How to Get Married in a National Park

A couple sitting on the edge of The Grand Canyon.

Every couple has a different vision of what their wedding will be like. While some dream of getting married by the sea and others opt for more traditional religious ceremonies in a church or synagogue, there’s no right or wrong way to plan a wedding. It should be what the couple dreams of! For that reason, many couples research how to get married in a national park. Not only does this option provide a picturesque background, but there are other benefits to it as well, as we delve into below. Learn how you can coordinate your own wedding in one of these amazing venues below so that you can make your nature-filled wedding dreams come to life!

Why Get Married in a National Park?

Before we discuss the “hows” behind getting married in a national park, you may be wondering what all the benefits of getting married at one of these parks are in the first place. Well, there are quite a few, as you’ll read below.

The Breathtaking Views

A bride and groom standing on a rocky beach at a national park.

National parks all have one thing in common: they’re insanely beautiful. There’s no better backdrop for such a special moment in your life. Whether you love the beach, the mountains, the trees, or a combination of them all, there’s a national park that will meet your preferences.

The Low Cost

Let’s face it—weddings can be pricey! Getting married in a national park can in many instances be less costly than getting married at a more traditional venue. In fact, many of these are practically free to hold your ceremony in. That’s a definite win for most couples.

It’s All-Natural

A bride and groom having a casual wedding ceremony in a national park.

Many people in today’s world have a focus on being one with nature and appreciating our planet in general. What better way to do that than having a major life event while being in awe of such a beautiful and natural surrounding? National parks and all their beauty truly speak for themselves, making them a perfect setting for a beautiful ceremony.

How to Get Married in a National Park

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to make a national park wedding happen. Follow the steps below to make this dream a reality.

Decide the Scope of the Event

A small wedding ceremony with chairs and an arch set up in a wooded national park.

You’ll first need to decide the scope of your event. Are you going to have only the ceremony at the park and the reception in an alternate location or are you looking to have the entirety of the event at the park? If you’re having a smaller and more casual reception, you can use a picnic or pavillon area of many national parks for something low-key. If you’re having more than 50 guests or so, you may want to look into a hotel or more traditional venue privately owned within the park to host your reception at.

Get the Appropriate Permits

In order to get married in many national parks, even if you’re merely having your ceremony there, permits are required. This gets done through each individual national park’s permit office (more information about each of these offices and their contact information can be found on the National Park Service website: NPS.gov). As far as this step goes, research the permit pertaining to the specific park you’re interested in early to avoid any trouble in your planning process. Some parks require permits to be acquired a year in advance, while others don’t give them out until much closer to your wedding date, so this is something to keep in mind.

Choose the Spot

A bride and groom at their wedding ceremony in a national park.

Once you have the permit situation covered, you’ll want to put some thought into what spot within the park you’ll want to get married at. You certainly won’t want to pick the busiest spot that is typically overrun with tourists. You will also want to find somewhere that can be “blocked off” for your event. To come to a conclusion on this step, it’s wise to reach out to the public affairs office of the park you’re exchanging vows at and to ask for suggestions. They’re the experts, so lean heavily on their advice!

Choose Your Vendors

National parks will likely have many rules surrounding what kinds of vendors and materials you can bring into the space for your event. This has to do with their goal to preserve the park and protect it from damage. Communicate with the public affairs office to decipher these rules and regulations and then disclose them to the vendors you would like to use. This includes rental companies, your florist, and your caterer. Then, figure out a game plan with them to get what you want out of the day all while following the rules of the park.

Address the Restroom Situation

The restrooms available to yourself and your guests during the wedding is something that you don’t want to overlook in planning your national park event. If your ceremony is taking place in the park but your reception is not, you don’t have to worry about this as much as you must ensure you communicate to guests that a restroom won’t be readily available during the ceremony. If you’re hosting both parts of your event at the park and there’s no bathroom close to where the festivities will be held, you’ll need to rent restrooms for your event. Discuss the rules surrounding this with the park’s public affairs office and coordinate the logistics as needed.

Getting married at a national park certainly takes a few steps to pull it all together, but the beautiful setting and unforgettable feeling will surely be worth the effort.

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