Arizona’s landscapes are steeped in romance in the least expected places. Beneath the shade of a Ponderosa pine, a secluded overlook offers a vista of the Grand Canyon’s awesome expanse. In the heart of Tucson lies a 48-acre patch of undisturbed Sonoran Desert splendor. Farther southeast, the world’s largest Lady Banks rose tree bursts into bloom in the Wild West town of Tombstone. For vivid memories and stunning wedding album, check out these Arizona wedding destinations that promise to deliver an outdoor ceremony unlike anything else.
Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon National Park
Arizona’s most famous and best-loved landmark, the Grand Canyon, offers a secluded spot called Shoshone Point where couples can recite their vows while overlooking one of the finest views of the South Rim. An awe-inspiring panorama of colorful buttes, spires and mesas spreads out before you: the towering walls of the Palisades of the Desert, the distant Marble Platform and the pyramidal crag of Vishnu Temple, one of the canyon’s most striking peaks. From a rim overlook fragrant with towering Ponderosa and piñon pines, the view unfolds in an ever-changing dance of color as the sun passes overhead in the sky.
Lockett Meadow, at the base of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff
During spring and summer, the blues, yellows and reds of native wildflowers – silvery lupine, firecracker penstemon, mountain monardella, heartleaf arnica and red baneberry – scatter throughout Lockett Meadow at the base of the stately San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff. The meadow, which is fringed with quaking aspen, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, provides up-close views of the peaks – extinct volcanoes that soar to 12,633 feet at Humphreys Peak, the rooftop of Arizona. Whether they’re decked out in spring and summer greenery, autumn gold or winter white, the sharp mountains – crisp against the azure sky – provide a spectacular backdrop for a special ceremony.
Red Rock Crossing and Red Rock State Park, Sedona
For brides-to-be looking for a destination proclaimed to be the most beautiful place in the county, Sedona has won the title, courtesy of USA Today. One of the most popular and picturesque wedding destinations here is Red Rock Crossing, where many brides and grooms have recited their vows along Oak Creek, whose waters reflect Cathedral Rock glowing crimson in the setting sun. At Red Rock State Park, a 286-acre nature preserve, intimate wedding parties of 40 or fewer gather on the visitor center’s rooftop for a dramatic overlook of red sandstone canyons and spires, including Cathedral Rock. Larger weddings are held beneath the “wedding tree,” a majestic 60-foot cottonwood.
Watson Lake, near Prescott
Outside the mile-high town of Prescott, the historic first Territorial capital of Arizona, the clear blue waters of Watson Lake reflect like a liquid mirror the dramatic rockscape of giant boulders known as Granite Dells. Sunrises and sunsets set the scene ablaze in oranges, pinks and violets, creating a one-of-a-kind setting for ceremonies at the Watson Lake ramada.
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City
When you think about iconic landmarks, the Statue of Liberty in New York City and the Eiffel Tower in Paris spring to mind. But the London Bridge? Well, that’s in Lake Havasu City, a quaint town along Arizona’s western border. The famous bridge now spans a massive manmade lake in the path of the Colorado River. The London Bridge was imported from the Thames River and rebuilt in the desert – brick by brick – for a reported $7.4 million. If you’re seeking a historic setting – punctuated with some fun trivia – for your special day, nuptials overlooking the London Bridge might be your ticket.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, near Superior
Enchanting desert plants from around the world line the paths that wind through Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, outside of Superior in Central Arizona. The Perennial Garden offers a one-of-a-kind vantage point – views of Picket Post Mountain, a rugged outcrop used as a lookout during frontier wars with the Apaches, and stately saguaros sheltered by deep canyon walls – making it a popular spot for weddings.
Rose Tree Museum, Tombstone
Tombstone has provided the setting for some of history’s most exciting chapters about the Wild West – from booms and busts to the antics of the region’s most notorious gunslingers, including the Shootout at the OK Corral. But beyond the stagecoach rides and boardwalks past 19th century saloons, this “Town Too Tough To Die” also has a softer, romantic side. Each spring – from the end of March to the beginning of May – the world’s largest Lady Banks rose tree (planted here in the late 1800s) offers couples a sweet-scented canopy of ivory tea roses under which to exchange their vows.
Tohono Chul Park and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson
The Sonoran Desert’s rugged mountains, studded with towering saguaros and fragrant creosote and abloom in wildflowers during the spring, make a stunning backdrop for any outdoor wedding. Two destinations in the Tucson area eliminate the need for a four-wheel drive to get there. Tohono Chul Park, whose name means “desert corner” when translated from the Tohono O’odham language, is a 48-acre park of undisturbed desert and gardens in the city. Another option is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – located on the outskirts of Tucson in Tucson Mountain Park – which boasts lush desert greenery, not to mention hundreds of animal species.
No matter where you go for your Arizona wedding, the Grand Canyon State offers a vibrant variety of environs to appeal to one’s sense of adventure, personal style and unconventionality. For couples seeking an unforgettable outdoor event – be it winter, spring, summer or fall – there’s no better place to say, “I do.”