The Bonneville Salt Flats are a vast landscape of, well, salt! The flats were formed by Lake Bonneville, which dried up centuries ago, leaving behind a salty crust. It’s a really unique sight - the ground is covered in shimmering white salt crystals that almost look like a blanket of snow, and just beyond the dry lake bed are the mountains surrounding it. The scenery here is otherworldly, making a Bonneville Salt Flats elopement perfect for any couple who wants a unique wedding day experience! Keep reading this guide to learn all about how to elope at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
About the Bonneville Salt Flats
Before you start planning your elopement, here’s some info about the area!
One of the great things about a Bonneville Salt Flats elopement is that the location is easily accessible, making it perfect for any couple who has guests coming along, or who wants some low effort, high reward views for their wedding day.
If you’re traveling from out of state, the nearest major airport is in Salt Lake City. From there, it’s a 1.5 hour drive on Interstate 80. You’ll get off at exit 4, take a right, and the parking area is at the end of the road! You can even drive on the flats to reach your ceremony location - but do so at your own risk, because if it’s rained recently, the ground can get muddy. There are a few other access areas to get to the salt flats, but this rest stop offers the best views!
Weather at the Bonneville Salt Flats
When you’re deciding on an elopement date, weather will be one of your biggest considerations! Here is a graph of the weather averages throughout the year:
Because the salt flats are a desert landscape, temperatures can get pretty extreme! Summers are toasty, and winters are often below freezing. The best time to elope would be spring or fall - however, spring tends to be much more rainy, which means the salt flats are often salt puddles. Early fall is the best time for a Bonneville Salt Flats elopement, when the salt is still dry from the summer heat, but the temperatures are much more mild.
The Bonneville salt flats are busiest in the summer. Not just because people are using their vacation time to see the landscape, but because the flats host several racing events each year! Because of the vast, open space, it’s the perfect place for motor sports, and several speed records have been set here. These events usually happen in the summer, so when you’re planning your Bonneville Salt Flats elopement, be sure to look up the event schedule and make sure your ceremony won’t be interrupted by the sound of revving engines!
To avoid crowds, I recommend eloping on a weekday. Weekends always bring more visitors outdoors, so if you get married Monday through Thursday, you’ll likely have a lot more privacy! Another tip I give my couples is to plan a sunrise ceremony. I promise that the view of the sun coming up over the mountains and the morning glow reflecting off of the salt crystals will be worth it!
The Legal Stuff
Your elopement day will have a lot of exploring and adventuring, but there;s also the less-than-glamorous legal aspect of getting married! Here’s what you need to get married in Utah.
You’ll need to get your marriage license in the state of Utah, but you can do this at any county clerk’s office in the state. The Toole County office is the closest to the Bonneville Salt Flats, and you can apply online here, which makes things easier if you aren’t a local! There is also a $50 application fee which can be paid online. Once your application is approved, your marriage license will be emailed to you!
There is no waiting period, which means you can use your marriage license as soon as you get it, but it does expire after 30 days. So plan ahead… but not too far ahead!
In Utah, an officiant is required to sign the marriage license, but there are a few options for this. You can hire an elopement officiant, or, if there’s someone you trust to perform your ceremony, they can get ordained quickly and easily at ULC.org! (That’s where I got ordained– so yes, I can even officiate your ceremony if you’d like!) Having a friend or family member officiate your elopement ceremony can add a really nice personal touch to your day.
Two witnesses must sign your marriage license as well - but, this doesn’t mean you can’t elope without guests! The only requirement is that they be over 18, so any of your elopement vendors can sign. You can even find some people at the salt flats to sign for you– people are always super excited to help out!
Where to Stay
For your elopement, make sure to find a cozy place to stay! After a day of adventures, you’ll be so happy to come home to a comfy place. The Bonneville Salt Flats are pretty remote, so there aren’t a ton of options for lodging in the immediate area, but you can stay in the nearby town of Wendover, or in Salt Lake City. Check out this unique airstream in Salt Lake City, or this cabin west of town!
Hire an Elopement Photographer
Hiring an elopement photographer will be one of the best things you can do for your Bonneville Flats elopement! They’ll be your guides through the planning process, and take the pressure off of you so you can focus on the fun stuff - like getting married and testing out cake flavors.
If you’re ready to elope at the Bonneville Salt Flats, contact me! As an elopement photographer, I help couples with everything from finding the perfect ceremony spot, finding a place to stay, and creating a custom timeline to make sure your day is perfect, unique, and tailored to you!