Moab elopement

Moab elopements are some of my favorite to shoot as a photographer. The red rock, desert shrubbery, sunrises and sunsets are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Not only that, but the elopement locations in this part of Utah are beyond jaw dropping. This elopement guide is going to go over how to elope in Moab, everything you need to know before you go, and Moab elopement locations.

Where is Moab

Moab is in South East Utah, near the border of Colorado. Nestled between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. There are a few way to get to Moab from out of state. Flying into the Grand Junction airport in Colorado, which is two hours from Moab. There’s also Salt Lake City airport, which is a (beautiful) four hour drive. And lastly, The Canyonlands Regional Airport, which is the closest.

When to Elope in Moab

The best time to elope in Moab is early spring or late fall. Moab has gained popularity over the years, being a hot spot for all different kinds of outdoor recreation, and being so close to multiple National Parks and State Parks. Different seasons bring different crowds, and there are definitely better times for an elopement than others. However, you’ll absolutely want to choose the season that’s best for you. Maybe you like extreme heat, and maybe you’d rather elope in the cold of winter. Here are what each season looks like in Moab.


Moab in the spring is stunning. Due to rain, it’s more lush than usual, and the wildflowers are blooming. It’s also when the temps are mild enough to spend the whole day outside and not be in extreme heat. However, this is the most popular time for people to visit due to those reasons. Memorial day is specifically busy, and should be avoided. Weekdays are almost always better than weekends for an elopement during tourist season in Moab. Sunrise elopements can also help you get privacy during this beautiful season.


You’d think that there’d be less tourism in Moab during the summer during the heat, however, it’s still pretty busy. This is a hard time of year to elope in Moab due to it being over 100 degrees most days. The evenings are cooler, but not by too much. The red rocks also retain a lot of this heat, and are hot to be near and hot to touch. If you want to elope in Moab in the summer, your best bet is to do a sunrise elopement.


Fall in Moab is a bit less busy! People don’t have as much of the spring and summer “travel bug.” Temps are again mild, and it’s a lot easier to spend the entire day outside. One thing to note is that there won’t be wildflowers or greenery this time of the year after the heat of the summer. But if you’re happy with standard desert scapes (that are stunning) then a fall elopement in Moab could be a perfect choice


Winter in Moab definitely has the least tourism. If you’re looking to avoid crowds at all costs, this is a good time to visit. However, the weather can be a bit volatile and it’s a bit harder to plan (but totally do-able.) Sometimes in the winter, you get a perfectly temperate day where all you need is a light jacket. Other days, there can be rain, and even snow. The snow on the red rocks is an absolutely stunning sight, though.

Moab elopement locations

Moab Wedding Permit

To elope in Moab, you’ll need a special use permit. This allows you to hold a ceremony and other activities within public areas. Depending on where you choose, you’ll need a permit from a BLM office, the National Forest, a State Park, or from a National Park. National Parks have the most rules and restrictions, things such as guest count, car count, what locations you’re allowed to have a ceremony in, and what decor you can bring.

BLM land and National Forests are a bit more relaxed. However, no matter where you go you’ll want to make sure you’ve looked into and obtained the correct permit. This is something I do for my eloping couples, as it can be confusing to navigate if you’ve never done it before.

How to Get a Marriage License in Moab

Getting a marriage license in Moab is actually pretty straightforward and easy. You do not need to be a resident of Utah to get a marriage license here. All you need to do is apply through the county that you’re Grand County.

You’ll go to their online website and fill out an application with a $50 app fee. Next, you’ll have to both show up in person to finish the marriage license and pick it up. This can happen just before your elopement. But make sure to have your ceremony planned for three days after you receive it, or request to waive the three day waiting period.

Moab elopement

How to Elope in Moab

You plan a Moab elopement in similar ways as you’d plan any adventure elopement. There are a few major steps, and you can read about those here on my thorough guide on how to elope. For this Moab elopement guide, I’m going over the major things you’ll need to consider!


This is an imperative part of the planning process for elopements. This is because some guests won’t have the hiking ability, some might not do well in desert heat with no shade, and some locations have a cap on the number of guests you’re allowed to have. Choosing a location will be much easier once you’ve determine who you’re inviting, and how many guests total you’ll have.


This might feel early in the planning process, but bear with me. Elopements don’t have wedding planners. Most elopement photographers have taken it upon themselves to help couples with some of the planning. Many actually help you find your location! And they will think of things you might not have considered, such as: lighting, elevation, difficulty in hiking in a dress, permits, and so much more.

Each elopement photographer offers something different. Personally, I send my couples a customized list of locations based on their preferences, hiking ability, who they want to invite, and what they want to see. I also help them determine lodging options, get permits, get their marriage license, recommend vendors, and create a comprehensive day of timeline, and offer unlimited guidance calls for any questions along the way.

The being said, hiring your Moab elopement photographer early is going to take a massive amount of planning stress off of your shoulders. Wanna chat? Contact me here!


This is going to help you choose a date and location. There are rainy seasons, dry seasons, and much more temperate season in the desert. You can even get snow in Moab! This is why it’s important to first decide why type of weather you want to be in, as it’ll help you choose the correct time of year and location for your elopement.


Once you’ve decided on how much you’d like to hike, how many guests are coming, your ideal weather, and the landscapes you want, you’re ready to deep dive into researching Moab elopement locations. Finding the perfect spot will be a lot simpler after considering all of your needs and logistics.

This is information I collect from my couples through a questionnaire, and then use to make a customized list of Moab elopement location options for them.


