Moab wedding. The couple look out over canyons as a storm rolls in in the distance, creating a moody dramatic sky.

THE ULTIMATE MOAB ELOPEMENT GUIDE

BY CHAD AND VANESSA, ‘THE OUTLOVERS’: YOUR MOAB ELOPEMENT TEAM

March 1st 2021

A MOAB ELOPEMENT: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PLAN THE MOAB, UTAH ELOPEMENT OR SMALL WEDDING OF YOUR WILDEST DREAMS

The Moab desert, in the south east corner of Utah, is a place that steals your heart. Once that red dirt gets under your skin – or under your nails and in your hair, more precisely – there’s no resisting it’s pull. 

The desert is calling and you WILL go!

Moab weddings are our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE.

We’ve been very fortunate to photograph couples in some pretty epic locations all across the US, but there’s nowhere more breathtaking or inspiring than Moab to share your wedding vows; the most intimate, meaningful words you’ll ever speak.

The rugged, wild landscape is other-worldly and just so darned dramatic with its towering red rock formations and plunging canyons. It makes for the perfect panoramic backdrop for an adventurous elopement or intimate wedding. There’s something about that vast, endless terrain that seems to amplifies your love and your feeling of togetherness: two souls intertwined in this big, wild world. 

In this ultimate Moab elopement guide, we’re going to take you through all the nitty-gritty details of how to have a Moab wedding (and, yes, an elopement IS a legitimate wedding, just on a smaller scale to what most people are used to!). 

We’ll look at the practicalities of how to get there and what to put on your packing list. 

We’ll tackle the slightly-boring-but-necessary legal stuff as well as the could-this-be-more-confusing permit requirements. 

Most importantly, we’ll cover the EXCITING sh*t: the best locations to elope in Moab, all the cool things to do in Moab, where to stay, where to eat and drink…..

So, grab a drink, kick back, read on… Let’s start day-dreaming about your Moab elopement!

YOUR ELOPEMENT TEAM

Photography, planning assistance, ceremony officiation.

Hey! We’re Chad and Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’. 

We’re an adventurous Colorado and Utah elopement photography team, adventuring with couples across the US and worldwide.

We create epic elopement experiences for adventure-seeking couples who find their deepest connection in the great outdoors. 

We’re going to be by your side throughout the whole process, making sure the planning stage of your epic elopement is a total breeze!

We want your Moab elopement to be relaxed, stress-free and FUN!

WHY CHOOSE A MOAB ELOPEMENT?

Astounding natural beauty and endless adventure.

With a population of less than 6000 people, Moab is a tiny town with a LOT of soul. In fact, we reckon it has to be one of the coolest places to elope in the US. 

Moab is a total heaven-on-earth for outdoor lovers. Whether you want to hike in the back country for days on end and barely see another soul, road trip around the national parks or simply sit out at a viewpoint with a picnic and soak it all in; there’s truly something for everyone in Moab. 

A lot of people are under the impression that Moab is reserved solely for adrenaline junkies: not true! Whilst there’s certainly a lot of folks who enjoy the more extreme stuff, eloping in Moab is a great idea for anyone with a simple appreciation for the great outdoors.

With mind-blowing landscapes, quirky places to stay and endless fun activities to get involved in Moab really is the perfect elopement location.

BEST PLACES FOR YOUR MOAB ELOPEMENT

Soaring natural arches, winding canyons, dramatic overlooks: there’s no end of ‘venues’ to choose from!

There are SO many stunning vistas for a Moab elopement, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the exact spot where you’d like to share your wedding vows and GET FREAKING MARRIED! 

One of the best parts of our job as elopement photographers is helping our couples pinpoint YOUR perfect location, and that really is different for everyone. We spend a lot of time getting to know you and what kind of setting sings to you the most, whether it be red rock towers, spectacular arches, never-ending canyons or even a snow capped mountain range. Yup, it may come as a surprise to you that the Moab region even has snow capped mountains!

Adventure elopement in Moab, Utah. A bride and groom both with backpacks on cuddle up face to face with red rocks in the background.

