night, at sunrise, mid morning, midday, afternoon, sunset and twilight. There is NO bad time of day here and temperatures are usually mild and warm. You could spend hours exploring the rocks and rim. Nearby, a desert cliff overhangs the canyon. It reminds me of Taft Point in Yosemite, but in the desert!
Point Imperial – North Rim
The second of the two designated ceremony areas on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Point Imperial is stunning. A rock spire marks the focal point of the views here, and you can walk along the rim to several more views of the canyon. It’s shady and its the quietest and most private of all the elopement locations at the Grand Canyon. Hardly anyone comes here.
How to Access the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Remember, the entire North Rim is only accessible between May and October. It’s a long, wooded drive and it’s far from any major cities and towns. Point Sublime, Bright Angel Point, and the Window are three popular locations for photos or picnicking on the North Rim. Even though the North Rim has much fewer visitors than the South Rim, the parking areas are very small. So it’s still best to plan your Grand Canyon elopement on a weekday and close to sunrise or sunset. Sunrise is the best time for photography and wildlife viewing.
Sample timeline at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
5:00 Wake up in your campsite and get ready together
6:00 Have coffee together on the edge of the canyon with a blanket at sunrise
7:00 Romantic portraits in the epic landscape at Cape Royal
8:30 Say your vows in the warm glow of the morning light
9:00 Campsite breakfast of fruit parfaits, fried eggs and bacon. Maybe pancakes.
10:00 Go looking for wildlife on rim trail – elk, bison, Kaibab squirrel, bighorns, etc
1:00 Have lunch at the saloon
2:00 Go off road to sublime point for sunset. Enjoy the scenic drive.
5:00 Sunset First dance at Sublime point. Surprise each other with gifts or create a secret handshake
7:00 Fancy dinner at the Rim Lodge
9:00 Stargazing at Bright Angel Point
Grand Canyon West
The Grand Canyon West area is located just 2 hour’s drive east of Las Vegas, Nevada. While there are fewer viewpoints here, you can absolutely still have a full day adventure elopement at the Grand Canyon. IS there a huge canyon view? You bet your ass there is. You’ll also pass the Hoover Dam, A joshua tree forest, desert vistas and a Native American homestead village to get there. There are helicopter tours, ziplining excursions, and the famous glass-bottomed skybridge that allows you to walk over the edge of the canyon.
Here is my map of Grand Canyon elopement locations:
So.. where are all these spots?! If you’re a visual person, let me introduce you to my custom map of the Grand Canyon. This map is like a virtual tour of the Grand Canyon with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning on eloping at the Grand Canyon from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. To get full access to this map, book me as your Grand Canyon elopement photographer. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free!
About Lucy – Grand Canyon Elopement Photographer
I’m a nomadic and colorful Grand Canyon elopement photographer with an obsession for epic views, hiking, and my cats. My photography style emphasizes the canyon landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. The Grand Canyon is well known, but the North Rim is a hidden gem. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Adventurous elopement at the Grand Canyon
For adventurous couples, no Grand Canyon elopement guide would be complete without taking the backpacking Kaibab trail down Bright Angel Gorge to the Colorado River. This is an extremely tough, strenuous, multi day undertaking with advanced permits required. Make sure to stop at Ribbon Falls! Or, consider the 10 mile overnight hike to Mooney Falls in the Havasupai reservation North of Seligman, Az. You can also hire a heli tour, a float tour down the river, or just cozy up together in the lodge after your elopement. There are so many ways to have fun there!
What are the best hikes in the Grand Canyon?
All of the Grand canyon’s visitor areas are on the rim. Any hikes into the canyon will be downhill and a strenuous uphill climb to come back. Always be safe and pack plenty of water and good hiking shoes. Both the North rim trail and South rim trail are excellent ways to see the canyon’s many vistas without breaking a sweat. However, venturing a short way into the canyon will offer an immersive experience unlike any other. Here are some of my favorite easy hikes in the Grand Canyon:
South Rim Best Hikes:
Ooh Aah, Hermits Rest, Shoshone Point, Tusayan Ruins, Navajo Point, Hopi and Yavapai Point, and Mather point.
North Rim Best hikes:
Greenland Lake, Cape Royal, The Window, Widforss, Fire Watch Tower, Rooseveldt, Cliff Spring, Walhalla Ruins, and Cape Final.
Where to stay at the Grand Canyon
You can stay at the National Park lodges on the North and South rims. These are the closest location and the best option for a relaxing stay. However, these lodges can be expensive and book up quickly in the popular summer months. Expect for accommodation to take up the lion’s share of your budget. Alternatively, you can check out unique Airbnbs between 1 and 2 hours drive away from the rims. There are farm stays, dome homes, glamping tents and hurts, tiny homes and real homes. Check out my list of neat Airbnbs near Grand Canyon.
Lodges inside the park:
Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim
Yavapai Lodge – South Rim
Kachina Lodge – South Rim
Thunderbird Lodge – South Rim
El Tovar Hotel – South Rim
How much does it cost to elope at the Grand Canyon?
Eloping at the Grand Canyon can be expensive.. or inexpensive, depending on your preferences. I’ll break down a hypothetical budget for a 2 person elopement here. You’ll see there is a big range in the price tags, but it all depends on your personal circumstances. How long will you be staying at the canyon? Will you be flying in and renting a car, or driving yourselves? Can you DIY your hair, makeup, or flowers? Is camping an option? It’s up to you!
Grand Canyon Elopement Budget
$240 to $500 Wedding Permit
$83 Arizona Marriage License
$600 to $4000 Accommodations depending on your comfort level
$5000 to $9000 Elopement Photography by an experienced professional
$500 to $5000 Your elopement garments and accessories
$500 to $1500 Officiant if desired
$0 to $2000 Additional vendors – hair, makeup, flowers, helicopter, horseback ride
=$7,000 to $22,000
Grand Canyon Elopement Photography Packages
I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography for eloping at the Grand Canyon. If you are interested in an all inclusive package with florals, officiant, private meals, hair, makeup or anything else, I can make it happen for you! See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if a Grand Canyon elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!
Grand Canyon Elopement Photography Packages
I offer both Grand Canyon elopement photography packages, or All inclusive elopements for a one stop shop option. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees. These prices are for 2024.
2 Day Grand Canyon elopement photography – $8900
1.5 Days of Grand Canyon elopement photography – $6900
1 Full day Grand Canyon adventure elopement photography – $5900
Up to 4 hours Grand Canyon elopement photography – $5200 **Only available on select dates**
Check out my other ARIZONA Elopement Guides:
– Comprehensive Arizona Elopement Guide
– Saguaro National Park Elopement Guide
– Sedona Elopement Guide
More DESERT Elopement Locations:
– Valley of Fire Elopement Guide
– Moab Elopement Guide
– White Sands & New Mexico Elopement Guide
– Death Valley National Park Elopement Guide
– Joshua Tree National Park Elopement Guide
– Colorado National Monument Elopement Guide
More Canyon Elopement Guides to explore:
– Zion Elopement Guide
– Bryce Canyon Elopement Guide
– Snow Canyon State Park Elopement Park
– Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park