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So, you’ve decided to elope! In my book, that makes you pretty dang cool. You’re going off the beaten path, and what better place to do that than the beautiful state of Utah! The state is home to five national parks, as well as countless vistas and overlooks. If you’re planning your own elopement, there are a few things you should know about how to elope in Utah! Keep reading this guide, and you’ll be an expert in no time.
General Information About Utah
First, let’s talk about Utah! For a lot of people, the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “Utah” is vast desert landscapes, red rocks, and sandy vistas. And they aren’t wrong! But, travel north a bit, and you’ll be greeted by the rugged mountains and dense forests of northern Utah. This state’s landscape is so diverse, and features everything from rolling green hills to dry salt flats to red rock slot canyons.
When you’re planning an elopement, weather is a big consideration! Utah experiences all four seasons, which means the summers get scorching hot and the winters get cold and blustery. Which season you want to elope in will depend on what activities you want to do on your elopement day, and what kind of scenery you’re envisioning.
Below, you’ll see the weather averages for Salt Lake City, an urban city in northern Utah, situated lakeside and nestled at the base of the Wasatch mountains. The next graph represents the weather in Moab – a desert town farther south, right outside of Arches National Park.
As you can see, Utah gets quite hot in the summer! One thing to keep in mind is that it’s always a bit cooler in the mountains – so if you’re hoping to hike and have your elopement ceremony on the summit of a mountain, June through August would be perfect for you. However, if you want to elope in the desert, spring and fall would be much less sweaty. High elevation hikes are likely to be snow covered through the middle of the summer.
In the fall, when temperatures are dropping a little, Utah shows off its autumn colors. When springtime comes, flowers start to bloom. These seasons can be a little bit rainy and occasionally snowy.
Utah winters are usually pretty snowy – even in the desert. If you want to include skiing, snowboarding, or other winter sports in your elopement, December through February would be perfect for you! The mountains get much more snow than the desert, but southern Utah still sees flurries fairly often in the winter.
Privacy is probably a big consideration when you’re planning an elopement. You want a place to say your vows that’s secluded and tourist free – and luckily, there are a few ways you can make that happen.
First, consider eloping on a weekday, especially Tuesday through Thursday, because people often take Mondays and Fridays off to give themselves a long weekend. Weekends draw out flocks of tourists and locals who want to enjoy Utah’s parks and outdoor spaces, and weekdays are typically much less crowded.
Another way to avoid the crowds is to elope during the “shoulder season.” Shoulder season refers to the time just before and just after the peak busy season. For northern Utah and most places nearby, the forest trails and mountain hikes are busiest from June through August. In the desert regions of Utah, the crowds are the biggest in late spring and early fall, when the weather is the most temperate. If you elope in Utah during shoulder season, you’ll miss the worst of the crowding.
My last tip is to schedule your elopement ceremony for sunrise! Not only will the lighting be incredible, but very few people will be out and about so early in the morning. You can elope during the sunrise, and spend the first few hours of the morning exploring and adventuring around while enjoying seclusion and privacy.
Best Places to Elope in Utah
With so many gorgeous locations, it can be difficult to narrow down your options! As an elopement photographer, one of the absolute best parts of my job is finding those less trafficked, less Instagrammed spots for your elopement ceremony. Here are some of the best places to elope in Utah!
Arches National Park
How could I write about beautiful locations in Utah without mentioning Arches?! The park will definitely satisfy your sense of adventure – whether you want to drive up to an overlook, or take a long hike to get a birds eye view of the red rocks, narrow canyons, and..you guessed it…massive arches.
The entrance fee for Arches National Park is $35 per car, but if you’re a frequent flier in our country’s national parks, you can get an interagency pass for $80, which will get you into any national park for a year. The park also requires a permit for elopements, which costs $100. You can find more information on that here!
To see some of Utah’s National Park spots such as Zion National Park, check out this couple’s sunrise elopement!
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Just thirty minutes outside of Salt Lake City, Little Cottonwood Canyon is an epic ski destination in the winter. In the summer, it explodes in wildflowers. You can enjoy the blooms and explore the meadow, and take in the surrounding mountains. This is a low effort, high reward location – meaning that you only have to walk a short way to reach gorgeous views!
Monument Valley straddles the border of Utah and Arizona, and is located on Navajo tribal territory. It’s known for the unique sandstone buttes that tower high over the red rock desert. This couple did their first look in Monument Valley. Side note, I definitely recommend grabbing some Navajo tacos while you’re there!
If your elopement ceremony is on the main road, and there are less than four people present (including the officiant and photographer), you do not need a permit! Otherwise, you will need to contact the Navajo tribe for permit information.
Canyonlands National Park
Just a half hour drive from Moab is Canyonlands National Park. This dramatic landscape was carved by the Colorado River, and now features a variety of incredible overlooks. Check out this engagement session to see the dramatic cliffs that overlook the valley below.
This park requires a permit to have an elopement ceremony – it costs $185, and you can apply here. There is also a $30 per car entrance fee, but like all other national parks, you can purchase an interagency pass for $80.
The Legal Stuff
In order to elope in Utah, you need to make sure you know the legal stuff! It might not be the most fun aspect of elopement planning, but in order to make sure your marriage is legal and valid, this is important! You’ll need a marriage license, and officiant, and two witnesses.
The Marriage License
In Utah, you must apply for your marriage license in person. This can be done at any county clerk’s office – so if you’re traveling for your elopement, make sure to give yourself enough time to do this! There is no waiting period after getting your license – so you can get married as soon as you get it! However, the marriage license expires after 30 days. While there is a fee to obtain a marriage license, it varies from county to county.
When you elope in Utah, you will need an officiant to solemnize your marriage. Your first option is to hire an elopement officiant. Officiants who specialize in elopements will be up for whatever adventure you have planned, and will be able to get to know the two of you as a couple, and create a personalized ceremony.
If you want to add a personalized touch to your elopement, you can have a friend or family member officiate! Getting ordained takes just a few minutes on Universal Life Church, and is super easy!
The state of Utah requires two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Don’t fret if you’re not planning on inviting any guests though – you still have options! You can have two of your vendors sign as witnesses, or even find two people at your trailhead or ceremony spot. Usually, everyone is stoked to help out! The only requirement for witnesses is that they be over eighteen.
Book Your Vendors
When it comes to elopement planning, the best way to ensure a smooth, stress free day is to have a team of vendors that you trust! Your vendors will be able to guide you through the process, and you’ll feel a huge weight off your shoulders. Here are some of my favorite elopement vendors in Utah!
Hair & Makeup Artists
Ready to Elope in Utah?
Now that you’re an expert and know everything there is to know about how to elope in Utah, it’s time to start planning your elopement! As an elopement photographer, I’m here to help you through this thing – elopement planning should be fun and exciting, and it shouldn’t give you headaches! I’m here to be your biggest fan, and to tell you that any idea you have and any crazy thing you want to do on your elopement day is 100% possible. Ready to get crackin’? Contact me to get started!