General Considerations for choosing your Moab elopement location

  • Make sure all necessary permits are in order for your chosen location (more details below).
  • Consider transportation for yourselves and any guests. Car-pooling is a great idea if you’re bringing a group as parking is often limited, especially in the Moab national parks.
  • Consider park entrance fees. We highly suggest picking up an annual national park pass. Seriously, it’s the best 80 bucks you’ll ever spend!
  • Be sure to check out and abide by any specific rules for your chosen location eg. are chairs allowed, can you erect an arch, is music allowed, is it ok to have a fresh flower bouquet and throw confetti, is popping champagne within the rules etc?

Moab Elopement/Wedding Permit Requirements

There are two types of permits you may need for your Moab elopement, depending on where you wish to hold your ceremony and any other locations you may want to have photos taken.

The first is a ‘special use’ permit and is the responsibility of the eloping couple to obtain. This allows you to hold your wedding ceremony in a given location. Don’t worry, we’re going to help you through this process: you’re just the ones who need to sign on the dotted line.

Then there’s a photography permit which is entirely separate to the special use permit. Here at ‘The Outlovers’, we take care of the photography permit and the cost is included in all of our Moab elopement packages

Just be aware that other photographers might have different procedures: always be sure to ask so there are no surprises!

There’s a LOT of ducks to get in a row for your Moab elopement or small wedding.

REMEMBER, this is WHAT WE DO. It’s our job – and our passion – to create the elopement of your dreams and a big part of that is understanding these regulations and guiding you through the process.

Leave No Trace Considerations

Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of ‘Leave No Trace’, it is a set of 7 principles written by the Center for Outdoor Ethics, aimed at encouraging us ALL to act as stewards for the natural environment.

Here at ‘The Outlovers’ we are deeply committed to respecting and protecting the great outdoors. As such, we are graduates of the ‘Leave No Trace for Elopement Photographers’ course and we strive to follow LNT principles in all our work and play activities. 

What this means exactly varies from environment to environment.

Don’t Bust the Crust’

In Moab, specifically, it means being really freaking careful where you step! 

You want to be sure you are walking on durable surfaces such as rock or sandy washes, and NOT on the super sensitive ‘cryptobiotic crust’. 

This crust is a living layer of biotic organisms also known as ‘desert glue’: this magic stuff literally holds the soil together and stops Moab from turning into one massive sand dune! A huge amount of damage is done by people walking or driving off trail and killing the crust.

It can be hard at first to recognise what is crust and what is just dirt: don’t worry, we’ll always make sure you’re walking somewhere responsible and can teach you the difference if you’re interested.

This short video is really helpful if you want to learn more about the crust.

Let’s take a look at the best locations for your Moab elopement and a few of the special considerations for each.

Arches National Park Moab Elopement

Arches National Park is quintessential ‘Moab’: its most famous landmark, Delicate Arch, even made it onto the Utah license plate! 

Right on the edge of town, an Arches National Park wedding is a great option if you want a super accessible, easy elopement location with insane views and a totally wacky other-worldly landscape. And what could be more romantic than getting married under an entirely natural arch?!

The main downside to an Arches National Park wedding is the popularity of the area. We can’t guarantee you’d have any spot to yourselves; there will likely be other people around, so not a good choice if you want a totally private place to exchange vows. Opting for a sunrise ceremony certainly alleviates this issue but, even then, there’s every chance there’ll be a few dedicated landscape photographers around catching sunrise through the arches.

The cool thing, though, is that while your ceremony must be in one of the designated spots (you can find a full list here along with how many people are allowed at each), we can then go off exploring and find somewhere secluded for romantic portrait photos once your ceremony is concluded.

Arches National Park Wedding Considerations:

  • Your wedding Special Use permit fee is $185 and will take ten business days to process
  • No alcohol allowed
  • No live or amplified music
  • No more than ten continuous minutes under an arch at any one time, then must allow other visitors to enjoy for at least ten minutes. Don’t worry, there are SO many cool arches and landmarks to see, you’ll want to be bouncing around exploring anyway.
  • No rice, birdseed or non-native plant seed (this is super important as it prevents non native species from invading the area)

Check out the Arches National Park website for details and further info. 

