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How to Elope in a National Park
Let me start by saying we LOVE elopements. Especially ones within National Parks. So much so, that we offer special pricing for those! Everything from the Redwoods of California to the Arches in Utah and everything in between. Adventurous couples are some of our favorite! If you feel like you aren’t traditional than an elopement is a perfect option. Feeling very adventures and want EPIC wedding photos? Choose a National Park elopement! Or maybe you want a more traditional wedding but also EPIC photos - why not take your engagement photos in an epic park?! Here is our guide to help plan!
Almost all of the U.S. National Parks allow for ceremonies to take place within their grounds through “special use” permits (usually between $50-$200, depending on the park). Do you really need a permit? Absolutely YES. Why? If by chance you get stopped by a ranger that asks for the permit, how crushing would it be to have to put your wedding day to a halt? Also, the national parks are such a great service plus a definite cause for supporting. We think thats fair! If you are planning in advance go ahead and get the permit. The more time the better, also if it is crunch time some parks give out permits 3 weeks out.
Do I get the permit or does Rad Red?
Typically the couple will purchase the permit and they usually range from $100 – $300.
Are there any restrictions are involved?
That just depends on the park but most of them don’t allow ceremonies greater than 50, they limited the prop or rentals use, and may ask lots of questions about florals. Things like candles or sparklers are a huge no because of fired, etc.
How much time should I plan for the day? Photos at sunrise or sunset?
Great question! This depends on how much hiking will be taking place. You don’t want to rush - you want to enjoy the entire process. Sunrise or Sunset both look amazing - but sunset is usually typical. Timing also depends on if its just the two of you or you are brining along some family and friends. Either way we will work with you to create a timeline thats perfect.
Things To Bring:
Comfortable shoes to hike in are a must!
Florals for each of you
If you are hiking far you might want to bring a change of clothes
Sweater/jacket – if you are up in the mountains or at a lookout point it tends to get unexpectedly chilly!
Water and snacks; maybe champagne!
A really easy prop for an elopement is a rug or bring a cute blanket to sit on!
Headlamp or flashlight if you are shooting at sunset and need to hike down in the dark
If there is a chance of rain, bring a jacket + umbrella. Sometimes you just need to embrace it all and running around in the rain can be the most romantic thing, just bring a jacket to keep warm afterwards
How do I find the location?
If you have the time, head to the park early and scope out a killer spot. If we have the time we can also do that same! Pinterest or Instagram are ways to check locations from afar. Consider calling a Ranger and finding places they suggest. Maybe they even know what others have done? We are also pretty verse on some of the parks so we are happy to suggest spots! Keep in mind, with some parks during busy season, it will be really tough in a popular location to not have other people in the photo because the park doesn’t shut anything down for us. But we can make just about anything work honestly! Perfect example: This shot was from Horseshoe Bend and there were probably 100+ people around. Thankfully the couple was down to risk it! We were right on the edge with an audience watching.
What about the weather and/or elements?
You will want to take lots of things into consideration when choosing a park and time of year. Thing about busy season, hot or cold temps, and even random things like in Joshua Tree in October its mating season for the tarantulas so they are very active. We are happy to help with this as well!
Great Parks for Eloping
Arches National Park — Special Permit Fee: $55
Bryce Canyon National Park — Special Permit Fee: $100
Everglades National Park — Special Permit Fee: $100
Glacier National Park — Special Permit Fee: $100
The Grand Canyon — Special Permit Fee: $175
Grand Tetons National Park — Special Permit Fee: $100
Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Special Permit Fee: $50
Joshua Tree National Park — Special Permit Fee: Varies
Olympic National Park — Special Permit Fee: Varies
Rocky Mountain National Park — Special Permit Fee: $150
Sequoia National Park — Special Permit Fee: $175
Shenandoah National Park — Special Permit Fee: $200
Yellowstone National Park — Special Permit Fee: $50
Yosemite National Park — Special Permit Fee: $150
Zion National Park — Special Permit Fee: $100
*I used Green Wedding Shoes blog and the NPS website for pricing and reference - along with our personal experience.