Expressions like “falling head over heels” and “taking the plunge” may make marriage sound like an endeavor best suited to thrill-seekers. For couples who dare to add that extra dose of adrenaline to their “I dos,” a one-of-a-kind Arizona adventure wedding is just the thing.
An exchange of vows floating 400 feet above the Sonoran Desert. An intimate ceremony within the sandstone grottos of Antelope Canyon. A bracing off-road excursion over Sedona’s famed red rocks. An abundance of unique Arizona weddings sure to capture the heart and quicken the pulse await – no matter if you’re novice adventurers or proven outdoorsmen.
Hot Air Balloon Wedding: Hot Air Expeditions, Phoenix and North Scottsdale
Hundreds of feet off the ground, yet close enough to spot a roaming coyote or javalina, an Arizona hot air balloon wedding with Hot Air Expeditions is equal parts serenity and exhilaration.
Once aloft, motion and time are suspended as passengers glide above the desert floor, rising and falling on the wind’s current. On a clear day (and most of them are), 360-degree views of Greater Phoenix and beyond provide a stunning backdrop for wedding photos.
One basket can accommodate up to 14 people, or the entire wedding party can take to the sky in several brightly colored balloons. Champagne and a catered breakfast await guests upon landing.
Horseback Wedding: Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson
When the sun begins to set over the range, the mountains flicker with color and erupt into brilliant red and gold. With some 180 horses quartered year-round, Tanque Verde Ranch allows couples and their guests to wrap up the ceremony Old West style: with a ride into the sunset.
Established in 1868 and the largest dude ranch resort in North America, Tanque Verde Ranch rests on some 60,000 acres encircled by the Rincon Mountains and Saguaro National Park.
Brides- and grooms-to-be can experience all the grit and romance of the frontier while enjoying the luxuries of a world-class resort.
Several outdoor and indoor venues are available on the property, or couples can tie the knot on horseback right on the trail.
Skydiving Wedding: Skydive Arizona, Eloy
With Skydive Arizona in Eloy, experienced, licensed skydivers can “take the plunge” from 13,000 feet in the air, freefalling high above Picacho and Newman peaks before parachuting to the desert below.
In one recent Arizona skydiving wedding, a Skydive Arizona employee and his intended were married midair and their entire wedding party of licensed divers made the leap with the couple from a vintage DC-3!
Tandem dives can be arranged for beginners who aren’t licensed but want to feel the thrill of literally “falling” in love before their ceremony (beginners cannot get married in the air).
While Skydive Arizona does not offer wedding-planning services, spectator areas are available for guests, and accommodations can be made for divers who would like to hold their nuptials after a jump.
Slot Canyon Wedding: Antelope Canyon (near Page)
The majestic carved sandstone of upper and lower Antelope Canyon are identified by the Navajo as Tse bighanilini (The Place Where Water Runs through Rocks) and Hasdestwazi (Spiral Rock Arches).
Years ago, herds of Pronghorn Antelope roamed freely in and around the canyon, which has become one of the most photographed sites in the world.
Despite the canyon’s popularity, it is still possible for lovebirds to steal away into isolated stretches for a quiet, intimate ceremony amid the canyon’s haunting beauty.
The upper canyon can be accessed by four-wheel drive, or couples can charter a boat along Lake Powell and slip into one of the narrow slots of the lower canyon to exchange vows between the walls of time-hewn caverns.
Railroad Wedding: Verde Valley Railroad, Clarkdale
Wedding parties aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad will roll along the curves of the Verde River and ride up through a red rock canyon on vintage rails.
Abundant wildlife, lush greenery and Native American ruins dot the landscape as the train winds its way through a four-hour journey.
Couples can say “I do” on the deck of an open-air viewing car perched 250 feet above the river with panoramic views overlooking Ox Bow Bend, or while the train is in motion in a private first-class car.
Full and partial charters are available and can accommodate up to 400 guests.
Off-road Wedding: Pink Jeep Tours, Sedona
A breathtaking backdrop awaits couples as their vehicle climbs 1,500 feet up to Sedona’s Merry-Go-Round Rock on the edge of the world – Pink Jeep Tour’s most popular wedding destination.
The ledge itself is made of Fort Apache limestone and used to be the bottom of the Pedragosa Sea – fossils of sea life can still be seen embedded in its surface.
More white-knuckled adventures, like the Broken Arrow tour, are also available. And, depending on the trail, up to 100 people can be accommodated for a catered reception right on the rocks.