Get Married in a National Park

If nature calls, head to one of these three superior spots in America's backyard to have and to hold and, maybe even, to hike.

national park wedding
Photo courtesy of Caneel Bay

The National Park Service may have turned 100 this past summer, but the 59 parks that fall under its purview, from Acadia to Zion, still hold the freshest wedding venues in the United States. They are also some of the most colorful — think red rocks, purple mountains majesties, green forests, Yellowstone and blue ridges. 

Grand Tetons, Wyoming

This verdant expanse encompasses wildflower-dotted mountain highs and valley lows, winding rivers, blue skies and even bluer alpine lakes and a ready-for-social media-close-up vintage barn. Fill your wedding weekend itinerary with chartered lake cruises at sunset, private dinners under the stars and s'mores on Elk Island, whitewater rafting, rock climbing and photo safaris. Get hitched where the buffalo still roam (at Signal Mountain Summit or Blacktail Pond) or opt for two quaint chapels or a handful of local lodges.

jenny lake lodge grand tetons wyoming
Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts

Jenny Lake Lodge and sister property Jackson Lake Lodge offer cozy chic amenities where 600 of your favorite people can dance under the ballroom’s genuine antler chandeliers, mingle al fresco on the deck and devour espresso-cacao rubbed elk loin and corn and trout chowder (site fees start at $3,000; food and beverage minimums are $10,000).

jenny lake lodge grand tetons wyoming
Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts

Death Valley, California

The hottest, driest and lowest park with a morbid name may not seem like the most appealing spot to swap vows, but trust us: The vast desert landscape, with its rolling dunes, sculptural Joshua trees, blistered salt flats, painted canyons, riotous wildflower blooms, crumbling ghost towns and fiery sunsets, is a striking photo backdrop. And between late fall and early spring, temperatures drop significantly. Add in the concept that a rain delay (or the need for an indoor plan B) is practically nonexistent and you've got the perfect nuptial destination. Bonus: Star Wars-loving sweethearts can lord (Vader) it over friends that the'’re getting married where part of the franchise's very first film was shot. The Inn at Furnace Creek, a hillside adobe-and-stone 66-room hideaway built in 1927, provides an elegant headquarters for the weekend and several ceremony/reception sites. They include palm-dotted gardens, a banquet room with two wood-burning fireplaces and patios with panoramic views that extend to the Panamint Range. Your pregame plan can feature golfing, horseback riding, bocce, massages, a barbecue under the stars and the hotel’s trademark afternoon tea. Book the stand-alone bungalow, steps away from the spring-fed pool for your first night as husband and wife (site fees start at $500; wedding menus start at $42 per person).

the inn at furnace creek death valley california
Photo courtesy of Furnace Creek Resort

Virgin Islands, St. John, U.S.V.I. 

Cast away to this tropical island paradise and you can scuba dive, set sail around the Caribbean coastline and say "I do" all in the same day. The park, which covers 60 percent of the island of St. John and 5,500 acres of adjacent crystal clear sea, contains numerous sugary stretches consistently named some of the best beaches and snorkel spots in the world. Unsurprisingly, many come to say "I do" in the sugared sands. While more adventurous couples can exchange vows at lookout points that require trekking, or underwater with the urchins and sea turtles, the barefoot-chic Caneel Bay offers packages that can handle guest lists of 2 to 200 and excellent venue options. Once a private estate, the 166-room property with a mid-century-meets-surf shack vibe boasts sugar-mill ruins, a series of lawns, a wine room and a beachy mansion. Feast on all-conch everything, rum punch and other traditional Calypso favorites. An on-site pastry chef can make all your cake dreams come true (wedding packages start at $3,500).

caneel bay resort
Photo courtesy of Caneel Bay

Legally wedded: All three locations require marriage licenses. Wyoming has no waiting period or blood tests. Two witnesses are required at the ceremony. The County Clerk issues licenses for $30 and they are valid for a year. The County Clerk of California also issues marriage licenses. Similarly, there is no waiting period or blood test. Couples must apply in person and furnish proof of age. Prices vary by county; licenses are valid for 90 days. Getting married on St. John is a bit more involved. All paperwork, most of which is available online, must be completed electronically and then presented in person to the Courthouse of St. Thomas eight days prior to the ceremony. Fees are $200. Note: There is a strict dress code at the courthouse.