Couples of 2023! We know how hectic planning your Jackson Hole Weddings can feel. If you are planning a marriage, vow renewal, or other commitment ceremony within park boundaries, this is the blog post for you! As of January 2023, this information about GTNP Ceremony Permits is accurate. For later years, you’ll want to consult the official park website. Any kind of commitment ceremony requires a special use permit from the national park. These even include reading your vows or having a vow renewal ceremony. Legal and Spiritual wedding ceremonies, as well as commitment ceremonies of any kind need to apply for a permit.
The first question we need to answer is if getting married in Grand Teton National park is right for you. A few things to consider when making your decision.
As much as I love elopements and micro-weddings in the Tetons, it’s not the right choice for everyone. Some weddings are better suited to wedding venues outside the park boundaries. However, if having a ceremony inside the park boundaries is important to you, let’s dig in on 2023 permit information for your celebration!
Please remember that there is no exclusive use of an area. While your GTNP ceremony permit allows you to use the space for your wedding ceremony, it also specifies that you may not ask anyone to leave. Generally, most people are excited for you and happy to give you space and privacy for your ceremony. However, that is not always the case. On occasion, people will stay and witness your ceremony. Unfortunately, there are also times where they seem to be oblivious of the goings on and may be talking or walking around nearby. Some distractions are unavoidable, and you should consider this when choosing to have a wedding ceremony in a public space.
There are two types of Ceremony Permits for Grand Teton National Park. Reserved Site-Specific Ceremony Permits and Small Dispersed Ceremony Permits. The special use permit includes all of your weddings guests, wedding party, children, officiant, and photographer/videographers. Each location may only have 1 permit issued for a date, and permits are limited each year.
There are 6-7 locations that are specified for ceremony use. These have a max of 25-40 people, dependent on the location. More information for these locations is included below! Reserved Site Specific Ceremony Permits are limited to 2 hours.
Small Dispersed Ceremony Permits are available for group sizes of up to 12. These are available in the winter for the reserved site-specific locations. During the peak season of May-October however, Dispersed Ceremony Permits are not granted for the Site Specific Locations. There are also many places that may not be used in the peak season either, including: Jenny Lake areas and trails, String Lake, Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, Rockefeller Preserve, Murie Ranch, Teton Science School, cemeteries, concessioners, and chapels. Small Dispersed Ceremony Permits are limited to 1 hour.
The permits for Small-Dispersed ceremonies are best for those wanting a more adventurous or secluded experience. Due to that nature, it is best to discuss possible options with your photographer.
Most of the regulations and permit conditions are just common sense! For a comprehensive list, please review the permit section on the website. I will address a few that are questioned most frequently. Any decorations, signs, flowers, etc must be hand held. There is no throwing of flower petals, confetti, birdseed, etc. Small food and drink items are allowed like a champagne toast, but must follow bear safety protocol.
Picking flowers is prohibited. No rugs, altars, tables, or other structures or decorations. Chairs are not allowed, with the exception of a few portable chairs for members of the party who cannot stand for a ceremony. No drones. Quiet Music is allowed up to 60 decibels. Pets are generally not allowed. Pets may not be on trails or beaches. They may go “where a car may go” and stay within 30 feet of the roadway, and on a leash.
There are 7 Reserved Site-Specific Ceremony Permit locations. Only 6 if you count Mormon Row as one. But you do have to specify North or South and since they look different, I’ve included them separately.
This is one of my favorite locations for wedding portraits. Ceremonies here are limited to 25 total persons, with only 60 permits being issued for the year. This location fills very quickly. However, couples can still use this location for portraits. This location does have two small benches for your guests, but they may not be moved. This GTNP ceremony permit location does require a 10 minute walk and is not well suited for guests who have physical disabilities. There is one outhouse for public use.
In addition to the stunning mountain views, Mormon Row North has a beautiful barn and fields to recommend it. This location allows for up to 40 people and 60 ceremonies in a year shared with Mormon Row South. No seating is available for at Mormon Row North. It also requires a short walk on a dirt trail. There are some beautiful aspen trees, and a pink house that has been undergoing renovations. While there are no restroom facilities at the North location, the South location has an outhouse.
Mormon Row South is home to the world famous T.A. Moulton Barn. It allows for up to 25 people in your group and I believe splits the 60 permits a year max with Mormon Row North. In the summer and fall, the grass gets trampled from all of the visitors to the park, so if you don’t like the look of dirt – this might not be the best place. However, there are wonderful fields around it that offer stunning views of the mountains as well. There is also no seating available at this location. There is one outhouse.
This has become one of my favorite locations to recommend for wedding ceremonies as it is typically the most private option. It’s further into the park and has less people accessing it. Because it is a turnout, people come and take a photo and leave without staying long. However, you can occasionally hear passing vehicles on the main road. The view and sage brush foreground are well worth it! This location has a paved section of sidewalk that would make it a more ideal location for elderly guests or those who may need more assistance. The group limit for Mountain View Turnout is 25 people, and 60 ceremonies a year. There are no restrooms at this location.
As with other turnouts, this location is close to the main road and may allow for some traffic noise. It is up and even with the mountain views though, so a stunning place to take photos. There isn’t a very large or specified ceremony spot. However, this location also has some paved walkway and is close to the parking lot. There are no restrooms at this location. There is a limit of 25 people and 60 permits per year at Glacier View.
While this location allows for up to 25 persons, it is much better suited to small elopement ceremonies. Couples like to take photos with the Snake River in the background. It is slowly getting more obscured by growing trees, but is still a magnificent view. Snake River Overlook is one of my favorite locations in the winter with the dispersed permits as well. There are no restrooms at this location.
I haven’t yet had the pleasure to photograph a wedding at Colter Bay Swim Beach. However, we love to go in the summer for our own family water activities. It’s great for paddle boarding and playing along the shore. Since Jackson Lake is an active reservoir for Idaho and Wyoming farmers, the water gets very low later in the season. Thus, Colter Bay Swim Beach is better suited for May – July. There are 40 people allowed for your events, but only 30 GTNP ceremony permit available per year. There are flush restrooms at the visitor center, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from the beach. This location is the furthest from Jackson Hole, so attending parties may want to find accommodations in the Moran area.
Now that you have information regarding policies and permit locations, it’s time to apply. The wedding permits currently have a $200 application fee and form required. First, the form can be found on their website, and will need to be downloaded. The form may be filled out by a wedding planner but will need to include your information and signature. Then, email your application and pay the fee (steps 3+4 on their website).
It’s typically a good idea to have done some research about local wedding vendors before you submit your permit application. Most of my clients come to me before they have an approved permit. This allows us to make sure I’m available for their preferred wedding date. I can also offer more insight into which locations they might prefer. Because the GTNP ceremony permit applications require a time slot for your ceremony, it’s important to discuss timelines with your photographer prior to applying.
Ready to book your Jackson Hole Wedding Photographer? Send us a message to see if we are available for your celebration!