How To Elope In Shenandoah National Park

Thinking about eloping in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park?

Shenandoah National Park really does have everything. It’s located in the north western portion of Virginia about 70 miles from Washington DC. From mountains to waterfalls to meadows, SNP has a variety of stunning landscapes. 

Summer brings lush greenery throughout the Blue Ridge mountains. Wild flowers and mountain laurel are in full bloom. Fall in the park is absolutely gorgeous and colorful. Winter brings delicate early morning frost to the vegetation and magical blankets of snow cover the mountains. In Spring the flora blooms and there are pastel blossoms for miles. 

There’s a good chance that you’ll be treated to a black bear or deer sighting. Respecting wildlife and keeping your distance is an important part of the LNT principles and keeping yourself safe. Keep reading for a step by step on how to have your elopement or intimate wedding in Shenandoah National Park.

Autumn in Shenandoah National Park

What you need to know to elope in Shenandoah National Park

First, did you know that to get married in the state of Virginia you do not need to have a witness present!? You do however need to have someone who has been ordained

Second, if you are planning on having a standing ceremony with 15 people or less you will not need a special use permit. However, it is a good idea to contact the office to find out if anyone already has a permit for the same date and time of the location you are planning on. To Elope at one of the scenic overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway that goes through SNP, you will need to apply for a special use permit

Third, plan on a weekday. Weekends, though not impossible if you elope at sunrise, get very busy at the park. 

Lastly, be courteous of other park guests. Even if you have a permit to elope in a specific area of SNP, it’s not guaranteed you will have the location to yourself. Aim for sunrise if possible. There are a ton of spots throughout the park that have gorgeous sunrise views – and you’ll have a better chance of having the spot to yourself.

How to choose a spot to have your ceremony:

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains in Winter

Take into consideration how far you want to hike and the difficulty level. Is your ceremony closer to sunrise or sunset? Where will the light be at the time of day your plan on having your ceremony? 

Find your vendors.

You might want:

  • An ordained individual to perform your ceremony
  • A florist 
  • A hair and MUA
  • A restaurant or personal chef to be able to have a meal after 
  • A place to stay the night such as a cabin, hotel, or Airbnb
  • Transportation, so you don’t need to worry about driving yourselves around or having to navigate the day of.

A week before: 

  • Confirm details with all vendors, including where to meet and at what time.
  • Start packing your bag with any gear you will need for the day, anything special you are bringing for your ceremony, and any items that will help you look and feel your best throughout the day. It’s also important to bring a trash bag to pack out anything you bring in with you.
  • Make sure you have your marriage license. 
  • If you are writing your own vows this is the time to make those final edits!

The day before: 

  • Your vendors should reach out to you for a final confirmation. 
  • Double check your bag and the checklist provided to you by your photographer, wedding planner, or guide.
  • Take some time to relax, if you practice yoga or meditate that might be a great option. If not curl up with a good book, Netflix and chill or watch a favorite movie with your fur child. 

Finally, one of the best parts about eloping is being able to enjoy the day and taking things at your own pace. The day is about how you and your partner enjoy spending your time – not about photos, not about impressing other people or putting on a performance. It should be fun, it should NOT be stressful. 

Remember to leave as little impact on our public lands as possible by staying on trail, and packing out your trash.

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