The other day a friend asked me what I love so much about weddings in Arizona, and honestly, what don’t I love?!?
I adore Arizona for so many reasons, but as a wedding photographer especially, this place has captured my heart and soul. Arizona is famous for its stunning beauty, incredible history, layered culture, dramatic landscape, and exquisite aesthetic. All of this makes Arizona the perfect location for a variety of couples looking to say “I do” surrounded by a cornucopia of natural beauty.
So, is an Arizona wedding the right fit for you?
Weddings in Arizona are a vibe. There is the traditional, glamorous luxury, but you’ll also see luxury accompanied by a southwestern twist you just can’t help but fall in love with. As a photographer, it’s a treat to shoot outdoor weddings here, particularly in landscapes bursting with epic canyons, towering cacti, and piercing blue skies. There really is nothing like golden hour in Arizona.
If you’re already thinking about a wedding in Arizona, I’ll hardly have to sell it to you. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t need a little help nailing the process. Here’s my ultimate guide to weddings in Arizona!
First up on my list of Arizona wedding planning tips (and probably best tip) is to know what YOU want and plan in advance.
Every couple will find something they love about Arizona, and while that makes it an ideal location for getting married, it can also make choosing your location, locking in your venue, planning your aesthetic, and even staying on budget a little tricky.
WHAT ARIZONA WEDDINGS MIGHT COST YOU
From my professional experience and the sheer number of luxury weddings I’ve shot in Arizona, the cost of an Arizona wedding could be on the higher side for many couples, so budget accordingly.
Keep in mind the cost can and will vary greatly depending on your specific location, your venue, your guest count, and the vendors you hire.
THE BIGGEST EXPENSE IS GOING TO BE THE VENUE
This is probably not a huge shocker, especially if you’ve done any kind of research on wedding budgets and costs. This is also why it’s so important to plan ahead when it comes to your Arizona wedding. They book up quickly! This is especially true if you’re hoping to have your wedding during peak wedding season in Arizona.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to save some money AND have a unique wedding experience, consider tying the knot in a city park or national forest! Just keep in mind, you’ll need to research whether a permit is required and apply for it ahead of time. The National Park Service (NPS) website is a good starting point.
HIRE A LOCAL WEDDING PLANNER
There are a few Arizona wedding vendors I would consider must-haves for the big occasion, but you can take or leave a number of them depending on the type of wedding you’re having.
That said, a wedding planner is one of the vendors I highly suggest hiring. Trust me — a wedding planner not only helps your wedding go off without a hitch, but the right wedding planner will also help keep you sane during the process!!
Google searches help, but also take a peek at the clerk of the court websites and read the rules! Knowing how to get married in Arizona goes beyond picking out the best venue and nailing your color scheme. There are a few laws you have to abide by to make your marriage real in the eyes of the law (trust me, I’m a lawyer!).
Luckily, the laws are pretty standard and involve what you might expect including needing to obtain a marriage license and having your wedding solemnized by a pastor or other such person.
Here are the steps:
Of course, there are sub-steps to the above steps, and you should take that into consideration. But what do you need for a marriage ceremony in Arizona?
When it comes to getting a marriage license in Arizona, you’ll need to pass Arizona marriage license requirements and you’ll also need to fill out a marriage license application in Arizona.
Expect to pay a small fee for a wedding license in Arizona as well. Fees are generally around $83.00 (August 2023).
We can’t talk about how to plan a wedding in Arizona without covering the timing of peak wedding season! So, what is the best month for an Arizona wedding? For most couples, January through May and September through November tend to be the sweet spots.
February through May is typically ideal due to the gorgeous weather. Spring is in the air, cactus flowers and wildflowers are in full bloom, and daytime temperatures typically don’t go above 80 degrees.
If you prefer an autumn feel, October and November in particular have gorgeous temperatures ideal for sunset weddings but bear in mind that November starts to really cool down in the evenings.
I’d recommend that you avoid tying the knot between June and August if you plan on scoring lovely photos and not watching your guests pass out from heatstroke (it’s hot as hell — I’m talking dangerously high temps that could make even an outdoor wedding pretty unsafe).
While we’re on the topic of seasons, you should also be aware that there really aren’t major seasonal changes in certain areas of Arizona. Why does this matter?
If you’re a lover of all things fall and are looking for an autumn aesthetic for your wedding, you should be aware that, even if you wed in the heart of October, Phoenix will still look like it’s living its best life in May. In other words, there aren’t really any major seasonal changes in Phoenix that would have an impact on your wedding’s aesthetic and photography.
Flagstaff, on the other hand, does experience all four seasons, including much more comfortable weather if you are getting married in the summer months.
There are just so many beautiful places in Arizona to get married, and while this is great news, it can also make the job of picking the best Arizona or Phoenix wedding venue a little overwhelming!
When it comes to looking at places to get married in AZ, it’s best to go in with a game plan. I like to tell my couples to have a few things already decided on before starting their hunt for a location or venue.
