Getting married at the DC War Memorial

By Natasha Lamalle Photography.

If you plan to have a very DC wedding, the War Memorial is the perfect wedding ceremony location for you and your guests. This is one of the most beautiful, more private locations on the National Mall, which is well-kept by the National Park Service (NPS), directly between the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial across Independence Avenue.

You can also check my list of 25+ DC Wedding Venues if you are looking for the perfect venue in Washington DC.

War Memorial Wedding Permit

  1. If you need to remember one thing about the National Mall, it’s that you need a permit to organize a wedding or a photo shoot at any memorial. The DC War Memorial is no exception. You will find the form to fill out on the NPS’s website.

  2. With only a $90 permit fee for 2 hours (which also includes the rights for photography and video recording at the site), this place is not only a beautiful and elegant space for a wedding but quite a deal too (up to 200 guests can be invited).

  3. Only three locations are allowed with the permit: the War Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial (West Lawn), and George Mason Memorial.

  4. What are you allowed to bring? Equipment may include chairs, a table not exceeding 4’x4′, a chuppahs or wedding arch, a battery-powered generator, and a battery-operated sound system kept to a reasonable volume so as to not disturb visitors at the nearby memorials. Up to two acoustic musicians are allowed.

Pros and Cons of Having Your Wedding at the DC War Memorial

  1. Pros: the cost, the background, and easy planning: The marble rotunda makes for a beautiful setting, is precipitation-friendly, and is only steps away from the rest of the Mall for post-ceremony photos. White marble columns, ample trees, and open grassy space make it feel open and private, even in the middle of everything. The permit gives you access to space for 2 hours, but since you’re not allowed to put up decorations (unnecessary given how beautiful the memorial is) or set up a big sound system, that should be enough time for setup and breakdown of chairs and such.

  2. Cons: parking and tourists: The permit doesn’t necessarily give you exclusive access. It would help if you have a wedding day coordinator arrive early at the site to kindly ask tourists to vacate the memorial for the ceremony. People love weddings, so you likely won’t have any problems. The NPS can be contacted for assistance should you run into any issues (be sure to have the contact info with you just in case). Be prepared to have some bystanders observe the ceremony and take photos. They usually keep their distance and, honestly, you will be too in the moment to even notice! There is extremely limited street parking on the next block (by MLK Memorial), no dedicated spaces and the only public transportation is the Circulator bus. We might want to rent a minibus and use UberBlack to get the wedding party and families there. Last thing: as you can’t put a big sound system, be warned that all ceremony participants need to speak up and be aware of when to pause-it’s under the airpath, so jets go overhead occasionally.

DC War Memorial tips and advice

  1. Transportation: The one major drawback is that parking nearby is tough, so taking a rideshare or cab might be a good idea for guests. But if you want to try, note that parking fees for event vehicles are $2.30 per hour, but are subject to change if the rate increases. Parking meters are located on Jefferson Drive, Madison Drive, Constitution Avenue between 15th and 23rd Streets, Parkway Drive, Ohio Drive, Tidal Basin parking lots, and the A, B, and C parking lots on Ohio Drive.

  2. Weather and backup: the biggest benefit of the DC War Memorial (besides the way it looks) is the fact that it has a roof. The elevated platform is 43 feet in diameter, so unless it’s raining sideways you’ll stay dry and happy.

  3. Pre-wedding photography and family formals. You are on the Mall for photos after (with a separate permit), but still off the beaten path enough that not as many tourists are wandering nearby. Once your ceremony is over, plan with your wedding photographer to take a quick walk to the Lincoln Memorial or grab some iconic DC wedding photos at the edge of the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

  4. There is also a nice public bathroom only a short walk away at the WWII Memorial if guests need it (including a separate handicapped bathroom that works for brides navigating big dresses).

  5. GPS-Friendly Address: 1964 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20227.

If you are interested in having a fun and lay-back wedding photographer, contact me, and let’s start chatting about your wedding plans in Washington DC.


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