I feel so incredibly lucky to be a Washington, DC wedding photographer as I get to shoot at some of the most iconic monuments in the world on a regular basis. The views around this city are truly breathtaking which is what makes it such a popular place for people to get married. And while the venue options are unlimited (read what I think are some of the Top DC Wedding Venues!), you may still crave one of those backdrops — the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, or Jefferson Memorial — that DC is famous for in your portraits. Below are a few tips to ensure that is a seamless process on your big day!
Apply for a Permit.
If I could leave you with nothing else, it would simply be that you MUST apply for a photography/videography a permit through the National Parks Service for your wedding day portraits. The moment you are spotted by the NPS rangers, they will ask to see proof that your session has been approved in advance. The great news is, permits are fairly affordable (costs varies depending on group size) and are almost always granted. Applications can be found here and pricing information here. (ALP Couples, I will help you through this process!).
I’ve previously talked about the importance of wedding day transportation in DC at length, but in a nutshell, trying to move 8-20+ people throughout the city in cars or Ubers will be nearly impossible and can cause you a ton of stress. Do yourself a favor and hire a bus or shuttle that can take everyone at once! This is equally beneficial because you don’t have to worry about parking once you arrive and will save you a ton of time walking to and from the lot.
Buffer in Traffic to Your Timeline.
One thing is for certain, there will always be traffic in DC — even on weekends! It’s important to account for this when planning your timeline with your photographer so that you don’t wrap up later than you wish; it’s our goal to keep the entire day on schedule!
Prepare to be Paparazzied.
Tourists to DC are absolutely fascinated when they see a bride and groom arrive at the monuments… so much so that they will begin taking photos of you (why they want those photos is beyond me!) and sometimes, even ask if they can hop in one as well! My best advice is to just smile and keep moving; your team will clear the way for you! But it’s certainly not a private location by any means.
Be Smart About Monument Selection.
Each monument has it’s own pros and cons, so deciding which is best will depend on a few factors that you can discuss with your photographer! For example, the Jefferson Memorial is beautiful but if it’s April/May, it’s going to be bombarded with tourists for the Cherry Blossom season. The Lincoln Memorial is right on the main strip of the mall and is frequently host to many of it’s own events, so again, it’s best to be flexible and discuss this with your photographer!
Don’t feel like you have to take EVERYONE who is in formal portraits with you to the monuments! Many of my couples opt to take either just themselves and the wedding party or just themselves as a duo! In general, the more people who come, the more stressful it the whole event can become; your wedding day should be an enjoyable one, so don’t feel bad if you just want to do couple’s portraits at the monuments and capture wedding party and family portraits elsewhere — I promise, they will still be just as lovely!