Canyonlands National Park Moab Elopement

Uggghhhh, Canyonlands is one of our favorite places in the whole wide world. In fact, we love it so much we chose it as the spot to reshare our vows on our second anniversary (it’s our tradition to share them every year somewhere new and epic).

Canyonlands is just 30 minutes outside of Moab but it feels SO remote. The sense of vastness is honestly indescribable so we’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Canyonlands is a great choice if you want easy accessibility – you can literally hop out of the car to a panoramic viewpoint and get insane pictures with absolutely zero effort – OR if you want to get ‘lost’ in the backcountry on a multi-day hike. It truly has it ALL!

Canyonlands National Park Wedding Considerations:

  • Your wedding Special Use permit fee is $185 and will take ten business days to process
  • No alcohol allowed
  • No live or amplified music
  • Your ceremony can be held at Mesa Arch, the Green River Overlook or Grand View Point (then we can galavant around and take epic pics all over!)
  • No rice, birdseed or non-native plant seed (this is super important as it prevents non native species from invading the area)

Check out the Canyonlands National Park website for details and further info.

Dead Horse State Park Moab Elopement

Dead Horse State Park is right next door to Canyonlands and shares similar views but is lesser known and therefore often less crowded than its national park neighbor. 

Oh, and unlike the other parks, you can BRING YOUR DOG here! Major plus point in our opinion.

Dead Horse State Park Wedding Considerations:

  • Your wedding Special Use permit fee is $60 and should be applied for at least 30 days in advance
  • In addition, you will need to pay your state park entrance fee of $20 per vehicle
  • You have 5 designated sites to choose from for your ceremony (you can see a map and images of them all here). 
  • Real flowers are allowed but please don’t bring in invasive species such as pampas grass
  • No seeds, confetti or rice allowed to be thrown
  • No amplified music or large decorations allowed

Check out the Dead Horse State Park website for details and further info.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Moab Elopement

If you want to avoid crowds, get out somewhere remote and wild and feel truly immersed in your surroundings, an elopement on BLM land is absolutely the best choice for you.

The Bureau of Land Management protects almost 2 million acres of land in the Moab area and you’ll find canyons, arches, waterfalls, crazy towering stacks of red rocks, huge mesas…. Everything the national parks have minus all the people! Massive WIN, we say.

BLM Wedding Considerations:

  • EACH professional wedding vendor who will be present on BLM land on the day of your elopement must have a permit.
  • These permits are not easy to come by! They are annual rather than ‘one-off’ and are only issued twice a year. WE HAVE OURS! If you hire us for your elopement we serve not only as your photographer but also as your officiant so no other vendors are needed.
  • All YOU will need is a letter of authorization from the BLM office. This costs nothing and you just need to list your vendors so they can check on permits.

So, there you have it: some of the top locations for your Moab elopement or small wedding! 

We spend hours and DAYS scouring maps and getting out on trails to find the best locations for you. We’re forever finding new cool spots we’re desperate to share with our couples!

Once you lock us in as your photographer, we’ll draw up a personalized location list of ideas just for you.

CHECK OUT SASHA AND DANNY’S AWESOME ADVENTURE ON BLM LAND

TOP TIP!

You don’t have to pick and choose and limit yourself to just one of these fabulous locations. If you book a full day elopement package, you could easily hit up at least two of these locations: one for sunrise, followed by a lazy afternoon, and another for sunset!

You could even go all out and go on a multi-day wedding adventure, checking out our other favorite place, the San Juan mountains region of Colorado. Imagine: deserts AND soaring peaks in the space of two days… Now, THAT’S an adventure elopement to remember!

CHECK OUT CRYSTAL AND RASHID’S FULL DAY MOAB ADVENTURE

As the sun sets on their Moab elopement, this couple sit together on the rocks and share a pizza and beer for their wedding celebrations. There are towering red rock ‘hoodoos’ in the distance and a dark, dramatic sky above.

AWESOME ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR MOAB ELOPEMENT

Moab: the adventure capital of the west

This is where Moab as an elopement location seriously excels! When you elope in Moab, there’s just SO MUCH to see and do here. Be warned, you’re gonna want to stay forever. 

