From the unique Southwestern architecture to the year-round sunshine, Arizona is an exceptional place to hold a wedding. With unique themes, interesting venues, and gorgeous scenery, you won’t have much trouble planning your perfect wedding or elopement in this state.
While the Grand Canyon State has plenty of charm, it never hurts to have a wedding planner or expert by your side to help you make the most of your time and budget. Fortunately, Zola is here to help you put together the best Arizona wedding possible. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Arizona wedding planning.
From transportation to weather, every location has its advantages—along with a few quirks you’ll need to fully understand so that you can plan accordingly.
Arizona is a wonderful place to celebrate your love, but it pays to know its particulars before you start booking vendors. To that end, we’ll cover the pros and cons of Arizona weddings.
With year-round sun and plenty of scenic vistas, Arizona has plenty to offer.
The benefits of planning an Arizona wedding include:
A diverse assortment of cities – Arizona is a large state with many different cities to choose from. This gives the couple plenty of options when deciding on the best location and venues for their special day. If you’re planning a city wedding, with urban convenience and an upscale venue, Arizona has a number of large cities to choose from, including:
Beautiful desert scenery – Despite its many cities, Arizona also offers 120,000 square miles of beautiful desert landscape. That means that couples who want to opt for a rural, desert ceremony will have a near-endless array of options. The scenery in Arizona also makes for a great backdrop when taking wedding and engagement photos. Some options for natural landmarks in Arizona include:
Affordability – While Arizona isn’t the cheapest place in the US, it certainly offers a much lower cost of living than many other major wedding hotspots such as New York, California, or Hawaii. With this lower cost of living comes a wide array of affordable wedding venues and vendors.
On the other hand, you’ll need to consider the potential challenges of your Arizona nuptials:
The heat – When you’re all dolled up and rocking formal attire, the Arizona heat can quickly become overbearing. That’s why it’s crucial to keep the weather in mind when planning your Arizona wedding. Cool clothing, shaded areas, and water are going to be your best friends, especially if you’re planning a wedding during the summer months.
The cold – Once the sun goes down, the famous Arizona heat quickly drops to below-freezing temperatures. These weather extremes can make dressing for the occasion a little trickier (but don’t worry, we’ll provide you with a few tips and tricks for this later on).
Transportation – If you’re getting hitched in Arizona, somebody needs to drive. Even in the state’s larger cities, public transportation is less than reliable. Couples will need to either drive or find accommodations to transport themselves and their guests from place to place. This will be particularly important if visitors are staying in a hotel or if your ceremony and reception take place at two different venues. Fortunately, Zola’s hotel planner makes it easy to find nearby accommodations for your out-of-town guests.
After spending months planning your special day, it makes sense that you’ll want everything to go according to said plan. In Arizona, that means keeping a few unique considerations in mind in order to keep everything running smoothly.
Despite the challenges you may face with an Arizona wedding, if you follow these Arizona wedding tips, you should get by with flying colors and have a wonderful experience.
Set up a hydration station with large containers of water, both at the ceremony and the reception venue. Of course, just because you’re staying hydrated doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice style. You can make this element of your setup a bit more decorative with elegant glass pitchers, rustic water jugs, or glass water dispensers. Bonus points if you add flavors such as lemon or cucumber. If you want to branch out past water, opt for a snow cone station to keep people extra cool (plus, who doesn’t love a good snow cone on a hot day?).
Timing – If you’re looking to cash in on those stunning desert views, it’s important to account for the timing of your ceremony and reception. For the perfect ceremony shot, you’ll want to plan this portion of the day about an hour before sunset. This is when you’ll get that golden, pink hue in the sky that makes the perfect backdrop to say “I do.” Furthermore, planning your ceremony and reception later in the day will help you beat the heat from the Arizona sun.
Shade – Speaking of the Arizona sun, outdoor weddings are going to be a little tricky. If your reception takes place at an outdoor location, provide some relief from the sun so your guests can remain comfortable. Opt for venues with shaded areas, or even search for a hybrid indoor-outdoor location with Zola’s list of pre-screened venues.
