How to plan the perfect Grand Canyon wedding

There are many beautiful sites for marriage ceremonies in Northern Arizona, but nothing beats a Grand Canyon wedding. 

If the U.S. National Park Service approves your wedding at the canyon, the backdrop of your wedding photos will be gorgeous. The beautiful range of colors during an early afternoon ceremony and golden hour bridals are stunning. It won’t just be your well-dressed beau taking your breath away.

Grand Canyon weddings need a Special Use Permit from the Grand Canyon National Park. Scout your ceremony locations by reviewing Grand Canyon viewpoint photos before applying for the permit. After you get the permit you want, search for guest lodging, vendors, and outfits.

This blog will cover the U.S. National Park Service, accommodations, vendors, and whether it’s even possible to avoid tourists on your wedding day.

man and woman cheer as they walk between their guests at the grand canyon

Grand Canyon wedding

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular National Parks in the country with a staggering 4 million visitors from around the globe in 2022. With all the tourists, finding a good spot to tie the knot can be difficult.

You will want to hire an officiant, photographer, and other vendors who know the difference between Mather Point, Cape Royal, Shoshone Point, and the other many lookouts. There’s nothing worse than a guest or vendor holding up your wedding day trying to find the ceremony!

As someone who has shot weddings at the Grand Canyon many times, I’d suggest considering these topics as you plan your wedding:

  • Permits
  • Wedding locations
  • Guest Lodging
  • Vendors (and how to nail catering)
  • Guest spots
  • Weather
  • Reviews
  • Costs
  • Wedding hacks

This Northern Arizona wedding photographer with years of experience at the Grand Canyon is accepting bookings!

man and woman stand on the edge of the grand canyon

Do you need a permit to get married at the Grand Canyon?

Yes, you will need a wedding permit, and we recommend putting this at the top of your to-do list.

If you’re getting married at Shoshone Point, your permit will cost $500. If you’re getting married at any of the other locations, your permit will cost $240. The Shrine of Ages costs $275 (check here for updated permit fees.) The cost of the permits covers application processing, staff time, and any needed repairs to the area after the event.

The permit also allows contracted services like photographers, officiants, catering, and performers to avoid paying an entrance fee if they present a copy of the permit to the Entrance Station Rangers.

The National Park Service has very specific guidelines on what they do and don’t permit in their wedding ceremonies. The permit means you agree that you cannot use chairs, tables, flowers, amplified sound (speakers), balloons, signs, etc. at any location. This is because they do not want loose trash hurting the delicate and protected park ecosystem.

We recommend scheduling your wedding a year before your date to ensure you get the Special Use Permit to use the location. For more information review the Special Use Permit section of the Grand Canyon National Park website.

Park rangers recommend contacting them here.

man holds and woman's hand with a wedding ring on her finger

Is there lodging for guests at the Grand Canyon?

Second on your planning list should be guest lodging, because lodging in the park books up fast during peak and even slow seasons.

Lodging in the park is managed through official third-party companies. Delaware North and Xanterra Parks & Resorts will be your points of contact. There are six lodges between the two of them, including the famous El Tovar Hotel.

But — and this is a big one — make sure you’re booking a lodge on the right side of the canyon! The North Rim has the Grand Canyon Lodge and an additional campground that are closed during the winter.

Not even Park Rangers would want to travel the almost five hours it takes to drive around the canyon from hotel to ceremony. And only world-class, elite adventurers should even consider being wedding-ready after a Rim-to-Rim hike down and back up the canyon. But even for them, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Where can I get married in the Grand Canyon?

A Special Use Permit will grant you access to plenty of locations in the park on both the South and North Rim. For more details and photos from the National Park Service, look here.

  • Shoshone Point
  • Pima Point
  • Grandeur Point
  • West Rim Worship Site
  • Moran Point
  • Lipan Point
  • Shrine of The Ages
  • Cape Royal
  • Point Imperial

There are pros and cons to each spot, but luckily these points should steer you away from the swarms of tourists like Mather Point and Desert View Watchtower. 

Can we avoid tourists?

I’d love to say that there’s a perfect place where no tourists can access the Grand Canyon, but excluding the wildlife and Native American communities that live in the canyon, we’re all tourists.

Whenever my clients hire me to photograph their weddings in the park, I always remind them that tourists are unavoidable. Tourists often tend to be respectful of weddings, but I won’t try to speak for the millions of yearly visitors. International tourists — with different marriage customs — may even watch from afar and photograph your wedding during the ceremony.

While the idea may sound intrusive and a turn off to some, during the ceremony you will be locked hands and eyes with your chosen person and focused on your vows. A person watching from the edge of your ceremony should hardly bother.

What’s the weather like at the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is so large that it has its own weather patterns and climate.

