OK, so this sounds wild, but hear me out… Would you elope on Mars? Or on a deserted, remote island? Maybe that’s a little extreme…but if you’re looking for the most unique place ever for your elopement, then I need to tell you about the Bonneville Salt Flats! I have visited there a ton and its my new favorite place in America lol.
The Flats are a fascinating, ecological phenomenon that honestly looks like something out of this world. It’s super surreal and magical, and just so different. I guarantee 100% that your elopement photography in the Bonneville Salt Flats will be unlike anyone else’s photos. Hello, bragging rights.
However, this location is kind of off the beaten path, so you really need to plan ahead. Here’s everything you need to know about how to plan an elopement at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Let’s start with some fun facts about the Salt Flats:
The Bonneville Salt Flats are in Northwestern Utah, near the Nevada border, about 110 miles from Salt Lake City.
Stretching across 30,000 acres, the flats are basically a dried-out lake; the area is now a salt pan, which is a large, flat stretch of ground covered in salt and other minerals. The water has evaporated and just the white, crusty salt remains, which makes beautifully intricate patterns on the ground.
So, why get married here? It’s unique, breathtaking, and looks like something from another world. If you love adventure, natural beauty, and crave something different, you will love it! Plus, it’s so far away from civilization and allows you to be alone in nature, just the two of you. So romantic!!!
As an elopement photographer in the Bonneville Salt Flats, I guarantee you’ll also get jaw-dropping photos, giving you those “OMG, how is that real and no way that’s me?” feelings.
I have been to the Bonneville Salt Flats numerous times and it seriously never gets old! I could go 10 weekends in a row and I would happily go an 11th. Such a fun place! As a photographer in Bonneville Salt Flats, I have a good idea of what works well and what may not work as great.
The Flats are such an exciting place to visit but if you are thinking of having your elopement here, I am one step ahead of you! Here’s how to plan a Bonneville Salt Flats elopement that you and your partner will be obsessed with!
This is a biggie. It’s crucial that you elope in summer (or late spring), because this is when the Bonneville Salt Flats are completely dry. If you want that beautiful crystal pattern in your photos, the ground needs to be dry. The crystallization makes the flats so dreamy and it honestly feels like you are on another planet. Sidenote: You can totally go barefoot on the flats. I get asked if it hurts to walk on because it does looks poky lol. But nope! Go barefoot.
Winter and autumn are rainy and the ground becomes soaked, so it’s kind of a miserable time to visit. Now don’t get me wrong, you can still get beautiful images but if you are looking for that crystal look, the summer months are your go-to. There are also racing events held on the flats in winter, so you don’t want your elopement ruined by loud motorcycles and a bunch of car tire streaks.
Real talk, though – it can get crazy hot in summer in Utah, so this isn’t the place for heavy, long-sleeved wedding dresses. Make sure you bring tons of water and snacks because once we get out there, we are OUT there.
The Salt Flats are about a 90-minute drive from Salt Lake City, so you definitely want to stay somewhere closer. Wendover, Utah is the closest town (about four miles) from the Salt Flats, so look in that area for an Airbnb. Airbnb’s are much nicer than hotels and they give you lots more options. Hotels more often than not won’t give you those really pretty getting-ready photos. Lightning is so key. Have a place in mind? Totally message or email it to me, happy to help!
If you want to officially elope in the Salt Flats, then yes, you need a permit. Don’t stress, though, as it’s super easy to get!
It’s known as a Special Use Permit, issued by the Utah state government, so you’ll need to apply for that before you go. I recommend including it in your elopement itinerary for Bonneville Salt Flats at least six months in advance.
For your marriage to become legally binding, you’ll also need a Utah Marriage License. This license will need to be signed by your officiant and two witnesses. You can hire a Utah elopement officiant for the role, or if you have a loved one you trust to perform your ceremony, it’s actually quite quick and easy to become ordained – you just need to apply via a recognized church (like ULC.org!). Your witnesses can be friends, vendors, or complete strangers you meet on the day. The only requirement is that they are over 18 years of age.
When I say the Salt Flats are in the middle of nowhere, I’m not lying! There’s a small bathroom at the main entrance, but otherwise, it’s vast emptiness (which is what you came for, right?).
Bring your own food, water, and anything else you’ll want for the ceremony, like flowers – and yourself, lol!
Everything gets salty here – your feet, your clothes, your car – but it’s all part of the experience.
A note on rental cars, though: I know that some rental companies charge a cleaning fee if the car comes back salty, so I always take it for a quick power wash before returning. There is a power washing place right near the SLC airport!!! That is where my husband and I went and it was perfect to get the salt off really quickly. Don’t forget to look up into the tires, because the Salt gets up in there too!
If you have pretty heels that you don’t want to get super salty – opt to take them off! One thing I did splurge on for my elopement at Big Sur was my shoes. The sand at Big Sur turned those shoes black, but hey – they have character now, right? The flats are really easy to walk on and the salt doesn’t hurt your feet, so if you want to go barefoot – I fully support that! I have a ton of elopement ideas for Bonneville Salt Flats photography, and a little salt here and there will just make them more beautiful!
The allure of the Salt Flats can attract a crowd in the summer months, so if you want the place to yourself, aim to visit at sunrise on a midweek date. I know it makes for an early start, but you really want the place to be empty to get the best wedding photos. Now the falts are very big (like very big) so even if there are crowds, we move.
Sunrise gives us that magical golden hour lighting, which is so important for photography – the midday sun can be a lot harsher. If we can’t shoot at Sunset for any given reason, Sunrise is a great way to go!
That being said, the night sky is completely free from light pollution here, so you can also come back in the evening if you want to see the constellations and snuggle under the stars! Camping isn’t allowed at the Salt Flats, but you can definitely still visit at night – just be prepared for a dark drive back to your Airbnb.
It goes without saying, but if you need a trusty elopement photographer ready to wake up early, roll up her sleeves, and give you some epic photo ideas, Tuh-Duh!!!!
I am here for you.
I’m so inspired by Utah, and by your awesome commitment to having a unique elopement that screams YOU. I’m stoked to offer elopement packages for the Bonneville Salt Flats, ensuring you get every video, photo, and Insta snap you need to capture the memories. Don’t wait, let’s start today!!!