With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love is in the air. If the romantic holiday has you seeing hearts, or maybe expecting a proposal, you might be wondering whether the stunning scenery of Capitol Reef National Park could be the perfect backdrop for declaring your love for your partner. But can you get married in the park? Keep reading to find out.
Can You Get Married in Capitol Reef National Park?
The simple answer to this question is that yes, you can get married in Capitol Reef National Park. What you really need to ask is whether you can host your dream wedding within the park’s boundaries. In the case of that second question, that depends entirely on what your dream wedding looks like.
Hosting a Simple Wedding or Elopement Ceremony in the Park
The only type of wedding that is allowed in Capitol Reef, as in most national parks, is a simple wedding or elopement ceremony. There are a number of reasons for this. Perhaps the most important is that these types of ceremonies minimize the effect that the ceremony has on the natural landscape.
The larger the wedding, the larger the impact. Setting up chairs, tents, arches, and other decor items can have a drastic effect on the natural plant life, disturbing rocks, soil, and more. Even if you have your guests stand and keep the decorations to a minimum, you’ll still need room for everyone, which can be tough on a trail or in the backcountry.
For that reason, you’ll need to be planning to have a smaller affair. In most cases, events in the park need to be limited to 15 to 20 people. This includes the happy couple, the officiant, photographers and coordinators, and your guests.
If you do want the ability to invite more guests, there are a few locations that allow for up to 100 guests. But the other rules against putting up tents and other major decorations still applies.
What You Need to Know About Getting Married in the Park
If you want to get married in Capitol Reef National Park, limiting your guest list isn’t the only rule that you’ll need to follow. Here’s what you need to know to plan a ceremony in the park.
- You can schedule your wedding up to one year in advance. The park does allow elopements, but you do need to schedule them at least 7 days in advance.
- Any guests or service providers attending your wedding ceremony will have to pay to get into the park. Because entrance fees cover everyone in your vehicle, carpooling is a great way to cut costs and deal with limited parking in the park.
- No areas of the park can be closed for a wedding ceremony. This means that other park visitors will still be permitted around your ceremony. The park may limit your ceremony to 20 minutes or less to minimize disruptions in the park.
- If an area of the park is closed to the public, you cannot have your wedding ceremony or reception, or take your wedding photos in that area of the park.
- You are not permitted to get ready for your wedding in any of the park’s restrooms or the visitor center. It’s also against the rules to have your guests wait in one of those areas, or move there for the ceremony in case of bad weather.
- Tents, carpets, floral displays, and generators are not allowed in the park.
- You cannot set up chairs for your ceremony, though you can utilize a few portable chairs for elderly guests attending your ceremony.
- Music is allowed for your ceremony and reception. But you cannot amplify it in any way.
- Tossing any kind of flower petals, birdseed, rice, or other materials is never allowed.
- Some simple decorations may be allowed. However, you cannot tack, tape, staple, or nail banners, streamers, or other decorations to trees, posts, or other surfaces.
Applying to Get Married in the Park
If you decide that you can follow these rules and still have the wedding of your dreams, there is one more thing you’ll need to know; how to apply for a permit to get married in Capitol Reef.
You’ll need a special use permit for your wedding or elopement ceremony. To get this, you’ll fill out an application that asks for your information and about some details of your ceremony. This includes where you plan to hold your ceremony, how many guests will attend, and when your event will start and end.
Once you’ve received approval from the park, you’ll need to submit a $50 fee to the park through pay.gov. Don’t forget to bring your special use permit with you to your wedding ceremony.
Planning Your Dream Wedding
There’s no denying that Capitol Reef National Park is a stunning backdrop for your wedding or elopement ceremony. However, with so many rules to deal with, planning your dream wedding in the park might not be possible.
Luckily, there’s an alternative.
Getting married at Cougar Ridge still gives you the beautiful natural backdrop you’re dreaming of, but with far more flexibility and a touch of luxury. You can get those incredible wedding photos among the red rock landscape. Say your vows in front of a breathtaking sunset. But still host a lavish party with your friends and family and dance the night away beneath the stars.
To learn more about having your wedding at Cougar Ridge, click here.