I love the cool colors of Colorado, especially in the winter – blue skies, white snow, green pine trees. You don’t see many reds, oranges, and yellows here, but if you’ve ever been to Arizona, you know those warm colors are friggin everywhere. Steffie and Jesse gave me the opportunity to shoot with those colors in the background of their Cathedral Rock elopement in Sedona, Arizona.

They had their hearts set on sharing vows in the desert, so they flew me out to Arizona in July. July in the desert, I know – that state is a damn OVEN in the summer. But I knew it was what they wanted and what fit best with their demanding schedules, so I suggested eloping at sunset. That way we could start the hike while the sun was still up, but enjoy the drastically cooler temperatures once it went down. The results were pure magic.

The Details

  • Both Steffie and Jesse described themselves as anxious in front of a crowd, so the choice to elope was super intentional for them.
  • The hike to Cathedral Rock is only a mile, which I love, but it’s also straight up, which I don’t love. Jesse is a big hiker and was really encouraging with Steffie the whole way up. If I wasn’t already melting from the sun, I definitely was from how sweet they were.
  • Steffie colored her hair specifically for their elopement because she wanted it to match the rocks. The myth that you need a “natural” color hair for your wedding day is bullshit. She looked like a baddie and I loved it!
  • Even when it was dark we were able to get some gorgeous pictures. I’m confident in my nighttime photography skills, but that’s not true for every elopement photographer. If you know you want darker, moodier shots, you NEED to make sure your photog knows what they’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Must Knows

  • Cathedral Rock is a very popular hiking spot, especially on the weekends, so plan accordingly. Get there early to find parking (which costs around $5) and don’t park where you shouldn’t. Leave No Trace, remember?
  • The hiking trail is dog friendly, so if having your doggo there is important to you, you’re good to go!
  • Arizona DOES require an officiant and witnesses on a marriage license.
    • Steffie and Jesse also flew out one of my besties who got ordained online! She signed as their officiant, and their witnesses were yours truly and a random hiker we found along the way.
  • Unlike a lot of other popular eloping spots, you currently do not need a special permit to elope or take photos here. This could always change though, so make sure your photographer double checks before you commit to Cathedral Rock.

Let’s go to the desert.

"Hiring McKenzie to photograph our wedding was single-handedly the best decision we made when planning our wedding. Wedding planning and vendor research was so stressful, and once we had Kenzie, she stepped in as support and helped us with narrowing down things that were important to us and to figure out what we really wanted.  wish we could get married over and over again just to recreate these and work with Kenzie again! "

Nadia + Daniel

"You will not find another wedding photographer who has the McKenzie signature style- she can capture the absolute beauty of the area and people all at once. She can shoot in a variety of settings and lightings and the photos are all gorgeous. One of the main reasons we booked McKenzie was the fact that she showcases a diverse clientele and finds beauty in all beings- something not all photographers can say.As a plus size bride who was extremely worried about looking back at my wedding pictures with dread that I wouldn't look like those gorgeous girlies on Instagram- this meant so much to me. "

Sydnie + Nathan

"When we got engaged, we searched near and far for an elopement photographer - & we met with several different photographers but none felt right until we met McKenzie. My husband, my dog and I are avid hikers - we wanted a beautiful hike and view, but it was also very important that we could be our authentic selves and intimately celebrate our 10 years together in the way we wanted. I'll be honest, I was shy about wanting to elope (ya know, family opinions and such), but McKenzie made us feel so comfortable in our decision. She wholeheartedly welcomed us being.. us! We couldn't have asked for more."

Maranda + Sam