Proper Protocol

Don’t always assume a picturesque location is accessible to the general public without permission. Whether it’s for your actual wedding or for engagement or family photos, sometimes a permit is required to legally take the steps for permission and follow the proper protocol.

Places like John James Audubon State Park now require a commercial photographers permit to be on file with the park for any commercial photographer taking photos onsite at the park. The cost of the permit is $50 and is good for the entire year. All commercial photographers obtaining the permit will also have to provide proof of a Henderson Occupational Business License and liability insurance policy (for non-Henderson based photographers, contact them directly for their requirements). So if you plan to have photographs taken at this location, make sure that your photographer has taken the steps to have his or her permit on file or choose a different location. This applies to your engagement shoot, your wedding, or any time a photographer is conducting any business on the premises (e.g. family or commercial shoots as well).

Shillawna Ruffner Photography

Photo by Shillawna Ruffner Photography

Permits are also required to use National Forest lands such as Shawnee National Forest/ Garden of the Gods under certain circumstances “when there is a commercial gain or there is an impact on the natural resource.” As a magazine, we learned that when we were scouting out shoot locations for a past issue! They say that every permit situation request is unique. So they ask that you contact them directly to see if a permit is required. Additionally, the length of time to obtain the permit varies, so they recommend contacting the Shawnee National Forest well in advance of your activity. According to their website, weddings are listed as an example of a non-commercial permit.

Photos by Esther Bloom Photography

National historic sites generally also require a permit to host a wedding at as well. Locations like the George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes require a special use of park grounds (NPS Form 10-930s) to be completed, signs, and returned to the park office. A three week lead time is requested, but at least five days is the required minimum. There is a $50 fee and minimum insurance requirements. Additional information can be found on the park’s website, and the permit is a single day permit.

Whatever your location, when discussing your permit, also be sure and discuss the location requirements. Oftentimes, decorations may not be attached to any cultural or natural objects and the location must be left in the same condition that it was found. Additionally, any activities not specifically listed in the permit generally are not permitted.

-Nikki Davis, Engaged! River Valley, Managing Editor