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.
Weddings or special ceremonies may be coordinated by the authorized concessions operator,
Delaware North at Shenandoah National Park (contact the Delaware North group sales office at 866-383-2922).
For all other weddings or ceremonies in the Park, contact the permits office prior to completing any applications.
How much time should I plan for the day? Photos at sunrise or sunset?
If you are hiking to a location, make sure you leave plenty of time to take it slow and enjoy yourself. Shooting at sunset gives you the whole day to anticipate the moment, but for really popular parks or lookout points, it’s going to be very crowded. Sunrise is my favorite for the light and calm and quiet. It is a very early start, and you will do a lot of the hike in the dark, but it’s so quiet and calm, the crowds aren’t awake yet, and it feels like you have the whole place to yourself. Sunset light is usually very yellow and warm, while sunrise light is whiter and a bit less dominating in a photo. I encourage a different pair of shoes if you want to hike in your dress, or to wait to change until we get to the end in case you get too warm.
What about the weather?
Things To Bring:
• Shoes to hike in are a must
• 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!
• Water/snacks or maybe champagne (for energy + morale, of course)
• A really easy prop for an elopement is a rug and some flower petals, 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, or if you are shooting at sunrise and need to hike up 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 and towel to keep warm afterwards.
• 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.
What about the weather?
Modern 1850's Farmhouse - Only 6 miles away from the Thornton Gap Entrance to Shenandoah National Park,
near Lake Arrowhead for beautiful sunrises!
Cabin only minutes away from Thornton Gap Entrance
Adorable Rose Cottage
Modern Cottage on Main Street
Large Cabin on the River
National Park Conditions,
Things you need to know.
Entry fees apply, as appropriate to the method of entry into the park.
The NPS shall not monitor this Permit.
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.
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.
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 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:
- Memorials, photos, and/or plaques
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 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 is not furnished. The Permittee shall not connect to any power sources located anywhere within park boundaries. Generators are not authorized.
Audio devices (e.g. electrified musical instruments, P.A. systems, tape players, etc.) are prohibited.
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.