Do you have a permit for that?
Navigating the Particulars of Event Permissions
The rugged Teton landscape provides a sense of freedom and wildness that makes us feel more whole. This lure beckons in irresistible ways and choosing to commit to one another amid these surroundings serves to elevate the occasion. But a certain amount of planning is necessary in order to do your Teton-based wedding right. Navigating the territory of acquiring permits and abiding by the rules is crucial to the success of any outdoor wedding in the region.
Planning for the Park
Prior to 2022, Grand Teton National Park had a cut-and-dry procedure for getting married in the park. You simply paid a fee of $200 and informed park officials of where you intended to seal the deal. But rising interest in this locale has changed park policies. The fee remains the same, but the required lead time for applications has changed. Hosts must submit their request a minimum of thirty days prior to their event.
While backcountry venue options are available in almost every nook and cranny here, the park is more concerned with a head count for the event. If your guest list totals more than forty, your choices will be different than those with a smaller group. Also, keep in mind that your permit fee is non-refundable, and that all guests must pay the park entrance fee in order to attend.
Selecting a Special Tree
The famous Wedding Tree setting lends spectacular views of the Tetons and is located inside the Jackson district of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Gaining access to the site does not require paying a fee, but if your party exceeds seventy-four, acquiring a special-use permit is necessary. Those rolling with a smaller crowd still need to call the national forest office in order to get their event on the calendar.
The district office does its best to accommodate all requests, but they cannot guarantee yours will be the only ceremony taking place on your chosen date, at your chosen time. Additionally, they are quite clear with regards to the restrictions, including parking guidelines, the exclusion of a sound system, and food storage requirements. Other areas of the national forest are equally suited for a ceremony and require the same diligence.
Cater to the Critters
You’ll notice one very important fact as you drive through our mountain valleys—this is bear country! Aside from understanding the necessity of bear spray on a trail, the practice of proper food storage is crucial. Those who choose to serve a full DIY meal (a very popular elopement and microwedding trend) must make it their mission to clean up properly. This means using the bear-proof trash receptacles provided on site, or being willing to collect all remnants of trash and drive it to the nearest bear-proof dumpster. If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, don’t just pack food away in your coolers and call it good. All coolers need to be shuttered securely in a locked vehicle.
You Make the Call(s)
It is possible to live the dream of getting married in Jackson’s legendary Town Square. Just know this: Your fête will, most likely, be attended by uninvited members of the public. As Jackson’s Public Information Officer, Carl Pelletier, explains, “We cannot reserve Town Square for a wedding. It is a public park, and if someone decides to get married there, the presence of park visitors cannot be denied.”
There are other restrictions pertaining to the use of Town Square, and Pelletier is poised to explain what can be achieved. “I typically encourage people [if they do decide to have a wedding ceremony within the Town Square] to respect the restrictions. I also encourage a small gathering, for a short duration,” he says.
If you’d like to hold your wedding within a public park in or around Jackson, start your planning process by contacting the Teton County Jackson Parks & Recreation Department to understand how to navigate reservations. You will also have to alert the Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Department, if you plan to cook on site or erect an event tent on either public or private land. And if your reception includes high decibel levels, a call to the Jackson Hole Police Department will clue you into noise ordinance requirements and whether or not you need a permit.
As for events hosted in Teton Valley, Idaho, reach out directly to the municipalities to understand public park reservations and usage requirements. Their concerns regarding events that occur within city limits may also apply to functions taking place within neighborhoods. Each town in the valley varies in their policies.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Our Teton region continues to be a huge draw for those who love the outdoors. And, any couple who wishes to hold their wedding here wants it to be remembered for all the right reasons. You can host your perfect outdoor, DIY event and pull it off without a hitch with the help of experts, like park service employees and city officials. These dedicated locals want you to enjoy your special event and will help ensure there are no day-of fires to put out, both literally and figuratively.
- Grand Teton National Park: nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/weddings.htm; 307-739-3616
- Bridger-Teton National Forest (Wedding Tree): fs.usda.gov/detail/btnf/passes-permits/?cid=fseprd612351; 307-739-5526; or send an email to [email protected]
- Town of Jackson (Town Square, public parks): send an email through the form on their website at jacksonwy.gov/FormCenter/Contact-Info-5/General-Inquiry-Comment-or-Concern-45 or call 307-733-3932, ext. 1112
- Teton County Jackson Parks & Recreation (public parks): tetonparksandrec.org; 307-739-9025
- Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Department: tetonwyo.org/2373/Jackson-Hole-FireEMS-Department; 307-732-8200.
- Jackson Hole Police Department: jacksonwy.gov; 307-733-3241 or email [email protected]
- City of Victor, Idaho: victorcityidaho.com; 208-787-2940 or email [email protected]
- City of Driggs, Idaho: driggsidaho.org; 208-354-2362 ext. 2103 or email [email protected]
- City of Tetonia, Idaho: tetoniaidaho.com; 208-456-2249