State Parks Weddings: Your 2017 Planner

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Beautiful and unique, your Washington State Parks have great settings for your wedding, such as this pre-WWI gun battery at Fort Worden Historical State Park.

February 14, 2017

Whether you said yes to your beloved’s nervous proposal over the holidays or are planning to pop the question come Valentine’s Day, there’s no way around it — we are in the thick of wedding planning season.



Plus, February is officially National Wedding Month. (No pressure!)

This year’s hottest wedding trend can be summed up in a single word; greenery. Pantone, the authority on color has named this fresh yellow-green hue as its color of the year. Already it is inspiring not only wedding palettes, but settings as well! Think outdoor venues with vintage and rustic details—inviting and lush, but with a played-down natural elegance.

So what better place to plan your wedding and/or reception than your favorite Washington state park! Imagine saying “I do” under soaring pines or backed by the roaring Pacific Ocean. Picture your reception dripping with white lights, wild flowers in bloom and the music of a babbling stream backing up your favorite song.

Hoping to pull in some of that in-vogue rustic and/or antique feel? State parks have unique historic sites ranging from charming to elegant to avant garde. Imagine a turn-of-the-century lighthouse as your photo backdrop, or a photo shoot in aging military bunkers for that oddly romantic industrial feel. Hold your ceremony at a classic military chapel or a stone prayer grotto. Celebrate your nuptials in a shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, or hold a big reception in a picturesque log hall overlooking Hood Canal. The choice is yours!

Looking for ideas? Read on for a small sampling of the many incredible wedding venues offered at your state parks!

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So what state parks can you get married in? Any! That said, some parks are better prepared than others for hosting your big day. A few even have rentable items such as tables, chairs, lights and heaters on site!

After choosing your dream venue, your next step should be contacting that park’s staff to let them know your intentions. In many cases, you can reserve and get any necessary permits for your event up to a year in advance.  Foresight, open communication and good planning will make sure your event runs smoothly!

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Remember that even though you may love a park, it may not turn out to be as perfect as you thought for the ceremony you want. However, staff might have creative ideas, solutions or suggestions. Be flexible with your dream, and you might be pleasantly surprised with the reality that results.

Read on for a small sample of our most popular parks wedding sites! 

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Peace Arch CC abhinaba
           The majestic arch and stately flower gardens at Peace Arch Historical State Park make a lovely wedding backdrop.

Where it is: 21 miles north of Bellingham on the Canadian border in Whatcom County.

What it has: Peace Arch Historical State Park is a 20-acre day-use park on the boundary between the United States and Canada. The 67-foot Peace Arch monument straddles the two nations at the 49th parallel.  

The vibrant gardens here are only a part of the charm!  Resplendent with tidy plantings of 20,000 flowers, this park offers stunning views of the San Juan Islands, Point Roberts, Vancouver Island and the magnificent Peace Arch that was built in the early 20th century on the United States/Canadian border. Imagine a garden party wedding with the arch and panoramic views of the water behind—stunning!

The wedding extras: The American Kitchen—a day-use facility—is perfect for wedding ceremonies and/or receptions. It includes a meeting or dining area with fireplace, kitchen with triple sink, refrigerator and stove. Outside, you’ll find a gazebo (VERY 2017)[txd1] , a large outdoor picnic area, an oversized cooking grill (3 feet x3 feet), approximately 30 picnic tables and a covered stage. Need seating? Indoor tables and chairs for 90 guests are available to rent. The park can accommodate celebrations of up to 300 people, give or take a few and is accessible to those with disabilities. The kitchen has a view of Semiahmoo Bay and the soaring old oak trees.  What better way to start a life together than in a place that symbolizes long-standing unity and peace !

When can I book it:  Reservations are accepted up to nine months in advance online or by calling (888) 226-7688. A non-refundable reservation fee applies.


Michelle Scott Cape Disappointment wedding
Waikiki Beach at Cape Disappointment State Park is a romantic natural setting for your nuptials. Just watch out for waves—weddings are better than wettings! Photo courtesy of Michelle and Bryan Scott

Where it is: About 3 miles west of Ilwaco, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.

