I think San Francisco is fast becoming my favorite city in the world. Every time I go it’s a new amazing adventure and I just fall a little more in love. I’ve got another trip planned to visit again this summer and I’m really looking forward to more amazing finds. What’s your favorite city?

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I wish upon you visits to all your favorite place soon!

Love, Rachel!

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There is something magically about being all alone in the wilderness of the desert with your true love to say your wedding vows. Whether you bring along friends and family for a small and intimate wedding or if it’s just the two of you – it is still special to look out and see nothing but sky and mountains as far as the eye can see. But… how to find the perfect wilderness…?

Here’s a few of my personal favorite wilderness spots near Las Vegas and the southwest area. Plus a few wedding companies and venues that might be able to help you as you plan your adventuresome, intimate wedding elopement.

Valley of Fire:

Beautiful Valley of Fire is so near and dear to my heart because I’ve been coming here since I was a child. Now I live so very close and visit often in planning and photography weddings with my sister company, Cactus and Lace Weddings. Cactus and Lace Weddings specializes in stylized weddings for intimate and elopement weddings at Valley of Fire.

Red Rock Canyon:

Being so close to Las Vegas this location is ideal for the couples who want to have a natural outdoor ceremony but still want to get back to partying in Vegas afterward. The ever popular and super cool, Flora Pop, offers this locations as well as many others in their arsenal of off-beat wedding locations.

Nelson Ghost Town/Eldorado Mine Canyon:

Funky antiques and old cars and crashed planes, along side raw desert and a stunning cholla cactus field – it’s doesn’t get cooler than this place. Only an hour drive from Las Vegas, it is very worth considering this location even for a larger wedding ceremony.  This quirky  “ghost town” is actually on private property but they are wonderful about setting up events and photoshoot on their property. – http://www.eldoradocanyonminetours.com/photosmoviesweddings.html And one of my favorite wedding planners, Tara Marie, can help with planning at this locations as well as other Las Vegas locations.

Seven Magic Mountains:

This contemporary art piece is a fairly new addition to the desert landscape just south off the I-15 on your way out of Las Vegas. These seven huge colorful rock pillars are easy to access, but it’s a very popular spot. So if you’re looking for some privacy for your wedding here I would suggest trying to schedule an early sunrise wedding on a weekday. – http://sevenmagicmountains.com

Dry Lake Bed:

This iconic desert area makes for a stunning desert wedding location. With it’s completely flat landscape of hard cracked earth, it is a great place to feel all alone, together for your wedding elopement. There are actually three dry lake beds around Las Vegas that can be used as a ceremony location – all are about the same distance (about 30 mins) from the city but in different directions. Elopements Las Vegas can help with planning at a dry lake bed and other select desert locations as well.

Jean Dry Lake Bed – This the most well know dry lake bed, but it can also be the most popular and sometimes has scheduled events there.

Eldorado Dry Lake Bed – This dry lake bed is the easiest to find and get to and is on the way to Nelson/Eldorado Canyon.

North Dry Lake Bed – The area is not well know and is my favorite for that reason, but it does require a truck or SUV to access. (Once broke off my car muffler trying to get out there in my Toyota Corolla, not my best idea.)

Redstone:

This is a true hidden gem of a location, red rocks and desert landscape. Off the beaten path but still very accessible; it is on the scenic road between Las Vegas and Lake Mead. Though it’s a picnic area it is secluded and often empty of any people. If fact the whole road on the way to this place is beautiful and I feel like you could pull off almost anywhere and have a beautiful desert wedding backdrop. – https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/upload/Redstone.pdf

 – If you’re interested in traveling a little farther out from Las Vegas for your adventure elopement, (less than a day’s drive) try these desert locations –

Zion National Park:

This place is well known for it’s stunning scenic views and lush desert beauty. This National Park has specific areas set aside for large wedding groups but for elopements there are some other options. See the park wedding permit info here – https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/weddings-in-zion-national-park.htm

