Yellowstone wedding portrait

National Parks Open with State Funds + What That Means For Your Wedding

Yellowstone wedding portraitImage by Fran Ze Photography via Mountainside Bride

Couples intending to marry in a National Park weren’t the only ones panicked when Congress decided to shut down the Federal Government this October. States that rely on the tourism dollars that the 401 National Parks, monuments and other sites bring in were also dismayed. October is a popular month for National Park sightseeing–especially among international travelers–generation hundreds of millions of dollars per park. So states like Utah, Arizona, and South Dakota have taken matters in to their own hands and have brokered a deal with the National Park Service (NPS) to open National Parks at the State’s expense.

Parks that Have Reopened

  • Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
  • Statue of Liberty (NYC)
  • Mount Rushmore (SD)
  • Canyonlands (UT)
  • Natural Bridges (UT)
  • Glen Canyon (UT)
  • Zion (UT)
  • Capitol Reef (UT)
  • Arches (UT)
  • Bryce Canyon (UT) national parks
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument (UT)
  • Peaks of Otter on the Blueridge Parkway (VA)

Montana, Wyoming and California will not pick up the tab to open their National Parks. Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite will remain closed.

What this means for National Park Brides

Maybe nothing. At the very least your friends and family can enjoy sightseeing in the National Park you intended planned to get married in. However, whether or not you can still have your wedding in a venue inside the National Park is up to the concessionaire  that runs the venue.

Also, the National Park Service asked that concessionaires continue to comply with NPS policies during the Government Shutdown, including:

(1) the facility is accessible from an open road (NPS through road, state road, etc.) or private property, and is not behind a locked gate;

(2) self-contained operation that does not require the rest of the park to execute (e.g., a restaurant, like Cliff’s House);

(3) opening the facility doesn’t require NPS to expend additional funds (beyond the emergency services already in place); and

(4) the concessioner commit to any trash removal that might ordinarily be the responsibility of NPS.” – See more at:

So what should you do?

  • Again, read your contract. If your wedding has been cancelled due to the federal shutdown and your venue still cannot accommodate you. look at your contract for wiggle room for negotiating.
  • Looks for ways to compromise. If you cannot use an in-Park venue for your wedding, ask for an immediate refund so you can secure another venue. Ask if the concessionaire can make any recommendations for other venues that would be appropriate.
  • Stay open-minded. This is a painful time for the entire nation, including workers within each Park. I know you’re stressed but empathy is a critical skill in negotiations. The more you show that you understand the predicament your venue concessionaire is in, the more you can expect empathy in return and the more that concessionaire will be to helping you solve your problems. It’s really a matter of catching more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  • Take a tip from Megan Wenk, the Daughter of Yellowstone National Park’s Superintendent, whose Yellowstone Wedding was cancelled because of the shutdown. Assure your guests that your wedding will still happen, just in a different place. This may be through email, a phone tree, or having a member of your bridal party meet them at the airport and personally answer any questions they have.
  • Contact Save My National Park Wedding for help finding a new venue and relocationg your wedding.