From majestic purple mountains to a rainbow of lush fall foliage, national parks offer up the full spectrum of seasonal splendor that makes for the perfect backdrop when getting hitched. Brides searching for a truly unique and unforgettable experience can take their pick of parks—from Montana's stunning Glacier National Park to Virginia's sprawling Shenandoah National Park, there's an array of stunningly beautiful options.
Plus, the price point is equally as pleasing as the sweeping panoramic views. However, pulling off a plein-air ceremony requires careful consideration, including everything from attaining special permits to keeping an eye on in-depth weather analysis. Adequate planning time and booking are crucial if you have your heart set on more popular destinations such as Yosemite National Park, which can book up quickly.
Dreaming of holding your nuptials in nature? Ahead, we've rounded up our top picks for national park weddings for your consideration.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Admirers of the rugged Maine coastline will be pleased to know that this beautiful national park allows weddings and commitment ceremonies within the park grounds. Permits are required for ceremonies in the park consisting of parties of 10 or more. The non-refundable application fee is $50, and there may be an additional $60 if the ceremony interferes with visitor use of the park.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Looking to host a reception in a secluded meadow surrounded by pine trees? The spectacularly idyllic Glacier Natural Park can oblige. Panoramic views of the Montana peaks and the comfort of the Great Northern Resort situated just down the road makes for a turnkey combination of luxury and nature. This national park requires a non-refundable application fee of $100 and may require additional fees and permits depending on the size of your ceremony and the location you choose.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The dramatic Inspiration Point is flanked by a trifecta view of Jenny Lake, Grand Teton, and Mount St. John. Weddings are often held at the Signal Mountain Summit, which lends for incredible photo ops and unique vistas. The Chapel of the Transfiguration and Chapel of the Sacred Heart provides indoor options complete with equally beautiful views of the Teton Peaks. To hold a ceremony in the park, a special use permit is required and entrance fee policies apply. The permit application fee is a non-refundable $125, and there are a few fine-print restrictions you'll want to review with the park administration.
Olympic National Park, Washington
If a gorgeous lakeside lodge is your vibe, look no further than this Washington gem. The park has multiple lodge locations to choose from depending on party size. Kalaloch Lodge features tented outdoor pavilions for up to 150 guests or a selection of ocean-view banquet rooms for smaller groups. Lake Crescent Lodge offers up charming multiple-room cabins. Lake Quinault Lodge is the resident romantic lakeside gazebo with a grand ballroom. Special use permits are required with a $50 non-refundable fee.
Other prices and policies may vary.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California
Ideal for couples planning an intimate, small to moderate fete, the park offers banquet rooms to accommodate 15 to 80 guests. The facilities are naturally outfitted with beyond breathtaking views of woods and mountain ranges. A special-use permit is required for events held at any location within the park. The application fee is a non-refundable $50. The permit fee will run you an additional charge of $125, and there may be a monitoring fee of $50 per hour depending on the complexity of the event.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
This Virginia park specializes in ceremonies and events of 100 people or less. With kid-friendly activities available from horseback riding to hiking, it is a solid choice for those looking to keep guests thoroughly entertained. The park itself contains a ceremony space, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor settings with crazy beautiful mountain backdrops. Note that a special-use permit is required with a $150 non-refundable fee, and the Sky Land resort and Big Meadows lodge carry their own event rental fees.
Virgin Islands National Park, U.S. Virgin Islands
For a more exotic locale, the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John is the ultimate destination for a barefoot-on-the-beach affair. Trunk Bay Beach, ranked consistently among the top 10 beaches in the world, is all crystal blue waters and white sand heaven. A special-use permit and non-refundable fee of at least $25 is required regardless of the number of guests in attendance. Exact prices and policies vary.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite is the ultimate in dramatic natural settings. It also offers couples the rare privilege of getting married in a chapel within park grounds. Iconic, gorgeous landmarks abound from Half Dome and El Capitan to Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls. Accommodations are easy, with a slew of historic hotels and lodges on site. Given its well-deserved popularity, you'll want to book your national park wedding well in advance (up to a year). The special-use permit cost is $150 with an additional $50 fee per hour if event monitoring is required.
Looking for more inspiration? Click through these 10 outdoor wedding ideas that'll have you taking your celebration alfresco.
This story was originally published on April 18, 2015, and has since been updated.