A Park Wedding
There are 121 state parks in Pennsylvania. If you are interested in having your wedding at one of them, Scott Morgan, assistant director for the Tioga/Potter park complex that includes Colton Point, Leonard Harrison, Denton Hill, Hills Creek, and Lyman Run, offers a few helpful dos and don’ts.
Do, he says, have a few dates in mind and then begin a conversation with park officials (888-PAPARKS or www.pennsylvaniastateparks.reserveamerica.com) as soon as possible, as there are “certain procedures” to be followed and a letter of authorization that must be finalized before the big day. Weekends are, of course, most people’s pick for a wedding, but he suggests considering a weekday since that would likely mean fewer people at the park.
“You don’t want a wedding during major holidays,” he says. “We also have scheduled events, so as soon as you know...” Plus, parking space is limited at the parks, and parking areas cannot be blocked off or reserved for wedding guests.
Do decide if you want just your wedding ceremony at the park or if you’ll want the reception there as well. Anything other than the actual wedding ceremony needs prior approval from the powers that be.
“Prices depend on what they’re looking for,” Scott says. Many of the parks have pavilions and picnic areas and camping; some, such as Prouty Place State Park, have no facilities whatsoever. And while an outdoor picnic-type reception may be just what you have in mind, do remember that if you want your reception to include adult beverages, those are not permitted in state parks. However, “we can do a waiver for the toast,” notes Scott.
Keep in mind that not all of the pavilions in the parks have electricity, that not all pavilions are near restrooms, and that some of the restrooms that are available are of the pit/vault latrine type. Remember that you will be outdoors, so it might be buggy, rainy, windy, unseasonably cold, or really hot. Throwing birdseed or rice is not allowed in the parks, nor is releasing birds or insects of any kind. Scott also suggests making a site visit to determine if the park you’re considering for your big day meets your needs.
Denton Hill is not an option for weddings at this time because of the condition of the facilities there. Cherry Springs will not be available either, due to its usage for the Dark Skies programs.