Planning 101: Having your wedding in a park

You’ve gotten engaged, congrats! After the date is set, what is next to decide? For most couples, it is their wedding venue(s). Church? Hotel? Private Residence? The options are endless.

Maybe your desired location is your favorite local park. Whether it be for a special sentimental reason, or because you want a kid-friendly relaxed atmoshphere, parks can be a beautiful wedding venue.

I know this personally, because my husband and I were married in a park! We wanted to be married in the park in front of our apartment, a beautiful median park on our street with a large swan fountain. We wanted to do a wedding within a block party, and invite our whole neighborhood to celebrate with us: and that we did! It was a fantastic day of family, fun, and wedded bliss.

If this is your desired wedding venue like it was for me, you may be thinking: Easy! Having my wedding in a park means just showing up and having the wedding. Unfortunately, there is a little more work to it than that. Having your wedding (or any organized event) in a park requires certain permits, and time to obtain them. We’re here to get you started in the right direction and let you know what to think of! :)

Please note: We’ll be giving you all the basic steps and helpful links for Baltimore City specifically. The steps are very similar for the surrounding counties and permit information can typically be found through the Parks & Recreation page of the county’s website.

First to think of is applying for and obtaining the permit for the specific park you want for your wedding venue. Permits for Baltimore City parks can be downloaded here (link below.) There are two different permits to choose from, a Private event permit and a Public event permit. If your wedding will be an invitation & RSVP event, if you have a good idea of how many people will attend, and if that number is under 250 people, the Private event permit is probably the best option. If your wedding will be a large event with an open invitation, or more than 250 people, the Public event permit is probably your best option. Park permits range in price based on the type and the county, but should not cost you more than $500.

Next, you should think about obtaining a food permit. Believe it or not, serving any kind of food (even hamburgers and hotdogs like at my wedding!) classifies the venue as a food establishment and therefore will need a permit to serve people. This permit is relatively inexpensive, and shouldn’t cost more than $100. Information on how to obtain this permit in Baltimore City can be found at the bottom of the post.

Finally, there a few last things to think of:

  • Most parks have specific hours they are open, and noise ordinances that are in effect during those hours. Make sure to check with your parks & recreation dept for any information with your chosen venue.
  • Is your park adjacent to a local street that you’d like traffic blocked off from for your event? Once you’ve obtained your park permit, you will have to contact your local Police Department to apply for the road closure.
  • Is your park venue hard to find? If giving your guests an address is not an option, consider making a map to help your guests find the wedding!

Sources: City Park Permit | Food Permit

Inspiration: Groomsmen Attire
Swan Harbor Farm Wedding by Emily Chastain Photography

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