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  • Hannah Murray

How to Plan a National Park Elopement

Over the years the idea of eloping has become incredibly popular. More and more couples are opting for an adventurous national park elopement to celebrate their relationship. As a destination elopement photographer, I couldn't be more excited. I've gotten to photograph a Glacier National Park elopement, and a Smokey Mountains elopement, and can't wait for what 2024 has in store. Throughout wedding planning, the idea of eloping may have come up - let me be your go-to girl! I'll help guide you through how to plan a national park elopement and enjoy yourself along the way.

Choose the Right Park + Ceremony Location

While there isn't a 'right or wrong' national park for your elopement it just comes down to preference. Are you looking for the red rocks found in Arches National Park? Or the blue hues in Smokey Mountain National Park? Or maybe the adventure and thrill of a Glacier National Park elopement is right up your alley. Take your time and do some research. Consider what you will be doing while you're there. Do you like to hike, bike, or kayak? Are you going to just elope and fly home or are you going to honeymoon there? There are a lot of different elements to consider. Head online and look up different national parks on your list, then head to Pinterest for ideas of what wedding photos look like there!

Next, let's talk about the ceremony location. Once you've chosen your national park, it's time to consider ceremony location spots. Most destination photographers can help you determine the best locations for photos, however, national parks have permits and rules for various locations on site. Sometimes there are certain locations where you are required to have a permit to get married. While other locations in the park will not require a permit. It all comes down to the park you've chosen.

Obtain the Proper Paperwork for Your National Park Elopement

Once you've decided on the where let's talk about the details. Just like planning a traditional wedding, there are certain requirements to do so. When eloping in a national park they require a permit for any ceremonies on site. Make sure you reach out to the park and do your research on their permitting process. Some sites will run out of permits, make sure you check as soon as you choose your park and date.

Things to Consider When Eloping at a National Park

Permitting and Regulations: National parks have specific regulations for weddings, including permit requirements. Research the rules of your chosen park and obtain the necessary permits to ensure a seamless celebration.

Seasonal Considerations: Different seasons offer unique experiences in national parks. Consider the weather, crowd levels, and the park's specific features during each season when planning your elopement.

Accessibility: Some national park locations may require hiking or special permits for access. Consider the mobility of your guests and choose a location that suits everyone's comfort level.

Local Vendors: Research local vendors who are familiar with the national park and can provide services like catering, and floral arrangements.

Cost of Eloping at a National Park

When planning an elopement, while it is considerably less expensive than a traditional wedding, keep in mind there are some costs you'll need to consider. First, permit fees. As previously mentioned you'll need a permit and those permits come with fees for weddings. Be sure to allocate funds for these fees which vary from park to park. Next travel and accommodation, consider travel expenses, hotel costs, and food costs for the duration of your stay. I suggest using Google as your tool for tracking plane tickets to see when prices drop if your arrival date is flexible. Lastly, vendor costs. While eloping is a more cost-effective option, hiring local vendors with experience in the park will add to your overall budget. Consider what vendors you want for your elopement and which ones you could do without.

Remember to 'Leave No Trace'

National parks are beautiful and some of the most visited places in the country. They have been able to maintain their beauty because visitors are respecting and exercising 'leave no trace' principles. It's so important to respect the parks and keep them as they were when you arrived to help maintain their natural beauty for years to come!

Top National Parks for Your Dream Day

Glacier National Park

One of my favorite spots for elopements because of its diversity and incredible beauty. A Glacier National Park elopement will never get old and will always be a dream location.

Smokey Mountains National Park

Another breathtaking national park filled with lush forests, historic structures, and breathtaking landscapes creates a romantic atmosphere.

Grand Teton National Park

Lastly, Grand Teton National Park. It is another incredible park with mountains, lakes, adventurous hikes and so much more. It's perfect for any couple's elopement.

No matter where you choose to have your elopement, it's going to be full of love, adventure and so many incredible memories being made. Your relationship deserves to be celebrated in a once-in-a-lifetime type of manner. You've got this!

Considering a Glacier National Park elopement? Head to the blog for more detailed tips!

Ready to meet your dream destination elopement photographer? Let's chat!


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