With crystal blue waters, sandy beaches, panoramic overlooks, and historic farms and landscapes, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers breathtaking backdrops for small informal weddings. Accommodating weddings requires careful planning to protect park resources and limit intrusions on recreational visitors.

Scheduling a wedding

Wedding ceremonies may be scheduled up to one year in advance.
Permits are issued for wedding ceremonies only; receptions are not permitted.
Picnic areas may not be reserved and are available only on a first-come basis.
Wedding permits will not be issued for heavy use periods – Federal Holiday weekends from Friday through Monday.

To apply

Submit a Special Use Permit application.
Include a nonrefundable $50.00 cost recovery fee with your application or submit the application fee on
Select a site from the List of Approved Locations for Weddings in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

If your application is approved

A permit containing applicable terms and conditions will be sent to you.
The permit must be signed and returned to the park with a $50.00 cost recovery fee for final approval before the wedding ceremony can take place.
Cost recovery fees may be submitted on

Officiants and photographers

Your officiant and photographer are not required to obtain an additional permit for their services unless they advertise that they offer services in the park and your booking is done through them.

If the photographer uses more equipment than a camera and tripod such as lights, reflectors, props, they need a commercial photography/filming permit.

Permit conditions

All permits have the following basic conditions. Individual permits may include conditions specific to that event.

  • The permit holder and guests must comply with all applicable federal, state, county and park regulations.
  • The permit holder must have a copy of the permit with them on the day of their event.
  • Entrance fees into the park are not waived for participants or guests since recreational benefit is derived. The permittee may contact the Visitor Center to purchase Park Passes in advance.
  • No formal wedding receptions will be permitted.
  • A wedding permit does not allow the ceremony to restrict other park visitors from the chosen location; nor does it guarantee availability of a specific site at the permitted locations. Flagging off areas or otherwise impeding public access to park areas is not allowed.
  • No disturbance of other park visitors may occur as the area will remain open to the public during the event.
  • The time allowed for outdoor events is limited to three hours.
  • Picnic areas may not be reserved and are available only on a first-come basis.
  • The release of any living thing is prohibited.
  • Bird seed, rice, flower petals, or other materials may not be thrown within the park.
  • The use of balloons, sky lanterns. ribbons, floral displays, or any other types of decorations will not be authorized.
  • The use of bubbles or bubble making machines is prohibited.
  • Live vegetation of any kind is prohibited. Bride and bridesmaid bouquets should be made of silk.
  • Directional or event signs may not be used within the park.
  • The permittee is responsible for the cleanup and removal of all trash generated by the event from the ceremony site.
  • The Bride/Groom vehicle may not be decorated with cans, paper, streamers or any other item that may be left behind in the park.
  • Generators, amplified music, or public address systems are not allowed.
  • Handheld acoustic musical instruments and/or the use of small portable music players is allowed with the volume at a reasonable level undetectable at 50 ft.
  • No ground disturbance is allowed.
  • The trampling of vegetation (e.g., Pitcher’s thistle, dune grasses) is not permitted.
  • Access to beaches will be permitted only via formal public access points and trails (i.e., not via informal social trails).
  • Glass containers are prohibited on beaches.
  • To preserve the natural setting, archways or other artificial structures are not authorized and tents, tables or other furniture are not allowed unless a picnic area is used.
  • A small number of chairs may be permissible for elderly or disabled guests. The chairs must arrive and leave with the permitted party.
  • Collecting items such as sand, plants or plant material, rocks, arrowheads, or any other natural or historic objects is not permitted.
  • If pets will be in attendance be sure to select a site that allows them.
  • Pets must be controlled on a six-foot leash and may not be left unattended or tied to an object.
  • The permittee is responsible for cleaning up after pets and disposing of waste in trash receptacles.
  • Pets should be kept from interacting with wildlife or disturbing park visitors.
  • Parking is limited in most locations. The use of carpools or shuttles is recommended.
  • Permitted beach locations are subject to change if nesting piping plover are present. Ceremonies may be restricted to specific areas on the beach or be required to move to another beach.
  • The use of drones is not permitted.

Applications should be mailed to

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Attention: Special Use Permits/Weddings
9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


Email your application*
*If you email an application, please do not include your SSN.

For more information, send us an email or call (231) 326-4741.

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

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