White Sands Elopement Photographer
White Sands Elopement Photographer
I’m here to tell you all the reasons you can (and should) have a White Sands elopement or microwedding! The pure white sand dunes are the largest Gypsum dunes in the world! This place is unique, with deep blue shadows, green yuccas, white flowers, and extremely colorful sunsets against the pale sand. This desert dream is one of only two National Parks in New Mexico. There are an additional 11 national monuments in the state, too. New Mexico’s landscapes are much less well known than the iconic parks of Utah, Arizona, and California. But they are incredibly unique – and never crowded. I have loved all my time in New Mexico and can’t wait to share all these amazing locations with you! I offer White Sands Elopement Packages to make it easier for YOU to have an amazing elopement here in New Mexico.
How to get to White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park is located in Southern New Mexico between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. To get there, you should fly into El Paso, Texas – that’s the closest Airport. Rent a car there that gets good gas mileage. You won’t need an SUV or a 4WD car. From there, It’s about 100 miles or 1.5 hours drive to the entrance of the park.
What Season to Elope at White Sands National Park
If you hate rain, this might be the park for you! It hardly ever rains here. Winter months, from November to March, are the best and busiest seasons to visit, as temperatures are milder than the blazing heat of summer.
December & January: Highs in the mid 50s
February & March: Highs in the mid 60s
April & May: Highs in the 70s to 80s
June, July, August & September: Over 90 degrees
October & November: 60s to high 70s
If you’d like to plan a summer elopement at white sands, be sure to plan for a sunrise or sunset ceremony to keep out of the hottest part of the day, which can be dangerous. Similarly, planning for a mid-day ceremony in the coldest months will have you feeling just fine. Drink lots of water and get ready to explore!
Where to Elope in White Sands National Park
This isn’t a very big park, but it does have a few different areas to explore. The first stop after the entrance station is one of my favorites – the nature walk. This walk goes up and down the bumpy sand dunes in a loop. The great thing about this area is the vegetation that adds interest to the scene. There is more wildlife in the Yuccas, Ocotillos, Agaves, and Cactuses here than anywhere else in the park. There are several other picnic areas as you head west into the park. The real fun begins at the end. That’s when you can walk out into the dunes as far as you like to get to pristine rippled sand.
Alkali Flat at White Sands National Park
This is my favorite area of the park. Get out of your vehicle and just start walking in whichever direction you want! You can see the distant mountain ranges from here, and all times of day have something to offer at Alkali Flat. This is the perfect National Park for a barefoot elopement! Who doesn’t love sand between their toes and an endless beach?!
The Dune Life Nature Trail at White Sands National Park
This is the first opportunity you’ll have to get your feet in the sand once you enter the park. Scrubby trees and low vegetation provide a habitat for lizards, ground squirrels, and kit foxes. This area is especially beautiful at sunset, and it’s not very crowded! There is a bathroom at the trailhead too. The playa trail is similar, but has lower lying bushes and a flat area that sometimes provides a mirror surface after rain.
The Interdune Boardwalk
This developed boardwalk over the dunes allows access for those who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. The pathway can be quite narrow which makes it feel more crowded than anywhere else in the park. The educational tent is the only place in the park with seating.
Here is my White Sands Elopement Location Map:
This map is my handmade virtual tour of White Sands and the surrounding areas in New Mexico with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great elopement 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. 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 can’t share all my tips for how to elope at white sands with you!
How to Elope at White Sands?
You will need to apply for a $100 Special Use Permit (SUP) from the National Park in order to have your ceremony. The process is pretty simple, so do not be afraid, young traveler! Because you will need to note where you’ll be and when on the application, it’s best to get on board with a white sands elopement photographer who knows the park first. The park’s special use permit application can be found here. Apply between 6 months and 3 weeks of your date.
How to complete the wedding permit at White Sands
Dogs and other pets are allowed at white sands on a maximum 6ft leash. You must follow Leave No Trace principles everywhere you go. Of course, drones, confetti, bird seed, balloons, smoke bombs, open fires, fireworks, glass containers, marijuana, trash, and loud music are not allowed in the park. In addition, the park requests that you not bring real or dried flowers into the natural environment. Luckily, faux flowers and wood flowers have come a long way! Keep it simple and sweet and you’ll be approved!
Reserving the group use area
The group use area is the only part of the park that you can actually reserve. If you have 12 or more people, you can even camp out here together! To reserve the group use area will cost you $100. But if you are having a simple ceremony without chairs, an arch, music, or any other trappings of a traditional wedding, you may have your ceremony elsewhere in the park. The difference is that you can’t shoo any members of the public away from your ceremony, or block it off in any way.
But what about the missiles?
Outside the park and just to the south, there is a military missile testing area. Occasionally their tests will shut down the only road to the park. I recommend calling the park about 2 weeks before your elopement day to make sure they don’t have anything scheduled during your planned visit. Missile tests can sometimes shut down the access road to white sands, though this is rare.
How to plan an elopement at white sands?
Planning an elopement here is simple and straightforward. Follow these steps:
- Choose an elopement date in a season you like.
- Book your Flights, rental car and accommodation & rental car.
- Find and book your White Sands Elopement photographer – they will help with everything else!
- Choose a ceremony site, apply for your permit and create your perfect timeline with your photographer.
- Make dinner reservations & get your outfits. Optional: Hire a florist, officiant, or other vendors.
- Get a New Mexico Marriage license a few days before (Any county courthouse will work.) Call the park to check for missile tests.
Call it a plan! You are now prepared to have your elopement in White Sands!
Do I need an officiant to elope in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, you must have an officiant, a $25 Marriage license, and 2 witnesses to your marriage to make it legal. Here is a simple step by step guide to getting your New Mexico marriage license. I’m ordained to officiate marriages, so I can save you the cost of hiring an outside officiant if you elect for me to create your ceremony.