We highly advise you spend at least 4-5 days in Moab so you can explore the multiple parks, try out some fun activities, soak it all in and really make the most of your honeymoon.

Here’s just a handful of the activities you might want to check out:

Hiking

There are endless trails in the Moab area, ranging from a mile or two to multi-day adventures. 

Here’s just a few of our favorites for your Moab elopement adventure:

  • Delicate Arch in Arches National Park (3.5 miles roundtrip)
  • Peekaboo in the Needles district of Canyonlands (10 miles roundtrip, takes you out to some incredible petroglyph drawings in the cliffs)
  • Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park (8 mile loop with 7 different arches)
  • Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park (permit required, must be acquired in person up to 7 days in advance) ***CLOSED until Covid BE GONE!***

Off-Roading

Moab is known for its crazy off-roading opportunities. 

There are some moderate routes you can tackle yourself with strong driving skills, a decent 4WD vehicle and IF conditions allow. The Shafer Trail is super fun! Always, ALWAYS check in with a ranger before setting off on these kinds of drives. And DO NOT tackle anything remotely beyond your skill level.

Unless you are an experienced off-road driver yourself, for the more extreme stuff we HIGHLY recommend hiring someone to take you on an exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping tour. High Point Hummer offers both Hummer and UTV tours. You could even charter a private sunset tour as part of your elopement day activities! Don’t forget a cozy blanket and a champagne picnic.

See Moab From Above

There are multiple ways you could enjoy seeing the wild Moab landscape from above: set off on a hot air balloon ride, charter a private sunset helicopter tour to end off your elopement day…. Or, if you’re feeling really brave, you could try a sky-dive! That would certainly make for a wedding day to remember.

Horse Riding

We think a horseback trail ride through the dreamy red-rock landscape would be a lovely way to start off your Moab elopement wedding day. The Moab Adventure Center can get it all set up for you.

Venture Down The Colorado River for you Moab elopement

We’re dying for someone to stand-up-paddle-board in their wedding dress. Who’s game?! Alternatively, you could go on a rafting, kayaking or jet boat tour. Again, the Moab Adventure Center can help you with all this.

Oh, and be sure to check out the Utah Brewery & Distillery  to relax after a long day of adventuring!

THE LOGISTICS OF YOUR MOAB ELOPEMENT

Every good adventure takes at least a bit of planning!

What to Pack for Your Moab Elopement

If you book us for your Moab elopement, we’re going to send you a really full, detailed packing list. For now, here’s a handful of things you REALLY want to be sure you remember for an outdoor, adventurous elopement wedding:


  • GOOD HIKING BOOTS/SHOES

We can’t stress this enough. Nothing will ruin your wedding day happiness like a blister ten minutes into your multi-mile hike. If you don’t already own a pair we suggest ordering well in advance and trying them out on some test-run hikes first.


  • COMFORTABLE DAY-PACK

Just like the shoes, you want to be sure in advance that your backpack fits you well and is comfortable. You also want to make sure it is big enough to carry your wedding clothes, lots of water, snacks, a first aid kit and all the odds and ends you’ll need for your elopement.


  • LARGE WATER CONTAINER

We love Camelbaks as they slide right into your backpack then have a hose coming over your shoulder so you don’t have to stop and pull out your bottle every time you want a drink. We find people are more likely to stay properly hydrated this way!

Sunrise wedding, Moab. The soon-to-be-married couple stand below a red archway and watch the rocks turn a deep red color as the sun rises and hits them straight on.
  • LAYERED CLOTHING

The desert temperature can vary greatly throughout the day at any time of year so be sure to bring layers that you can easily change in and out of. Something warm and cute that you wouldn’t mind taking photos in is a great idea! We’re thinking fitted puffer jackets, cosy jumpers and snuggly blankets.

  • GOOD SUNSCREEN

Whatever time of year you’re planning your Moab elopement, BRING SUNSCREEN! Even in winter that sun can be brutal. We love this article which recommends cruelty free, eco-friendly sunscreen brands!

