Last minute Moab adventure wedding weekend

My husband and I got married in Moab, Utah in June 2020. Our original destination wedding plan was crushed by the pandemic. So, we decided to plan a quick adventure Moab Utah wedding weekend in less than thirty days.

Despite the pandemic and Covid restrictions, we were able to pull off a great wedding and memorable weekend for our fifteen guests.

We chose Moab for its extreme natural beauty and close proximity. It’s a six-hour drive from the Albuquerque area. Surprisingly, the drive went by pretty fast, even with a toddler.

We also thought that Moab complimented our active lifestyle and offered a lot of the things we were looking for in a wedding adventure weekend.

We hadn’t mapped out a budget ahead of time but knew that we wanted to pay for everything in cash. Overall, Moab offers great prices if you’re looking for a nature wedding.

I will say that planning a Moab, Utah adventure wedding in less than a month is doable. Since the town caters to tourists, planning from a distance is easy. Although there are some things I would change if I could do it over again, everything went more or less as planned.

Moab wedding details

Weddings require a lot of planning, coordination, and flexibility, even for small events. Some Moab, Utah wedding planners offer inclusive packages but I opted to plan everything myself. This turned out to be more budget-friendly.

The wedding details below are organized by importance. If you want very basic Moab nuptials, you need a venue and a licensed officiant in the State of Utah. Since planning went more smoothly than I expected, I had time to order a wedding cake and set up a bridal hair appointment as well.

Venue for Moab, Utah wedding

Ideally, this is the first item you want to check off your list. The great thing about getting married in Moab is the sheer number of outdoor spots to have a wedding.

We chose to get married at Dead Horse Point State Park. It is in the Canyonlands National Park area and overlooks the Colorado River. It is absolutely stunning.

moab utah wedding

Special Use Permit for Dead Horse State Park

In order to get married at this state park, we had to apply for a special use permit. The Dead Horse Point website says that applications should be submitted at least thirty days prior to the event. I applied for the permit three weeks prior to our wedding and that was fine.

The venue cost is $50 for the permit fee plus $10 for the application fee. The park manager was able to charge my card over the phone and sent the receipt by e-mail. The manager was very easy to deal with and was quick in processing the application. We had the special permit within a couple of business days.

The State Park provides a nifty wedding packet with five different options for wedding sites. The sites are not labeled at the park, which was a little confusing for my mom and the photographers who arrived early to set up.

On the day of the wedding, the park manager and rangers were not available at the park. So, my mom ended up choosing a spot that was not the original spot on our special use permit. Nevertheless, that wasn’t a big deal.

Flowers

At the time of our wedding, Dead Horse Point did not allow live flowers at the park to preserve the natural flora. Since then, their website indicates that natural flowers are okay for weddings.

Needless to say, having an artificial bouquet reduces costs and wedding day stress. It was one less thing we needed to worry about on the day of the wedding.

Ultimately, we were all blown away by the sunset views at Dead Horse Point State Park. If you’re considering this park for your nuptials, you will not be disappointed.

One thing I recommend is checking out the venue ahead of time, even if it’s only a day ahead. It can reduce wedding day confusion. Also, guests should plan accordingly because Dead Horse Point is a 45-minute drive from the town of Moab.

Officiant

We chose a wedding officiant, Christy Williams, from the list provided by the Grand County, Utah website. She charges a $175 flat fee, which I sent to her via Venmo. This covers everything, including transportation to the wedding site, the ceremony, and signature on the marriage license.

She e-mailed us the wedding ceremony script a few weeks prior to the wedding. We were able to review beforehand and make adjustments to suit our wishes. She also provided us with a lot of local Moab information, which was very useful.

Due to Covid, one of her requirements was a small guest list. I initially told her ten guests, but we ended up with fifteen on the day of the wedding. This didn’t seem to be too big of a deal. She wore a mask and stayed a safe distance from everyone.

Marriage License

The cost for the marriage license is $30, which includes a courtesy copy of the license. Additional copies are $6. After everyone signs the marriage license, the original goes back to the Grand County Clerk’s Office for processing. 

Since we left Moab on a Sunday, I ended up mailing in the original license from New Mexico. This delayed the process quite a bit. We finally got the actual marriage license three weeks after our wedding.

