national park wedding

3 Simple Steps for Planning a National Park Wedding

Perhaps you love the stunning beauty and insane diversity of our National Parks as much as we do. Maybe you have a vision of visiting them all and your parks pass holds a prime location in your wallet. As lovers of nature, adventure, and solitude, we can’t get enough of the lessons that we learn from these impressive environments. In today’s wedding planning advice post we’re excited to be sharing our best tips, tricks, and secrets for planning a National Park wedding.

If you’re familiar with our work you know that we frequently work in a handful of National Parks in the west. Sequoia, Yosemite, and Point Reyes in California, Zion in Utah, and Rocky Mountain in Colorado are just a few of our favorites. We hope these tips we’ve gleaned from our experience will help you with planning your National Park wedding.

national park wedding

1. the necessities: venue permits, accommodations, and foraging for food

Some of the necessities of a National Park wedding are no different than any other venue. You have to book the ceremony and reception locations, figure out where everyone is going to sleep, and find a way to feed them. Depending on the National Park, these various issues range from easy to complicated.

Let’s start with the issue of the ceremony site. If you’re planning a National Park Wedding, chances are you’re interested in an outdoor ceremony surrounded by the awe and splendor of mountains, cliffs, lakes, or trees. Many of the national parks simply require that you get a special use permit for your ceremony. You will have a choice of locations based on how many guest you have and how many cars will be parking there.

For the reception you might decide to venture outside the National Park boundaries as depending on the park there can be limited reception venues. The reception venues that do exist might be fairly restrictive on what you can bring in as far as outside wedding vendors. This brings us to the issue of accommodations and food. National Parks are growing in popularity so planning ahead is a must if you want to eat and sleep within the park. If you’re flexible, there are often great options just outside the park boundary.

In summary, once you decide to have a National Park wedding its time to start figuring out any permits, accommodations, and food. Start at to understand any rules and restrictions. Then you can figure out how to feed and house your guests.

national park wedding photography

2. perfect timing: seasons, crowds, and lighting

Perhaps you dream of being a spring bride or maybe you have always pictured your winter wedding wonderland. Timing counts when planning a National Park wedding, perhaps even more than a typical wedding. If you dream of Yosemite waterfalls then you should aim for spring, if Joshua Tree is your chosen destination you might avoid the heat of mid-summer.

The various seasons bring different environments both in terms of the landscape and the crowds. In 2017, the National Parks saw more that 330 million visitors and while the beauty of the park system is that they are for everyone, you don’t necessarily want to invite all of those people to your wedding.

Time of year isn’t the only thing that impacts the crowds, you might also investigate time of day. If you get on the first bus headed up Zion canyon you might have it to yourself, if you wait until 10am you’re likely to be in line with dozens of families headed out to explore. Luckily, most people head in to eat around dinner time leaving the parks less crowded as sunset draws closer.

Speaking of sunset, timing for your wedding impacts the lighting for your wedding day. As you cruise around pinterest or other wedding planning sites you likely see a lot of inspirational photos of the places you dream of going. From a photography standpoint, timing counts when planning a National Park Wedding. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to help plan a timeline that will work for your vision.

In summary, like any wedding, timing is key for planning your big day. Consider everything from the seasons, to the crowds, to the sunrise and sunset. Timing will impact both your experience as well as your wedding photography.

national park wedding

3. enjoying the natural beauty

Last but not least, remember that your National Park wedding should have a focus on the natural beauty surrounding you. You may start to run into rules and regulations that restriction what types of flowers, decorations, and rentals you can bring into the park. While that can be frustrating, just remember that the environment surrounding you will provide its own element of elegance.

It can be tricky to dress in black tie and then use a pit toilet or spend hours on your hair only to have the wind destroy the curls. For some, these are frustrations. For you, it’s simply part of the adventure. Just be sure to warn guests of anything they might need in terms of footwear, warm jackets, sunscreen, and water bottles.

It’s also to remember that despite all the tourists and amenities, our National Parks are wild. Be sure to learn the rules to protect the natural beauty of our parks and consider educating your guests as well. Some of the main don’ts are as follows: Don’t feed the wildlife. Don’t walk through established meadows, on the tundra, or on cryptobiotic soil.

In summary, one of the joys of a planning National Park wedding is understanding and enjoying the natural beauty of the environment. Planning an outdoor wedding in such a natural environment has both challenges and rewards.

3 Simple Steps for Planning a National Park Wedding

  1. Figure out the necessities
  2. Plan for perfect timing
  3. Enjoy the natural beauty

Up next for our wedding planning advice: Planning your National Park Elopement Photography.

Below are specific tips for planning your:

FREE comprehensive e-guide: Prioritize your planning so your wedding is a memorable adventure.

Hope you enjoyed our tips for planning a national park wedding. Stay tuned for more tips for adventurous brides and check out these wedding photography tips for adventurous brides! You can also view more of our current and most popular wedding planning advice. If there’s a question we can answer, reach out. Most of our content is built from questions from our readers.

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We are Marc and Brenda Bergreen, a husband and wife photography team specializing in outdoor weddings and other adventures. Capturing people in nature and the mountain lifestyle is a passion that became a dream that became a life.

Based in Evergreen, CO we travel throughout the state as Colorado adventure wedding photographers. We also frequently travel to California and other wedding destinations to document love and adventure in a variety of memorable settings. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help! Be sure to follow us (weddings instagram & adventures instagram) and/or like us (facebook) to stay tuned.

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