Once you have your location, it’s time to consider if there’s anything you need vendors for. Do you need any event rentals? Do you want a friend or family to officiate, or do you want to hire an officiant? Will you go out to eat, or do you want something catered, like a meal at an Airbnb from a private chef?

Figure out what extra services you may want, and hire your vendors in advance!


You will need to get the correct permits for your elopement. These are usually “special use” permits that you apply for on the National Parks website, or National Forest/BLM website.

Personally, I get all permit information for my eloping couples that hire me. With that, all you need to do is fill out the application when it’s sent to you and pay the fee. Fee’s vary, but are usually around $150 or less.


Activities are such a fun part of an elopement. When you choose to elope, you’re opening yourself up to having a wedding day celebration that feels unique and resonates with you. Incorporate things that will elevate your elopement day experience. Here’s just a few ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • Going on a hike
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a desert picnic
  • Renting a star-gazing yurt
  • Swimming
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter tour (landing on glaciers, mountains, etc)
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family


Making a timeline is an important part of any elopement. It strings together all of your locations, activities, and lets guests know where to be and when. Creating a well thought out timeline will help you feel relaxed during the day, instead of stressed or rush. Make sure to include drive times as well as buffer times between each “event.”

Here are the things I include in the timelines I make for my couples:

  • All addresses
  • Sunrise time
  • Sunset time
  • Drive times
  • A linke to Accuweather
  • A list of all names for group shots
  • Vendor info
  • Emergency contact info
  • A packing list

Lodging in Moab

Lodging is an important factor with elopements. When you aren’t using a venue space, sometimes your lodging accommodations will need to be where you have certain events, such as getting ready, a first look, and many couples also choose to have an intimate reception. If you choose to host an intimate reception, make sure it’s okay with the host, as I recommend things like Airbnb’s for this option.

Some couples even find rentals that are on beautiful, private land. This is a great way to make sure you have privacy for your elopement and still be surrounded by the gorgeous features of Moab. You can look into cabins, chalets, etc. Here’s a list of locations you could stay at for your Moab elopement:

Moab elopement

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Moab

A Marriage license in Moab costs $50. You will also have to pay for a special use permit for the location you elope in. That being said, most couples spend an average of $5000-$20,000 on their elopement. This includes flights, lodging, permits, vendors, wedding attire, meals, and anything extra a couple might want.

Moab Elopement Locations

There are many elopement location options in Moab. Between National Parks and State Parks, you have quite a few to choose from. However, some of the main parks can be quite crowded. When couples hire me, I create a custom location guide for them, and include locations that are just as beautiful with less crowds. Here are some incredible elopement locations in Moab:

Arches National Park

Moab elopement locations

Arches is a beautiful National Park, and has become a popular Moab elopement location. And for good reason, there’s nothing quite like it. Here you will have to pay a $185 fee for your elopement. You ceremony can only be ten minutes, and you can only be under an arch for ten minutes at a time. However, there’s so many arches in the park that you’ll be seeing way more than one anyway.

Dead Horse State Park

Moab elopement locations

This Moab elopement location is stunning, right near Canyonlands National Park but with less people. It’s $260 for a two hour ceremony where you’re allowed to include up to 50 guests. There are 5 designated sites to choose from, and you can even bring your dog here! Don’t forget, there’s also an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle.

La Sal Mountains

Moab elopement locations

The La Sal mountains are a wildly underrated Moab elopement location. There’s red rocks, arches, lakes, mountains, and greenery. It’s also a bit cooler here, and a lot less crowded! Permits are easier to get, and generally less expensive as well. This is another location where you’re able to bring your pup, and easily have guests! With a ton of hiking nearby, there’s endless things to do and see.

Corona Arch

If you love Arches National Park but want less crowds and more flexibility, this is my favorite Moab elopement location. It’s only a 2.3 mile hike, and the entire thing is stunning. This arch is massive, and the canyons below are simply gorgeous. There is a bit of climbing involved in this hike. It’s all fairly easy but you’ll still want to watch your step and bring plenty of water!

Packing For a Moab Elopement

There are some important things you’ll want to remember when packing for your Moab elopement. Don’t underestimate the desert, it can be a hot a brutal climate. Here are some things you should consider when packing for your Moab elopement:

  • Lightweight dress
  • Lightweight flexible suit
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Plenty of water
  • Camel pack (full of water)
  • Backpack with snacks and sodium tablets
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

Bringing Your Dog to Moab

There are a few amazing Moab elopement locations on this list where you’re allowed to bring you dog! However, the desert climate can be rough (pun intended) on pups. I highly recommend leaving the dogs at home if you’re planning to elope here in the summer, as the dirt, sand, and red rock is too hot for their paws.

In spring and fall, you’re going to want to carry enough water for yourselves, but also plenty for your dog. Bring a collapsable bowl to easily give them water wherever you are. I would also make sure your lodging situation has AC so you can leave them there during the hottest parts of the day. Lastly, make sure if you’re spending time outside that there are some places with shade for them (and maybe also for you) to rest.

Moab Elopement Packages

Elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within Utah, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Moab elopement packages starting at $6800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

Ready to Elope in Moab?

This Moab elopement guide is a way to get you excited about all the possibilities of what your day could look like. Although, this amount of information can be overwhelming. I’m here to help. I can answer any and all questions you have on a complimentary low pressure consultation call. If you then choose you’d like to work together, I’ll do all of this planning right by your said to alleviate any stress, and bring your Utah elopement vision to life. We can chat here!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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