“What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.”
Despite its harsh and hot climate, Arizona is a beautiful state with so much to offer adventurous couples on their wedding day. While the Grand Canyon or Sedona are obvious hot spots, there are other diamonds in the rough for those willing to rough it.
Beyond the major landmarks lies Saguaro National Park in Tucson—a smaller, quieter desert park perfect for outdoor weddings and elopements. So, if you’re looking for an Arizona wedding without the crowds, Tucson is sure to delight.
Curious about eloping in Saguaro National Park? Here’s everything you need to know to get started on your special day.
Saguaro National Park Elopement
Quiet and close to town, Saguaro National Park is filled with stunning desert views, tons of saguaros, and dirt roads. Getting married here is easy. All you’ll need is a special-use permit, which costs $100—a small fee that helps keep the park healthy. Not bad for an inexpensive wedding venue! Make sure to apply for the permit at least 4 weeks before the event. Or better yet—have your elopement photographer help guide you through the process.
Travel and Lodging Considerations for Saguaro National Park
Once you’ve decided on this beautiful desert park in Tucson, you have to consider how to get there, where to stay, when to have your wedding or elopement, and what to wear.
Here are a few tips to help you hash out the details.
Getting There: Planes and Cars
If you aren’t local to Tucson, Arizona, you’ll need to fly into Tucson International Airport and rent a car to get to the park. Saguaro National Park is part paved road, part dirt road. But most cars should be able to safely pass the dirt roads if it hasn’t rained recently.
Airbnbs are a great option for a wedding ceremony. Intimate, and almost guaranteed privacy. Talk about having a first look on the property, getting married, then going into Saguaro National Park for photos. Or having a first look and ceremony in the park, then coming back to the Airbnb for dinner and reception.
Here are a few of our favorite Tucson Airbnbs:
Keep in mind that every Airbnb is different. If you want to get married at your Airbnb, contact the owners first to make certain that’s A-OK. It’s a small step, but it makes a big difference.
What About the Weather?
Deserts offer delightful views and wide landscapes. But they are also deserts, which means harsh climates, rugged terrain, and dry conditions. Keep the weather and temps in mind when planning your wedding date.
- Winter: Most of the desert is dazzling in the winter, with moderate to low temperatures. Sometimes the desert can get down to freezing at night, so come prepared for those sunrise or blue hour photoshoots.
- Summer: You know the drill, it gets crazy hot in the summer. We recommend early morning or sunset ceremonies during the summer if you’re down to get married this time of year.
- Spring and Fall: The best weather comes with a trade-off—the crowds. Early morning and late afternoons will be best to beat the crowds. Or you can elope on a weekday. We promise you won’t regret having a wedding during the week.
Having a wedding outside means you need to be prepared for the elements. Bring extra water and extra layers to protect yourself from dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Dressing for the Occasion
Outdoor weddings and elopements are fun because you get to mix the formal with the practical. Or to say it another way, you get to dress for a hiking adventure while also wearing your wedding best!
Depending on the specifics, the terrain could be rough and rocky. You’ll want to keep this in mind when choosing what to wear.
- Dresses: When it comes to long dresses, just know that they will drag, snag, and get dirty. That’s all part of the fun! But if you want to keep things simple, stick to a dress with a shorter train to avoid picking up dirt, rocks, and yes—even cacti.
- Suits: A good suit is always in style. You can stick with the classic black attire or switch it up to better compliment the scenery. Maroon, forest green, and pale pinks and tans all look wonderful against a saguaro desert backdrop. Consider wearing a vest and tie since heavy jackets and sleeves can get toasty.
- Accessories and Shoes: Let’s talk about accessories! Boots or sturdy wedges with good tread are a must, especially on the roads in Saguaro National Park. Avoid heels for your own safety and comfort. Hats, veils, or flower crowns are super cute; as well as jewelry.
- Be Prepared: Adventure weddings embrace uncertainty. But they also prepare for it too. Remember to bring along jackets and blankets for dropping temperatures, as well as water and electrolytes to stay hydrated and happy.
The Most Important Part: Leave No Trace in Saguaro National Park
Nothing is worse than having a natural area closed to the public because it got trashed. That’s why I believe Leave No Trace (LNT) is so important for weddings and elopements. This set of principles about how best to preserve and protect the outdoors is something that’s required to keep our favorite spaces the way they are.
These rules are common-sense directives that help keep Saguaro National Park happy and healthy. We are all visitors to this ecosystem, so it’s prudent to reduce our impact. One of the more important rules to remember for this park is that saguaros are protected by law and should not be damaged.
Book Your Saguaro National Park Elopement Photographer
If you want a photographer who loves the desert as much as you, book Love and Latitudes Outdoor Wedding and Elopement Photography today!
Saguaro National Park Elopement Packages
+ Full or half day photography coverage.
+ Planning and vendor services included.
+ Assistance choosing the perfect location.
+ Online gallery with 500+ high-resolution photos.
+ Option to download and prints photographs for personal use.
+ Photographer travel fees included, minus permits.
+ Optional officiant services.