How to Have a Small Wedding in Arizona

August 17, 2020

There are so many places in the world to run off to and get married. But how many of those places offer deeply patterned red rocks, miles of sand within stunning valleys, and jaw-dropping painted skies over cacti-covered mountains? We can only think of one: Arizona. It’s no wonder Arizona is so sought-after by couples looking to get away – especially with so many weddings needing to be moved or cancelled. What better solution for a hippie heart than the Arizona scenery and your soulmate? This post is all about how you can make this elopement dream a reality.

Tips Before Getting Started

  • You DON’T need to be an Arizona resident
  • Same-sex marriage IS legal!
  • There is no waiting period after getting your license

Get your License

Now, you both need to be present to receive a marriage license from one of the Justice Court offices, which is then valid for one year. After presenting your socials and valid IDs, you will pay a fee of up to $86. Make sure that when you get married, your officiant has your license to send in within 30 days after you both sign it and that you have two witnesses over the age of 18 to sign same-day!

Realistically, this is ALL you need

  • An officiant
  • Your marriage license
  • 2 witnesses (Hint, hint, your photographer CAN be one!)

Obviously, you can have more than that, as an intimate/small/micro-weddings (20-40 people) have become more popular with social distancing requirements nowadays. So don’t feel torn if you need those few close family members or friends there for when you say “I do”.

Pick Your Location

Here are some of the more popular and scenic locations couples LOVE to get lost in:

  • Sedona Red Rocks
  • Grand Canyon
  • Jerome – Hillside ghost town
  • Horseshoe Bend
  • Flagstaff – For more forests/greenery
  • Lockett Meadow
  • Eastern AZ – Wilderness untouched
  • Superstition Mountains – If you like a little bit of cacti
  • The Mogollon Rim
  • The Rim in Payson

Because Arizona is so scenic, there are SO MANY places to get married here. If you want to hike until you find the perfect spot, thats totally fine! If you want to plan and prep with an arch and a few chairs, that’s fine too! We hope our list of places helped, but do not feel limited to it!

Picking Your Date

Sometimes, small weddings or elopements are a spur-of-the moment type ordeal. However, this doesn’t mean booking a cheap chapel with an Elvis impersonator. These type of wedding days are becoming more and more well-planned – mainly because they’re MUCH easier to plan, way more stunning than a big boujee wedding, and way less money and pressure than a traditional wedding. No matter the angle you look at a small wedding or elopement, it’s a MUCH more attractive option for engaged couples who want a low-stress day all about them!

Arizona is known for one thing in particular – their heat. Yes, Arizona may have forests, mountains, red rocks, rivers, waterfalls, and so much more, but all of this beautiful landscaping is a result of Arizona’s climate. But let’s be blunt: with the exception of Flagstaff, Arizona as a whole, is a desert. Between the months of May and August, it probably isn’t going to be a good time to have a wedding since even at night, it’s considered “nice” for the temperature to drop below 90 degrees. You likely won’t be having the dream day you envisioned if you’re dripping in sweat waiting to go back to your air-conditioned car.

Instead, plan your big day between the months of September and April so you can dress comfortably and feel much more in-the-moment while saying your vows. And as someone who’s seen them, I HIGHLY recommend one of the golden hours. The other thing Arizona is known for is the sunrises and sunsets – there IS a reason for that!


The average wedding in Arizona costs roughly $29,000 – which is $6,000 less than the national average!!!

Obviously we don’t all have that much money lying around ready to spend at the drop of a dime. But how much is a small wedding located in all-natural Arizona? Here’s the breakdown:

Required Fees

  • License: $86
  • Officiant: $0-$250
  • Photographer: $500-$2,500 (*You may not need them for an entire 8 hours for ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception – which saves you money while still having some stellar photos to look back on!)

Optional Fees

  • Obtain any special permits: $30-$200 (Make sure to check if your selected location requires anything!)
  • Gown/Suit: $0-$5,000
  • Decor/Rentals: $0-$2,500
  • Plane Ticket to AZ: Varies

You could easily get married for under $1,000!! I know, crazy. Obviously there are options to make a small wedding more grand, but even at it’s peak, you’re looking at closer to $10,000, which is only 1/3 of the average Arizona wedding!

Let us know if you end up getting married in Arizona and keep up with us on Instagram @jimmysongweddings and @jimmysongcreative! Tell us your big plans for your wedding day while your there. We hope this post aids you in planning your small wedding in the desert.