How to Have Your Wedding at a National Park

You can't beat the natural beauty of these locations.

Everyone wants their wedding to be beautiful, and one of the many ways to achieve that goal is to have a stunning setting for your ceremony.

Photo: Hugh Forte

Everyone wants their wedding to be beautiful, and one of the many ways to achieve that goal is to have a stunning setting for your ceremony. One of the national parks may seem like a natural choice, since they gained their status due to their beauty. However, there are some ways it may be more logistically difficult than a traditional venue, and there might have to be compromises for the type of event you can have. No matter what, doing your research regarding the specific park you love is key, as rules and regulations – down to how far in advance you need a permit – can vary. 

wedding in banff, how to have a wedding at a national park
Photo by ENV Photography

Should you desire a more typical celebration, consider an onsite resort. Many of the parks have at least one available and that type of venue is where you’ll be able to have the kind of service of a standard hotel wedding, albeit with further restrictions on sound amplification and decoration. Don’t expect to be able to have a tented reception! 

Another option is of course to simply host the ceremony at the park and have the reception at a nearby hotel or event space. This way you will still be able to embrace the beauty of the natural surroundings (and get priceless photographs) while lessening the inconvenience during the planning process. Either way, you’ll need someone at the park’s office to let you know what sites are available. The biggest tourist spots likely can’t be blocked off, and you likely won’t want your vow exchange to be surrounded by gawking strangers. 

Perhaps the simplest way, relatively speaking, to get married at a national park is to elope. You will still need a permit, but there will be much less to coordinate and you will likely have more options of where you can exchange vows with your beloved. Since you’d probably be on the hook for covering the passes of your guests to enter the park, eloping takes away that worry. You, your future spouse, and your photographer will all fit in one car!

If you do ultimately want to have loved ones in attendance, it’s probably best to keep your guest list to under 50 people, though it is possible to have a larger number of attendees. No matter what route you choose, it’s sure to be beautiful. 

See former ANTM winner Adrienne Curry's elopement in Glacier National Park and discover what you need to know to plan an outdoor wedding