Complete Guide to a Moab Elopement

October 14, 2022

Elopement, Resources

Deep in the heart of Utah is the tiny town of Moab, a seemingly sleepy little place with just a few chain restaurants and hotels. But Moab has become an epic destination for adventurers and couples looking to elope in a location that feels like it’s not even on Earth! A Moab elopement is fun, full of exploration, and will give you the most memorable experience of your wedding day. 

If Moab is of interest to you for an elopement, you’ve come to the right place! I’m going to go over some of the things you’ll need to begin planning your wedding day here in Moab, Utah. 

What we’ll cover:

Holding Your Moab Elopement the Legal Way

Get Your Marriage License in Grand County, Utah

As with all elopements, there are several ways to make sure you’re actually legally getting married. One way is to obtain, sign, and return your license in your home state and county before you even head out for your elopement. This makes your actual elopement all about the ceremony and fun, and there’s no worries about getting your license when you’re already traveling. 

If, however, you decide to do the whole shebang once you arrive in Moab for your elopement, you can! You’ll need your marriage license from the Grand County, Utah courts, which you can find here. This license will cost you $30. 

On the license, you’ll need:

  • The date of your ceremony in Moab
  • The name of your officiant
  • *Bring both of your IDs with you, as you’ll need to show these when you submit your application
  • *You can pre-fill your application if that’s easier, but wait to sign it until you get to the office

After your elopement ceremony, your officiant will sign, date, and return the license within 30 days. And boom, you’re official!

Permits to Elope in Moab

A lot of the locations for a Moab elopement are either national park land, state park land, or other public use spaces that may require a permit. Here’s a list of some of the most popular locations that require permits, and what the permit will cost you. 

In addition to special use permits, each of these places has certain requirements and restrictions on group size, what you can and can’t bring with you, certain locations that are off limits, and more. Be sure to read through all the information on your chosen location thoroughly!

Moab elopement in Arches national park, couple poses under an arch.

Moab Elopement Location: Arches National Park

There are tons of beautiful places to elope in the Moab region, and in Utah as a whole. However, I’d like to spotlight Arches National Park, which is a favorite of mine! As a Seattle-based wedding and elopement photographer, I don’t often get to see landscapes like this one, and I think it’s a special spot to exchange your vows. The sandstone arches are completely naturally formed, and in my opinion there’s no better ceremony arch than one created by nature!

Locations in Arches

There are nine approved locations to hold a wedding ceremony in Arches National Park:

  • La Sal Mountains Viewpoint (group size 50)
  • The Windows Section (group size 25)
  • Sand Dune Arch (group size 25)
  • Delicate Arch Viewpoint (group size 25)
  • Pine Tree Arch (group size 25)
  • Landscape Arch (group size 10)
  • Park Avenue (group size15)
  • Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater (group size 80)
  • Panorama Point (group size 50)

No location in Arches can be reserved for private use, which means you will be sharing this location with other visitors to the park! There are some tips and tricks to help make sure that your Moab elopement location isn’t overcrowded: the first is to elope on a weekday! These always tend to be less crowded than other days. The second is to elope at sunrise, which is also the most beautiful time of day in Arches, so it’s a win win!

When to Elope in Arches

The best time of year to visit Arches is from April-May and September-October. These are at the beginning and end of busy season here, which means the crowds are likely to be smaller, and it will be easier to get around. Additionally, these are the times when the weather is most ideal. Temperatures will be between 60 and 80, so you won’t freeze your toes off or melt away in the heat!

Other Locations Near Moab for an Elopement

  • Canyonlands National Park: Canyonlands is a bit similar to Arches, but it’s a lot bigger. The canyons are super deep and wide, and the layers of dirt and stone are a gorgeous red landscape to get married in. 
  • Dead Horse Point State Park: More canyons, a high desert woodland, and lots of trails for exploring make up Dead Horse Point State Park. You’ll find similar views to the Canyonlands here, but this location is usually a bit less crowded than the popular national park.  
  • Manti-La Sal Mountains: Though not really “epic” in the way some of these other locations are, these mountains shouldn’t be passed over! There’s water, lots of places with great views, and amazing fall colors here as the trees and leaves change. 
  • Any BLM-managed land near Moab: these other lands are also great candidates for a Moab elopement. You can find similar arches, canyons, and mountains without the crowds of a national park. 

Travel & Accommodations

Moab is a fairly remote location. The towns around it are also small, tight communities. The most convenient way to fly to Moab if you’re coming from far away is to arrive at the Grand Junction Regional Airport in Grand Junction, Colorado. From there, it’s just under a 2 hour drive to Moab. If you fly in, I recommend renting a car so you can easily get to Moab, and explore the area. You’ll want something that can reliably handle off-roads or at least some gravel spots, and with lots of space to carry all your gear!

And speaking of gear, here’s a few things you won’t want to forget to bring with you:

  • Solid shoes for hiking and exploring. Check that your tread is stable!
  • Non-restrictive wedding attire. If you wear a dress, make sure you can move around easily, and maybe opt for a short or no train. If you wear a suit, make sure it isn’t too tight, and isn’t too warm a fabric. You’ll work up a sweat hiking around!
  • Lots of water and snacks. Bringing too much is far better than not having enough. 
  • A map! Lots of areas around Moab have little or no cell service, so don’t expect to rely on your GPS navigation. 
  • Make sure you have a copy of your location permit, just in case you are stopped and asked. Lots of the locations I discussed here will require that you have a hard copy with you. 

Lastly, let’s talk about where to stay: for an elopement, I recommend choosing an Airbnb stay over a hotel. You’ll have more space to spread out and these are usually a lot more comfortable for a longer trip, which I’m sure you’ll want so that you have time to explore!  

Here’s three beautiful Airbnbs in Moab:

Leave No Trace for Your Moab Elopement

As an elopement photographer, it is always my philosophy to Leave No Trace. The ability to elope in locations as beautiful as Moab is a privilege we will only have as long as the areas we visit are protected and cared for. Read about the 7 principles of Leave No Trace here, and incorporate them into your elopement as much as possible! I always encourage staying on the trails, packing out everything you bring in, and taking nothing home but your photos (which I have covered for you!). 

Now you’re ready to have an epic Moab elopement and kick off married life with your partner! Reach out to me here to have me document your experience. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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