How To Elope In Utah: The Ultimate Guide

If you want to elope in Utah, here’s everything you need to know: from choosing your location, to drawing up a budget and making sure it’s all legally legit!

By Chad and Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’: your photography and planning team, ready to help you elope in Utah.

UPDATED DEC 2023

You’re here because you’re thinking you might want to elope in Utah, right? Can we just say…. GOOD MOVE! Utah is an absolutely epic state to elope in and we pretty much guarantee you’re going to love it.

We know it can be confusing planning an elopement, especially if you’re not from the area, so we’re going to break it all down for you in this ultimate ‘How To Elope In Utah’ guide.

We’ll talk you through the legalities and the practicalities but, more importantly – and more fun –  we’ll brainstorm the really exciting stuff like the best places to elope in Utah and what fun activities you could fill your day with.

You can read the whole blog if you’re pretty new to this elopement planning game, or use the table of contents here to jump to the parts that most interest you…

Why Elope In Utah?

Utah is probably our favorite state in the whole of the US in which to photograph elopements. Bold statement, we know, but here’s why…

Elope in Utah for Mind-Blowing Scenery

The quality and variety of scenery in Utah is unmatched. From wacky red rock formations, to deep canyons as far as the eye can see, to glistening salt flats, to rugged mountains and dense healthy forest… When you elope in Utah, you’re pretty much guaranteed a mind-blowing backdrop wherever you share your vows.

We LOVE seeing our couple’s reactions when they elope in Utah with us, especially if it’s their first time here. It’s real ‘jaw on the ground’ kind of stuff, and that’s what we want for you on your wedding day: an experience that you’ll never forget, memories you’ll treasure forever. And, who knows, maybe you’ll come back year after year for your anniversary trip! There’s certainly a lifetime of discovery to be had in Utah…..

Easy Legalities When You Elope In Utah

Filing for your marriage license can feel a little confusing, we know, but it’s actually easier than you might think. Here’s the basics of what you’ll need to know…

Typically you can apply for your marriage license up to 30 days in advance and it’s valid for use as soon as it’s issued. Be sure to check the county clerk’s website though as things can always change!

If you want a paper marriage license to sign on the day, make sure you factor in time to apply for it and pick it up. You can fill the paperwork in in advance to save time, just DON’T SIGN IT till you’re there in person. If you elope in Moab, Utah, the office is tiny and super friendly and this whole process takes maybe 15 minutes tops, easy!

If you want to keep it even simpler, you can actually do the whole thing online. Just bear in mind, this means you won’t physically sign anything on the day: for some couples this is something sentimental and they don’t want to miss it, for others it’s a mere practicality and easier to avoid. If you would like to keep the whole thing digital, you MUST apply via Utah County’s website but, don’t worry, the license is valid across the whole state, so you can still elope anywhere you choose in Utah.

Whichever route you take, you will need a legal officiant to marry you and sign your license, as well as two witnesses.

After your ceremony, you can either return your license in person or mail it in. You will then receive your marriage certificate which is recognized across the US.

TOP TIP: if you elope in Utah with us, all of our packages include complimentary ceremony officiation by Vanessa. She will write and lead an entirely personalized ceremony for you and then sign your license. In addition, Chad can act as your first witness. Then, don’t worry, we always have fun finding your second witness: often a fellow hiker, or even the barman at your hotel! 

Super Talented Elopement Vendors In Utah

Because Utah is a popular elopement location, the wedding industry has evolved really well in the last 5-10 years and there are a lot of AMAZING vendors who either now specialize in elopements or have very specific elopement offerings available.

This is really important as elopements are SO different to big weddings and it’s important your vendors appreciate this. You probably don’t need florals for ten people, but you MIGHT need a hardy bouquet that can withstand hiking and being out in the elements! Someone who truly understands and has experience with the reality of eloping in Utah can help with that.

TOP TIP: when you elope in Utah with us, we send you a custom list of elopement vendors who work in the area you decide on. We know some INCREDIBLE florists, hair and makeup artists, chefs and more!

Ok, now you’re hopefully sold on the idea of eloping in Utah, let’s look at HOW to actually make that dream a reality…..

How To Elope In Utah

1. Choose Your Photographer 

You can use Pinterest, Instagram, Tik Tok and good ol’ Google to start looking for photographers. Try relevant hashtags like #utahelopementphotographer, or search things like ‘Utah elopement packages’.

We HIGHLY suggest choosing your elopement photographer very early on in your elopement planning journey, ideally as your very first step. 

Why? 

