Saguaro Elopement Photographer

Saguaro Elopement Photographer

Hi! I’m Lucy, a Saguaro Elopement Photographer and experience creator for couples who want to elope in the heart of the desert! The Saguaro cactus is the very icon of the desert southwest. The famous silhouette makes a great background for incredible elopement photos. The mountains, trails, vistas and biodiversity will keep you entranced and coming back for more. This step by step guide on how to elope in Saguaro National Park is full of pointers, information, and elopement locations! The two districts of Saguaro National Parks are located in Tucson, Arizona, about 2 hours south of Phoenix. This is the Sonoran desert, so even if it doesn’t look spiny, it probably is! Don’t touch anything!!

NEW 2023 Availability!

I’m available to shoot your Saguaro National Park Elopement on these select dates!
– November 15 – 31, 2023
– January to March, 2024
Get in touch now to take advantage of this special availability! Want a spot outside of these dates? That’s ok too!

Saguaro is pronounced /sah-wah-ro/. Now you know 🙂

Table of Contents

  • When to elope in Saguaro National Park
  • How to elope in Saguaro
  • Applying for the ceremony permit
  • How to plan an elopement in Saguaro
  • Elopement locations in the west district
  • Elopement locations in the east district
  • Elopement locations outside of the park
  • Location Map
  • Budget Breakdown
  • How long to plan your elopement for
  • Saguaro Elopement packages

What season is best for an Elopement in Saguaro?

Winter is a great time to escape the cold north where you probably live and enjoy the balmy November to March temps. With daily highs in the upper 60s and 70s, you can wear a T shirt or a dress comfortably! Summers in Tucson are unbearably and sometimes dangerously hot, so it’s best to avoid eloping here between June and September. Nobody wants to be that sweaty.

What’s the best time of day to elope in Arizona?

This park is stunningly beautiful at all times of day. Even the middle of the night! There’s decent stargazing, the wildlife comes alive in the pre dawn hours, and sunrises are spectacular. In midday, the bright sun brings out the most color of the landscape with big blue skies, vibrant cacti, and colorful flowers in spring. Afternoons are easy on the eyes, but it is the busiest time in the park. If you stay until sunset, the crowds die down and the sky puts on a show in shades of orange, yellow, pink and purple.

How to Elope in Saguaro National Park

A Saguaro National Park elopement allows you to select anywhere you want within the park for your elopement ceremony. That’d be easy if you knew what the park looked like! This makes having someone with first-hand knowledge of the area key to planning. I’ve been to both sides of this park and can’t wait to recommend my favorite areas. You will need both an Arizona Marriage License and a Saguaro National Park Special Use Permit (SUP) to make your marriage legal.

Applying for the Saguaro NP Ceremony Permit (SUP)

The Saguaro National Park elopement ceremony permit is a whopping $100 and can be found here. Amazing adventures await! When you fill out the application, you will need to put down a location and time, so it’s best to hire your elopement photographer before completing this step so you can get their insight. You’ll need to tell the park certain things that will persuade them to approve your permit. Especially if you are planning on a weekend. I’ve got the inside scoop and can’t wait to help you nail it.

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 Saguaro is the Pima County courthouse at 110 W Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701. You will need a form of ID showing your name 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.

Step by Step Guide on How to Elope

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 and/or car to get you to Tucson, Arizona. TIP: It’s probably cheaper to fly to Phoenix.
3. Choose your Saguaro Elopement Photographer. An experienced photographer will be able to answer all your questions and point you in the right direction for everything that comes after this point.
4. Work with your photographer to create an ideal timeline blueprint and select a ceremony location. Apply for your ceremony permit from Saguaro National Park.
5. Purchase your best outfit ever, 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!

A real Saguaro National Park Couple

Saguaro National Park West District

This is the more well-visited of the two Saguaro National Park districts. It’s located just west of Tucson, Arizona, and borders Tucson Mountain Park. The main dirt road loop of SNP West is mostly one way and includes many areas to plan an elopement. The most popular hike in the park, Valley View, is especially gorgeous at sunset. The flat, paved nature trail is so easy to access and offers great Saguaros up close. My favorite picnic area in a mountain cove features a stone cabin and miles of Saguaros stretching to the horizon.

Saguaro National Park East District

It’s an hour’s drive across the city of Tucson to reach the East District. This district is actually quite different from the western half. The Saguaros are taller and branchier, creating a more classic shape. This is the starting point for many of the longer backcountry hikes in the park. It’s less crowded, so the chances of having a private saguaro elopement ceremony are higher. Your backgrounds will have more mountain peaks and your foregrounds will be rockier than the West District.

Outside the park elopement locations

Like most National Parks, the lands outside of the parks are amazing too! Picacho Peak State park is a great nearby option. Tucson Mountain Park covers much of the same scenery as Saguaro and includes a beautiful mountain pass. If you can’t elope within the park for any reason, I’ve got more than a few backup locations in mind! The city of Tucson is vibrant and odd, with lots of hippie art and alternative folks. Did you know you can feed ostritches, stingrays, and lorikeets and more at a roadside attraction here? I’ve got many recommendations for this area, and three other Arizona elopement guides: The Grand Canyon, Sedona and the master Arizona Elopement Guide.

