Frequently Asked Questions About Weddings at Indiana Dunes National Park

The beauty and grandeur of the Indiana Dunes National Park makes it a popular location for weddings. Because these ceremonies are not part of the purpose and ordinary use of the park, a Special Use Permit is required. This permit enables the park to assist with the planning of wedding ceremonies while meeting the needs of park resources and visitors. Here is some information for those interested in hosting a wedding ceremony at the park:

 

A: Wedding permits are available year-round. However, due to heavy summer visitation at the beach, some restrictions apply:

  • Wedding permits are limited to a period of no more than two hours.
  • Due to the congested parking lots, weekend and holiday beach weddings during the day are restricted to West Beach, outside the lifeguarded areas.
  • Persons attending weddings are responsible for paying any applicable entrance fees.
  • All areas are open to the public and are not exclusive use.
  • Summer is defined as: May 1st - September 30th.
  • To prevent interference with normal visitor use, weddings are permitted at the following locations only. The size of wedding parties is limited as listed for each location:
Charted list for wedding locations, times, and group sizes. All times above are listed in Central Time
Location Summer Permit
Hours
Off-Season
Permit hours
Maximum Group Size
West Beach 8:00 am - 8:00pm
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Saturday - Sunday
8:00a-8:00p 100+
       
Portage Lakefront Patio 6:00 pm - Dusk 8:00 am - Dusk 20
       
Portage Lakefront Beach 8:00 am- 12:00 pm
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - Dusk 50
Portage Lakefront Classroom by reservation by reservation 40 seated
50 standing
       
Kemil Beach 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - Dusk 50
       
Dunbar Beach 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - Dusk 20
       
Paul H. Douglas Trail 8:00 am - Dusk
Saturday - Sunday
8:00 am - Dusk
Saturday - Sunday
25
       
Calumet Dunes Trail 8:00 am - Dusk
Saturday - Sunday
8:00 am - Dusk
Saturday - Sunday
25
Other areas please contact the Permit Coordinator at e-mail us

A: Special Use Permit is required for all wedding ceremonies, regardless of size or duration.

A: You can get information regarding the application process from the park website or by calling our permit coordinator at 219-395-1844. Please remember that submitting an application does not guarantee approval of the permit. Permit information can be found on the park website at Permits & Reservations - Indiana Dunes National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).

A: There is a fee to apply for the permit. All applications must include a non-refundable check or money order of $65.00, payable to “National Park Service”. This payment is required to cover the cost of processing the application. Depending upon the scale and complexity of the event, additioanal charges may apply.

A: When completing your application, you should be as specific as possible. The more information you provide regarding your wedding, the easier it is to evaluate your permit request. We cannot process incomplete applications. Missing information can delay the processing of your application. Maps and drawings of the event area are encouraged.

A: Before finalizing your wedding plans and completing a permit application, you should come out to the park and scout out the location. Make note of the available parking. Parking is on a first come/first served basis only. Parking cannot be reserved and your party cannot block out parking spaces. During fair weather, parking can fill fast. A permit does not guarantee parking spaces for your wedding. You should also make note of the terrain and other environmental conditions. Some areas may prove too strenuous for persons with physical limitations. Many locations have limited restroom facilities. Be aware that environmental sounds such as waves and strong winds may make hearing your ceremony difficult.

A: Absolutely! Still photography with handheld cameras is encouraged. There are some important things related to professional photography/filming you need to know. If you are planning to use a professional photographer/videographer to record your ceremony, you must indicate so on your permit application. They may only use a handheld still camera or a still camera on a small tripod. If they use reflectors, light sets or other equipment or if they set up props or other staged items, a separate commercial photography permit is required. If you are planning to use a commercial videographer to film/record your special day, a separate permit is also required.

The commercial filming/photography permit is the responsibility of the photographer and must be approved and on site at the time of the event. The costs associated with these permits are based upon the number of people and can be significant. Commercial photographers should contact 219-395-1844 for information and application forms.

A: Special Use Permits usually contain a list of conditions and limitations that protect park resources and visitors. Many of these conditions are standard for any permit. Some are specific to weddings. These limitations include:

Standard conditions applicable to weddings:

• The permit must be in the possession of the permittee at the time of the event and must be displayed to a park employee upon request.
• Drivers must park in designated areas only. No parking on grass or road sides. Groups are encouraged to car pool from larger parking areas. Most parking areas will not accommodate long vehicles, so limousines may need to “stage” at another location, outside the park. Staging vehicles in parking lots and driveways outside of a marked parking space is not allowed. Loading and unloading vehicles from any roadway is prohibited.
• With the exception of Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, electricity is not available. Groups may not use generators and/or portable public address systems. Hand-held acoustic musical instruments and/or the use of a small, portable music player is allowed as long as the volume is at a reasonable level (is undetectable at 50 feet).
• Metal or wooden folding chairs are unstable on beach sand and not allowed at those locations. Beach blankets and/or towels are encouraged.
• This permit does not give exclusive use of park areas. The public may not be excluded from the event area. Flagging off areas or otherwise impeding public access to park areas is not allowed.

The following are prohibited:
✔Fireworks, fires, torches, candles or other sources of open flame.
✔ Throwing/releasing balloons, rice, birdseed, glitter, plant material, confetti, or similar.
✔ Releasing live animals (butterflies, doves, etc.).
✔ Glass on the beach.
✔ Floral arrangements (other than hand-held), signs and banners.
✔ Tents, tables, banners, signs (including directional signs), and decorations such as balloons, garden arches, carpet runners, etc.
✔ Horses and/or horse-drawn vehicles.
✔ Making unreasonable noise, such as horn honking, dragging tin cans, etc.
✔ Collecting of any item or object, including sand, shells, fossils, flowers, grass or other plants.

Last updated: January 27, 2023

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Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter , IN 46304

Phone:

219 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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