Shenandoah National Park Wedding: The Ultimate Guide

Are you considering having a Shenandoah National Park wedding sometime soon?? Well you have chosen the perfect location for your wedding day my friend. I’m Kristen – an adventure elopement photographer based in Roanoke, Virginia and I’m here to help you plan the most epic day! The Blue Ridge Mountains offer such stunning scenery for your Virginia intimate wedding or elopement. From the lush greenery to the rugged ridges, you won’t find a more epic place on the East coast to say your vows. If you’re considering having a Shenandoah National Park wedding, then this is the guide for you. Here you will find the best locations to explore, where to stay, how to make it legal and so much more. Let’s get into it!

bride and groom laughing on a rock overlooking the blue ridge mountains in the summer

Table of Contents

Where is Shenandoah National Park?

Located in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is just west of Washington D.C. The park stretches over 100 miles from Front Royal all the way down to Waynesboro. Skyline Drive is the only public road that runs through the park and is open 24/7. There are four entrances into the park:

  • Front Royal (North Entrance)
  • Thornton Gap
  • Swift Run Gap
  • Rockfish Gap (South Entrance)

Closest Major Cities:

  • Driving Time From Washington, D.C.: about one hour and forty-four minutes driving to the North Entrance
  • Driving Time From Richmond, Virginia: about one hour and twenty minutes driving to the South Entrance
  • Driving Time From Charlottesville, Virginia: about 30 minutes driving to the South Entrance

How to Get to Shenandoah National Park:

Closest Major Airports:

  • Washington Dulles International (IAD): About one hour and thirty minutes away from the North Entrance
  • Charlottesville-Albemarle (CHO): About thirty minutes away from the South Entrance

Why Should You Get Married in Shenandoah National Park?

With 76 overlooks on Skyline Drive, there is no shortage of epic locations for your ceremony. There is something in this park for everyone. You can say your vows in front of cascading waterfalls, open meadow fields, woodlands that feel straight out of a fairy-tale, or of course in front of the best views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the adventurous and easy-going couple a like, we can hike to your destination or stop and shoot at one of the many gorgeous overlooks.

FAQ’s About Getting Married in Shenandoah National Park

  • Can I get married in Shenandoah National Park? Yep! This guide will continue to talk you through all the details on how to make that happen legally.
  • Where can I elope in Shenandoah National Park? The best thing about your wedding being in Shenandoah National Park is the freedom and customization. We can hike to the top of a mountain for your vows or we can stop at a park and walk overlook. As long as we follow the Leave No Trace principle, I will be by your side wherever you want to go!
  • Are dogs allowed in Shenandoah National Park? Yes!! Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet long. However, there are some hikes that do not allow dogs so check here for trails where pets are not permitted.
  • Do I need a permit to get married in Shenandoah National Park? When eloping with 15 or less in attendance (this includes your vendors such as photographer, officiant, etc), then no permit is required! If there are more than 15 guests, a special use permit is required.

Shenandoah National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits and Rules

As mentioned above, if you are planning on getting married in Shenandoah National Park with 15 or less in attendance then a permit is not required! If you are planning on having 16 or more guests, then you will need to obtain a special use permit prior. 

While we plan your Shenandoah National Park elopement, it’s always important to know the rules inside the park. This information is subject to change at any time so for the most up to date information please check the website here

  • If you are having music, any sort of set up such as an arch or chairs, or decorations of any sort then you are only authorized to have your ceremony at the amphitheater or a location approved by the DNC. 
  • Live plants and flowers are allowed but only in certain areas. Florals are not allowed on the ground.
  • The maximum number of guests for events held inside the park is 100.
  • Ceremonies are unfortunately not allowed in Big Meadows, but you can check out the nearby overlook at Tanner’s Ridge.
  • Don’t leave any trash behind, always leave it better than you found it.

Wedding Special Use Permit

You must send in your application no later than 6 weeks before your day, as this is the minimum time it will take to process the permit. It is strongly advised that you wait to finalize any plans for your wedding day until your permit is approved. If you would like to make changes after you have submitted your application, you will need to submit a new one. Shenandoah National Park gets a peak of visitors in the fall to see the changing of the leaves. Due to these high visitor volumes, wedding ceremonies held in October or November on Saturday or Sunday have to be completed no later than 10AM.

Click here to apply for your permit!

FAQs About Shenandoah National Park Wedding Permits:

  • What does the permit allow? Allows for a ceremony of 16 people or more. Any sort of setup will only be allowed in the park amphitheater or if arranged with the DNC.
  • How far in advance do you need to apply? No later than 6 weeks before your date. I would recommend much earlier just in case.
  • How much does it cost? There is a $150 non refundable processing fee.
  • Will you and your guests still need to pay the regular park entry fee? Yep! It is $30 per vehicle to enter the park.

Top Shenandoah National Park Wedding Locations

There are so many gems on Skyline Drive to choose from for your elopement in Shenandoah National Park. I love helping my couples plan their elopement and choose a location that is best for them. When figuring out your location for your elopement or intimate wedding, there are some things to take into consideration.