Cedar Pocket Virgin River:

This under-appreciated campground is a secret spot of mine. It’s right off the I-15 on your way to Zion from Las Vegas. It doesn’t look like much from the road but it has a wonderful view of the Virgin River and beautiful cactus and natural desert plants. It would make a lovely venue for a desert elopement and maybe a little camping wedding reception afterward. – https://www.recreation.gov/recreationalAreaDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&recAreaId=587

The Grand Canyon:

 The Grand Canyon is huge – obviously! So the North Rim and the South rim can be radically different.  The South Rim is more of the prime destination area so you’ll be in a very crowded touristy area. But places on the North Rim, like Horseshoe Bend, offer a little more seclusion if you are willing to travel a little farther. – http://horseshoebend.com/#

Joshua Tree National Park:

Who doesn’t love Joshua Trees! This stunning National Park is on the way to Las Vegas from southern California and it a fantastic wedding location. So many options for a wedding spot here but The Ruin Venue is on my list of top venues ever! Their small, abandoned stone house in the middle of the desert, makes for the most original and unique wedding venue.

Sedona Arizona:

Sedona, Arizona features the unique, tall sequoia cactus; along side red rocks and big sky views. There are so many chapels, resorts and golf course wedding locations options here that couldn’t even begin to name them all. And there are also lots of little pockets of stunning wilderness around if you need a secluded ceremony. But this place is definitely worth considering for your destination desert wedding. 

 I hope you find these suggestions helpful on your search for your own little piece of nowhere. May your wedding be a true adventure.

Love, Rachel!

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The Grand Canyon is huge, of course, with lots of different access points but Horseshoe Bend is one of my favorites. A little more off the beaten path and about a mile’s walk to the actual edge so it’s a little more secluded. I’d planned a little trip weekend trip to try out my new teardrop trailer and Horseshoe Bend was our destination. But you guys know I can’t just visit places – I gonna shoot while I’m there! So my beautiful friend, Amanda, volunteered to join the trip and model for me. Would this not be the most spectacular location for an intimate desert wedding elopement?!

I wish all your travels to be filled with wonderful friends and beautiful locations!

Love, Rachel!

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  • Jeff Sorensen - She looks like an Indian Princess.
    Simply stunning. The settings are perfect and inviting.ReplyCancel

My parents are really frugal people. Cheaper was almost always better in their minds and they taught me to be careful with my money. For the most part this is a good trait and I am thankful for their teaching. But it has also been a hangup for me on occasion.

I was in Hawaii with my 9 year old son. (His Christmas present that year was a trip to Hawaii for just the two of us.) We were only there a few days, but we made time to do a little shopping to buy trinkets for our family back home. There was local jewelry vendor who made beautiful earrings and necklaces from sea glass and pearls and shells that she would collect from the beach herself. They were all lovely and there was one pair of earrings that really caught my eye. But I felt so guilty spending money on myself. I was already in Hawaii and it felt like a splurge to buy something for myself when I was suppose to be buying gifts for others. But I really liked her stuff so I ended up buying a cheaper pair of earrings on sale. This pair was less then $20 difference than the pair I really wanted. But I felt compelled to be frugal, so buying something cheaper made me feel less guilty.

I almost never wear those earrings. I don’t really like them that much. And everytime I see them I wish that I had bought the pair of earrings that I had really wanted!

Sometimes getting what you really wanted is the right choice, even if it’s a little out of your budget. I hear from so many people that say they wish that they had just spent the money on a professional photographer. Or spent the extra to have the wedding photographer that they really wanted. They are unhappy with their photos and so the memory of their wedding is always tainted with that thought. Cheaper is not always better. And if photos are important to you now than they will still be important to you in 10 years, or 20 years. Do future yourself a favor and get what you really want. It’s worth it.

May you have all that your heart desires.

Love, Rachel!

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