When it comes to choosing a stunning backdrop for your wedding ceremony, few locations rival Zion National Park.
Getting married in the park does require following a long list of strict guidelines. But if you have your heart set on eloping, most of these rules will be a breeze to follow. In exchange for doing so, you’ll get to say your vows in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Not to mention score some truly envy-worthy photos of your big day.
If you’re thinking about tying the knot in the park in an unfussy elopement ceremony, keep reading, We’re breaking down what you need to know to plan the perfect day (or maybe even turn it into a weekend of fun).
Choose Your Location
If you want to tie the knot in Zion, even in a small, intimate elopement ceremony, you’ll need to get permission from the Park Service. Zion requires a Special Use Permit for any ceremony in the park. But before you can apply for a permit, you need to choose a location for your ceremony.
Zion’s Park Service has a number of pre-approved spots where ceremonies can be held. Each has a maximum number of people who can be in attendance. This number includes the bride and groom, all guests, and any service providers, like photographers or wedding planners.
These pre-approved locations include:
- Temple of Sinawava (Maximum of 35 people)
- Menu Falls (Maximum of 10 people)
- Zion Lodge Lawn (Maximum of 75 people)
- Nature Center North Lawn (Maximum of 50 people and only available from November to early April)
- South Campground Amphitheater (Maximum of 100 people)
- Timber Creek Overlook in the Kolob Canyon Area (Maximum of 20 people and 4 cars total)
Keep in mind that no matter which location you choose, you will not have exclusive use of it. Each spot will remain open to visitors to the park at all times.
Apply for a Permit
Now that you’ve chosen your location, it’s time to apply for your permit.
For a basic, simple ceremony in one of the park’s pre-approved areas listed above, you’ll need to submit your application along with a $100 application fee. Keep in mind that it takes at least three weeks for an application to be reviewed. This means that your elopement will require a bit of pre-planning if you have your heart set on a destination within the park.
You can request permission to get married somewhere besides one of the pre-approved locations. In this case, your application may require additional review, at a cost of $50 per hour. You may also need to pay another $50 per hour if the Park Service determines that your location requires a monitor during the ceremony. Monitors are usually required if a ceremony is going to complex, have a large group, or be held in a ceremony that could impact other visitors or affect the natural resources.
Even if you don’t have a Monitor present, the National Park Service may check in on your event, so avoid breaking any rules on the day of your ceremony to ensure that things go smoothly.
If you do choose to ask permission to get married in a different location besides these pre-approved spots, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, applying for permission does not guarantee approval. It’s a good idea to have a back-up location in mind, preferably one of the pre-approved places, just in case your application gets rejected. You should also allow for extra time to get your application approved, just in case revisions are required.
Remember that all foot travel has to be done on established roadways and permitted trails. This means that you can’t hike into the backcountry off of trails to get to your wedding destination.
Plan Your Ceremony
Before you turn in your application, you should have an idea of what the rest of your special day will look like. That way you can include any necessary details about your ceremony and plans in your application.
Start by thinking about your decorations. While the beauty of Zion National Park is enough for many couples, others like to utilize a few decorations. You’ll need to include any you plan to use on your application to get approval. Releasing birds or butterflies, and throwing rice, confetti, birdseed, or anything else is prohibited. While you can use live plants or flower arrangements, they need to be contained so as not to spread seeds. No banners or signs may be erected.
If you plan to have music during your ceremony, keep in mind that you won’t have access to electrical power, and you can’t use a generator.
While chairs are allowed at some locations in the park, they cannot exceed the number of guests and can’t penetrate the grass.
Consider the Logistics
Finally, it’s time to plan the less-exciting details of your elopement ceremony. Start by considering how your guests will get to your ceremony site. If the Zion Shuttle is in operation, you and your guests will need to use it. That includes carrying chairs with them on the shuttle. If your guests are able to drive to your ceremony site, they must use designated parking spaces.
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean that you can’t have a small reception after the event. While catering isn’t allowed in the park, you can utilize picnic areas on a first-come, first-serve basis. Or, you can coordinate with local restaurants to host a dinner after your ceremony.
Better yet, if you’re staying in a vacation rental, why not host an intimate dinner with any family or friends you’ve invited to witness your special day.
Planning Your Dream Elopement in Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a wonderful place to host your wedding. And choosing an elopement is a great way to stick to the park’s rules and also enjoy an intimate ceremony, either alone or with a few close friends and family members.
A smaller group also means the chance to extend your big day into a full weekend event. You, your new spouse, and your friends and family could stay in Springdale and enjoy hiking, sightseeing, and celebrating together after your ceremony is over.
A vacation rental is a great addition to any elopement weekend. With the right rental, you’ll have plenty of room for your group to get ready. Not to mention space to relax in and enjoy your time together. Each of our Villas offers private bathrooms, living spaces, and expansive bedrooms. The Aspen even offers over 1,500 square feet of outdoor living space, where you can relax long into the night while your group enjoys stunning views of Zion National Park.