First, set your budget. Do some basic research and have an idea of what is going to cost the most. Consider the best Arizona wedding vendors you hope to hire, travel requirements, the size of the wedding you’re hoping to have, and whether you want an indoor or outdoor ceremony.
Next, have an idea of what your wedding aesthetic is going to be. Do you want something glamorous and clean, or would you prefer something more boho and rustic?
You should also consider your unique experience. Is this wedding a destination wedding for you and your guests? Is it going to be a one-day event, or do you plan on making this an experience with your partner? If it’s a getaway experience, choose a location that offers activities like sightseeing, camping, hiking, or tours. There are so many incredible things to explore in Arizona that you’ll certainly want to take advantage of your time here.
The bottom line — the more you know what you want, the quicker you’ll be able to decide on the perfect location.
Arizona may be home to the Grand Canyon, but your AZ wedding doesn’t have to be a massive affair if you don’t want it to be!
The great thing about Arizona is that it offers a variety of adaptable venues — whether you want a luxuriously large wedding at a massive venue or a more intimate elopement with a mountain backdrop. It’s a great location even for an Arizona bride and groom looking for a simple Phoenix courthouse wedding!
Some of my favorite elopement locations in Arizona are going to be Sedona and Horseshoe Bend. Sedona in particular has such an incredible landscape that it can make even the most intimate elopement feel epic. Plus, Sedona offers multiple locations to get married that don’t even require a permit!
Elopements in Sedona are ideal for more adventurous couples as certain locations often require some hiking. If this is right up your alley, check out locations like Cathedral Rock Trail or Doe Mountain Trail.
And certainly don’t sleep on Horseshoe Bend, as I mentioned above. This is an elopement hotspot thanks to its incredible landscape and breathtaking views. There are regulations and permit requirements for weddings in Horseshoe Bend, so be sure to do your due diligence and look into what would be needed to get married there, if this is your location of choice.
If you are curious about getting married at the courthouse in Arizona, find the courthouse you want to use and make sure you don’t need to reserve a space ahead of time. Some courthouses are first come, first serve, while others require appointments.
Arizona is gorgeous — no doubt about it — and as a photographer, I can’t get enough of the incredible photo opportunities Arizona has to offer.
When you’re deciding on your Arizona wedding venue, it’s definitely important for you to consider your wedding photography. A seasoned Arizona wedding photographer can help you decide which venues will offer the best results when it comes to snapping the perfect pictures on your big day.
Below are some of my all-time FAVORITE venues for the most breathtaking Arizona wedding photography!!
Venue: Enchantment Resort
What I Love: What’s NOT to love about Sedona?! This vibrant town just outside of Flagstaff is surrounded by towering red rocks, lush pine forests, and canyons for miles. No matter where you look, the backdrop is pristine and just perfect for capturing those magical wedding photos you’ve been dreaming about.
My favorite Sedona wedding venue has to be Enchantment Resort, aptly named for its enchanting architecture, exquisite cuisine, and magazine-worthy views.
Venues: San Pedro Chapel, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, and Tanque Verde Ranch
What I Love: Tucson oozes with Southwestern charm and brings gorgeous influences from Mexican and Native American cultures. It’s also home to some really beautiful Tucson wedding venue options for a variety of tastes.
San Pedro Chapel is a small historic church perfect for the more intimate wedding, while Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort and Tanque Verde Ranch are great options for couples with a larger guest list.
Venues: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, Sanctuary Camelback, Wrigley Mansion, Stonebridge Manor, Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, and Mountain Shadows Resort
Why I Love it: First of all, I love Scottsdale for its chic and luxurious energy. If you’re dreaming of a more high end, luxury aesthetic for your wedding, Scottsdale is your go-to. You’ve got a great mix of venue options here, including both indoor and outdoor venues and some desert venues too.
Check out my recent blog for a list of the many Scottsdale wedding venues I adore!
Venues: Aldea Weddings in the Woods
Why I Love it: Flagstaff is a charming mountain town famous for its ponderosa pine forests, mountainous landscapes, and beautiful monuments. Since Flagstaff also experiences all four seasons, this means it has snow in the winter (an all-white wedding, anyone?).
And while there are many Flagstaff wedding venues worth looking into, one of my favorites is Aldea Weddings in the Woods. If it sounds whimsical, it’s because it totally is!! You have the option of getting married amongst the trees in a breathtaking setting that can only be described as an ethereal wedding experience. This is one of my favorite locations for wedding photography because the results are some of the most magical.
You really can’t go wrong with any location in Arizona meant for getting married! Whether you choose to wed indoors or out — and whether you choose spring or fall — Arizona is the ideal location to celebrate the love you and your partner share and it’s the perfect place to begin the rest of your lives together.
So, are you ready to start planning your wedding in Arizona? Get in touch with me and let’s get the ball rolling!!