DC Monuments Photography Permits
The National Mall and surrounding monuments offer numerous exciting and beautiful backdrops for photography. If you are planning a wedding in the DC area, then the monuments can be a perfect stop to capture some quintessential “DC” in your bridal portraits or a fun location for your engagement session. What you may not realize however, is that many of these locations require a permit for photography- just one more thing to add to your wedding “to-do” list. That’s where we come in! We’ve done some research into the permit process and are here to share some tips and advice, along with some of our favorite images from the most popular monuments.
We always urge our couples to obtain a permit. While you may be able to get away with a quick session at one of the monuments, why would you want to risk it? Many of our brides-to-be schedule their hair and makeup trial to coincide with their engagement session, and after all the time put into getting ready on a wedding day to look their best, we’d hate for either of these occasions to be soured when a NPS officer asks to see our permit, and then we’re forced to leave when we don’t have one. If you are thinking of having your engagement session at one of the DC monuments, or making a stop on your wedding day, talk to your wedding planner and photographer about your plans. Ask if they handle the permit process for you, or if this is something you need to apply for on your own.
If you are applying for a permit on your own, head to the National Park Service’s website: Permits & Reservations
This page will have the NPS Permit FAQ which goes into detail on which locations need a permit and how to apply, but we’ll cover the basics here.
The application you want for an engagement session or wedding day portraits is the “Filming Permit Application, Short”. The permit is just a few short pages, but complete the form in full and be sure to provide as much detail as you can, so that there is no delay in the processing of your application. Allow at least a week for processing, but we suggest applying for your permit as soon as possible, as it can take a few weeks for approval, depending on how busy the park offices are. There is a $90 application fee for all permits.
One permit is good for one monument. So if you want to shoot at say the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial, you will have to apply for two permits.
Other fees to consider for your budget: (mainly if you plan on bringing your bridal party on the wedding day)
$50/day for 1-10 people
$150/day for 11-30 people
$250/day for 30+ people
Most of the popular monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin, do require a photography permit. But many of these also have restrictions on where you can photograph while at the location, so be sure to read through the Park Service’s Permit FAQs while you are planning where you’d like to visit.
If you are wanting to have your wedding ceremony on the Mall, you will need to apply for a separate “special use permit”.
There are only 3 locations that allow wedding ceremonies:
- DC War Memorial
- George Mason Memorial
- west lawn of Jefferson Memorial
All permit applications must include initial payment of the application fee (check, money order or credit card information), and applications must be mailed or faxed to the NPS office. They do not accept emailed application forms.
Once your permit is reviewed, you will be contacted with the next steps to finalize approval. Be sure to carry the permit with you throughout your entire shoot, or dedicate someone, like your maid of honor, to be in charge of this in case you are asked to show proof of your permit. Don’t delay getting to your cocktail hour by having to run back to the limo to retrieve your permit!
- 900 Ohio Drive SW, Washington DC 20024