Because you do not have to figure it all out alone. We’re going to take on a lot of the planning legwork for you and remove all the stress, allowing you to elope in Utah feeling relaxed and excited, not overwhelmed and frustrated. 

We’re going to do SO much to help you including finding your dream location, helping pick all your vendors, suggesting fun activities and writing up your day-of timeline. We’ve been doing this for years and have helped SO many couples elope in Utah: take advantage of our expertise!

Obviously, we’d LOVE to be your elopement photographers, but WHOEVER you choose it’s really important to make sure that they are experts on eloping in Utah. You want someone who knows allllllll the best places, not just the few hotspots that show up with a quick Instagram search. You want someone who can advise on all the logistics such as travel, weather, lighting and Utah elopement permitting laws. 

We are local to Utah and spend all of our spare time exploring: we’d love to share our favorite hidden gems with you on your elopement day!

It’s also SO important that you 1. Love the style of the photographer you’re considering, and 2. Connect really well with them. Hanging out with them on your elopement day should feel easy and fun.

TOP TIP: get in touch and book a free consultation call with us, even if you’re in the very early stages of planning and don’t really have solid plans yet. We’d love to throw around some ideas with you, share our expertise and really help you picture what you want when you elope in Utah. It’s a totally no-obligation call!

2. Decide When To Elope In Utah

Typically to book your photographer, you’re going to need to choose an exact date: again, don’t worry, this is something your photographer can help you pin down, so don’t feel like you need to have it all figured out BEFORE contacting photographers.

Depending where you want to elope in Utah, what kind of scenery you imagine, what kind of climate you enjoy, and what kind of crowds you’re ok/not ok with, you’re going to want to choose your date carefully.

Let’s take a look at the best seasons for eloping in Utah….

In desert regions (places like Moab and Zion)

In the desert regions of Utah, you’re going to want to elope pretty much any time BUT Summer. Summer is hot and busy…. And like, REALLY hot and busy. We personally don’t work in the desert between June and September as it’s just too hot to be enjoyable: 100 degrees by 8am on your elopement day? No thanks!

If you’d like way more manageable temps but still hot and sunny, we’d suggest Spring and Fall: April/May and October/November are our favorite months in the desert for that reason.

However, we also LOVE winter in the desert! December through March typically brings cold temps (below freezing in the early mornings and late evenings) but still blue skies. And, if you’re super lucky, you can even get snow which just looks SO beautiful against the red rocks. 

TOP TIP: the most popular spots in places like Moab and Zion are going to be busy no matter when you decide to elope in Utah. That’s why it’s so important to choose a photographer who is familiar with the area and can lead you to stunning locations away from all the tourists. Also, if you’re open to a weekday and/or sunrise you’ll usually get fewer crowds.

You might enjoy: ‘How To Plan A Sunrise Wedding’

In mountainous regions (places like Salt Lake City or the La Sals near Moab)

In the more mountainous regions of Utah, you’ve got a couple of great options for when to elope.

If you’d like a true winter wonderland, we’d suggest January and February.

If you’d prefer colorful wildflowers, we’d suggest July and August.

Or, if it’s the Fall colors you’re after, typically late September and early October is going to be your best bet.

3. Decide Where To Elope In Utah!

This is the really fun part and we could go on foreveeeeeeer about all our favorite places. 

There are quite literally endless places to elope in Utah, but here’s a few of our favorites….

The Moab Area

Moab is a quirky little outdoor lover’s town in the southeast of Utah, close to the Colorado border. 

From soaring red rock arches, to vast canyons, to dramatic mountain backdrops, Moab has no end of stunning options for your elopement. It also has soooo many fun activities to get involved in, from world class off-roading to horse riding or floating down the river.

Because it’s such an amazing place, with SO many places to elope, we’ve written a full guide on Moab, which you can read here.

But for now, here’s a basic breakdown:

Where to Fly Into

You can actually fly directly into Moab, though the airport is small and doesn’t have a ton of connections. So, if you need more flexibility you’ll want to look at flying into Grand Junction in Colorado which is 90 minutes away, or into Salt Lake City in Utah which is 4hrs away.

Great Places To Stay

There’s a huge variety of places to stay in Moab to suit all tastes and budgets. Whether you want to camp for free on public lands, go upscale glamping or stay in a fancy hotel, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

When you elope in Utah with us, we will send you a whole list of recommendations but, for now, here’s a few of our favorites that you might want to check out: Under Canvas, Red Cliffs Lodge and Moab Springs Ranch.

