HOW TO GET MARRIED IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK.

some helpful tricks and ideas for getting married in Shenandoah National Park, as well as rules and regulations in the National Park.

And how Gabrielle can help you have an absolute BLAST getting married! (:

A QUICK BREAK-DOWN OF LEGALITIES :

A special use permit is required for any wedding ceremony or special ceremony involving more than 15 participants. 

Please note that ceremonies with less than 15 participants and no set-up do not require a permit.

For all other weddings or ceremonies in the Park, contact the permits office by emailing : shen_permits@nps.gov

THINGS TO PLAN :

Where to stay.

Will it just be the two of you? Are you bringing your pets? Will your family or friends be along, and will they stay with you? How close do you want to be to your ceremony location.


What your entire day will look like.

How do you want your day to look? What sort of hikes do you want to do? What other adventures will you have? Do you want your food for the day catered, or do you want to make the food yourself?


Where to have your ceremony.

Do you want your ceremony to be easy to get to? Do you want a big set up, or will the natural backdrop be enough? Do you want to hike to your ceremony? Do you want it at sunrise or sunset?


Find a photographer.

Not only can I help you with all of the things above to plan, and be someone to bounce all your ideas off of, I can also photograph your epic day because there may not be anyone else there to do it for it.

HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD I PLAN FOR THE DAY?

An adventurous wedding or elopement can take a full day just like a traditional wedding day - but instead of a strict timeline and traditional “must-do’s” you can have a day full of casual and exciting fun.

So, make sure you leave plenty of time to take it slow and enjoy yourself.

I want to be there to capture you getting ready in the morning, the hike to your ceremony spot, your beers and barbecue, and your camp-side dance at the end of the day.

  • Getting ready together & drinking your coffee in your cabin.

  • Seeing the sunrise (or sunset).

  • Saying your vows.

  • Photos together as you explore and play in the mountains, rivers, or valleys.

  • Going back to your cabin to cook together, enjoying coffee, jumping in the water, and dancing by the river.

Whatever you imagine for your wedding day, whether it’s just the two of you or you have guests, take a full day, a full weekend, or a full week to enjoy it!

You can even go back to a brewery or a winery instead of a cabin.


 THINGS TO DO ON YOUR ADVENTUROUS WEDDING DAY

  • Rent a Cabin to Stay In - and if it’s a larger group of you, consider a huge cabin for all of you to stay in, or multiple cabins near each other. Emma & Jeddah rented out the entire Hotel Laurence for their wedding day and weekend.

  • Local Brewery, Winery, or Distillery : Rent a brewery or distillery for your reception.

  • Picnic : Bring a picnic basket up on the Park for a little meal before or after or ceremony.

  • Hiking : Go for a hike!

  • Canoe or Kayak : Go floating down the river

  • Barbecue : Fan of cooking together? Barbecue or cook your meal afterward!

  • Campfire : Have a campfire at your cabin, campsite, or down by the river and spend the evening jamming out.

  • Bring your instruments : To follow up on the last one, if music is a big part of your life, bring your instruments and invite others to do the same.

And more! There are about 2 billion things you can do that are unique to you and what you love to do. We can sit down, think about it all, and come up with something fun to make your wedding day incredible.

THINGS TO BRING: 

 
How To Get Married or Elope In Shenandoah National Park

Shoes to hike in are a must.

Change of Clothes : If you are hiking, you might want to bring a change of clothes and get ready at the location (photo here is of Megan getting ready at her location in Washington State!)

• Sweater / Jacket – if you are up in the mountains or at a lookout point it can get unexpectedly chilly! Shenandoah National Park is typically 10 degrees colder than the towns down in the valley.

Water / Snacks or maybe whiskey and champagne (for energy & morale, of course).

Allergy medicine : the mountains and valley can hold on to that pollen - non-drowsy!

Headlamp or flashlight : if you are shooting at sunset and need to hike down in the dark, or if you are shooting at sunrise and need to hike up in the dark.

Umbrella : 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 and blanket to keep warm afterwards.

Rain Backup : It’s also not a bad idea to have a backup location like a lookout tower or cabin to run to after saying your vows for some more photos and sweet moments together.

Blankets : Bring blankets! It is 10 degrees colder and the wind can make it even colder than THAT up on the mountain. So bring blankets and warm jackets to keep you and any guests warm!


Booking White Sails

What do you get when you book White Sails to photograph your wedding in Shenandoah National Park?

Someone to bounce ideas off of.

You have ideas of what you’d like to do, but don’t know how to go about it? I’d love to meet up with you to talk about all these ideas and help come up with a plan for your entire wedding day. We can come up with a timeline and lists of locations where you can stay, hike, have your ceremony, and explore - based on your interests and how you want to spend your day.


Lists of local vendors.

Lists of amazing local vendors you may need for your day - bakers, florists, caterers, breweries, wine-bars, hotels, and AirBnB’s.