Makeup and hair – Keeping your hair and makeup in flawless condition can be a little tricky if you’re planning a hot desert wedding. Airbrush makeup, setting powder, and hair spray are VIPs (in this case, very important products) that can keep you looking your best in the heat. It also may be helpful to keep some dry shampoo or baby powder on hand in order to soak up any sweat in your hair.
Heat-resistant flowers – Every climate calls for different kinds of flowers, and Arizona is no different. During the planning process, talk to your florist about which blossoms work best in the dry desert heat. Examples of flowers that can withstand the Arizona climate include:
If you’re already in love with succulents, opt for a botanical cactus vibe to match your surroundings. They also make great wedding favors!
Prepare for the cold – Deserts are actually known for getting particularly chilly when the sun goes down. Plan accordingly for these extreme temperature changes. Advise guests to bring layers, and maybe even consider a wardrobe change for the evening portion of the wedding.
Time of year – While peak wedding season typically lasts from June to September, the summer months may be too hot for a comfortable Arizona wedding. We recommend opting for a date during the spring or fall, or even shaking things up with a winter wedding to keep guests cool. (Here’s a little insider secret: wedding venues and vendors are often a lot cheaper in the winter months).
If you’re looking to make things official in the state of Arizona, it’s important to understand the marriage laws that are unique to this state.
Fortunately, obtaining your Arizona marriage license won’t be too complicated if you follow these steps:
Apply for your license – First, submit an application for an Arizona marriage license. This can be done at your local courthouse during regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both parties must be physically present while submitting the application, and minors aged 16 and 17 will need parental consent to obtain a marriage license.
Bring the necessary identification – Both parties must bring a valid form of government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
Pay the fee – An Arizona marriage license costs $76, which can be paid in cash or with a credit card at the time of the application. Certified copies of your marriage license will cost $34 each, but these can be obtained later on.
No blood test required – While some states require a blood test or physical examination in order to obtain a marriage license, Arizona won’t intrude on your health or privacy before giving you the green light to wed.
No waiting period – There is also no waiting period for an Arizona marriage license. Couples can obtain their license and get married on the same day (although this is usually not recommended as delays or errors could occur during the process).
Get witnesses and sign your license – You’ll need to bring at least two witnesses to your ceremony in order to properly sign the marriage license. You and your spouse can sign the marriage license either during or shortly after the wedding ceremony.
File your license with the court – Within 30 days of the ceremony, you’ll need to file your signed marriage license with an Arizona courthouse. It’s important to note that your marriage license will expire after a year if no ceremony is performed.
If you’re planning to make things official in The Grand Canyon State, you’ll want to find a venue that perfectly fits your personal style. Fortunately, Arizona is full of unique and beautiful wedding venues to complete your special day.
Depending on your location, here are some of the best wedding venues that Arizona has to offer, city-by-city.
First up, we have the capital of Arizona and the state’s largest city: Phoenix. This bustling metropolitan hotspot is the perfect place for a chic, urban wedding—but don’t let the bright lights of Phoenix fool you. This city still provides all the desert charm you’re looking for in wedding venues like the following:
Japanese Friendship Garden – Filled with lush greenery, authentic Japanese decor, and an overall sense of serenity, the Japanese Friendship Garden is the perfect place for a calm, cultured, and captivating wedding ceremony. This tranquil venue can host small weddings of up to 50 seated guests. Stunning water features and gentle string lights adorn this quaint garden and add to its overall charm. If you’re looking to transport yourself from Phoenix to Kyoto, this is the venue for you.
The Croft Downtown – This unique venue perfectly embodies the urban appeal of a Phoenix wedding. With industrial architecture, crystal chandeliers, and a spacious dancefloor, the Croft is perfect for a trendy, downtown affair. This massive venue can accommodate up to 350 seated guests.
East of Phoenix is the artsy city of Mesa. Home to gorgeous natural landmarks and a unique Southwestern history, Mesa certainly does not disappoint when it comes to interesting wedding venues:
The Views at Superstition – Just east of Mesa, this venue is nestled in the heart of Gold Canyon, AZ. The keyword in this venue is views—once you’ve visited, its name will make perfect sense. This gorgeous venue uses the picturesque Superstition mountains to create a stunning backdrop. You and your wedding photographers won’t have to venture off to get the perfect wedding photos, because the mountains will sit directly behind you as you recite your vows.
