Published on January 20, 2020

How does your perfect wedding day look? Do you imagine the gathering of loved ones from far and wide to celebrate you as a couple?

Perhaps you dream of an intimate event with a few close friends and family members surrounded by nature in an epic landscape? A small knot of cherished people gathered to witness forever promises beneath ancient trees or enduring white granite cliffs.

Or maybe you picture a lavish, fully-catered celebration set in a historic lodge that combines an elegant wedding venue with a gorgeous natural setting. Can you smell the fresh mountain air as your guests sit down to a mouthwatering feast followed by a dance floor that pulses with music?

It sounds like a Yosemite National Park wedding could be perfect! A Yosemite wedding will mirror your love for the outdoors and be full of natural beauty and adventure.

Yosemite wedding ceremony on the east terrace of The Ahwahnee
Wedding ceremony on the east terrace at The Ahwahnee. Photo Courtesy of Yosemite Hospitality

Plus, a wedding in Yosemite National Park means that you’ll treat your friends and family to a destination dream wedding in one of the most beautiful and beloved areas of the world.

Turn your dream into reality in Yosemite Mariposa County.

Why Get Married in Yosemite Mariposa County?

Tunnel View is the perfect setting for an epic national park wedding photo.
Yosemite has no shortage of dramatic wedding photography locations, like Tunnel View. Photo: Patrick Pike

There may be many beautiful natural places to get married in, but Yosemite outshines all of these. This is one of the most iconic and best-loved national parks for a reason and as a World Heritage Site, its scope and beauty are literally world-class.

Whatever you can dream of, you’ll find wedding venues near Yosemite National Park that exceed all expectations.

Yosemite hosts wedding celebrations of all sizes and budgets, from simple to extravagant.

The allure of the Yosemite area attracts top chefs, photographers, florists, musicians and wedding planners. These knowledgeable locals can make designing your wedding event a breeze. They have decades of experience welcoming the most discriminating wedding guests – and they know how to make an event shine. For example, you can discover the best ways to carve out a personal and private event even amidst the hustle and bustle of the Yosemite summer season from these local Yosemite wedding experts. It’s simpler than you think.

Guests Will Love a National Park Wedding

Wedding at the Yosemite Valley Chapel
Surround yourself with friends and family on your wedding day at the Yosemite Valley Chapel.

How excited will your friends and family be when you tell them you’re planning a wedding in Yosemite? Yosemite is on every bucket list – a destination that appeals to all ages from great grandparents to toddlers.

Maybe this will be an opportunity for a first visit, or a welcome chance to return and see the park once again in a different season or different light. There is always something new and wondrous to discover in Yosemite. This is a chance for you to share those discoveries with those closest to you.

Yosemite is an easy half-day drive from many of California’s major airports and urban centers. That makes it a comfortable journey. It’s the perfect balance of away from it all, but not too hard to get to.

Plus, there are so many things to see and do on the journey to Yosemite. Your guests will enjoy planning their own adventures as they travel to your beautiful Yosemite National Park wedding.

You’ll be able to suggest a wide array of accommodations for their stay, too. Options range all the way from four-diamond historic lodges to cabin rentals to campgrounds and everything in between. If you choose one of the larger hotel venues, they can block out a group of rooms for the people who want to stay close to the action.

The most important people in your lives will be here. Make the most of this precious time together by organizing a few group activities before and after the wedding. Yosemite has endless activities to choose from – hiking, spas, tastings, tours. Go rock climbing, zip-lining or downhill skiing (in the winter months). Create unique personal art in painting classes or simply walk down by the Merced River and soak in the songs of flowing water, birds, and the wind in the trees.

Say YES to the wedding of your dreams in Yosemite Mariposa County

Are you ready? Take the plunge and explore the opportunities and options that await you in Yosemite.

Want more ideas for ceremony and reception venues? Or do you want to check out additional wedding services to make the planning experience smooth and easy? Browse the Yosemite wedding page or choose from some of our favorites below.

Wedding Venues Near Yosemite National Park

Wedding couple at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Valley
Ceremonies at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Valley move seamlessly between the grand lodge and the wedding lawn along this picturesque path.

In-Park Hotels

The hotels in Yosemite provide some of the most convenient and scenic wedding locations in the park. Work with the hotel’s wedding planners through each step of the process. These expert wedding professionals can help you envision and create your dream wedding, ensuring that the details all come together into fairytale perfection for your special day.

