Your GUide to planning the ultimate national park wedding or elopement
If you dream of getting married somewhere wild, chances are you’ve considered doing it at one of the 63 national parks (or hundreds of National Monuments – which are also beautiful and part of the National Park System) in the United States!
And I totally get it. National Parks can be some of the BEST places for your elopement or small outdoor wedding – here’s now to make your wildest wedding dreams come true!
National parks have been called “america’s best idea”
… and getting married in one might just be YOUR best idea.
Nature has a unique way of captivating our hearts, inviting us to slow down and appreciate the breathtaking wonders that surround us. For couples seeking a wedding experience that’s as awe-inspiring as their love itself, tying the knot in a national park is a perfect way to make their dreams come true.
Picture saying your vows against the backdrop of towering mountains, serene lakes, and lush forests, with the gentle rustling of leaves and the sweet melodies of birdsong serving as your wedding soundtrack.
It’s no wonder that more and more couples are choosing to embrace the great outdoors for their special day. In this guide, we’ll delve into the wild world of national park weddings and elopements and demystify the planning process.
Whether you’re an adventure-seeking duo or simply enamored by the beauty of the natural world, this guide is for you!
5 Reasons to get married in a national park
SPECTACULAR NATURAL BACKDROPS
National parks are renowned for their stunning landscapes, from majestic mountains and cascading waterfalls to serene lakes and dense forests. Choosing a national park for your wedding guarantees breathtaking views that will create a magical backdrop for your day. Whether you’re exchanging vows beneath towering redwoods or beside a pristine alpine lake, the natural beauty will enhance the romance of the moment.
INTIMATE AND MEANINTFUL SETTINGS
National parks can offer a sense of intimacy, and seclusion that’s hard to replicate in traditional wedding venues. Steeped in the serenity of nature, you can share your vows in a place that offers total peace. This intimate setting allows you to focus on the love you share.
A UNIQUE ADVENTURE
If you’re an adventurous couple with a love for exploration, a national park wedding or elopement is an ideal choice. You can incorporate outdoor activities such as hiking or camping to make your wedding an unforgettable adventure. Your wedding becomes not just a celebration of love, but also a celebration of your shared passion for the outdoors.
RUGGED AND MINIMALIST BEAUTY
A national park wedding or elopement embraces simplicity and the raw beauty of nature. With such breathtaking surroundings, you won’t need extravagant decorations or elaborate setups. The natural elements will serve as the decor, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – your commitment to each other and the love you share. This approach can also be environmentally friendly, aligning with eco-conscious values.
Let’s be honest, as an elopement and microwedding photographer I can’t help but mention the photos. National Parks and their unparalleled natural beauty make for stunning, museum-worthy images where YOU and the landscape are the art. Not only will you want to share your photos with everyone you know, you’ll also want to frame them, BIG, on your wall.
best national parks to elope in
Choosing the best national park for your elopement or wedding
Choosing my favorite national park for my couples to get married in is a little bit like trying to choose my favorite dog … it’s just not possible! With that being said, here are a few of my favorites:
1. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
3. Arches National Park, Utah
4. Glacier National Park, Montana
5. North Cascades National Park, Washington
7. Redwood National Park, California
8. Joshua Tree National Park, California
9. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
10. Zion National Park, Utah
do you need a permit to get married in a national park?
Contrary to what you might think, getting married in a National Park is NOT as simple as finding a pretty spot and saying your vows. But don’t worry, you’ve totally got this!
PERMITS: In most cases, you will need a permit to get married in a national park. Each national park has its own set of rules and regulations, including guidelines for special events like weddings. Here are a few key points to consider:
APPLICATION PROCESS: The process to obtain a wedding permit can vary from park to park. It typically involves filling out an application form, providing details about your event, and paying a fee. Some parks may have a limit on the number of guests, while others may have specific areas where events can take place.
ADVANCE PLANNING: It’s important to plan ahead and apply for the permit well in advance of your wedding date. Some popular national parks have high demand for event permits, so securing your permit early is crucial.
FEES: There is usually a fee associated with obtaining a wedding permit. The fee can vary based on factors like the size of your event, the location within the park, and the resources needed to accommodate your event. Fees typically range from $60-250.
RULES AND REGULATIONS: When you receive a wedding permit, you’ll also receive guidelines and restrictions that you must adhere to during your event. This could include guidelines on decorations, music, photography, and more
LEAVE NO TRACE: National parks are protected areas, and it’s important to respect the environment and wildlife. Many permits come with requirements to minimize your impact on the surroundings and to leave no trace of your event.
VENDOR AND EQUIPMENT GUIDELINES: Some parks might have restrictions on the use of certain equipment or the involvement of specific vendors. Make sure to inquire about any limitations related to catering, photography, and other aspects of your wedding.
Remember, the requirements and procedures can vary from one national park to another, so it’s essential to research the specific park you’re interested in for accurate and up-to-date information. Contact the park’s administrative office or visit their official website to learn more about the permit process and requirements for getting married in that particular national park
planning a national park elopement or microwedding
Planning an outside-the-box (and maybe even off-the-grid) wedding or elopement may seem daunting at first but with a little planning it is totally doable (and SO WORTH IT!!)
Just follow these simple steps and get ready to have your DREAM day in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.!
1: Choose your season and your vibe
Planning your national park elopement begins with choosing your park and THAT begins with choosing the vibe you want (and/or a time of year that matches that vibe!). What does your DREAM landscape look like? Is it rugged mountains? Sun scorched deserts? Dreamy coastlines? Towering trees? You have SO many options – let your mind run wild!
2. bring on your national park elopement photographer and planner
Once you have an idea of what you want to do and when you want to do it, it’s time to bring in the pros! A photographer who specializes in elopements and adventure weddings will help you narrow down your options, navigate any permit requirements, and dream up a day beyond your wildest dreams!
3. Book your date and secure any necessary permits
Permit requirements will vary both in how to get them and how difficult they are to get depending on which National Park you want to elope in. The sooner you get on this the better! There is nothing worse than having your heart set on a particular park and day, only to realize that that ship has sailed! Plan ahead.
4. get your dress, rings, suit, etc.
Now that everything is a go and you have an idea of the type of weather you can expect, it’s time to shop! Choose clothes (and especially shoes!) that are comfortable and walkable. Also plan on packing things like water, snacks, and more!
5. book any other vendors
Want to get your hair and makeup done? Need an officiant? Want to have a private chef cook you dinner at your AirBnB? It’s time to bring on your dream team! Your photographer can recommend vendors that fit your vision and budget.
6. do the thing … and relive it forever!
The big day is finally here! You are getting married in your dream National Park! Make sure to slow down and savor every incredible moment!! Your photos will tell the story of your day in the most beautiful way (and maybe inspire a few of your friends to elope too!)
WANT TO ELOPE IN A NATIONAL PARK?
I CAN HELP!
Hey! I’m Jen Dz! I’m an elopement and adventure wedding photographer who plans and photographs once in a life time adventures in National Parks and other wild places around the Western U.S.!
Get in touch to start brainstorming your best day ever today!