Because ceremonies are placed on the edge of the canyon at viewpoints, ceremonies can often feel like the perfect day or sometimes be in the middle of a storm. Meanwhile at the edge of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon, it will always be warmer. The canyon is so grand (ha) it literally influences the weather.

Here’s what you can expect at different times of the year:

  • Summer — Expect moderate temperatures in the 70s (21-26°C), and incredible heat at the bottom of the canyon. Monsoons are common this time of year across the Southwest, so expect the possibility of lightning-heavy tropical downpours.
  • Fall — Fall is one of the most pleasant times to visit the canyon, because most of the summer storms and winter rains have subsided. At night, it can get down to freezing.
  • Winter — Sub-zero temperatures at the rim mean snow and icy roads are common in the winter, even causing some road and park closures. 
  • Spring — After the typical low-temperature weather breaks in Spring, the Rim becomes much more pleasant for travelers. However, at times there will be wind that impacts people on the edge of the rim most.

I would recommend couples book in the Fall for the most even-tempered weather, although nothing is for certain in the wilds of the Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona.

What vendors are available?

In the Arizona wedding industry, all experienced vendors have made the trip to the Grand Canyon at one point or another.

When choosing a vendor, consider that many will add travel fees (hidden or upfront) to help them get to the location. Also remember your Special Use Permit rules, anything that can ruin the serene setting for others or leave trash will likely be rejected. If your vendors don’t understand this, then they’re likely inexperienced and should be booked with caution.

One of my favorite spots exclusively allows catering and can be booked for ceremonies four hours longer than the rest of the Grand Canyon locations. More on that below.

Consider White Desert Photography, a premiere wedding photographer, for your ceremony.

Is it worth it to get married at the Grand Canyon?

My couples who have gotten married at the Grand Canyon always love their ceremony photos and have such great stories from their day.

The Grand Canyon is unlike any other wedding location in the world. And if you’re a fan of beautiful stones and Earth’s geography, there’s no better place for it! For smaller elopements, many of the viewpoints will offer everything you need to dedicate yourself to your partner.

It’s the most expensive permit, but Shoshone Point is my favorite location. Shoshone allows catering, covered seating, and longer ceremonies that provides some flexibility with your wedding plans.

The photo options at Shoshone are also unmatched, so I love recommending it to my couples.


Getting married at the Grand Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Be sure to pick your location and apply for your Special Use Permit early to ensure you get to your dream location. For people looking for bigger ceremonies, I always recommend Shoshone Point. Like any wedding, careful planning will make your life easier.

But really, it’s hard to take a bad picture on the rim of the Grand Canyon. So if you hear the call of the wild Grand Canyon, do it. You won’t regret it.

White Desert Photography is staffed with expert Arizona wedding photographers who are just a click away.

Victoria Nabours, a Northern Arizona local, founded White Desert Photography in 2018.

Since then, the company has bloomed into one of the most in-demand wedding, elopement, and engagement photography companies in Sedona. Additionally, her years of expertise have taken her to international wedding destinations and attracted the eye of local and bridal magazines.

Check out her photo galleries, elopement, and wedding packages, and inquire today!

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Arianne & Eric

“My husband and I planned a small elopement in Sedona. I found Victoria on Instagram and loved her style. We went through the planning process without a wedding planner which proved to be difficult. Victoria was so helpful in making suggestions and pointing us into the right direction, even though I know she really didn’t have to do that as our photographer. On the day of the wedding, she was prompt in arrival and swift in ensuring that she captured everything. In our evening shoot, we went to 2 locations but looking at our pictures it appears that we went to at least 20. She has an amazing eye for photography and truly captured the spirit of our relationship. The quality is excellent and we could not be happier with how our photos turned out. Victoria is a gem. If you are looking for a down to earth and talented photography, choose White Desert Photography!”

If you are looking for a down to earth and talented photography, choose White Desert Photography!

Karina & Zach

“Totally WORTH IT! Highly recommend!

Victoria is amazing behind the camera. I am usually really camera shy but I was so comfortable. It literally felt like a DREAM! We enjoyed each breath taking moment!”

It literally felt like a DREAM! We enjoyed each breath taking moment!

Izza & Reenan 

“Our wedding was originally March 2020 and she was so great during that difficult time of unexpected rescheduling. When we finally met 2 years after our first email exchange she made us feel so comfortable and at ease.

We would 100% recommend her to anyone and would be thrilled to have her take our photos again.”

We would 100% recommend her to anyone and would be thrilled to have her take our photos again.

Sarah & Aaron

“We hired her for our engagements, bridals and wedding day and we absolutely LOVED having her to capture these special moments. Victoria, is personable yet professional, and by the end of these shoots we felt she was a dear friend.”

by the end of these shoots we felt she was a dear friend.