New Mexico Officiant Options:
– Hire a professional officiant with elopement experience ($250 to $1200)
– Choose me to officiate and I’ll create your ceremony for $0
– Invite a friend to get ordained for you
– Or, get legally married in your home state and have a non-legally binding ceremony in New Mexico.
Sample White Sands Elopement Timeline:
I advise you to plan for at least 4 hours of elopement photography at White Sands. The park is quite far from towns and accommodations, and it takes a while to walk out into the dunes to get to the best spots for photos. You’ll want to really sink your teeth into your elopement day. After all, this is the day that will become your anniversary and a full day adventure will make everything unforgettable. Here is a fully day sample timeline:
6:00 Sunrise First Look in the mountains
6:30 Campsite waffles for breakfast
7:00 Begin 4 mile hike in the mountains
11:00 Head to White Sands
12:00 meet up with 10 closest loved ones for a cook off with Mexican corn and Horchata
1:00 Sand dune sledding or horseback ride in White Sands
4:00 Afternoon ceremony in the dunes
5:00 Sunset portraits
6:30 Twilight smores back at group campsite (Or hike to a backcountry campsite to spend the night truly alone!)
7:00 Starry first dance
What to do at White Sands
You guys! You don’t HAVE to hike to experience an incredible elopement at White Sands. You can ride around on the dunes on horseback here! And if you’ve never been sledding down the sand dunes, don’t wait a moment longer! Sleds are for sale at the visitors center or you can bring your own. If you bring a group of 10 or so besties who are children at heart (or actual children) they will love this! The dunes can be quite steep, so thrill seekers of any level will love it. The ample picnic areas with shade make for a great spot to have a barbeque. Or a competitive grill-off! You can even bike around the park or get a backcountry camping permit for an unforgettable experience.
Locations Outside White Sands NP
Without giving away too much about my favorite places to elope in New Mexico, let me just say there are a lot. One mountain range looks like someone picked up the Tetons and moved them into the desert. There are freshwater springs, amazing hiking trails, mountains galore and NO crowds. The city of Las Cruces has a vibrant and historic food scene. If you love food, don’t skip this place! There are even a few group camping areas in the mountains that you can reserve that are ADA accessible and have EPIC views.
Where to stay near White Sands?
The two towns on opposite sides of White Sands are Las Cruces and Alamogordo. Las Cruces has a vibrant food scene, quaint historic district, and a strong sense of community and pecan farms. Alamogordo is 10-15 minutes closer to White Sands, but most of the eateries are corporate chains. Luckily, both towns are affordable to stay in as this isn’t a high-tourism area. Explore all the accommodation options before settling on a standard hotel room, though! A cabin with a hot tub deck in the mountains could be the starting point to a relaxing and fun elopement. Or an adobe house with a great view will anchor your plans in a place that feels just right. See my favorite Airbnbs near White Sands here to get started!
How much does it cost to Elope at White Sands National Park?
That can depend entirely on how much you want to spend! The Marriage license in New Mexico is $25 and the ceremony permit is $100. A great elopement photographer will lead you through the planning process and answer all your questions along the way, so be prepared to spend more for their high quality services. Here’s a budget breakdown for what an elopement could cost at White Sands National Park.
$100 White Sands ceremony permit
$25 New Mexico marriage license
$0 to $1200 Ceremony officiant
$400 to $2500 Accommodation – depends on how long you want to stay
$500 to $5000 elopement garments and accessories
$0 to $2000 Florals, beauty services, or other vendors
$5000 to $9000 Elopement photography & planner
=6,000 to 20,000
With the average cost of a wedding in the USA somewhere between 33,000 to 38,000, eloping at white sands offers a much more affordable alternative. Better yet, you’ll actually enjoy the process!
My White Sands Elopement Photography Packages
I offer both White Sands 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.
2 Day White Sands elopement photography – $7900
1.5 Days of White Sands elopement photography – $5900
1 Full day White Sands adventure elopement photography – $4900
Up to 4 hours elopement photography in White Sands – $4200
Why is the sand white at White Sands National Park?
The sparkling white sand is made up of crushed gypsum, a mineral washed down from the San Andreas and Sacramento mountains over millions of years. This is the largest Gypsum dune field on earth! Wind changes the sand dune’s shapes every single day. The ecology and geology of the area is super fascinating! If you’re a nature lover or National Park freak like me, this is an amazing destination. And your elopement here won’t be like anyone else’s!
What to wear to elope at White Sands?
The most important thing to pack is.. sunglasses! These will protect your eyes if the sand starts to blow, and keep you from squinting in the bright sun. If you’d like to wear white, that is just fine even though the sand is also white. You’ll still stand out, I promise! I will advise you to not wear blue, as the shadows will overlap your clothes in an unflattering way. Check out my in depth guide to more fun and colorful options of what to wear when you elope.
About Me – White Sands Elopement Photographer
I’m a nomadic and colorful White Sands elopement photographer with an obsession for mountains, hiking, and the desert. My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. White Sands is a dreamy dune paradise, and New Mexico is criminally underrated. Maybe I’ll see you there!
I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in White Sands National Park and the wild lands outside of it. I can even do an all inclusive options for you. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. This wild and unique place is just itching for the right couple to grab it by the horns, sled down the dunes, camp under the stars and have an epic New Mexico elopement at white sands!
Ready to start panning your White Sands elopement? Contact me!
See 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
– Horseshoe Bend Elopement Guide
– Saguaro National Park Elopement Guide
– Death Valley Elopement Guide
– Joshua Tree Elopement Guide