A bride and groom stand together with backpacks as the sunsets after their ceremony where the Yosemite Wedding permits allowed them.

Step-by-Step Guide for Yosemite Wedding Permits

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Yosemite is such an amazing destination to have your intimate wedding, but don’t forget your Yosemite wedding permits! Huge mountains and cliffs, massive waterfalls, killer lighting — what more do you need for an epic elopement?!  Surprisingly, or maybe not so, there are a few things to take care of before you run off to Yosemite to get hitched this weekend. The first thing to take care of is your Yosemite wedding permits, or more specifically, the special use permit. And the second thing is the marriage license. If you’re not sure where to even begin don’t worry, we’re here to fill you in! As Yosemite elopement photographers, we know all about the ins and outs of getting married in Yosemite!

What is a Yosemite Wedding Permit and Why do I need one?

The Yosemite wedding permits are how the park service regulates how many people can be in one place at one time. This place is pretty unique and to keep it preserved and pristine, the National Park Service (NPS) wants to know what’s going on and keep some of these popular locations from getting so trampled.

A Yosemite wedding permit is required for any wedding or commitment ceremony that takes place in the park. The Yosemite wedding permit needed for your Yosemite elopement is called a Special Use Permit, it’s $150 and takes a little time to get due to the processing.

How to Get Your Yosemite Wedding Permit?

National Park Service only operates via snail mail for this, and you can find the application for the permit right here  (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/weddings.htm).  Just look for the “download the application” link right in the beginning.  There is a lot of useful information on this web page too, so we recommend you take some time to look through it.

Typically the bride and groom, or the wedding planner will apply for this and will be responsible for the site and everyone involved (including the photographer, officiant, guests, etc.).  The form must be printed, filled out completely (and we’ll go over what to fill out soon), and mailed in with a check or money order. Then it’s mailed back to you to sign and mail back.

The bride or groom’s Social Security Number MUST  be on the form to be processed, or they will not do anything with it.   Once you receive the final permit, you’ll bring it with you and you must have this in your possession at the time of the ceremony.  The rangers in Yosemite will check these, and if you don’t have it expect a hefty fine! All this mailing takes some time, so plan ahead!

Making it Official with the Marriage License

You’ll need your marriage license as well. It’s $60 and available at a county clerk’s office.  As long as it’s the public license (as opposed to the private), you can use it in any county in California, so you can get it wherever, and then bring it back to be recorded after the ceremony.  This will legally bind you.  You can find more about this here (https://www.mariposacounty.org/253/Marriage-Licenses-and-Civil-Ceremonies).

Some of the fields on the wedding permit are a bit confusing, so we’ll list those below and then include a form to reference.

If you still have questions, click on the button below to get in touch!

How to Fill Out Your Yosemite Wedding Permits

If you follow along with these steps, it should be pretty easy to get your Yosemite Wedding permits filled out in no time. Start by filling out your personal and contact information at the top and then find these sections in the Yosemite Wedding permits.

Proposed Activity:  Just write “Wedding Ceremony and Photos” for this.

Preferred Time/Location:  As your Yosemite elopement photographers, we’ll talk about these together and help you decide before you send this in.

Alternate Dates/Locations: An alternate date won’t matter here, so leave it blank (if for some bizarre reason, your date is not available, NPS will contact you for an alternate date). A backup location should be included in case the preferred is unavailable for some reason, and we can chat about this more as needed.

Maximum Number of Participants: This includes all involved (bride, groom, guests, even children, officiant, photographers, etc.)

Maximum Number of Vehicles: Same as above, and we can chat about this more too. Usually, we can take just one or two cars to make things easier and get some shots along the way!

List of Equipment: Input “Handheld camera equipment”

Individual in Charge: This will be either one of you unless there is a wedding planner involved.

Activity Questions: Is this an exercise of First Amendment rights?  For this, you can check the NO box.

Have you visited the area?  Just check the YES box. We’ll be scouting the location to make sure everything is all set for the ceremony beforehand.

That’s it! Check out this sample for an example:

Yosemite Wedding Permit Experts

In case you read all the way to the bottom and don’t know who we are, we’re Becky & Brian of Scenic Vows. We’re a Yosemite elopement photography team (and Becky’s an officiant) living on the road in our converted Sprinter Van. We’ve collectively lived in Yosemite Valley for over 16 years, giving us an insider’s perspective and we’re here to share those insights with you!

If you’re looking for an elopement day that leaves you feeling complete, happy, and in the hands of pros, we’d love to chat!

We offer several different elopement packages based on what you want to do for your elopement day. You can check those out here, and if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, no worries! We’re here to help you figure that out. The best thing to do would be to head over to our contact page and fill out the form so we can set up a time to jump on a Zoom call and chat about it all!

Still have some questions about filling out your Yosemite wedding permit? 
No biggie, give us a holler and we’ll get you all set up!

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