How to Get Married in a National Park (Updated for 2020)
5 Tips for an Adventurous Wedding Day
National Parks are a great place for your wedding if you want to be inspired. What better adventure can be had than one with the person you always want by your side in a park that will constantly keep you exploring? Planning your adventure wedding in a National Park can allow you to create a unique day that is all your own. National Park weddings are best for couples who want a small wedding with close friends and family, or plan on eloping with just one another. This type of adventure wedding feels right for nature lovers who are adventurous at heart.
America’s Best Idea
National Parks are America’s best idea. They protect an area that allows people to fall in love with nature. With 62 parks to explore across the country there are so many different environments to explore. So why aren’t you planning your adventure wedding or elopement in a National Park? A National Park is the perfect place for you to have your greatest adventure yet.
Did you know that the first park to be founded was Yellowstone National Park? The explorers who told tales of the land and the artists who captured its beauty caused the park to be founded in 1872. It was the wonders of Yellowstone that moved Congress to pass laws to protect the lands, and it is the wonders of Yellowstone and countless other parks that continue to inspire us today. Here are some tips on how you can start planning your adventure wedding or elopement experience.
How to Have A National Park Wedding
- Choose Your Location
- Set a Date
- Get a Marriage License
- Apply For a Permit
- Start Planning!
1: Choose Your Location
When it comes to planning your adventure wedding, finding the National Park you both want to be wed in is a good place to start. This can be a park that you’ve dreamed of seeing or a favorite filled with meaning. You may need to find a park that can support a small wedding if you plan on having guests. Your options may be more open if you are eloping just the two of you. Browsing photos of parks that spark your interest is a good way to narrow down your list. You can also talk with your photographer or park officials to find the park that is sure to be best for your wedding day.
2: Set A Date
Setting your wedding date comes next. Be sure to check what the weather is like around the date you have set. That may help narrow down your choices for your park, or cause you to want to get married in a certain season. Weekdays are perfect for ensuring smaller crowds within the park. Busy seasons for the park may mean that you will need a backup date to get a ceremony permit. Once you have a date in mind be sure to apply for all the necessary permits as soon as you can!
3: Get a Marriage License
Make your adventure wedding date official by getting a marriage license for the state you are to be wed in. Marriage licenses vary from state to state, so be sure to research what it takes to get one in the state your park is located in. Some counties allow you to get your marriage license online, in person the day of your ceremony, or may have a waiting period. You may be required to have an ordained officiant and a number of witnesses.
Never let the legalities get in the way of your love! You can always get your marriage license before or after your elopement from your local court house if that is easier for you.
4: Apply For a Permit
Every National Park calls for a wedding permit of their own. Some parks even call for commercial permits your photographer will need to apply for. These are special use permits that require you to have an idea of what day, time, and location within the park you want for your wedding. Wedding permits can range anywhere from $150-300. Permits need to be applied for 1 year- 3 weeks before your wedding date. You should apply for a permit as soon as you can to ensure you get your date and ceremony location of choice. Your photographer can help you navigate these permits to ensure that your wedding day is set!
5: Start Planning!
Time to happy dance! Your permit was accepted and it is time to pay your fee (or donation. It’s for a great cause to help a place you are going to fall in love with!). Now it’s time for you both to create your adventurous wedding day. Talk to your photographer to start laying out a timeline that works for you and your partner. Park officials and park guidebooks are other great sources to learn from. Be sure to create an adventure all your own that gives you the time to soak it all in. In the end the photographs from your wedding day are oh so special because of the feelings and and memories they invoke. You only get one wedding adventure. So make it a good one!
Learn to Leave the Park Better Than You Found It
The National Park of your choice should benefit from your wedding day too! Be sure you and your guests (if you have them) learn park rules and regulations. These are important to follow to ensure your safety and the safety of the flora and fauna. Educate yourself on Leave No Trace principles. It’s so important to stay in trail, and picking up trash on your wedding day calls for instant good karma. You can even donate to the park in lieu of gifts to ensure that it is protected for years to come!
Have you considered eloping in Utah? Check out my Mighty 5 Elopement Guide to see if Utah’s national parks are right for you.