A Few Favorite Vendors

Again, we’ll send you over a full list once we start planning your elopement but, for now, don’t sleep on Tangled Sage for flowers and Sweet Serendipity for cakes.

Best Elopement Locations

Depending on what scenery you enjoy most, what kind of crowds you’re willing to deal with (or not!) and what time of year you’re looking at, you might want to elope in….

Arches National Park

We’ll be totally honest, Arches actually isn’t our favorite spot to take our couples for their ceremony. We know that sounds weird: it is, afterall, home to the most well known Moab landmarks such as Delicate Arch. However, it’s suuuuper popular and is just so darned busy that if an intimate, private-feeling experience is important to you, you simply aren’t going to find it here.

If you decide you DO want to elope in Arches, here’s some things to know….

  • You will need a permit costing $185 to hold your ceremony in Arches and there are some rules you MUST follow. You can read all about it here.
  • There are just a few designated spots where you may hold your ceremony, though you may take photos in other spots before or after.
  • You can expect a park ranger to be there supervising your ceremony.
  • We would advise arriving in time for sunrise for the best chance to avoid big crowds.
  • Depending on what time of year you’re eloping, there may be a timed entry system in place. You will need to factor this into your travel plans and timeline for the day. This is something we will help you figure out as we plan the flow of your day!

TOP TIP: if you’re loving the views in Arches but want a private ceremony, we’d suggest sharing your vows elsewhere then just popping into the park for epic photos either before or after. It’s a particularly fun spot to check out late at night (or crazy early morning) to enjoy the stars and potentially get night sky elopement photos!

Canyonlands

Canyonlands is the second national park in the Moab area and it is STUNNING. The canyon views are out of this world and are the very definition of heartachingly romantic. To us, when you think of ‘eloping in Utah’ this is what it’s all about!

We love sharing Canyonlands with our couples, whether for their ceremony or just for photos before or after. And, because it is that bit further away from central Moab, only a fraction of the tourists that hit up Arches make it out here. The crowds are WAY more manageable!

Here’s some things to know:

  • You will need a permit costing $185 to hold your ceremony in Canyonlands and there are some rules you MUST follow. You can read all about it here.
  • There are designated spots where you may hold your ceremony, though you may take photos in other spots before or after.
  • You can expect a park ranger to be there supervising your ceremony.
Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse is in the same area as Canyonlands and has similar views. It is much smaller but still has some incredible spots for your elopement.

Here’s some things to know:

  • You will need a permit costing $260 to hold your ceremony in Dead Horse and there are some rules you MUST follow. You can read all about it here.
  • There are designated spots where you may hold your ceremony, though you may take photos in other spots before or after.
  • There will not be a ranger present typically, but please respect all rules as if there were, to ensure they continue allowing weddings in the park.
Bureau of Land Management Spaces (BLM)

Ahhhh, this is where it starts getting really exciting! All the land surrounding Moab is what’s called ‘BLM’ land and, as your photographers, we have a ten year photography permit to shoot in these spaces.

On BLM land you’re going to find views as good as – if not better than – those you find in the national and state parks BUT with none of the crowds! We can take you to soaring arches where you won’t find another soul, or to the edge of canyons where maaaaaybe you bump into the odd camper or rock climber. But hordes of tourists? Nope!

Needless to say, BLM spots are our absolute FAVORITE to share with you for your elopement.

Here’s some things you need to know:

  • There is a long list of spots you’re allowed to elope at with all sorts of incredible views.
  • Your photographer and ALL vendors who will be on site MUST have a permit to be allowed to work there.
  • If you’re eloping just the two of you, you don’t need a permit. Your photographer just needs to check in with the BLM office that the proposed date and timeline is ok and get permission. 
  • If you’re eloping with a small group, you’ll need to get a letter of acknowledgement from BLM saying they approve your activity. We’ll help with this!
BONUS IDEA: The La Sal Mountains

When people think of Moab, they don’t necessarily think of epic mountains. But, soaring straight out of the red rocks to the south of town, there is an incredible 13k’ range of peaks called the La Sals and they’re GORGEOUS.

The La Sals always make for a really fun backdrop to your desert elopement photos but, if you want to mix things up a little, you can actually head right into the mountains to get some beautiful forest/lake/meadow photos! This is a particularly great idea in the warmer months if you want a little reprieve from the desert heat.

The Zion Area

This area is known for its incredible overlooks and lush valley floors lined with rugged, soaring canyon walls. It’s BEAUTIFUL! Zion National Park is the most well known spot here, but there’s also some lesser known gems we’d like to share with you….