  • Do you want to hike to your ceremony site? Or do you want to park at an overlook and walk out to your ceremony site?
  • Will there be family at your ceremony?
  • Do you want to get married in the morning or evening?

While I have a couple of other locations up my sleeve for couples who book me for their elopement, here are a few of the more popular locations inside the park.

1. Tanners Ridge Overlook

While a ceremony is not allowed at Big Meadows, this is the next best thing. This overlook is close by and has an open field with a view of the mountains. There is a beautiful tree that makes for a stunning ceremony backdrop.

2. Hazel Mountain Overlook

If you’re looking for a sunrise elopement location in Shenandoah National Park, this is one of the few East facing overlooks in the park and your best bet for a morning ceremony. 

3. Little Stony Man Trail

An easy stroll and family appropriate if you’re wanting to hike to your elopement destination. No dogs are allowed on this trail!

4. Hawksbill Summit Trail

About 1.5 miles and the highest point in the park with stunning views. 

The Best Time of Year for a Shenandoah National Park Wedding

You can’t go wrong with getting married in Shenandoah National Park any time of the year. Each season brings its own unique and diverse beauty. While the park is typically open 24/7, inclement weather will cause some road closures. Always check the National Park website for updates on road conditions.

Shenandoah Spring Wedding: 

Probably my favorite time of year for a Shenandoah National Park wedding! The perfect time for wildflowers, lush greenery and not too hot. The con here being you have a higher chance of a rainy day. But I personally love a good rainy day, overcast skies make for beautiful skin tones.

Shenandoah Summer Wedding: 

Nothing beats a warm summer night in the park! Longer days mean all the more time for activities if you’re the adventure type. 

Shenandoah Fall Wedding: 

While it is the most beautiful time in the park, it is also the most crowded. Friendly reminder if you wish to elope in October or November, then your ceremony must be completed by 10 AM. However, we will find privacy amongst the crowds don’t worry.

Shenandoah Winter Wedding: 

The least amount of visitors in the park and who doesn’t love a dreamy, snowy wedding?? The downside is the roads do close when there is inclement weather.

Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park

There are fairly limited options to stay within the park. However, if you’re not wanting to drive 30-45 minutes then it’s your best bet. Shenandoah National Park has two lodges to consider, Skyland and Big Meadows Lodge. All accommodations inside the park are closed during the winter season.



There is a list of campgrounds throughout the park, visit their website here for information on them and their opening dates.

groom leading his bride down a trail after sunrise in Shenandoah National Park after getting married on Hazel Mountain Overlook

Shenandoah National Park Wedding Photographer

Hi there! I’m Kristen, a Shenandoah elopement photographer ready to help you plan your dream day in the Blue Ridge mountains. I love being in the great outdoors and taking in the beauty God has created! I specialize in elopements and intimate weddings in Virginia and can not wait to capture your adventurous love story.

When you book me for your Shenandoah National Park wedding or elopement, I will help create an experience for you that everyone will talk about for years. I truly believe that even though you’re eloping, your day deserves to be captured just as much as a traditional wedding day. You will only do this once after all! You can expect me to help you figure out the tricky legal things, I will give you guidance on the best overlooks that suit what you’re looking for, I will figure out your timeline for the day from getting ready to dancing under the stars, and whatever else you need in between. I want your elopement day to be as stress-free as humanly possible.

If you’re ready to chat, you can book me by clicking this link and filling out the form. I’ll respond within 24-48 hours 🙂

Shenandoah National Park Wedding Packages

What’s included in each wedding photography package:

  • Access to all of my planning resources including questionnaires to figure out what your dream day looks like, as many planning calls as needed, packing lists and so much more.
  • Photography coverage: Packages available for 4 – 8 hours of coverage. While this might seem like a lot for an elopement, I’m a firm believer that your entire day deserves to be remembered. I would love to be there with you from getting ready all the way to the evening celebration under the stars.
  • Location and permit assistance
  • A customized timeline for your big day – this ensures everyone is on the same page and we stay on schedule, while also having ample time to relax and take it all in.
  • Online gallery within 8 weeks that is easy to use and allows unlimited downloads.
  • All travel fees included, no hidden fees ever.

Full day coverage (8+ hours) – Starting at $3,400

Part day coverage (4+ hours) – Starting at $2,200

Time to plan your forever adventure.

Are you ready to plan your Shenandoah National Park elopement? Well what are you waiting for?? Let’s get to planning your dream day in the mountains.

bride and groom slow dancing at sunset in an open meadow field in Shenandoah National Park
first dance as husband and wife near Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park

Final Tips for Your Shenandoah National Park Wedding:

  • Don’t forget bug spray!
  • The park is mostly pet-friendly as long as the dog is on a 6 foot leash. However, there are some trails that don’t allow dogs. Please be sure to bring doggie bags for your favorite 4-legged babies!
  • If inviting guests to your ceremony, try to encourage carpooling as much as possible. Many of the overlooks have limited parking. This will also save money on the entrance fee as it is per vehicle!
  • There is very limited cell service within the park, download directions beforehand.

I’m so excited you’re here and I can’t wait to capture you adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here are some more blogs to check out in the meantime!



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