  • GORGEOUS and COMFORTABLE WEDDING ATTIRE

We’ll send you a ton of advice on what to wear on your elopement day to be sure you look good and feel good. For now, suffice it to say that stiff, rigid attire is not your friend in the heat of the desert: think soft, flowing fabrics instead.

Check out Our Top Ten Flowy Wedding Dresses for inspiration.

We have tons of really specific, reliable recommendations for outdoor gear and elopement suitable wedding attire in our full 100 page elopement planning guide that all our booked couples receive.

TOP TIP: 

The best thing you can do to make sure your outfit is environment-appropriate is try it out. Put on your dress/suit and shoes/boots: now march around your house! Take big steps, try going upstairs pretending like you’re hiking, swing your arms around. Is anything uncomfortable or restrictive? If so, make some changes. You don’t want minor irritations like that distracting you on your elopement day.

The bride spins in her flowy wedding dress, against an incredible Moab wedding backdrop.

Getting to Moab

Despite being in a pretty remote corner of Utah, Moab is super easy to get to.

You’re going to want to fly into one of four airports: Moab itself, Salt Lake City, Grand Junction or Denver. We recommend checking out Skyscanner to browse flight schedules and costs.

Moab ‘Canyonlands Field Airport’ (CNY)

Moab has its own little airport just 18 miles north of town. Flights here are a little more pricey, but the simplicity of getting right where you need to be is pretty nice and if you’re looking for ease and efficiency this might be your best option.

From the airport, you can catch the Moab Express Shuttle into town for $45 USD per person return.

Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT)

Grand Junction is just a stone’s throw away from Moab, over the border in Colorado.

From here, you can either rent a car for the 90 minute drive or hire a van shuttle service for $225 (for up to ten people one-way). 

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLK)

Salt Lake City is a major hub so you’re going to find plenty of options here.

Once you land in SLC, you’ll need to rent a car for the 4hr drive to Moab. It’s a pretty scenic route! Try something like Expedia to compare car rentals.

Denver International Airport (DIA)

Denver is another major hub, located on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. The 5 hour drive to Moab is STUNNING!

INSIDER SECRET: 

Word on the street is that in summer 2021, The Rocky Mountaineer  – a luxury train travel specialist  – will be starting a new line from Denver to Grand Junction. The journey will take two days with an overnight stop in the mountains AND their trains have a glass ceiling so you can take in all the crazy views! How about THAT to add a bit of unique luxury to your Moab, Utah wedding experience?!

Where to Stay for Your Moab Elopement

Of course you can find all the standard hotels in Moab: Hilton, Best Western, Hyatt etc. But if you’d like something a little more unusual for your elopement, we’ve done some digging and there are SO MANY cool, unique places to stay in and around Moab. There are some real gems to suit all budgets.

Moab Accommodation $0-200

Camping

Yes, truly, you can stay in Moab for free! You’ll just need to bring your own tent (or RV).

There are lots of campsites in the area and there are also spots where you can ‘dispersed camp’ (zero amenities). 

It’s really important you understand what type of camping is allowed where and also how to camp responsibly so you don’t do damage to the local environment. We recommend checking out this article that clearly explains how to camp responsibly.

TOP TIP: 

If you love the idea of camping but don’t have your own RV, you can rent a teardrop trailer through Red Rocks Base Camp and they will deliver it to your campsite! How awesome is that?!

Glamping in Castle Valley: 

Castle Valley is a spectacular area just outside of Moab and is the perfect base for your Moab elopement. We know some INSANE hidden gem, off the beaten path locations out that way we’d love to share with you.

If you enjoy the glamping vibe check out this sweet tented camp.

AirBnB

There are so many cozy-looking places to stay on AirBnB or VRBO. Just plug in your dates, your price range and how many people you need to accommodate.

We think this Oliver House Suite is a super cool mix of modern and quirky.

Moab Accommodation $200-500

Wooden bungalow in Castle Valley:

This place has a real cool ‘cozy cabin’ vibe to it and is nestled amongst the most gorgeous orchards with insane red rock towers all around. Don’t be surprised if some deer come wandering by as you enjoy breakfast outside!