Where to Fly Into

You can fly into St George which is just 45 mins from Zion National Park, into Las Vegas which is 2.5hrs away or Salt Lake City which is 4.5hrs away.

Great Places To Stay

If you’re eloping in the Zion area you’re either going to want to stay in Springdale which is a quirky little tourist town right on the edge of the park, or in nearby St George which is a much bigger city vibe.

When you elope in Utah with us, we will send you a whole list of recommendations but, for now, here’s a few of our favorites that you might want to check out: Open Sky, Under Canvas, Zion Mountain Ranch and Lazalu.

A Few Favorite Vendors

Again, we’ll send you over a full list once we start planning your elopement but, for now, don’t sleep on By Bloomers for flowers and Chef Jeff Crossland for an incredible private dining experience.

Best Elopement Spots

Depending on what scenery you enjoy most, what kind of crowds you’re willing to deal with (or not!) and what time of year you’re looking at, you might want to elope in….

Zion National Park

Most people come to this area to visit Zion National Park and with good reason: it’s nothing short of spectacular. However, with popularity comes crowds. So, be ready to deal with people! A LOT of people.

Here’s some things to know:

  • You will need a permit costing $100 to hold your ceremony in Zion and there are some rules you MUST follow. You can read all about it here.
  • There are designated spots where you may hold your ceremony, though you may take photos in other spots before or after.
  • For most of the year, you will need to ride a shuttle system to get into the main valley. There can be long queues, so you’ll need to factor this into the flow of your day. We’ll help you figure that out when we design your timeline for you!
  • If you want to avoid the main crowds in Zion, head round to the west of the park, to an area called Kolobs Canyon. It has a fraction of the crowds that are in the main valley, and you’re allowed to take your own vehicle in so time management is a bit easier.

TOP TIP: Same as with Arches National Park above, if you want privacy for your ceremony you should absolutely go elsewhere. BUT you can totally venture into the park just for photos with that epic Zion backdrop before or after your ceremony. And we know some amazing hikes that will get you to some pretty quiet spots with insane views!

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon is such an underrated hidden gem, and we LOVE it! Of all the people that go to Zion, maybe 5% make it to Snow Canyon… Meaning a much higher degree of peace and privacy for your ceremony.

Here’s some things to know:

  • You will need a permit costing $150 to hold your ceremony in Snow Canyon and there are some rules you MUST follow. You can read all about it here.
  • There are designated spots where you may hold your ceremony, though you may take photos in other spots before or after.
  • There are blackout dates when you are not allowed to hold your ceremony in the park – over Spring Break, for example – though you can still go in just for photos.
  • Sunrise is a total DREAM here!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Oh my goodness, these dunes are such an unexpected find when you elope in Utah. they’re tucked into a little corner in the middle of nowhere and when you stumble upon them it’s breathtaking: they’re SO beautiful. And super fun: you can climb up the dunes and run down, or can even go dune boarding if you’re game!

Here’s some things to know:

  • You will need a permit costing $60 to hold your ceremony at Coral Pink and there are some rules you MUST follow. This info can’t be found online as it’s a small, lesser known park, but we can help you with all the details!
  • It’s a popular off-roading spot so you can expect some side-by-sides in the area. However, it’s a big place, so there’s no problem finding a quiet spot for your ceremony.
  • If the wind whips up, make sure you have sunglasses to protect your eyes from sand if you’re walking into the wind.
  • Sunset is a total DREAM here!

Salt Lake City Area

When most people decide to elope in Utah, they’re picturing wild desert landscapes. However, if mountains and forest are more your vibe you can totally find that in the Salt Lake City area.

Where to Fly Into

You’re gonna want to fly straight into Salt Lake City, easy!

Great Places To Stay

If you’re eloping in the Salt Lake City area, you might choose to stay in the city itself if that’s your vibe. If, however, you prefer a little less ‘urban’ you could either head on over to Park City which has a fun mountain town feel, or you could look for cute airbnbs/cabins out in the surrounding countryside.

When you elope in Utah with us, we will send you a whole list of recommendations but, for now, here’s a few of our favorites that you might want to check out: Black Rock Mountain Resort, The Blue Church Lodge and The Silver Fork Lodge.

A Few Favorite Vendors

Again, we’ll send you over a full list once we start planning your elopement but, for now, don’t sleep on Lilly & Iris for flowers and Cakes In The City for cakes.

Best Elopement Spots

Depending on what scenery you enjoy most, what kind of crowds you’re willing to deal with (or not!) and what time of year you’re looking at, you might want to elope in….