  • The Ahwahnee hotel is an iconic Yosemite landmark in its own right, visited by queens and presidents alike. You can get married outdoors on the wedding lawn with views of iconic Yosemite features like Glacier Point and Half Dome, and then transition seamlessly to an elegant indoor reception within the grand historic hotel.
  • The Wawona Hotel lends an air of Victorian charm to your special day with wide wrap-around porches, beautifully manicured lawns, and warm inviting event spaces. Hold the ceremony on the lawn and then host the reception in the Sun Room where it’s easy to slip outside and enjoy the mountain scenery from Wawona’s wide verandas.
Romantic wedding photo on the Wawona Hotel veranda
Wawona Hotel’s spacious porches and twining hops provides the perfect backdrop for romantic wedding photos. Photo Courtesy of Yosemite Hospitality.
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge is another favorite wedding venue for Yosemite-lovers, located within sight of Yosemite Falls, and bordering the serene waters of the Merced River. In the summer, ceremonies can take place on wide patios and beautiful forests on the property. The two indoor banquet rooms are perfect for wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and farewell lunches.
  • Also, although Curry Village is mostly known for its more rustic lodging accommodations, the outdoor patios offer the kind of scenic views that you can only find in Yosemite Valley. For indoor events and receptions, the Curry Village Pavilion, with its large stone fireplaces and wood paneling, dresses up perfectly for a wedding reception venue.

Hotels Close to the Park

Several hotels and other businesses just outside the park also supply a wide range of wedding venue options. It would be impossible to list them all, so here are just a few highlights to give you a taste of what is available.

  • Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite provides a spacious and elegant setting for a variety of group sizes surrounded by scenic National Forest and located just 2 miles beyond the park boundary along Highway 41. Choose to hold your wedding on the beautifully manicured lawn on the lodge grounds, under a covered open-air space, or inside Tenaya Lodge’s Grand Ballroom. With flexible indoor spaces, Tenaya Lodge has many options for groups ranging from 30 to more than 1,000. The professional wedding planners on staff at Tenaya Lodge can help you realize your dream day and manage the logistics so that you can focus on celebrating with your friends and family.
Wedding couple at one of Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite's outdoor wedding location
Wedding ceremony on the terrace at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.

For those looking for a more casual outdoorsy setting, the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort accommodates groups ranging from 16 to 100. The Bodie Room, commonly used for weddings, offers a beautiful wood-paneled reception space that opens onto outdoor patios and can hold up to 120 people. The June Bug Café, Tenaya Room and Summer Deck areas are inviting spaces for smaller mid-day events.

  • Another option to keep in mind is renting out an entire space like The Alley Lounge. Locally renowned for the amazing craft beers and boutique wine list, this space is perfect for a casual wedding reception or welcome mixer.

Vacation rentals

Bride & bridesmaid relaxing in front of a fire
Hosting a small wedding in a vacation rental cabin gives a warm cozy ambiance to the event. Bonus – many vacation cabins allow pets and you can enjoy private moments in front of your own fireplace. Photo Courtesy of The Redwoods in Yosemite | Photo by Bergreen Photography.

For small weddings and elopements, several large vacation rental cabins could also serve as a comfortable and convenient gathering space.

  • Within the community of Wawona, The Redwoods in Yosemite has an inviting new wedding and event center that seats up to 80 wedding guests. The wide range of vacation rental cabins in Wawona and the proximity of Wawona Hotel makes finding lodging close to the venue easy for your guests.
  • For small events, also consider renting a large Yosemite cabin with enough space to accommodate your ceremony. This space can serve as an intimate reception afterward as well.

Local Yosemite wedding services and wedding planners

As grand as Yosemite is for a destination wedding, sometimes managing the planning and logistics from farther away can be complicated. Fortunately, many local wedding services offer wedding packages and know the area to help guide you, ensuring that your special day is exactly what you dreamed it would be.

If you choose to hold your wedding at one of the more spacious hotel venues, they typically will have someone on staff to help you design and organize. If not, Yosemite wedding planners like AddyRose Design and have the local knowledge to help you find the perfect venue, and sort through the many options for catering, music, flowers, photographers, makeup and hair stylists as well as navigating special use permits and other Yosemite-specific logistics. That way you can relax knowing that your wedding is going to live up to your dreams.

Outdoor Yosemite Wedding Locations

Iconic Yosemite National Park wedding at the Glacier Point amphitheater
The Glacier Point amphitheater comes with guest seating and one of the most stunning backdrops in the world. Photo: Dan Warsinger

Maybe you’re looking for a simple wedding service held outdoors in the park away from standard facilities. Getting married out amidst the cliffs and rivers in Yosemite National Park is also an option, and in order to make that dream a reality, there is a lot you need to know.

Do You Need A Yosemite Wedding Permit To Get Married in Yosemite?

First of all, all weddings or commitment ceremonies inside Yosemite National Park, regardless of size, require a special use permit. And because your special day is happening with a national park, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the protections put in place for the natural and cultural resources.

You can see a full list of what is and isn’t allowed within the park boundaries on the NPS wedding page. Along those lines, larger groups (outside of facilities operated by Yosemite Hospitality) may also need to pay for an event monitor.

