Planning Your Grand Canyon Elopement

September 26, 2023

Arizona, Elopements

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that Arizona holds a very special place in my heart. There’s something so incredible about this state that has captivated my soul. From the rugged, majestic mountains to the vast, awe-inspiring deserts, the sense of adventure you feel the second you land there—it’s why I chose Arizona as the backdrop for my own elopement.

One iconic landmark that needs no introduction in the heart of Arizona is, of course, the Grand Canyon. Today, I’m excited to guide you through the steps to plan your very own elopement at the Grand Canyon National Park because eloping at the Grand Canyon is much more attainable and easier to plan than you might think (not to mention that the Grand Canyon National Park offers a range of options to suit various preferences and budgets). Whether you dream of an intimate ceremony at one of the scenic overlooks or prefer a secluded spot away from the crowds, there are countless breathtaking locations to choose from. The park also provides ample resources, including experienced rangers and event coordinators who are well-versed in helping couples navigate the elopement process.

Step One: Obtain a Permit

To legally elope within the Grand Canyon National Park, obtaining a permit is essential. The good news is that the National Park Service makes this process relatively straightforward (click here to head on over to their website for details or click here to view the Grand Canyon National Park Special Use Permit Application). This permit not only ensures you have the legal right to hold your ceremony within the park but also helps the park service manage visitation and protect this pristine environment.

Step Two: Choose Your Location

The Grand Canyon has a variety of locations to choose from for your elopement, each with its own unique charm. Consider your preferences, whether it’s an iconic overlook with panoramic views, a secluded spot by the Colorado River, or a more intimate setting within the forested areas of the park. Also, consider how many guests you are expecting to attend and how far you want to travel into the park.

Here is a list of location options from the NPS website:

  • Outdoor Locations: South Rim
    • Pima Point: A somewhat secluded site at the western end of Hermit Road for smaller parties. Only available in December, January, and February, when Hermit Road stays open to all vehicles. Accommodates 30 people
    • West Rim Worship Site: Located at the western end of Grand Canyon Village along the Rim Trail, one-fourth of a mile (0.4 km) from the nearest parking lot. Accommodates 50 people.
    • Grandeur Point: A short walk west from Yavapai Point. Parking fills quickly; consider using the free shuttle buses. Accommodates 45 people.
    • Shoshone Point: Isolated site, limited parking; only accessible by a one-mile (1.6 km) unimproved dirt road. Available May 15 to October 15. The site offers picnic tables, a pavilion, grills, trash cans, and restrooms. Holds up to 85 people. Only viewpoint available for outdoor receptions.
    • Moran Point: Just west of the main viewpoint in an unrailed area. Receives fewer visitors than other viewpoints and offers expansive canyon views. Parking is usually available nearby. Accommodates up to 35 people.
    • Lipan Point: Just west of Desert View, offers views of the Colorado River. Accommodates up to 35 people.
  • Outdoor Locations: North Rim
    • Cape Royal Amphitheater: Located 23 miles (37 km) from the North Rim developed area. A sign points beyond the picnic area to a site with low log benches. Accommodates up to 40 people.
    • Point Imperial Viewpoint: Highest viewpoint along the rim at 8,800 feet (2,682 m); located 11 miles (17.7 km) from North Rim developed area. The approved wedding location is to the far right of park lot in an impacted dirt area. Holds up to 20 people.
  • Indoor Locations: South Rim
    • Shrine of the Ages: Located immediately west of Park Headquarters. Features a 280-seat auditorium with a smaller room with a 60-person capacity. Food and drinks are not allowed.
    • Park Lodges: Indoor weddings or receptions at lodges do not require Special Use Permits. To reserve space, contact the lodging directly. Find lodging information on this page.
  • Indoor Locations: North Rim
    • No indoor sites are available for weddings or receptions on the North Rim.

Step Three: Be Prepared for Anything

As someone who loves to make a plan and stick to it, this one is tough, but who are we to try to control Mother Nature, right? The landscape of the Grand Canyon is dynamic, so you need to prepare for varying weather conditions, temperature fluctuations, and potential changes in your plans. Always have a plan B, and be sure to communicate that to your guests. And remember, no matter what happens, you’re going to have an amazing day because you are marrying the love of your life!

Step Four: Practice Leave no Trace

When eloping in such a pristine natural environment, it’s crucial to adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace. Respect the Grand Canyon’s delicate ecosystem by minimizing your impact. Keep this in mind as you plan: do not bring anything that cannot be disposed of responsibly, such as confetti. Make sure you elope in a place that allows you to stay on the designated trail, and of course, do not disturb the wild life. Leave no trace exists so that we can leave the area as we found it so that future generations can continue to enjoy its beauty.

Step Five: Hire a Photographer Who Can Help You Plan

Okay, of course I threw this tip in because I’m a bit biased, but as someone who eloped, I know it’s not easy, and having someone in your corner is a HUGE help. Find a skilled elopement photographer, *cough* like myself *cough*, who can significantly enhance your experience. A professional photographer not only captures your day, but also serves as a valuable resource for logistics and location scouting. They know the park, they know the best times for optimal lighting, and they can ensure your day is captured exactly how you want. Your photographer becomes your partner (and friend) when it comes to planning, making your elopement even more memorable and the experience even easier.

Now that you have the tools and inspiration to plan your Grand Canyon elopement, take the next step to turn your dream into reality. Start by exploring the National Park Service’s website to learn more about obtaining your permit. Research the various locations the Grand Canyon offers and envision the backdrop for your special day. Embrace the unpredictability of nature and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime. And, of course, if you’re seeking a dedicated photographer who not only captures your moments but also guides you through the entire process, reach out to me—there’s nothing I’d love more than to capture and help you plan your perfect elopement at the Grand Canyon.