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood is just 30 minutes away from central Salt Lake but it’s a whole other world! Within minutes you’re in the heart of nature and enjoying lush meadows, dense forest and some seriously good snow in the winter! 

Here’s some things to know:

  • You currently don’t need a permit to elope in Big Cottonwood but that can always change so be sure to check.
  • This is a popular outdoor space so don’t expect total privacy. If you’re open to hiking a little you can escape the main crowds.
  • In winter the roads are challenging and you’ll need AWD or 4WD.
  • If you really want to elope in Utah in the summer, the mountains are where you’re going to want to be! Do NOT go to the desert!
Bonneville Salt Flats

The salt flats are just wild, truly like landing on another planet.

Here’s some things to know:

  • You will need a special use permit to get married here. The rules are often changing, so contact the land manager to find out the latest. Or have us, your photographers, help you navigate it as part of the planning process!
  • Dry season is in the Summer and Fall. At this time of year you can expect a super cool looking dried crust to form the backdrop of your photos.
  • Rainy season is in the Winter and Spring. Whilst you might think you don’t want rain on your wedding day, you might just change your mind when you see images of the flats creating perfect reflections of the sky in the still water! You CANNOT take vehicles onto the flats at this time as they will damage the crust: be prepared to walk.
  • Land speed record events are held here. Check the calendar and avoid those dates unless you want huge crowds!

BONUS: Hidden Gems If You Elope In Utah

All of the spots we’ve mentioned above are pretty well known and are already popular amongst couples who have decided to elope in Utah.

If you, however, are the kind of couple who is up for an adventure and craves something a bit different to the masses, then you might want to consider some of these lesser known spots instead…

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef is one of Utah’s five national parks but WAY less trafficked than Zion, Arches or Canyonlands. The landscapes are BEAUTIFUL and the rules on where and how you can elope are more relaxed than elsewhere since visitation is much lower.

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin valley is weird and wonderful: if you’re up for a truly unique elopement adventure and like the idea of being in the middle of nowhere, immersed in nature, this might be the spot for you.

Grand Staircase Escalante

Ok, this one is for the serious adventurers! Grand Staircase is a vast area of wilderness in the southeastern corner of Utah. It’s remote, it’s wild and it sure as heck breaks the mold!

*** If you’ve got an adventurous spirit and are keen on these hidden gems, get in touch and we can talk more about the details like where you’d want to stay, what permits you might need etc. ***

Ok, now you’ve figured out all the big stuff to elope in Utah: you’ve got your photographer locked in, you’ve decided when and where to elope…. What now?

Let’s start fine tuning the details…

4. Decide Who You’re Inviting, If Anyone!

For some couples, they know for sure they’re going to elope just the two of them. They’re excited about a day dedicated to just them, their love and their shared adventure.

Others, however, are thinking they might like to bring along their nearest and dearest.

There’s no right or wrong here, but you MUST be aware that bringing guests when you elope will have an impact on how your day plays out.

Here’s a few things to consider:

  • When you elope in Utah, certain locations are only permitted to have a certain number of guests. Are you happy to compromise on location if needed in order to have your loved ones there?
  • Depending on who you’re bringing, you may need to consider accessibility. You might be willing to hike a mile or two to get to epic views, but are they/can they?
  • The more people you bring, the trickier it gets to pivot to a Plan B or C if needed due to weather, for example. 
  • It’s important you accept your role as host graciously and look after your guests who’ve likely traveled across the country to be with you. For this reason, pleeeeeeease only invite people because you want to, not because of some guilty sense of you ‘have’ to. You should be EXCITED by their presence and looking forward to hosting them.

We don’t say all this to scare you, rather to give you a realistic idea of the implications of bringing guests to your elopement. 

Top Tip: if you are bringing guests, we always advise that you take at least a small part of the day just for the two of you, whether it’s a private sunrise first look, or a sunset picnic. It’s important you have some alone time where you don’t feel responsible for your guests and can really just soak it all in.

5. Do You Need A Venue When You Elope In Utah?

If you’re eloping just the two of you, it’s very unlikely you’re going to need a venue. The great outdoors is the perfect backdrop to share your vows against!

But if you’re bringing more than just a small handful of guests, you may find that renting a small venue is a great idea for you. It’s not always practical – or allowed – to take larger groups out into nature. Plus, having a venue helps avoid problems like access to restrooms or somewhere to hide out from ‘bad’ weather.

There’s some really cool options for venues when you elope in Utah and part of the planning service we provide is finding locations that work best for YOU.