What it has: Envision a beacon serving as the symbolic backdrop as you exchange your vows. On the bluff overlooking some of the most dazzling views and dramatic waters in the world, the North Head Lighthouse is a classic piece of turn-of-the-century architecture. While the lighthouse is closed for renovation until July 1, you can still use this as a gorgeous setting for a smaller wedding, either on the bluff by the lighthouse or down below it on Waikiki Beach.  

The wedding extras:  If you are planning a small event, this is an ideal setting for a beach or ocean-centric ceremony.  Following your nuptials (and all those gorgeous photos), let the wedding party follow the bride and groom to the historic Lighthouse Keeper’s Residences. With full kitchens, comfortable furnishings and evening accommodations, these Victorian-era vacation houses are ideal for an intimate post-nuptial shindig—or just a great wedding night!

When can I book it?: The residences may be reserved up to nine months in advance, either online or by calling (888) 226-7688. Residences require a two-night minimum stay. For other arrangements, call the park at 360 642-3078.

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                 Do go into the light! Fort Worden's old bunkers are a fun, unorthodox setting for some interesting wedding photos.

Where it is: In Port Townsend, where the Strait of Juan De Fuca intersects with Admiralty Inlet.

What it has: Talk about wedding ready! Fort Worden is well-stocked for any event large or small. This park has numerous venues you can shape into your vision of a perfect day.  Once home to nearly 1,000 Army troops and officers, Fort Worden is now a popular park and event Mecca! Marry on the high cliffs at Artillery Hill overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or hold your ceremony in the park’s lovely, Old-West-style chapel. Take envy-inducing photos with Mount Baker, Point Wilson Lighthouse, or even the old artillery bunkers in the background.  Dance your big night away in the ballroom, or just hold a quiet reception in one of the Victorian-era officer’s quarters. Stay the night in Alexander’s Castle, a cozy cottage or a beautifully appointed historic officer’s house. Bring your imagination and your budget to Fort Worden’s on-site wedding planner, and you’re on your way to the perfect wedding day!

Bonus:  If you are planning a large wedding and with lots of out of town guests, this park has overnight accommodations and plenty of fun places to explore.

The wedding extras:  If you want it, Fort Worden’s event supply closet probably has it. Tables, chairs, lights, table linens, outdoor heaters, a wedding coordinator, on-site catering— practically the only thing not included is someone to marry[txd1] . Contact the park’s staff to get started. We recommend a tour of the park to discover your own perfect places and plan your day.

When can I book it?:  This is an extremely popular park for events and is co-managed by the Fort Worden Public Development Authority, which runs the overnight lodging and partners with  Centrum Arts Foundation and other on-site organizations. Call the park at (360) 344-4400 or visit fortworden.org for more information.

Riverside Wedding on the Bridge
           Pitch a little woo—and get some great shots too—on the bridge overlooking the Bowl and Pitcher at Riverside State Park.

Where it is: 11 miles north of Spokane on Highway 291

What it has:  Riverside State Park has 14,000 acres of forested terrain, marshes, rivers  and incredible countryside. Get some unique—and symbolic—photos of you and your betrothed on the lovely bridge overlooking the Bowl and Pitcher after you say I do at the woodsy, historic Kitchen Shelter nearby. Or wait for your guests to gather on the half-log benches at the park’s simple amphitheater. This venue is a truly do-it-yourself affair, and it comes at a bargain price 

The wedding extras:  At Riverside, weddings can be held nearly anywhere—from the ORV Park to Deep Creek Overlook, provided you work well ahead with staff to assure a safe and smooth event. While the park has no on-site equipment rentals, you can arrange for your own, or talk to staff about setting up the picnic tables for your guests. 

When can I book it: Nine months in advance.  Call (509) 465-5066 to get started.

Learn more!

This is just the tip of the iceberg!
From ready made to DIY, your Washington State Parks have hundreds of places for you to say “I do.” Explore for yourself!

Were you married or did you meet  your beloved in a Washington state park?
Tell us your story and share your pictures here!