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How to elope in a national Park (+ Best Parks to elope in)
One of the best things about eloping in a national park is that you get to tie the knot somewhere epic! Instead of a wedding venue, you can get married in an incredible outdoor location, surrounded by natural beauty - and some of the most beautiful places in the country can be found in our national parks.
A national park makes for a great elopement location, but there are some things to think about when you want to get married on public land! So, this guide is all about how to elope in a national park, with tips and advice, along with a few of the best national parks to elope in.
Things to know to elope in a national park
We are all about leading you through your experience eloping in a National Park. After all, we are there to document your day, through elopement photography and videography, to help you remember one of the best days of your life. Through our natural approach to prompting that works for both photo and video (that’s right—you don’t have to do double the work for double the coverage!), you’ll never worry what to do with your hands or wonder when to look at the camera. We capture the way the big moments really feel and even make portrait sessions feel organic and genuine. So, while you’re racing off toward the sunset or sword fighting with your noses (don’t worry about it…it’ll make sense when the time comes!), we’ll be capturing everything that makes your relationship so special on the day dedicated to celebrating it! But, before you really start planning your ceremony and your adventurous elopement day, here are a few things you need to know to elope in a national park!
You don't want to miss a moment like this
National Park Restrictions
If you want to elope in a national park, you should know that your ceremony might be a little different than if you had it at a venue. You’ll be out in nature, and on public land - which means you’ll need to make sure you’re respecting the land, and the other people who might be around! The rules vary, and some parks are more strict than others, but typically, you can expect to have minimal decorations - unless you’re in an area designated for events (like a big amphitheater), you usually cannot put up any arches or arbors, have any decorations, play music, or otherwise disturb the natural environment. Again, this depends on the park, so be sure to check out the restrictions for the location you choose! Many parks and locations also have a limit on the number of guests you can have. The best way to limit your use of the park and avoid the restrictions in place, is to have your reception somewhere outside of the park. Some couples choose vacation rentals or a nice restaurant to host them and their loved ones afterward.
To elope in a national park, you will often need a wedding permit - also called a special use permit. Most parks require a permit, but some only require it if your ceremony is bigger than a certain number of guests. For example, in Acadia National Park you only need a permit if your ceremony includes more than 10 people, but in Joshua Tree, you need a permit no matter what.
Some national parks also limit which locations you can choose from - some parks (like Grand Teton National Park) have a list of pre-approved locations, while others let you have a small ceremony just about anywhere. If flexibility and freedom with your location is important to you, it can be a good idea to look for parks that allow for that!
For permit information, you can look on NPS.gov - find the park you’re thinking of, and look for information on special use permits. Typically, you can apply for a permit up to a year in advance, but it needs to be at least two weeks to a month before your ceremony (though more time is better to make sure you’re not stressing). There’s usually an application fee, which depends on the park too, but it’s usually somewhere between $100 - $400.
Whether you’re saying “I do” on a rocky coastline right here at home in Maine or on the other side of the world, I have the perfect collection for you. Beginning from a recommended collection, we’ll customize it to perfectly suit your day. This way, we make sure everything that matters most to you is preserved. While I have a wide range of options, my most popular elopement collection includes:
six hours of coverage
Photographer and videographer
Digital gallery of 400+ images
Six-minute highlight film
Twelve-week gallery and film delivery
Complimentary engagement session
elopement prep guide
elopement day timeline assistance
This collection starts at $8,000
Available collections range from $6,000 to $12,000+
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Leaving no Trace
If you tie the knot on public land, it’s so important to keep it clean and beautiful! Not only does this ensure that our parks are preserved, it also prevents park rangers from deciding to close locations to elopement ceremonies. This has happened in some popular spots - places get run down, and the park doesn’t allow ceremonies there anymore!
Each park can have its own unique rules, but here are the 7 principles of LNT (Leave No Trace) that you should keep in mind for your elopement, and anytime you’re exploring outdoors.
Plan ahead and prepare.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
Dispose of waste properly.
Leave what you find.
Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
Be considerate of other visitors.
Prepare for weather
Many national parks are pretty remote, far away from big cities or towns. This often means that the weather is more dramatic, and less predictable! Especially if you’re eloping in the mountains. Since national parks cover a lot of land, it’s also likely that the weather can change as you explore the park or go higher in elevation - so anytime you’re out in nature, it’s important to be prepared for the weather.
First, choose your elopement date carefully. In the spring, when there’s no more snow in the city, there can still be a lot of snow on the mountain tops - and for most national parks (excluding deserts), weather is best in the summer, especially July and August, if you’re hoping for snow free trails. But, every national park and every location can be different, so before you set a date for your elopement, do some research on weather averages. As you get closer to the big day, make sure you know what weather to expect, and always bring layers just in case!
By prioritizing open communication, collaboration, and preparation that gets the job done without ever feeling like too much, we can give you the photography and videography experience of your dreams. But no matter how much we wish we could, we can’t make the first move! We look forward to hearing about the celebration you’re planning as we customize an experience to match. All you have to do is send us a note!
The best national Parks to elope in
There are 63 National Parks in the United States - and each one has something unique to offer! If you’re looking to elope in a national park, here are a few of the best ones to consider.
The best national parks to elope in the mountains
If you're dreaming of mountain views, here are the best elopement locations for you!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Acadia National Park, Maine
Yosemite National Park, California
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
The best national parks to elope in the desert
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Death Valley National Park, California
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Arches National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
The best national parks to elope on the beach
Olympic National Park, Washington
Acadia National Park, Maine
Redwood National Park, California
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
The best national parks to elope in the forest
Redwood National Park, California
Sequoia National Park, California
Olympic National Park, Washington
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Ready to elope in a national park?
Eloping is all about letting go of the stress and pressure of a traditional wedding - but even with a small ceremony, planning to elope in a national park comes with additional logistics and things to think about. My job as an elopement photographer and videographer is to help you plan your day, beginning to end. I’ll help you with location recommendations, finding the perfect national park to elope in, along with tips for vendors, places to stay, and everything you need. Your day will be personalized to the two of you, and you’ll have an incredible adventure!
If you want to elope in a national park, contact me to get started!
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St. George, Utah
Looking to get married in the desert? Close to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon, St. George is the perfect wedding destination.
Close to Rocky Mountain National Park, Vail, and Aspen Colorado, it's the perfect summer destination to get married amongst some of the most beautiful mountains in the United States.
Located on the Eastern coast of Mexico, Cancún is the perfect travel wedding destination. Warm air, bright blue water, and a whole lot of fun await this tropical paradise.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The ultimate vacation town with plenty of fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, and more. Settled at the feet of the Grand Tetons, and just minutes from Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is a prime luxury wedding destination.