How to Elope at the Grand Canyon
For an epic view that will take your breath away, look no further than the Grand Canyon National Park for a massive backdrop for your elopement. This vast setting has inspired many with its natural beauty that can be seen from a space shuttle; but this place is quite peaceful despite all the publicity, and could be the perfect majestic location for your elopement. Most of the National Parks allow elopements and ceremonies to take place within their boundaries, but many of them have rules/suggestions when it comes to getting married in their specific park.
The Grand Canyon is no exception. To elope in the captivating Grand Canyon, a special use permit must be secured first. Sending the application form by email is the easiest. The permit itself is $150, and the application for the permit can be found here. Having a wedding ceremony at Shoshone Point or the Shrine of the Ages can actually have a permit fee of $275 upwards to $450. This is a nonrefundable application fee, and the office will give you specific instructions to follow for sending the payment in.
The permit must be received at least four weeks in advance to fully process the request, but you can schedule up to a year prior to your wedding day. The rangers are typically easy to get a hold of to ask questions about the permits, approved ceremony locations, approved props/décor, etc. In the Grand Canyon, there are nine preapproved ceremony sites, and a tenth site that does not require a special use permit. This site is the indoor Park Lodges, which you can reserve by contacting Xanterra Parks and Resorts by email or by phone, (928) 638-2525. The other indoor location is the Shrine of the Ages at the South Rim, which features a small room for sixty people or a bigger auditorium with a capacity of 280 people. Outdoor locations at the South Rim include, Prima Point, Rim Worship Site, Grandeur Point, Shoshone Point, Moran Point, and Lipan Point. Cape Royal Amphitheater and Point Imperial Viewpoint are preapproved sites at the North Rim. Since these areas are designated and the only allowed places in the park to get married, there’s a chance that some of them are booked well in advance, so the earlier you’re able to turn in your permit, the better. Some people choose to forgo the permit, simply winging it or risking it, but I strongly advise applying for the permit. You certainly wouldn’t want to be fined or asked to leave on your wedding day because of a permit that wasn’t acquired.
Some common restrictions in the Grand Canyon National Park are the types of props and décor that can be used. Alcohol is prohibited in the Shrine of the Ages, and there are no chairs, tables, flowers, amplified sound, balloons, or signs allowed at the sites. These are in place to protect the park and its flora and fauna, as well as the experience of the other park guests, and are great questions to ask a Park Ranger when you ask about your permit! Additionally, some sites are only open in the summer or wintertime. Prima Point is available from December to February, and Shoshone only between May and October.
None of the approved ceremony locations on the south rim require strenuous hiking, and are all near parking lots. Some of the lots may fill up fast depending upon visitor traffic, and for Grandeur Point, it is recommended to use the free shuttle to avoid the risk of parking not being available. The sites on the south rim can hold from 35 to 85 people depending upon the location. Along the north rim, Point Imperial Viewpoint is located eleven miles from the north rim developed areas and only accommodates up to ten people with a picnic area that can hold up to twenty people. I suggest planning your ceremony time for either sunrise or sunset to give you the most flattering light with the least amount of foot traffic from other visitors.
Here are a few things to be sure to bring with you as well:
Hiking shoes, as well as the shoes you’ll be wearing for your ceremony
Sweater/jacket – the mornings and evenings in the Grand Canyon tend to be cool, especially if you’re eloping outside the summer season
Water/snacks, maybe some bubbly?
Any easy, cute props, like a rug/blanket to stand on
Headlamp or flashlight if you are shooting at sunset and need to hike down in the dark
If there is a chance of rain, bring a jacket and/or umbrella. KLEM Studios is all for embracing the weather and running around in the rain—it can be so dreamy! Just be sure to have a jacket or blanket along to warm up afterwards
Have a few locations in mind to take photos after the ceremony (your photographer can help you with this as well)
A Grand Canyon elopement provides a captivating venue for one of the best days of your lives, with a colorful chasm beneath the Arizona sky that provides amazing photo opportunities. It’s perfect for the adventurous couple that want to start their forever with an unbeatable view. There are so many more tips and tidbits that I have for couples looking to elope in the Grand Canyon, from lodging/campground options, to hike suggestions, to restaurants. I would be happy to share them with you; feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.