For now, here’s a couple of ideas for you:

The Red Earth Venue in Moab

Under Canvas in Moab

Red Rock Chalet in the Zion area

Lazalu in the Zion area

6. Apply For Permits Early

Typically, when you elope in Utah, there’s a good chance you’re going to need a ‘special use’ permit to be allowed to get married in a natural space, especially if you’re eloping in a national or state park.

The process can be a little confusing, but an elopement specialist photographer has the knowledge to walk you through the process. Do NOT feel like you need to figure this out alone!

Most places have a limit on how many weddings they’ll allow each week/month/year so, as soon as you’ve pinned down your location, go ahead and start chatting to your photographer about what permits are needed.

TOP TIP: as tempting as it may be, do NOT attempt to skip the permit process and get married in a public space without one. Rangers can and DO check these things: imagine one halting your ceremony half way through because your paperwork’s not in order!

7. Create A Budget: How Much Does It Cost To Elope In Utah?

Money may or may not be a factor in why you decided to elope. It’s actually a myth that most people elope just to save money: in reality, it’s more likely because you want a special, intimate experience that embodies who you really are as a couple. 

For most couples, it will be important to draw up a budget. This will help you decide what is most important to you and where you’d most like to delegate your funds. There’s no right or wrong here: some people will prioritize photography, others care more about beautiful accommodation, others still want to do a ton of fun activities…. It’s up to YOU how you budget for your elopement!

So, how much does it cost to elope in Utah?

Uggh, this is such a tricky question – a ‘how long is a piece of string’ situation – but we know you want at least a little idea of what to expect. So, here are two sample budgets and opposite ends of the spectrum: one for a simple but super fun, two-person elopement, and one for a more elaborate, experience-based elopement.

Please bear in mind, these costs will naturally increase if you’re bringing guests.

Simple But Fun Two Person Utah Elopement
Marriage License$30
Rings$500
Outfits$1000
Travel: Flights and Rental Car$1500
Mid-Range Accommodation For 4 Nights$800
General Daily Budget For 4 Days (food, gas, fun activities etc)$1000
Half Day Photography Package$4800
Flowers: 2 x Bouquet/Boutonniere$200
Hair And Makeup$250
Celebratory Dinner$200
TOTAL~$10k
More Elaborate, Experience-Based Two Person Elopement
Marriage License$30
Rings$2000
Outfits$3000
Travel: flights and rental car$1500
Luxury Cabin Rental, 4 Nights$2000
General Daily Budget For 4 Days (food, gas, fun activities etc)$1000
Day and A Half Photography Package$8800
Flowers: 2 x Bouquet/Boutonniere + arch set-up$1000
Hair And Makeup$250
Jeep Rental to Access Rugged Canyon Pass On Day 1$300
Luxury Picnic and Set-Up ‘In The Wild’$500
Private Helicopter Ride With Landing For Sunset On Day 2$1000
5 Course Celebratory Dinner by A Private Chef $1000
TOTAL~$20k

As you can see, there’s a huge amount of variation in how much to spend when you elope in Utah. 

Whilst you may want to go all out, and create something as ‘fancy’ as a traditional wedding but on a much smaller scale, we’re also VERY confident you can have an epic day of dreams for under $10k!

For more detailed examples on realistic elopement costs, please check out this blog.

8. Book Your Flights and Accommodation

Now you’ve got the when and where figured out, and you’ve drawn up a guideline budget, you can start locking in your travel and accommodation.

Websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights are a good place to start comparing flight costs. Personally, once we’ve done our initial research this way, we then prefer to book directly with the airline. That way, IF there’s any problem, you can contact the airline directly and not deal with a middle man which can be super frustrating.

Now, you’re going to want to get accommodation booked. We usually use Booking.Com and AirBnB.

A few things you might want to think about when choosing a place to stay:

  • If you would like ‘getting ready’ photos, or other photos throughout the day at your accommodation, it’s essential you choose a place with tons of natural light and ideally a ‘clean’ aesthetic. Dark with lots of clutter makes photos challenging.
  • Do you want somewhere downtown, within walking distance to restaurants, or would you like somewhere more out of town and peaceful?
  • Do you want something fun like a hot tub??
  • Do you want a hotel room, or would you prefer an AirbnB with access to a lounge and kitchen?
  • If you’re bringing guests, do you want everyone to stay together or separately? Would you like a space for everyone to have a big group dinner or will you eat out?

9. Book Your Vendors

If you would prefer, your elopement can be as simple as the two of you and the two of us: there’s really nothing else you NEED. 

However, you might decide you’d like a few little extras: beautiful flowers, professional hair and makeup, a celebratory cake etc.

