Maybe you are asking yourself, How in the world do I plan a wedding at the salt flats? I am here to tell you just that.
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 Salt Flats! I have visited there a ton and its my new favorite place in America. If you are thinking about having your wedding at the salt flats, you are in luck.
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 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 and that’s only because well, the Salt Flats are HUGE. (like never ending it seems). I suggest staying in Salt Lake City and making the drive out that morning! Staying in SLC ensures you are by all the stores and resources you need PLUS the airbnbs in the area are super cute.
Consider lodging in Wendover, a neighboring city to the Salt Flats. Often dubbed a “mini Las Vegas,” Wendover offers convenience with its grocery stores, dining options, and gas stations. While hotels in the area may not meet expectations, this Airbnb provides the perfect accommodation for your stay.
Above the Flats:
Experience the unparalleled beauty of the Bonneville Salt Flats while staying at this unique Airbnb retreat, just minutes away from the expansive salt flats. Escape the ordinary and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing landscape, perfect for a romantic elopement. With its modern design and serene surroundings, this accommodation offers a tranquil haven for couples seeking an unforgettable getaway. Enjoy stunning views from your private patio and create timeless memories against the backdrop of this surreal natural wonder. Whether you’re planning an intimate ceremony or simply longing for a peaceful retreat, this Airbnb provides the ideal setting for your elopement adventure.
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.
Choosing the right vendors for your Salt Flats elopement is crucial for a memorable experience. With my extensive experience, I’ve worked with top-tier vendors who can elevate your special day. Here are some Utah-based vendors to consider:
When I say the Salt Flats are remote, I mean it! Apart from a small bathroom at the main entrance, it’s all vast emptiness (which is exactly what draws you here, right?). Make sure to pack your own essentials like food, water, and anything needed for the ceremony, including flowers – oh, and yourself, of course! If you’re considering an intimate wedding with chairs and such, hiring a planner is a smart move. The less you stress, the smoother it all goes. Remember, the more you plan, the more magical the experience. And as always, I’m here to assist every step of the way!
Prepare to embrace the saltiness at the Salt Flats – from your feet to your clothes and even your car, it’s all part of the adventure.
When it comes to rental cars, be mindful that some companies may charge a cleaning fee for salt residue. To avoid this, a quick power wash before returning the car is a smart move. Conveniently, there’s a power washing facility near the SLC airport, which I found perfect for a quick rinse. Don’t overlook the tires either; salt tends to get lodged there too!
If you’re worried about your pretty heels getting salty, consider going barefoot. I splurged on shoes for my elopement at Big Sur, and while the sand turned them black, they now have character! Plus, walking on the flats is easy, and the salt won’t harm your feet. So, embrace the saltiness – it adds a unique touch to your Salt Flats elopement photos!
During the summer months, the Salt Flats can get crowded. To have the place to yourselves for the best wedding photos, plan to visit at sunrise on a midweek date. While it might mean an early start, the empty surroundings will be worth it. And don’t worry, even if there are crowds, the vastness of the flats provides plenty of space to move around.
Ensure you’re aware of Speed Week at the Salt Flats. This annual event draws a significant number of cars, resulting in noise and tire tracks across the area. While the flats offer ample space, it’s advisable to avoid visiting during Speed Week to steer clear of the hustle and bustle. Stay updated on the event dates each year to plan your visit accordingly and enjoy a more serene experience at the Salt Flats. More on their main site here.
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 still visit at night – just be prepared for a dark drive back to your Airbnb.
Planning up your dream elopement is better with your dream photographer! Think we would be a good match? Reach out today through my contact form and let’s get started.
Experience personalized elopement planning with unlimited assistance. Beyond just your photographer, I’m here as your friend, fully committed to making your day perfect.
Each of my Elopement Packages includes:
Ready to commit to me as your photographer and get this party started? Reach out to me here.