Utah Captured My Heart

As a Utah-based wedding photographer, I feel lucky to call this incredible state my home. Utah is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, from the towering mountains to the sprawling deserts, and everything in between. It's no surprise that Utah has become a sought-after destination wedding spot for couples from all over the world.

Whether you're drawn to the rustic charm of the Wasatch Mountains, the red rock formations of Southern Utah, or the tranquil beauty of the Great Salt Lake, there's something for everyone in Utah. As a local, I have had the pleasure of photographing weddings in some of the most beautiful locations in the state, and I can tell you firsthand that Utah offers a unique and unforgettable setting for your big day.

In this blog, I will share my personal experiences photographing destination weddings and elopements in Utah and provide valuable tips and insights to help you plan your dream wedding in this incredible state. From finding the perfect location to working with local vendors, I'll provide all the information you need to create a beautiful, memorable, and stress-free wedding day in Utah.

Utah Marriage License

In Utah, elopement can be a legal way to get married. Here are the steps to legally elope in Utah:

  1. Obtain a marriage license: You will need to obtain a marriage license from the Utah County Clerk's office or any other county clerk's office in Utah. Both partners need to be present and provide a valid government-issued photo ID such as a driver's license or passport. You will also need to pay a fee, which varies by county.
  2. Wait for the waiting period: There is a mandatory waiting period of at least 24 hours after obtaining the marriage license before you can legally elope. However, you can apply for a waiver of the waiting period at the discretion of a county clerk.
  3. Choose an officiant: You will need to have someone officiate your wedding ceremony. In Utah, a licensed minister, judge, or county clerk can perform a wedding ceremony.
  4. Choose a location: You can elope anywhere in Utah as long as you have permission to use the location. You can get married in a public park, a private residence, or any other location that you choose.
  5. Have witnesses: You will need to have at least two witnesses present at your wedding ceremony.
  6. Get married: Once you have completed all of the above steps, you can get married in a simple and private ceremony.

After the ceremony, the officiant will sign and file the marriage license with the county clerk's office, and you will receive a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

National and State Parks

If you're considering holding your wedding ceremony and reception in a national park, you'll need to obtain a special use permit from the National Park Service (NPS). This permit allows you to use a designated area of the park for your wedding and ensures that your wedding doesn't negatively impact the park's resources or visitor use.

To apply for a special use permit for your wedding, you'll need to submit a detailed proposal to the park superintendent or designee. This proposal should include important details such as the location of your ceremony and reception, the number of guests you're expecting, the date and time of your wedding, and any equipment or personnel you'll be using. Additionally, you'll need to describe how your wedding will impact the park's resources, visitor use, and environment. This can sound stressful, but I have experience with SUP’s and will be glad to submit the permit on your behalf. See the links below for the National Park's special use permit applications.

Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park

Once you've submitted your proposal, the park superintendent will review it and determine whether your wedding can be authorized. If it is authorized, the superintendent will also set conditions that must be met to ensure that your wedding is conducted in a way that protects the park's resources and visitor safety. These conditions may include requirements for trash removal, noise restrictions, and limitations on the use of certain areas of the park.

Remember, national parks are public spaces, and other visitors may be present during your wedding ceremony and reception. It's important to make sure that your wedding doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the park by other visitors and that it doesn't damage the park's resources or environment.

Overall, a special use permit for a wedding in a national park allows you to have a unique and beautiful wedding ceremony in a stunning natural location. However, it's important to follow the rules and regulations set by the park service to ensure that your wedding is conducted in a way that is safe and sustainable for both you and the park.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a set of principles that are designed to help outdoor enthusiasts minimize their impact on the environment and leave natural areas in the same condition as they found them. Not all of these principles will be applicable for your elopement, but they are also good to know in general. Here are the principles of Leave No Trace:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare: Before you head out on your outdoor adventure, take the time to research the area you will be visiting and plan accordingly. Make sure you have the necessary equipment and supplies, including maps, food, and water. By being prepared, you will be able to minimize your impact on the environment and avoid damaging sensitive areas.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces: When hiking or camping, try to stick to established trails and campsites. Avoid walking or camping on fragile vegetation, as this can damage the plants and the soil. Use existing campsites or create a new campsite on a durable surface, such as rock or gravel, instead of setting up camp on a fragile ecosystem.
  3. Dispose of waste properly: Make sure you pack out all your trash, including food scraps, toilet paper, and hygiene products. Do not bury or burn your trash, as this can attract animals and damage the soil. Use designated toilet areas or portable toilets and pack out all waste, including human waste.
  4. Leave what you find: Do not remove rocks, plants, or other natural objects from their natural environment. Leave everything as you found it for others to enjoy. This includes not carving into trees or leaving graffiti.
  5. Minimize campfire impact: If you plan on having a campfire, use established fire rings and only burn small sticks and twigs. Do not cut down trees for firewood or use rocks to create a new fire pit. Always check with the local regulations if fires are allowed and how to build them safely.
  6. Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and do not disturb their natural habitat. Do not feed or approach animals, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and cause harm to both you and the animal. Store your food properly to prevent attracting animals to your campsite.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors: Keep noise levels low and be respectful of other people's privacy. Yield to other hikers on the trail and follow any posted rules or regulations. Remember that you are sharing the outdoors with other people, so be considerate of their needs and the environment.

Just Do It!

Eloping is supposed to be about making your wedding intimate and personal. I will be there every step of the way to make sure that the details are perfect and everything is legal so forget that stuff and imagine you are at your ceremony. Red Rock under your feet, extraordinary beauty in every direction, your partner taking you in as you take on the world, together. You don't know exactly what words the officiant is using but you know how they feel. A steady rising of warmth inside as you know the moment you have planned, hoped, and dreamed of is approaching and your heart is pounding, peripherals are blurring, voice is breathy, body is shaking and you burst with love and light as you kiss your spouse for the first time! The first of many and as the tears gather you hold one another, as much to embrace as to support, like you will for the rest of your lives. The ceremony may be over but your lives, your lives have just begun. And standing unobtrusive in the background, capturing your love so you can relive it for years to come, that's me : ) Let's do it!