Under Canvas Moab:

We are IN LOVE with the Under Canvas upscale camping vibe: we’d pretty much live in these luxury tents forever if we could. Wild, romantic, earthy: this is the total DREAM for your Moab elopement accommodation. And if you’re bringing guests you could rent out the whole place: just imagine your wedding celebrations with everyone gathered around the campfire, dancing the night away under the stars….

3 Bedroom Picturesque Vacation Rental:

This beautiful 3-bedroom home would be a great option if you are bringing guests to your Moab wedding and would like to accommodate some of them together.

Moab Accommodation $500+

Sorrel River Ranch 

This beautiful ranch and spa, nestled on the banks of the Colorado river, offers ‘Wilderness. Privacy. Serenity.’ They offer all sorts of fun activities, as well as a nightly campfire with your own ‘S’mores Concierge’. Sign us up!

Luxury Condo with Heated Swimming Pool:

If you prefer more of a modern, urban vibe then this one’s for you. It’s a 3 bedroom condo just on the edge of Moab.

Who to Hire For Your Moab Elopement: Moab Wedding Vendors

The pros who bring your dream to life!

First up, you’re gonna need a kick-ass elopement photographer. (cough, cough, hint, hint!)

We’re not only your photographers: we’re also your planning assistants and unofficial tour guides!

Part of our job once you hire us is to recommend vendors to help bring your Moab elopement vision to life. We are plugged into a huge network of wedding professionals and can help source florists, full planners (if needed), hair and makeup artists, etc.

Since Moab is so tiny, there’s not a TON of vendors close by. However, there are many from elsewhere in Utah or other states who will happily travel to the desert to serve you.

Here’s just a handful you might want to check out:

TELLURIAN EVENTS : Full Planning Service + Coordination + Floral Design

MANNA FLORAL DESIGN: Florals

LESLEY LIND: Hair and Makeup

Sunrise wedding in Moab, Utah. The sun rises over a long ridge or red rock, creating a golden glow across the whole landscape.

THE TIMING OF YOUR MOAB ELOPEMENT

Can’t we just go NOW??? (seriously, we LOVE Moab!)

Best Time of Year to Visit Moab

We generally advise against the height of summer in Moab for your elopement: it’s scorching hot in the desert in July and August and, well, it can all get rather unpleasant just by being outside. Think running makeup and seat patches! 

If this is the only time you can make it, don’t worry, there and ways to manage the heat and we’ll ALWAYS make it work: but consider this advanced warning that you’ll need to be prepared to get up for sunrise and to hide away in the heat of the day.

So, probably much better if you can time your Moab elopement for spring or fall, even winter!

Spring in the desert is magical. Temperatures are ideal (60-80 compared to the 100+ of summer), the crowds aren’t too large and, if you get lucky, you might even catch the spring flowers. Just avoid the easter holidays if you don’t like crowds!

Fall is equally lovely. Similar temperatures and crowds. And you could combine your Moab elopement with a trip to Ouray in Colorado and catch the spectacular fall colors of the forest there.

We really enjoy winter in the desert! Something about the white snow contrasted with the red rock is totally magical. Just be prepared, it does get COLD! People often assume the desert is hot all year round…

TOP TIP: 

Check out if there’s any local or state-wide holidays or festivals around the time you want to visit as this may affect accommodation availability. For example, every September, the Moab Music Festival means the whole town is buzzing… Which could be both super cool if you love live music or super frustrating if you were unaware and left your accommodation bookings too late!

Best Time of Day for Your Moab Elopement Ceremony

In terms of photography, we’re ALWAYS going to recommend you schedule the most important parts of the day – things like your first look, your ceremony and couple portraits – for around sunrise and/or sunset. This is when the light is at its softest and most romantic and makes for the most beautiful photos.

Whether you choose sunrise or sunset is really up to you and which you enjoy most! Whichever you choose, we will then base our location suggestions on that to make sure you get the best views at your chosen time of day.

Our FAVORITE elopements are full day adventures, embracing both sunrise AND sunset (usually with a little down time in the middle of the day). You can see an example timeline below of what that day of adventure might look like for you.

Moab wedding, Utah. A young couple share their wedding vows at their Moab elopement. He is smiling as she lets out a huge laugh!

