Make It a Star-Spangled Wedding In The Heart of DC

By Roxanne Rukowicz Ladd, Principal
Behind the Scenes Events

I have never met a bride who couldn’t describe, in detail, her dream wedding. Whether it’s a big church wedding, an intimate hometown affair, a lavish estate gala, a vineyard reception, or just a quiet ceremony for two on the beach—the bride just knows.

For couples hailing from the Washington, DC, area, there is another enchanting option—a wedding at one of the national memorials.

And really, what better place to celebrate than at one of the area’s quintessential landmarks?

Applying for a wedding ceremony on the National Mall is easier than you might think. And though the list of “cannots” may be twice as long as the “cans” … we think the simple elegance of the location is well worth the effort.

There are several items to consider before choosing a national memorial or park as your ceremony location:

  • You cannot reserve parking spots for your party. You will need to bus your guests in, or contact a local cab company that would be willing to drop off and pick up your guests at an agreed on time. Otherwise, your guests are on their own to find parking.
  • Wedding ceremonies are assigned a two-hour time block that includes set-up, event, and break-down. Chairs, florals, tables, and other decor items may be carried on to the property. But no structures may be erected and nothing can be attached to the trees or other existing facilities.
  • Recorded music may be played but the volume must be very low; alternatively, a maximum of two musical instruments may be played but not amplified.
  • You will be on public display. Though you will have an official permit to be on the property and to use the space, you are still in a public area. Passers-by may snap photos, joggers will most certainly give a double take as they run past, and others may not be aware of their own sound levels.
  • If you host the ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial, you are in the flight path of the planes landing at Reagan National Airport. On busy days, planes land every five minutes.
  • No rice or confetti may be thrown, and all trash must be removed upon your departure.
  • The weather may not be on your side. You will need a back-up location.
  • Photographers must apply for special permits to use tripods on Park Service property.
  • And lastly, but most important, the bride or groom must have the official permit with them at the event. We’ve heard stories of an unfortunate bride who was stopped by a Park Service officer just prior to walking down the aisle, having been asked to see her permit.

Un-phased by the rules and regulations?

Good for you! To begin, the bride or groom must apply for a Special Use Permit with the National Park Service.

This permit, along with a $50 non-refundable money order, can be hand-delivered or mailed to the National Capital Region’s National Park Service office. If your application is accepted, you will receive a permit in the mail from the US Department of Interior.

What locations are available?

Nation Park Service DC locations:

  • The West Lawn of the Jefferson Memorial, adjacent to the Tidal Basin.
  • The George Mason Memorial
  • The DC World War I Memorial

National Park Service Virginia locations:

  • The grounds of the Arlington House, above Arlington National Cemetery
  • The Netherlands Carillon, near the Iwo Jima Memorial
  • Great Falls Park

Here’s to your enchanted day!


About Roxanne Rukowicz Ladd

Ranked one of the top meeting and event planners in Washington, DC, for 2009 and 2010 by the Washington Business Journal, Roxanne Rukowicz Ladd’s Behind the Scenes Events, opened its doors in July 2008. Her goal is to offer organizations and individuals access to affordable, full-service meeting and event-planning solutions.

Ladd has worked in the DC meeting and event industry for more than a decade, starting her career in 1999 at the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Her extensive association and nonprofit planning skills are accented by experience working in the social and entertainment markets. Positions with the Walt Disney Companies and as a freelance wedding and special-event coordinator give her experience with A-list celebrity clients and top-ranking government officials.

For more information, visit Behind the Scenes Events.