In this series, we're talking about permitting requirements and restrictions for wedding photography at some of Washington, D.C.'s most famous sites. So far we've discussed the National Mall and the various memorials and monuments there, the grounds of the United States Capitol, and the National Gallery of Art. Today we'll head about 40 miles west of Washington, D.C., to Manassas National Battlefield Park, near Manassas, Virginia.
Full disclosure: The portraits in this post are from a family session shot at Manassas National Battlefield Park by my husband, who owns a small professional photography studio. I chose to feature these, even though they're not wedding or engagement photos, because they show off the photographic potential of the battlefield area so well.
Manassas National Battlefield Park is the site of the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (also called the First and Second Battles of Manassas), two major battles of the American Civil War. The park features expansive rolling fields of uncut grass, cannons and split rail fences, and the Old Stone House (pictured above), among other things. It's a unique spot for wedding photography, especially if you have an interest in our area's Civil War history.
Like the National Mall, Manassas National Battlefield is a National Park and is managed by the National Park Service. That means that the same permitting requirements apply -- you even get your permit from the same place! Here's what you need to know:
- The National Park Service does require a permit for professional photography at Manassas National Battlefield Park.
- 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- and time-specific. This means that you and your photographer will need to be punctual about your photoshoot. Be sure to allow yourselves ample time for both photography and for movement from point to point. All that tall grass juxtaposed with a formal wedding gown is gorgeous, but it can also make walking around difficult and time-consuming.
- Be sure to carry your approved permit with you when you head over to the park 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.
Because of its distance from Washington, D.C., Manassas Battlefield Park may not be the ideal location for wedding photos if you're getting married closer to D.C. If, however, you're marrying at one of the increasingly popular venues in western Prince William County, Fauquier County, or Loudoun County, then the battlefield may be a good option for you.
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 happy to guide you through the permitting process, which is pretty simple, and they're friendly to boot!
Are you having any professional wedding photography done at Manassas National Battlefield Park, or at a similar location? Do you prefer photography locations that are more manicured, or more "natural" like this one? Tell us what you think!
Photo of the Manassas National Battlefield Park entrance via Wikimedia Commons.
Also in this series: