Your Guide To Eloping In Utah
So you want to elope in Utah. Our personal opinion? You can’t really go wrong. When you elope in Utah, you have the option of tying the knot in some of the most epic landscapes in the entire US. You’ve got desert, mountains, salt flats, and everything in between. But before we jump into specifics on the best places to elope in Utah, there are a few important things you’ll need to consider. These steps will help you clarify which exact places in Utah are best for your adventure elopement.
The weather in Utah’s various regions can have a big impact on which elopement locations match the vibe you’re going for. While the mountains near Salt Lake City see snow in the winter months (and a slew of skiers and snowboarders), the further south in the state you go, the more desert-like things get. Ultimately, the best places to elope in Utah will be highly dependent on this seasonality.
The town of St. George, which is a popular destination for people visiting Zion National Park, doesn’t really get snow often at lower elevations. And the winters are honestly pretty enjoyable and a pretty good choice if you’re eloping in Utah during this season. On the other hand, the northern sections of the state can turn into a winter wonderland. So ultimately, you’ll want to think about what weather conditions sound ideal to you and your partner before you find a place to elope in Utah. That’ll help you narrow down the location that’s perfect for you.
Ultimately one of the things we love about eloping in Utah is that you can really find whatever weather you want. If you’re not a fan of snow, you can still get the desert vibe in the colder months in places like southern Utah and even in Moab (although it has snowed a few times there recently!). But if you want to chase the powder, you totally can. Utah’s diversity of landscapes and climates are what make it such an awesome elopement destination. Just remember: the best places to elope in Utah usually have specific seasons when they shine…and others when they don’t.
Our top piece of advice for identifying the best places to elope in Utah? Talk with your adventure elopement photographer and see if they have any recommendations. Why? As adventure elopement photographers ourselves, we make it a part of our job to keep a list of epic elopement spots for our eloping couples. And plenty of these elopement places are spots that photographers don’t ordinarily share openly with the general public. Why? Because the places you can locate easily online are usually the heavily trafficked trails and spots that won’t really let you have a private, secluded elopement experience (which is most likely one of the top reasons you’ve chosen to elope in Utah in the first place).
All that said, when finding your perfect spot to elope in Utah, we recommend getting together with your partner and narrowing down which types of landscapes speak to the two of you. Do you want to elope in the Rocky Mountains? Or maybe you like the vibe of Utah’s desert landscapes? Share these elopement location preferences with your photographer and they can help guide you in the right direction. We chat a bit more in detail out this in our Ultimate Elopement Planning Checklist, which covers the elopement process from beginning to end, whether you’re eloping in Utah or anywhere else in the US.
When it comes to eloping in Utah, whether you’re eloping in one of Utah’s 5 national parks or in a state park, you’ll probably need to get an elopement permit. With national parks, it’s pretty much a guaranteed necessity. With other Utah elopement locations, check in with a ranger. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction on whether your Utah elopement requires one.
Utah is one of our favorite states, so naturally we have a few Utah elopement locations that we absolutely LOVE for adventure weddings. So without further ado, the best places to elope in Utah, in our humble opinions.
Disclosure: Within the list, I’ve included links to a few lodging options near some of our favorite Utah elopement locations so you can get started on planning. I may make a commission at no cost to you if you decide to book through one of these links. Ultimately, your trust is important to me and I’m here to share what I think are really cool elopement lodging options.
Ok, ok, I’m sure out of all national parks in Utah, Capitol Reef is probably the one you’ve never heard of. And because of that, you might be thinking we’re borderline nuts for suggesting that it’s the best place to elope in Utah. But hear me out: Capitol Reef is the freaking hidden gem of this state. A Utah national park where you can actually have privacy on your Utah elopement day?! Try doing that in Zion and then come talk to me. You’ll get what I’m saying. And beyond that, the views in Capitol Reef are absolutely gorgeous. And this is why Capitol Reef is at the top of our list of best places to elope in Utah. If you need a place to start when finding a place to stay, I’ve crafted a list of some awesome lodging options near Capitol Reef.
Not only does Moab have two national parks within close distance to each other (Arches and Canyonlands), but there are so many other hidden gems where you can get away from the crowds and explore the desert. Moab honestly feels like Mars, in the best way possible. Sure, Moab has the classic tourist spots, but you can escape it all and get privacy, too, which is why this town makes our list of best places to elope in Utah. You have plenty of options here. If you’re looking for lodging in the area, I’ve put together a list of some cool places to stay near Moab.
Antelope Island is a state park located super duper close to SLC, making it an awesome Utah elopement destination for couples who want both the city and nature when they elope in Utah. But what we love about Antelope Island is how you can get rolling hills, shoreline, and mountain views in the distance…all in one place. And there’s a chance you could even have a buffalo sighting. Such a cool location for a Utah elopement.
