June 21, 2017

Your Guide to Getting Married in a State Park

In this post The Sunshine Bride will help you plan the perfect state park wedding with gorgeous scenery for you & your guests.

Even better your site will cost less than $350, and you'll have your pick of beautiful outdoor sites & stone pavilions.

Step 1: Decide if a Park Wedding is For You

State parks, due to space, only really work for small weddings of less than 50 guests.

Even if you rent a private pavilion you will hear other guests at the park along with their pets, and people passing by might stop for a moment to see what's happening.

You'll need to follow the rules and leave the space nicer than when you found it. You may need a permit to serve alcohol, and there will also be limits on sound amplification.

Unless you're going minimal and getting ready in your cabin is going to work, you'll need to travel in from offsite.

And finally, keep in mind that wildlife comes with the wedding/ceremony space, & that you may need to be extra cautious with where & how you store food and drinks.

Step 2: Scout Out The Location

Visit the National Park Service to find your local state parks or just head to your favorite & explore.

Make sure to visit during the same time of year, if possible the same day of the week, that your ceremony will take place. And keep the position of the sun in mind so your guests don't end up squinting.

As many parks won't allow fixtures or staging that requires staking tents & other decor may be out of the question so take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and consider trees draped with lights or streaming white fabric or other available gorgeous backdrops like waterfalls.

Scout out a secluded spot for the ceremony, & work out the logistics of your seating & decor. If you're looking for more privacy avoid the busy season.

If you need help call the park for recommendations as they may even know what spots have worked for weddings in the past.

Keep in mind if you're looking for extra privacy you can tie white ribbons around trees, and even consider appointing a member of your party to greet all invitees.

Other things are to consider are purchasing a wireless microphone if the site has no electric, confirming there are adequate restrooms near, and making sure to provide guests with clear directions to the ceremony site including a map - and even posting signs at the park if allowed.

Step 3: Coordinate Rentals & Catering At Least One Year Ahead

Once you've found the perfect spot for your ceremony and/or reception you'll need to reserve your space. Some require you apply a year in advance, and others won't let you apply until 2-3 weeks before. Do your homework & learn what you need to early.

Plan who's setting up and taking down the decor and seating, or hire coordinators, & if you're not doing a dish to pass or grilling reach out to local caterers for details on how to coordinate your event.

Step 4: Make Plans For Your Guests

Decide how everyone is going to travel to, & where they might plan on staying. Consider hiring a shuttle bus or covering the entry cost of guests only coming for the day, & ask the park if you can purchase the passes beforehand.

Don't forget to tell guests at least a year in advance to reserve their spots if they want to stay at the park. Make sure people know about cabins or cottages the park rents, and the local hotels in the nearest town as not everyone loves camping.

Step 5: Be Ready for Rain & Keep Your Party Informed

Give guests updates via email, or your website, about weather and any other important changes. Offer helpful tips on shoes best for the terrain, information about how to check in, and what guests will want to do if it does rain.

Make sure your guests are comfortable when they do arrive by having things like fans, bottled water, & insect repellent ready.

Make sure to check out the I Heart Parks guide from the National Park Foundation.

Pro Tip for Outdoor Weddings - Choose the Right Flowers

Make sure to choose flowers that can stand the heat if you're getting married in the summer. Check out our post Flowers Perfect for Outdoor Weddings - Slow to Wilt in the Sun.

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