You might also want to consider whether or not you would like an elopement planner on your team. If you’re eloping just the two of you, or a very small group, and keeping it relatively simple, it’s unlikely you need a planner. Remember, as your photographers, we’re also going to help you with a ton of the planning legwork: choosing a location, writing a timeline etc.

However, if you’re bringing a larger group with you and/or you’re designing a more elaborate day with lots of moving parts – eg. a fancy dinner set-up – it may well be helpful to have a dedicated planner to make sure it all comes together as you envision.

TOP TIP: pick a team who specialize in elopements. Elopements run very differently to traditional weddings and it helps to have people who understand the differences. For example, if you’re planning a sunrise hike, you’re going to need a hair and makeup artist who is willing to get up suuuuper early to get you ready! Or, if you’d like a bouquet/boutonniere, an elopement florist is going to know which flowers are most hardy for your adventurous day.

10. Choose Your Outfits

Hopefully, choosing your elopement outfits is a really fun part of the process! 

Just keep in mind that if you’re going to elope in Utah, it’s essential you choose environment-appropriate outfits.

What does that mean?

Well, essentially, it means prioritizing comfort and movement. The outfit that works in a ballroom kind of venue might not be the same outfit that works in the great outdoors!

Generally, for dresses we suggest loose, flowing fabrics, or ones that have a lot of stretch. For suits, a stretchier fabric is a great idea.

And don’t forget footwear! This ain’t the time for high heels or dress shoes with no grip. Instead, you’re going to want to think more like hiking shoes/boots, Vans, Converse, ‘sensible’ flats etc.

Also consider the color of the outfits you choose! Try not to blend in or clash with your environment too much. For example, if you’re eloping in the Utah desert try to avoid red/orange tones or you might disappear against the rocks! Same goes for greens in the forest. If you’re unsure, ask your photographer: we’ve seen tons of cool outfits and can always advise!

TOP TIP: if you want to know if your outfit is suitable for an outdoor, active elopement, put it on in your house and bust out some moves! No, seriously. Try going up the stairs, climbing over a big box, doing a little lunge or two… And, if any of those moves feel uncomfortable, you might want to rethink your outfit!

11. Plan Your Ceremony

Don’t forget that your ceremony is the real heart of your elopement day. Often, couples get so caught up in the planning that they almost forget about it until the last minute!

Here’s just a few things you might want to think about:

  • Do you want a religious ceremony, a secular ceremony or something in between?
  • Do you want to include any readings? If so, which ones? You could include anything that’s meaningful to you, whether it’s from literature, a movie or a religious text.
  • Are there any cultural elements you’d like to include?
  • If you’re bringing guests, would you like to involve them in any way?

We offer complimentary officiant services with all our packages, so you don’t have to worry about finding an officiant and getting them in the loop. We will share a full ceremony guide with you, then ask you to fill in a little questionnaire for us so we can write and lead a ceremony that is entirely reflective of your story and personal beliefs.

To elope in Utah, don’t forget you’ll need two witnesses as well as your officiant to sign your license. Chad can be your witness number one then we’ll help you find a second, no problem!

TOP TIP: we hiiiiiighly suggest you write personal vows to share during your ceremony. It adds so much emotion to the day and makes it truly yours. You can read our advice on writing vows here.

12. Plan Fun Activities When You Elope In Utah

Utah is an outdoor lover’s paradise. There’s SO much cool stuff to see and do, and it’s super fun to incorporate some interesting activities into your elopement day.

Your elopement day is not just a quick ceremony and a few photos: it’s a chance to live out a whole day entirely dedicated to the two of you and what YOU enjoy. It’s an entire day to make memories to last a lifetime.

We’ve written a whole blog on how to make your elopement day special, but here’s just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Rent a Jeep or side-by-side and go off-roading. Some of the best spots can’t be reached with an ordinary vehicle!
  • Go on a helicopter or plane tour, touching down somewhere remote and epic to share vows
  • Go dune boarding and laugh your butt off!
  • Check out the local brewery
  • If it’s winter, get your snow-shoes on and wander off the beaten path
  • Stay out late (or get up early!) and watch the stars

And, of course, you can still enjoy many of the aspects of a traditional wedding if they resonate with you: a first look, a first dance, cutting a cake together….

13. Create A Timeline For Your Day

Now that you’ve brainstormed all the cool things you want to fill your day with, it’s time to design the flow of the day.