The salt flats are crazy. There’s really no other way to put it. If it rains, the entire flats are covered with a layer of water, reflecting the mountains nearby. If it’s dry, all you see is salt on the ground for miles and miles. And you can actually DRIVE on the salt if the ground isn’t wet. Yup, you heard that right…DRIVE ON IT. Needless to say, the salt flats are a mind-numbingly beautiful place to elope in Utah. Picture it…a white dress on white salt. Or even all black elopement attire to contrast the crazy bright ground.
When discussing your Utah elopement timeline, we pretty much only suggest two key times of day to our couples: sunset elopements and sunrise elopements. Why? As adventure elopement photographers, it’s our priority to recommend the times of day with the best lighting. Unless you’re dealing with an overcast day, sunset and sunrise will have warmer, less harsh light than what you might see when eloping midday.
Once you’ve selected the time of day for your Utah elopement, you’ll want to chat with your elopement photographer about the specifics of your elopement timeline. As adventure elopement photographers, we can help you figure out what your Utah elopement timeline could look like. There’s no reason to figure that out on your own.
While this article focuses mostly on suggesting the best places to elope in Utah, we also want to make sure we help you with some of the other important details when planning your Utah elopement. And that includes marriage license logistics. Rules regarding marriage licenses will vary from state to state, so you’ll want to take into consideration Utah’s laws before you make your Utah elopement plans. If you’re traveling to Utah from another state or country and would prefer to take care of the legal process of getting married in your home state, you can absolutely skip this section.
When you elope in Utah, both you and your partner will both need to bring valid photo ID when you pick up your Utah marriage license. You’ll want to go to any county Clerk and Recorder office within the state to pick up the license. When you pick it up, you’ll pay a fee (the specific amount will vary depending on the county in which you get the license).
Once you get your license, you’ll have to use it within 30 days, though!
There is not! Unlike states like Washington, you can use your Utah marriage license once you get it. So you can pick it up in the morning and elope in Utah that very day in the evening.
There are a few key parties that need to be present to sign your marriage license when you elope in Utah: you, your partner, your officiant, and your two witnesses (who need to be over age 18). As elopement photographers, we’ve served as witnesses before, so if you want to keep your Utah elopement ceremony as private as possible, with just the two of you and your officiant, we’ve got your back. We’re happy to sign as witnesses!
Your officiant will need to return your marriage license to the county Clerk’s office no more than 30 days after you elope in Utah.
You have a few options for officiants when you elope in Utah. They include the usual people you might expect, like justices, judges, ordained ministers and priests, etc. There’s a full list of allowed officiants on the Utah courts website. If you’d like a family member or friend be your Utah elopement officiant, you can! BUT, they need to be ordained first.
Elopements have changed quite a bit in recent years, and for the better! They aren’t really viewed as secretive events anymore, but rather one-of-a-kind and adventure-filled experiences that let couples infuse their personalities into their wedding day. Adventurous elopements let couples say no to the wedding industry’s stuffy, traditional rules.
Engaged couples nowadays love the idea of making their adventure elopement day “their own” by incorporating activities that you ordinarily couldn’t do during a traditional wedding. Whether it’s driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon to watch the sun set or wandering around SLC in your elopement attire and grabbing brunch, the opportunities are endless. That’s the thing about choosing to elope in Utah: the things you do on your Utah elopement day don’t all have to be wedding-related. You day can be an adventure, and it can take you wherever you want. Ultimately how you choose to elope in Utah is up to you and your partner. This is your adventure elopement day after all: you get to make all the rules.
If you’re looking for a checklist that goes over everything about elopements, we’ve got your back! Our Ultimate Elopement Guide covers everything you need to know when planning your adventure elopement. This is the guide we used to plan our own adventure elopement (yup, we eloped too, so we know firsthand what you’re going through!), and the one we use to help our couples plan their own dream elopements.
Not sure how to tell your friends and family about your plans to elope? We’ve got an article that chats all about sharing the news of your elopement plans with them and getting them on board with your exciting decision.
Debating on which shoes you should be wearing on your adventure elopement day? We’ll help point you in the right direction.
P.S. As mountain elopement and adventure wedding photographers, we pride ourselves on not just documenting your Utah elopement or small mountain wedding, but helping you plan out all the little details as well — like helping you figure out the perfect time of year for your Moab elopement or finding you the best places to elope in Utah. We’ve been in your shoes with our own elopement, and that’s why we’re in this industry in the first place. We want to help.
Sure, we pride ourselves in taking killer photos of killer people in killer places, but we’re firm believers that your adventure wedding photographer should be so much more than that. They should be a resource and guide to you during the whole adventure elopement planning process. So if that sounds like your vibe, we’d love to chat with you about your dream adventure elopement.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
Not everyone loves tradition, but that doesn’t make your adventure wedding or elopement any less important.
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