Tying the knot at National Parks

Tying the knot at National Parks

Tying the knot at national parks

Tying the knot? Planning a fall wedding? Think grand. Grand Canyon or Grand Teton National Park, maybe.

Outdoor-loving couples — and duos seeking a dramatic backdrop without a daunting florist bill — are turning to national parks for ceremonies when tying the knot. “I do” locales range from Hawaii Volcanoes on the Big Island to Independence Park in downtown Philadelphia, says Carol Anthony, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service. Some parks issue fact sheets on locations, regulations and permit procedures.

“There’s a wedding almost every day at Shoshone Point,” and there were 66 weddings elsewhere in the Grand Canyon so far this year, says Nan Stricklin, who issues the permits. “We get people from London to New Zealand. I just had a call from a wedding consultant in Australia who says getting married in an American national park is a hot trend for Australians,” she says. Karen Brody, the minister/wedding planner of Teton Mountain Weddings, Jackson Hole, Wyo., says couples wed on river rafts, backpack trips, horseback rides, sleigh rides and float trips. “I did two weddings on dog sleds last winter. I just don’t jump out of airplanes or do technical climbs up rock faces,” says Brody, who has tied the knot for 80 couples in Grand Teton and Yellowstone this year.

Many parks, like Grand Teton, issue permits free. Others charge nominal fees such as $ 25 at Yellowstone, $ 25-$ 80 at Grand Canyon, or $ 68-$ 192 at Shenandoah National Park. Yosemite, which charges $ 100, has issued 75 permits so far in ’96, many for Bridal Veil Falls or Cathedral Beach. “People seem to feel that the structure of a church isn’t what they are after. They want God’s natural cathedral,” says Jeannie McCamish, a minister and wilderness-wedding consultant for Sierra Weddings in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Restrictions apply Getting married outdoors in a national park is no quick picnic.

Beyond the basics — a local marriage license, a permit from the park, a licensed person to officiate — there are some less obvious requirements. A sampling from Yosemite: — No exclusive use of a site. It’s a national park. — No weddings in the meadows, on stream or river banks or the base of Sequoia trees. The ecosystem is too fragile for crowds. — No tossing birdseed or rice, unnatural food sources for park wildlife. — No balloons or any other type of decorations. — No signs directing guests. — No chairs, tables or other furniture outside of picnic areas. — No hot-air balloons.

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