Where to stay near Saguaro National Park?

Tucson is on the affordable side for accommodations. But that doesn’t mean you should stay in a cookie cutter hotel room! An easy way to make your elopement special is to book a unique Airbnb. I’m not saying you should get married at that property. But waking up in a hacienda on a ranch, a guest house in the cacti, or a modern tiny cabin is my #1 way to start your elopement day off right. Browse my list of incredible and one of a kind airbnbs in near Saguaro National Park for inspiration.

How much does it cost to elope in Saguaro National Park?

The national average cost of a wedding is 33k to 38k. I’m here to offer you an alternative option! The Arizona Marriage license is $83 and the ceremony permit is $100. After that, the budget for your elopement in Saguaro is what you make of it! You could save up your hard earned dollars and stay in a glamping tent nearby, or splurge on a honeymoon-style resort with a built in spa. The options are endless!

$83 AZ Marriage License
$100 Saguaro NP Permit
$400 to $4000 Your choice of accommodation options from the basic to the bougie
$350 to $1800 Professional elopement Officiant
$400 to $2000 Optional – flowers, beauty services, etc
$5000 to $8000 Elopement photographer with experience in the park
$500 to $5000 Elopement clothes and accessories
= $7,100 to $21,000.

My Saguaro Elopement Photography Packages

I offer both photography & planning Saguaro elopement packages, or All inclusive elopements for a one stop shop option. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees.

2 Day Saguaro elopement photography – $7900

1.5 Days of Saguaro elopement photography – $5900

1 Full day Saguaro adventure elopement photography – $4900

Up to 4 hours of Saguaro elopement photography in – $4200

How much time do we need for our elopement?

I get it – when you decide you don’t want a wedding, you want to keep your elopement super simple, right? I love that! But I do feel that any elopement shorter than 4 hours is going to be rushed, stressful, and will keep you looking at your watch. Rather than that, take your time to explore this incredible park and landscape. Chances are it’s been on your bucket list to visit, so to really have the best day – that’s going to take a full day!

Saguaro National Park Timeline Example

6:45 Sunrise first look at a mountain pass & portraits in the cacti.
8:00 Breakfast at a greasy spoon local diner to get fueled up.
10:00 Begin the short hike to Valley View in SNP West. Develop a secret handshake at the top. Take each other’s photos with this incredible view.
12:00 Head to a nearby picnic area with a stone shelter for a packed in lunch. Plan for this like an unsupervised 8 year old was given $50 to buy food.
1:30 Explore the hummingbird aviary at the Sonoran Desert Museum.
3:00 Take the scenic drive through SNP East.
4:45 Sunset ceremony at a beautiful stop off surrounded by Cacti and glowing light.
5:30 Champagne pop & photos with besties.
7:00 Dinner at an eclectic local legend steakhouse.
9:00 Stargazing & hot tubbing at your Airbnb.

Do we have to hike to elope in National Parks?

Definitely not. While instagram may have you thinking you need to be ultra fit to qualify for an outdoors elopement, let me just alert you that that is bullshit. Most of the elopement locations in Saguaro national park you can drive right up to. Come as you are – eloping is for everyone!

What should we wear to elope in Saguaro National Park?

Let me first say that you can wear whatever you want! There are no rules for an elopement, so embrace your dream of wearing a kilt and tartan, or a fantasy cape or crown. Browse this blog post I wrote on all my ideas of what to wear for your outdoor elopement. I would avoid wearing a long veil here as it’s almost guaranteed to get caught on a cactus with any light breeze. The same for bell sleeves. PRO TIP: Definitely keep your footwear practical. Even if you’re not hiking, you should not wear heels and opt for shoes with traction and closed-toes for safety.

Here’s my virtual tour & interactive map of Saguaro

I made this map as a virtual tour of Saguaro National Park and the surrounding highlights 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 from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Get access to the map once you book me as your photographer. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. 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!

I offer half day, full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in Saguaro National Park and the wild lands outside of it. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you to see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!

About Lucy – Saguaro Elopement Photographer

I’m a nomadic and colorful Saguaro elopement photographer with an obsession for deserts, birdwatching, and new experiences. My photography style emphasizes the epic desert landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my cactus-loving clients. There is something so magical about the silhouette of a Saguaro and the never-ending Arizona sunsets. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Contact me!

Check out my other Desert Elopement Guides:
Zion Elopement Guide
Grand Canyon Elopement Guide
Bryce Canyon Elopement Guide
Snow Canyon State Park Elopement Park
Moab Elopement Guide
Arizona Elopement Guide
Valley of Fire Elopement Guide
White Sands Elopement Guide
Death Valley National Park Elopement Guide
Joshua Tree National Park Elopement Guide

One Comment

  1. Knowing WHEN to capture the stunning scenery of desert environments takes a lot of skill and knowledge – your pics are amazing!

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