Also, something important to note, since you’ll be in a public place, the rest of the public will have just as much right to be there as you will. Although you will have a ceremony permit for a specific location, that doesn’t mean you would have any more ‘right’ to be there than anyone else visiting the park. In order to have the best experience in locations that attract a lot of other park visitors, it’s best to schedule your ceremony for very early or late in the day.

In-Park Wedding Ceremony Locations for 11 or More People

The National Park Service maintains a list of beautiful outdoor wedding locations appropriate for groups ranging between 11 and 100 people inside the park. The smallest of these are appropriate for groups of 20 or fewer and larger groups are monitored by the National Park Service, though the exact cut-offs vary by location.

Yosemite wedding ceremony by the Merced River.
Choose a scenic beach wedding venue close to the Merced River with views of Yosemite Falls as your backdrop.
  • Cascade Picnic Area – This area is located just inside Yosemite along Highway 140 coming up from Mariposa and Merced, across the street from The Cascades viewing area and within sight of the Merced River. Appropriate for 30 or fewer people.
  • A viewing area on the Lower Yosemite Falls paved loop trail – A short walk from the road to a scenic location with views of the iconic Yosemite Falls just off the popular Yosemite Falls Loop Trail. Appropriate for 50 or fewer people.
  • Swinging Bridge Picnic Area – A beautiful location in Yosemite Valley along the Merced River with a view of Yosemite Falls and open meadows. Appropriate for 20 or fewer people.
  • Cathedral Beach Picnic Area – Get married in Yosemite Valley on a rocky beach by the Merced River with views of El Capitan. Appropriate for 50 or fewer people.
  • Sentinel Beach Picnic Area – This is one of the largest outdoor wedding locations, accommodating up to 100 guests along the Merced River and with views of Upper Yosemite Fall. Appropriate for 100 or fewer people.
  • A viewing area near Bridalveil Fall – A scenic location at the west end of Yosemite Valley, nestled in a lush forest with views of tall granite cliffs and aptly named Bridalveil Fall in the background. Appropriate for 50 or fewer people.
  • Tuolumne and Merced Groves – Allow the ancient giant sequoias to stand witness to your wedding vows. The Tuolumne Grove and the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias are both located along located along Highway 120 and involve a 2.5 mile and 3-mile round-trip hike respectively to get down into the sequoia groves. Both of these areas are appropriate for 30 or fewer people.
  • Chilnualna Falls Trailhead – Conveniently located behind the community of Wawona close to the trailhead leading to Chilnualna Falls. Appropriate for 50 or fewer people.
  • Glacier Point Amphitheater – Glacier Point Amphitheater’s incredible views of Half Dome and views down into Yosemite Valley make it a popular public destination during the warmer months when Glacier Point Road road is open. Appropriate for 50 or fewer people.
  • Tenaya Lake Beach – Tenaya Lake Beach is a beautiful sandy beach next to an alpine lake surrounded by granite peaks and domes along Tioga Road. Because Tioga Road closes seasonally, this site becomes available when the road opens in the spring, and can be reserved until September 30. Appropriate for 50 or fewer people.
  • Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Area – Ceremonies at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Area are held out on the granite slab upstream of the high camp. Like Tenaya Lake Beach, its location along the Tioga Road means it is only available from the road opening date until September 30. Appropriate for 25 or fewer people.

Locations For Elopements with Fewer than 11 People

Wedding kiss by the Yosemite Valley Chapel with Yosemite Falls in the background.
Although the Yosemite Valley Chapel is often photographed on its own, its location opposite Yosemite Falls lends drama as well. Photo: Dan Warsinger

If you’re planning a small wedding or elopement with fewer than 11 people, almost any wedding location is open to you. While highly sensitive environments on riverbanks and in meadows are still off-limits due to the impacts they would have on the natural environment, you are otherwise free to choose your location. Check out some of our favorite romantic Yosemite destinations or find your own special corner of the park.

Remember, even with these smaller group sizes, a special use permit is still required.

The Yosemite Valley Chapel Weddings

No list of Yosemite wedding destinations would be complete without mentioning The Yosemite Valley Chapel. Built in 1879 and located opposite Yosemite Falls, a Yosemite Chapel wedding lends its own sense of history and place to any wedding ceremony. The chapel itself seats approximately 125 people, and you can invite your own licensed or ordained minister.

Make YOUR Wedding Memory in Yosemite

Each Yosemite engagement, elopement, wedding or honeymoon is as unique as each couple. Whether Yosemite is initially chosen because of a generations-long family tradition within the park, a personal relationship established in a singular moment or over the course of decades, or simply because of the inspiring and majestic mountain scenery, Yosemite is sure to become a centerpiece for both cherished memories and a lifetime of romance to come.

For more information and all of the updates regarding Yosemite Mariposa County, be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at @YosemiteNation.

Categories: Couples and Romance, Family and Kid Friendly, General Travel Tips