Wedding cake

I’ll make this easy for you, go with Sweet Serendipity Moab. I spent so much time calling every single bakery in Moab, only to find there are two people who do wedding cakes in the entire town.

Sheila is the owner of Sweet Serendipity and is the sweetest, easiest person to deal with. I didn’t want to make the cake design process too complicated, especially since I was planning from New Mexico. I also didn’t want a traditional all-white wedding cake.

moab utah wedding

So, I found her online gallery, chose one of her prior designs and downsized to one tier for our small number of guests. We chose an orange cake with naked buttercream and chocolate ganache with fresh berries. An 8-inch wedding cake tier serves 24 people. The total cost with delivery and tip was $115.

Everyone enjoyed the cake. It looked amazing in our photos. Although I didn’t get to meet Sheila in person, she made every step of the process so easy.

These wedding cake accessories are travel and budget-friendly. All items are in the wedding cake photo above.

Hair and makeup glam

According to many hair salons, there are only two stylists who do wedding hair updos in Moab. I chose Morgi’s Hair Therapy and her talent did not disappoint. She’s been styling hair and creating wedding updos for more than ten years and is amazing.

The cost was a little hefty at $135, which included the hair updo and tip. I provided my own headpiece and sent her pictures of my hair prior to the appointment at her request.

Unfortunately, Morgi does not provide makeup services. I enlisted my seventeen year old future niece to do my makeup. She has an obsession with makeup products and eyeshadow techniques, so I knew she would do a great job.

About a week before the wedding, we did one makeup trial at my house. I also got my nails done in Albuquerque before heading to Moab.

Adventure wedding weekend in Moab, Utah

Places to stay

If you’re heading to Moab with a large group of people, I recommend Airbnb. My family stayed in one large townhouse and my husband’s family rented hotel rooms in downtown Moab.

I’m glad that we chose the Airbnb route because we decided to have our wedding BBQ reception on the outdoor patio. Our townhouse provided a large grill, an outdoor dining area, and a jacuzzi. It turned out to be very cost effective.

Fun excursions

These are some activities that are family friendly and easy to plan. Since we hiked as a group, I made sure to choose shorter hikes with great views. Not everyone will have similar hiking abilities.

moab utah wedding
  • Hike to Delicate Arch. This is a three mile roundtrip hike that is fairly steep on the way up to the arch. I would say that it’s not for a beginner hiker. It’s a popular hike in Moab, so there’s a lot of traffic. But the sunset views do not disappoint!
  • Main Street. Moab is no stranger to tourists, so Main Street is full of little shops, boutiques, restaurants, and the like. My favorite was a T-shirt printing shop. We picked out our t-shirt and decal and the owner used a silk screening machine to put on the decal in minutes.
  • River rafting excursion. We did a morning half-day river raft excursion with Adrift Adventures, which was $60 per adult. We were able to jump off the raft and swim while floating down the Colorado River.
  • Hike to Corona Arch. This is also a three mile roundtrip hike that is easier than the Delicate Arch hike with less traffic. The Arch is gorgeous, like everything else in Moab.
  • ATV trails at Sand Flats Recreation Area. I didn’t partake in this activity, but my husband and his brothers enjoyed the day out on the ATV trails while we shopped on Main Street.

Overall, there’s so much to do in Moab. We stayed a total of four nights and our days were jam-packed with wedding plans and activities full of adventure.

Lessons learned

I learned that weddings are stressful, no matter how smoothly they end up going. Even though I was 100% sure that I was making the best decision in marrying my husband, the anticipation, excitement, and worry are so overwhelming in the moment.

I met six of our guests for the very first time at our wedding weekend. Personally, I wish I had met them beforehand to get an idea of their interests and personalities. My husband and I are outdoorsy, athletic people, and some of the activities we chose weren’t for everyone.

Although we wanted to get married in the summer, I don’t know if I would choose Moab at the end of June again. Temperatures were easily over 100 degrees from mid-morning to sunset, which was exhausting at times.

Overall, I’m grateful for the experience. I’m happy that our closest family members came together and shared in the memories. If you’re planning your Moab Utah wedding nuptials, I hope this article helps in your planning.

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