A photographer!

A photographer who is willing to wake up at any hour, hike any hike, and document your amazing day candidly and romantically.

 Legalizing Your Marriage

Virginia is the hardest state to become an officiant in. There are a few options for legalizing your marriage if you’re having a wedding on Shenandoah National Park :

  • Find an officiant who is willing to travel into Shenandoah National Park with you

  • Get a one-time pass through the Luray Chamber of Commerce

  • Go to the courthouse and get your paperwork done, legalizing your marriage then and there, then having a ceremony that is purely spiritual and meaningful for the two of you by exchanging vows however you’d like.

    Stephanie & Steve went with the last option by going to a courthouse on their own on another day, but the day of their elopement they read from books and had a ceremony similar to one in Stephanie’s favorite book “Cat’s Cradle” by putting the bottom of their feet together.

 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Legalities Of Getting Married In A National Park -
INFORMATION DIRECTLY FROM SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK :

Entry Fees
Entry fees apply, as appropriate to the method of entry into the park.

Monitoring
The NPS shall not monitor this Permit.

Parking
All vehicles shall park correctly in legal parking spaces on a first-come, first served basis (no reservation of parking spaces).

  • Do not park on roads, road shoulders, or block any access.

  • Vehicles shall not impede road traffic or visitor access in any way.

  • Commercial transportation is not authorized within the boundaries of the park, unless specifically approved, in advance.

Off-Trail Prohibited
The Permittee and/or employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests is/are expressly prohibited from entering any closed/out-of-bounds areas or from leaving established trails, walkways and visitor areas. Vehicle or foot travel off designated roadways, walkways, sidewalks, or trails is not permitted.

Plant Material
Permittee and/or employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests may bring plants or flowers for use during the ceremony but shall, by the end of the permit, remove all such materials to include petals, leaves, stems, pieces and/or plant parts from the park at the conclusion of the permitted activity, due to the potential for non-native and invasive species to be left behind.

Decorations
Decorations may be considered and shall be approved in advance. This permit authorizes the use of a temporary, pre-constructed (built outside park boundaries) freestanding arch. The Permittee and/or employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests shall not stake/fasten the arch to the ground in any manner whatsoever. Weights for stability of the arch may be used; however, the Permittee shall not use sandbags due to the possible introduction of non-native sand in the resource. Should the Permittee engage a provider (associate) for this service, the Permittee shall ensure the provider shows a copy of this permit for entry into the park, at no charge. Any exchange of payment for the service shall take place outside park boundaries. The Permittee shall ensure removal of the decoration by the end of the permit.

Banners, Chairs, Memorials, Photos, Plaques, Signs, etc. 
Shenandoah National Park specifically prohibits placement of the following:

  • Banners

  • Memorials, photos, and/or plaques

  • Signs

Note: This permit authorizes the use of chairs. Should the Permittee engage a provider (associate) for this service, the Permittee shall ensure the provider shows a copy of this permit for entry into the park, at no charge. Any exchange of payment for the service shall take place outside park boundaries. The Permittee shall ensure removal of the chairs by the end of the permit.

Authorized Equipment
Authorized equipment is limited to hand-carried cameras and tripods. All equipment cannot interfere with the experience of other visitors. The Permittee is not authorized the use of stand-alone lighting systems.

Electrical Power
Electrical power is not furnished. The Permittee shall not connect to any power sources located anywhere within park boundaries. Generators are not authorized.

Audio Devices
Audio devices (e.g. electrified musical instruments, P.A. systems, tape players, etc.) are prohibited.

Musical Instruments
Non-amplified musical instruments (e.g. flute, guitar) that do not impact the experience of other visitors may be considered and shall be approved in advance.

Use of Native Materials
Native materials shall not be disturbed and/or used for props except, as a natural backdrop. Off-trail is not permitted.

Attachments and Coverings
Permittee employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests under this Permit shall not attach anything to any NPS facility, structure, rock, ground, or vegetation. Permittee and/or participants under this Permit shall not cover or remove signs, fences, or posts, natural features, etc.

Ground Disturbing Activities
The Permittee employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests under this Permit shall not engage in any ground disturbing activities, whatsoever.

Disturbance of Natural Features
Permittee employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests under this Permit shall not dig, scrape, remove, or otherwise disturb any natural features.

Leave No Trace Policy
The Permittee and/or employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests under this Permit shall follow a leave-no-trace policy and restore the area of use to the same condition prior to use, or better.

Waste Disposal (Pack-in, Pack-out)
The Permittee and/or employees/associates, and/or participants, and/or guests under this Permit shall dispose of all such waste and debris associated with activities authorized within this Permit outside the park boundaries. The Permittee and/or participants under this Permit shall not use garbage collection facilities provided for the public within the park, for the disposal of refuse associated with this Permit.