When you think of Arizona, what do you think of? Blasted earth? Tumbleweeds? Oppressive, stifling heat? Maybe something that looks like this:
That’s what I imagined when I first visited Arizona many years ago. I visited in February and happily wore shorts and tank tops in Phoenix. Then I went to Sedona.
It was 40 degrees. I froze the whole time.
So yeah! We *do* have blasted earth and tumbleweeds and oppressive stifling heat in the Grand Canyon State.
But we also have so so so much more than that. There is limitless beauty here, a lot of it surprising. Like, did you know the largest spread of Ponderosa Pine trees is right here in AZ? It’s a huuuge forest-Coconino National Forest-and just an hour and a half from heat central (Phoenix). We have forests, slot canyons, cliffs, red rocks, snow capped mountains, desert lakes, rivers, wild horses, cactus a-plenty, and I could keep going but I won’t.
Your experience here depends on a lot of factors so if you’re planning your elopement here, there are some things that could be helpful to think about when planning out your day especially if you want to avoid the heat (spoiler alert: you can totally avoid the heat without sacrificing the fun).
When it comes to your experience during your AZ Elopement your location matters. As of my writing this it is currently August and the height of summer. It’s 106 degrees in Phoenix… and 85 in Payson which a bare 1.5 hours from Phoenix. And in the desert (I know, I know “It’s a dry heat.”) that twenty degrees super matters! The climate varies hugely across the state. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the whole state is always hot. Similarly, if you’re planning on a winter elopement in AZ to escape the cold, where you are really matters! Yes Phoenix will be way warmer than say, Chicago, but a lot of the state actually gets substantial snow! Speaking of which…
When you’re eloping also super matters. Eloping in the winter but wanting warmer weather? Stick to the Phoenix/Tuscon area. Wanting to elope in the summer but don’t want to deal with the insane heat? You can have that in Flagstaff and the surrounding area. Early spring is gorgeous in and around Phoenix (nice and cool and in full bloom) but in the Northern part of the state it’s a total crapshoot. This past April I had a sun soaked, warm and lovely shoot in Page Arizona without any weather related concerns. A family member of the couple was inspired to visit a few weeks later… and they were totally snowed in. Make sure to think about not just where in the state you’re going, but when you’re going! Basically, don’t be me the first time I went to Sedona.
Also things to consider- Sunrise is way cooler temperature wise, even in the summer. I had an adventure session here in Phoenix in August and the couple was wearing a sparkly floor length dress and suit… and they were fine temperature wise because the shoot was at sunrise. Tomorrow the forecast is a cool 86 degrees at sunrise 🙂 Added bonus, it’s always less crowded! Conversely, the sun in Phoenix is no joke regardless of the time of year. It is sunny and it is sunny almost all the time. If you are sensitive to the sun or not a fan of harsh mid-day light, mid-day may not be your favorite here in AZ. Another added bonus, sunrise/sunset is absolutely INSANE here, and if you a fan of epic, glowy, colorful pics, definitely consider the time of day during your AZ elopement.
This may go without saying, but if you want to escape the heat in the desert it is wise to wear lightweight breathable clothing in a pale/lighter color. As I mentioned in the time of day section, the sun is no joke and if you are wearing dark clothing, even if the air temp is cool you could be roasting in no time. I don’t know how people wear black yoga pants at any point here, it’s like they are cooking my legs. Anyway, also a big fan lightweight, light in color hats. They protect your head and can help keep you cool! If you like skirts, picking skirts with a lot of movement are excellent because it allows air in AND when you sway it turns into a sort of fan. Also easy to hold up for hiking and temp regulation 🙂
Also a key Leave No Trace principle, if you want to beat the heat in Arizona it’s important you plan ahead and are prepared. This means drink lots of water the day of and the day before your shoot, wear sunscreen, and listen to your body if you’re feeling overheated. Heat exhaustion is for sure a concern here so it’s very important to listen to your body. Know the climate of the place you are going to. Dress in layers if you’re at all concerned about being cold- it’s amazing what layering can do.
Arizona is not just a waste of oppressive heat. It’s a surprising, magical, lovely place and it’s totally possible to elope here and stay super comfy. With a little planning and prep, it can be the perfect place for your dream desert elopement.