What to Know if Getting Married in a Public Space

A bride and groom kissing in a public park.

There’s a lot to love about getting married in a public space. You’ll be treated to tons of space and gorgeous scenery, not to mention that it’s usually low-cost. Exchanging your vows publicly, however, does come with some concerns—like potential strangers invading your space, not being able to decorate the space to your vision, and wading through rules and regulations. So before you say “I do” in a park or at a national monument, here’s what to know if you’re getting married in a public space.

Research the Regulations

The legalities behind getting married in public spaces will vary from city to city and venue to venue, so it’s important to do your research before you officially choose your venue. Are the proprietors of your venue municipal, state, federal—or is the area privately owned? If you would like to get married in a public park, for instance, you need to get in touch with city officials and inquire about certain bylaws, as well as other necessary information about permits, noise restrictions, parking availability, etc. After all, you don’t want to be fined or have your wedding shut down because you didn’t do your homework!

Is it safe for you and your guests?

While your venue of choice might look pretty, it’s imperative that it’s also up to health and safety standards and codes. Is it sanitary? Is there anything hazardous that could harm you or your guests? Is it accessible? Are there nearby bathrooms? This might be a case of double-checking with the owners and/or management of the venue and confirming via a certificate and/or a walk-through—or you might want to consider hiring someone for a second opinion. Remember, safety first!

Are there any fees or additional costs involved?

A bride and groom walking on a path in a park.

While most public spaces are low-cost, you might still need to pay some sort of fee for using or renting the space. If you’re getting married in a national park, for instance, many parks require admission. So, determine whether or not you’d be able to pay for this fee upfront that would include all of your guests, or whether this is something that you would require of your guests to pay for themselves. Additionally, with many public spaces, there’s a good chance you might also have to pay for permits, as well as anything extra that the space won’t include like microphones, generators, chairs, etc. This is something to consider when it comes to adhering to your wedding budget.

How public is it?

A bride and groom walking in a park next to trees and statues.

If it’s a public space, chances are it’s open to the…public. Which means you might have a a slew of strangers and onlookers impeding your big day. Consider whether you’d feel comfortable with the fact that your ceremony could be disrupted by gawkers and tourists. You might be able to curb this by determining how busy your venue is on certain days and at certain times, and scheduling your wedding on a day and time that would see less foot traffic.

Is it easily accessible for all wedding guests?

How remote is your chosen venue? If you’re someone who wants to get married in a forest, this might be a problem for guests without a car, as well as those with physical disabilities. While this doesn’t necessarily have to deter you from choosing your desired venue, it’s a good idea to set in place certain provisions before the big day, like arranging a shuttle bus, ensuring there’s an attendant for your elderly guests, and creating a ramp for anyone in a wheelchair.

Do you have a backup plan if there’s bad weather?

Most public spaces are outdoors, which means Mother Nature is in charge. It’s a wise idea to have a backup plan if the weather doesn’t go your way, like having a tent or creating another type of shelter if one isn’t available on the property. (Remember to double-check with the venue management before renting a giant tent—it might not be allowed.)

Getting hitched in a public space can be a lovely experience, but like with any good wedding planning, doing your due diligence will help your special day fly by without a hitch.

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