permitting for d.c. wedding photography:the mall and monuments

In this series, we're talking about permitting requirements and restrictions for wedding photography at some of Washington, D.C.'s most famous sites. When you think D.C., you probably think immediately of one of the landmarks lining the National Mall. Many of these, as well as the Mall area itself, are part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, which is administered by the National Park Service.  Some of the memorials and monuments in this area that are popular for wedding photography are:

  • The D.C. War Memorial (pictured below, top left)
  • The FDR Memorial
  • The Grant Memorial (near the Capitol, and popular for its view of the entire National Mall)
  • The Jefferson Memorial (pictured below, top right)
  • The Lincoln Memorial (pictured below, bottom left)
  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • The Washington Monument
  • The World War II Memorial (pictured below, bottom right)
DC War Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial
DC War Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial

Professional photography at any of these sites or anywhere else on the National Mall is by permit only.  Here's what you need to know:

  • Permits are issued by the National Park Service.  You can learn more and download permit applications on their Permits webpage.  (I've always used the one called "Filming Permit Application, Short" for my couples.)
  • As of this writing, permits are $50 and are processed in about a week.
  • Permits are date-, time-, and location-specific.  This means that you and your photographer will need to plan out where you will be and when, and you'll need to stick to your schedule.  If you're planning to shoot at more than one location, be sure to allow yourselves ample time for both photography and your travel from point to point.
  • Be sure to carry your approved permit with you when you head over to the monuments for your photo session.  You won't have to show it to anybody before you start taking pictures; however, if you are approached by a member of the Park Police, you will be asked to leave if you can't produce your approved permit.
  • There are no rain checks.  If it rains, you'll need to either take your photos anyway or apply for another permit for a different day.

Regarding that last point, don't worry that rain might ruin your photoshoot.  You can let it ruin everything, but you can also work with it to make your photos even more beautiful.  Remember the photos from yesterday's post?  And here's another photo from the same Karen Disney session we featured yesterday (this one was taken at the FDR Memorial).  All of these are rainy day shots, and they're gorgeous!  Just pack some pretty umbrellas and enjoy your day.

FDR Engagement Photo by Karen Disney
FDR Engagement Photo by Karen Disney

Still have questions?  Post them in the comments section below and I'll do my best to answer.  Or you can call the National Park Service's office directly at 202 245 4715.  They're always super-friendly and helpful when I talk with them.

Which of the sites mentioned above is your favorite?  Have you done a wedding-related photoshoot at the monuments, or are you planning to?  Tell us about it!

Also in this series:

permitting for d.c. wedding photography

permitting for d.c. wedding photography:  the united states capitol grounds

permitting for d.c. wedding photography:  the national gallery of art

permitting for d.c. wedding photography:  manassas national battlefield park