Sample Day-Of Timelines for Your Moab Elopement

Our Moab elopement packages start at 4 hours of photography coverage and go right through to multi-day, multi-location adventures.

Here are just a couple of ideas of what your Moab elopement could look like:

A MOAB 4 HOUR SUNRISE
ELOPEMENT TIMELINE

A MOAB FULL DAY SUNRISE + SUNSET ELOPEMENT TIMELINE

Hiking wedding in Moab, Utah. The couple hold hands in the middle of an enormous red landscape.

THE LEGALITIES OF A MOAB ELOPEMENT

Explaining the mumbo jumbo if you want to be legally wed at the end of your elopement day!

Utah Marriage Laws When You Elope in Moab

Marriage licensing laws vary from state to state and can be super confusing so we’re going to try and break it down simply here:

  • A Moab elopement takes place in Grand County therefore must satisfy Grand County marriage license requirements.
  • This means that BOTH of you must present yourselves at the county clerk’s office in Moab and pay a non-refundable fee of $40 USD. So, make sure you factor this into your vacation itinerary: you don’t want to be rushing around on the day of your elopement! To save time, you can have your application all ready and filled out but DO NOT SIGN IT until you are at the clerk’s office.
  • Make sure you remember your IDs!
  • You must provide the date of the ceremony and the officiant’s name.
  • In return you will be issued a single marriage license (you can pay for additional copies if you wish).
  • Once you’ve had your elopement ceremony and the officiant has signed your certificate, they must return it to the office within 30 days.

Who can marry you?

You have two choices when it come to choosing your officiant for your Moab, Utah elopement.

  1. You can choose from a list of recognized Grand County officiants.
  2. You can choose your own! So, if you wanted a family member to officiate, for example, you can! How cool is that?! 

If you go for the second option, you must apply for this privilege at the same time you apply for your marriage license. You must give the name of your chosen officiant and, if granted, they will be allowed to perform this one-time ceremony for you.

In addition, you will need two witnesses to sign your certificate. Don’t worry, if you’re having a ‘just us’ elopement, we can always act as your witnesses! Or it can be fun to find a fellow hiker on the trail to help out.

At their Arches National Park wedding, the couple snuggle up on a huge red rock formation, sunglasses on and backpacks at their feet. They take a bit of time out to relax and enjoy the views.

For more information – telephone numbers, addresses etc. – check out Grand County’s website

Location Legalities

The division of land in Moab is complex. There’s public land (managed by the Bureau of Land Management), private land, federal land etc… 

Each area has its own set of rules, and figuring out where and how to elope in Moab legally can be hard to navigate. There are strict rules on what permits you need, where you can hold your ceremony, how many people can be there, whether or not you’re allowed fresh flowers, if it’s ok to have chairs or an arch…. The list goes on!

Figuring all of this out is something we, as your Moab elopement specialists, can help you with. Part of our planning assistance service is to ensure that all the correct boxes are checked.

The last thing you want during your elopement is for an official to kick you out for breaking a rule without even meaning to! 

Wowsers, so there you have it! Everything you need to know for your epic Moab elopement.

We would love to create an epic elopement experience for you! We provide planning assistance, photography and officiation for adventure-seeking couples across the US and worldwide. Get in touch to start brainstorming with us!

Chad & Vanessa, ‘The Outlovers’

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8 Comments

  1. I love this guide! Packed full of information on how to elope in Moab! Thanks for sharing ♥️

  2. This is the most comprehensive and useful elopement guide to Moab I have ever seen! It answers all the questions. Definitely bookmarking this for re-reading!

  3. Love this guide! It really has so much amazingly useful info and answers so many questions for your couples. I need to save this so that I can use it to!

  4. It’s always fun to see what other photographers say about my hometown in Moab, Utah! Are we really only 6,000 people? That is crazy I didn’t know our pop was that small. Haha! Loved reading this, incredibly detailed info and great work!! Your clients are lucky to have you. Just FYI, there is a new venue in town also– The Red Earth Venue (platform style for small receptions/dinners). Hope to bump into you out on the trail sometime!

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