Antique Wedding House – If you’re looking for an intimate ceremony with an old-school glamour vibe, The Antique Wedding House in Mesa AZ is a perfect choice. This stunning venue can seat 160 guests in its romantic pavilion or 30 seated guests in the cozy retreat chapel. Its glass chandeliers and soft mood lighting will give you the fairytale wedding you’ve always dreamed of.
South of Flagstaff, Sedona is a stunning desert city that’s surrounded by red buttes. If you’re looking to have the ultimate Arizona experience, check out these unique Sedona wedding venues:
Red Agave Resort – Red Agave Resorts certainly isn’t lying with its name. This stunning outdoor venue is surrounded by the rich, red hues found in the nearby buttes. The courtyard offers stunning views of the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, as well as the spacious Arizona sky—making it perfect for a sunset ceremony. The venue also allows couples to fully customize their decor, table settings, and musical setup. The space can accommodate up to 100 seated guests and 110 standing guests.
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village – Looking to capture that old-world charm with your Arizona wedding venue? Then the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village is the place to be. Surrounded by gorgeous stucco walls and arched entryways, this spacious plaza will feel like your own little city of love. This venue is perfect for small weddings of 45 seated guests.
Located on the south side of Arizona, Tucson is the state’s second-largest city. This sprawling metropolitan area offers a number of unique wedding venues, including:
Oasis at Wild Horse Ranch – If you’re looking for a venue with a balance of desert views, Southwestern architecture, and a lively dance floor, look no further than Oasis at Wild Horse Ranch. Built in the 1890s, this venue has withstood the test of time. While the historical buildings retain their classic charm, the interior is decked out with neon lights and modern table settings. The venue offers two main rooms: Oasis and Sunset. While the Oasis can accommodate up to 400 seated guests, the sprawling Sunset is even larger with 11,000 square feet of space, making this the ideal venue for a long guest list.
Casa Tierra Adobe Bed and Breakfast – Casa Tierra is an Adobe Bed and Breakfast that perfectly embodies the classic Southwestern feel. From the richly colored walls to the vibrant pops of turquoise, the decor in this venue is perfect for a true Arizona wedding. The best part? No additional accommodations are needed for out-of-town guests. Couples can book rooms for everyone all in the same place. This venue can accommodate up to 40 seated guests, making it perfect for intimate ceremonies and receptions.
Kingan Gardens – This historic location is one of the oldest and most interesting venues in Tucson. From the 19th-century carriage house to the romantic garden, each area of Kingan Gardens is rich with Southwestern history and vintage beauty. While the Garden can accommodate up to 200 seated guests (and 350 standing), the Kingan house is the perfect place to get ready for special events.
If you’re in need of a little wedding planning inspiration, try pulling from the state of Arizona itself! Here are some fun ideas to add that Southwestern flair to your special day:
Arizona state flower – Add a floral element to your theme or wedding design by incorporating the Arizona state flower into the decor. The saguaro is actually a tree-like cactus that can grow up to 40 feet tall. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll need to fit the entire plant into your bouquets. The saguaro blossom is a delicate white flower with a baby-yellow center, making it the perfect choice for a gentle wedding color palette.
Signature Arizona foods – What better way to incorporate Arizona into your wedding day than with some delicious foods? Cater the cocktail hour or dinner portion of your evening with Arizona staples, such as:
Botanical-themed invitations – Zola’s stylish botanical invitations will make a great addition to your desert-themed wedding. Add warm, vibrant shades such as rust or amber to the background to further tie in your Arizona theme.
In 2021, wedding planning has never been easier thanks to Zola. Whether you’re putting together a downtown reception in Phoenix or a rural ceremony in the Sonoran Desert, Zola is here to help you every step of the way.
Our list of pre-screened vendors and venues can help you find local wedding resources that fit your style and budget. In addition to vendors, our stylish invitation and save-the-date designs are the perfect way to inform your guests about what’s to come. Once you’ve figured out your guest list, Zola makes the planning process even easier with a digital seating chart and gift registry services.
Stop stressing and jump straight to the celebration. Plan your wedding the modern way with the experts at Zola by your side.