How to elope in the slot canyons of Arizona and Utah
Not that long ago, Antelope Canyon and the Horseshoe Bend area were largely an unknown treasure. They were possibly a stop along the way to Grand Canyon National Park, but mostly only known by locals. Eventually, Instagram and geo-tagging came along and caused a mass boost of tourism to the tiny city of Page, Arizona – and they were not prepared to handle it at the time. As a result of this, permit requirements and some public access restrictions have since been put in place. These are necessary precautions put in place to protect these beautiful landscapes, and a great thing for couples wanting a truly intimate wedding day.
“So how do I have an Antelope Canyon wedding?”
The truth is, you can’t. But don’t give up that easily – you can still have a magical slot canyon wedding or elopement!
Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons no longer allow portrait photography for weddings, and only offer guided sightseeing tours.
However, there are other slot canyons in the Horseshoe Bend area of Page, Arizona. They offer the same stunning views, but are lesser known and therefore less crowded. One of these canyons can make a breathtaking location for an adventure elopement.
Information about exactly how to have a slot canyon wedding is hard to find, which is why I’ve created the guide below. This guide will give you the exact steps to planning your Antelope Canyon style wedding. I’ve already done all the time-consuming research of contacting local guide companies and the Navajo Nation Reservation, so use this guide to start planning!
That being said, I want to be a part of taking the correct measures to protect these locations. The guide below will give you all the necessary information to start planning, but I’m reserving the exact names and locations for my clients seriously looking to elope in Arizona’s slot canyons. I believe a big part of our environmental responsibility is preserving the privacy of nature, which is why you’ll never see me geo-tag exact locations (only well-known cities) and why I ask my clients to do the same.
Now that you have all the background information, let’s start planning your adventure! Below are the 5 things you’ll need for your slot canyon wedding.
Antelope Canyon Weddings: 5 Steps to planning your slot canyon elopement
1: Wedding Photography The first thing you’ll need to book is your photographer! As a wedding and elopement photographer, I know that sounds biased, but most photographers start booking their weekend dates 1-2 years in advance. If you want to elope on a weekday (which I highly recommend) I also have a lot of flexible options for wedding dates. Contact me now for availability – I’m currently booking for 2020 and 2021!
2: Book a tour Arizona slot canyons are entirely on Navajo Reservation land. It is required to have a Native guide to access Antelope Canyon or any other slot canyons in the Horseshoe Bend area. Guided tours allowing photography range from $100-$300 per person, which definitely adds up – but keep in mind that you will still be saving thousands by not having a traditional wedding venue! Once you book with me, I will provide you with my full list of options for guided tour companies.
3: Apply for permits You’ll need two types of permits for a wedding in the slot canyons or Horseshoe Bend. These prices and requirements are subject to change at any time, so final details will need to be checked with Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation. The first is a Navajo Hiking Permit. These are $8 per person, per day, and can be purchased day-of onsite. Many of the guided tour companies also include these in their tours. The second permit you’ll need is a photography permit. The good news is that I do the work on this one! The permit fee ($150.00 upon last conversation with Navajo Nation Parks and Rec) will be added to your photography cost. I will apply for the Special Use Permit in advance and be responsible for providing any required paperwork on your wedding day.
4: Find an officiant While some tour companies offer packages with an officiant, and I do also have a small list of officiants who may be willing to travel, I’m actually a fan of skipping this step. If you’re choosing to elope for the intimacy and freedom to adventure and have fun on your wedding day, there’s no reason not to throw other aspects of a traditional wedding day out the window as well! If you do want an officiant to conduct a ceremony, I really recommend considering someone who is important to the two of you. They can easily get ordained online (it literally takes less than 1 minute. I’ve done it.) and then you can avoid having a stranger in your wedding photos! You can also absolutely do the boring legal paperwork at the courthouse, and then just have a private vow reading in an epic location. I’m also ordained, so if you want to make it legal during your elopement, but still want to skip the officiant, I can help with that! All you’ll need are an Arizona Marriage License and two witnesses.
5: Prepare Once you have a date booked with me and a tour company, you can start the fun part of planning! I’ll send you a guide after booking with all the suggestions on how to make your day as adventurous and unique to you as you want. My guide also includes lots of information about Leave No Trace and how to keep your elopement environmentally responsible. The most magical, adventurous elopement day in nature is waiting – contact me now to start planning!