It’s important you have at least a loose timeline in place ready for when you elope in Utah. You’re not having a big, traditional wedding so it definitely doesn’t need to be mapped out minute by minute, right down to the finest detail: that’s the stress you’re avoiding by choosing to elope! But you do still want to make sure you’ve got a rough idea of where to be when, and how much time you need to fit in all the cool things you want to do.

So, with that being said, how much time do you actually need for your elopement?

Just because you are choosing to elope rather than have a traditional wedding, does NOT mean your day is any ‘lesser’. It saddens us when couples choose to have just a one or two hour elopement and that’s it, all over and done. This is your WEDDING DAY and you deserve so much more than that.

Think about it: most couples have an entire day dedicated to their wedding, so why on earth shouldn’t you?! Especially if you’ve traveled from out of state to elope in Utah: make the absolute most of your time here!

We always advise our eloping couples to close their eyes and picture their entire dream day together. From the moment of waking up, to the moment of falling back into bed MARRIED, what does that day look like?! Of course, it’s going to be different for every couple – some like a slower, chilled pace while others are more go, go, go – but PLEASE allow yourselves a full day to revel in your love and celebrate the heck out of your marriage!

Creating your timeline is something that we, as your photographers, will help with. We have tons of experience and know, realistically, how long things are going to take. We also know the importance of flexibility, spontaneity and down-time, so we’re going to create a timeline that moves at a nice relaxed pace, and doesn’t ever make you feel hurried or stressed.

To help you visualize what your day might look like, here’s a couple of sample Utah elopement timelines:

Sample Timeline 1: Full Day Elopement With Sunrise Hike and Evening Ceremony

FROMTOACTIVITY
4.306.00Meet at trailhead and hike out to remote arch in the dark, stopping to stargaze along the way.
6.008.00Get ready, first look under huge arch, hike around and explore the area, breakfast picnic.
8.009.30Hike back out in wedding outfits, ‘in action’ shots along the way
9.3010.00Drive back to your accommodation
Break to nap, refresh and get ready for the afternoon.
4.005.00Leave your accommodation to head to Location 2
5.006.00Head out to a stunning canyon overlook for your ceremony, let’s get you MARRIED!
6.007.00Celebrate! Pop some bubbles, cut a cake, maybe a first dance….
7.008.00Enjoy sunset and get those ‘wow’ photos in that evening glow.

Sample Timeline 2: Full Day Elopement With Sunrise At Accessible Overlook and Sunset Private Plane Ride

FROMTOACTIVITY
6.008.00Meet at overlook, get ready and enjoy a first look as the sun rises, explore the area
8.0010.00Check out a second close by, easily accessible location, take time to make coffee together and read letters from loved ones.
11.009.30Time for your ceremony, let’s get you MARRIED!!!
11.0011.30Drive back to your accommodation
Break to nap, refresh and get ready for the afternoon.
5.008.00Private plane tour, touching down on the edge of a remote canyon with not another soul in sight. Time for a first dance and sunset picnic.

Hopefully that gives you just a little inspiration for how your day might play out. Obviously every couple is different and we’d love to design an elopement day that feels like a dream for YOU!

14. It’s Time To Elope In Utah!

Everything is in place and now it’s time…. Your elopement day is coming!

No matter how you’re traveling, make sure you double/triple chesk you have everything before setting off: it really helps to have a physical list you can check off. Plan your travel to arrive early and have plenty of time to settle in and get into relaxation mode. Leave wiggle room in case of flight delays or road closures.

If you’re flying, here’s just a couple of reminders for you:

  • Pack all the important stuff – vows, rings and outfits – in your hand luggage. Don’t put anything in the hold that you can’t afford to lose. Often the cabin crew will help you store your outfits.
  • Get to the airport early. This is not the time to turn up an hour before and wing it! Better you check in super early and enjoy a bit of downtime before boarding. Now would be a great time to write your vows if you haven’t done yet!

And that’s it!!

You’ve made it to Utah, your little mind is already blown by all the beauty you’re seeing, anticipation is at an all time high, and…. It’s YOUR ELOPEMENT DAY!!!!

Our biggest advice?

Take it slow, let time stand still for you. Take time to breathe and just let it all soak in. Stop, look around you, look at your love’s face and take a mental photograph…. You’ve done it. You’re standing here on your wedding day and nothing else in the world matters in this sweet moment of time….

If you’d like to elope in Utah, or simply learn more about the possibilities, reach out to us. We’d LOVE to help you!

We would love to create an epic elopement experience for you!

We provide planning assistance, photography, ceremony officiation and optional videography for adventure-seeking couples across the US and worldwide.

Get in touch to start brainstorming with us!

Chad & Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’

Let’s do this thing!

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