National Arboretum guests are welcome to take photographs of the grounds, plants, nature, and collections as they explore the public gardens as well as snapshots of themselves and others in their party; a permit is not required in these cases. All other types of photography require a permit. Weddings, including pop-up ceremonies, elopements, and vow exchanges, cannot be conducted using a photography permit. Please see “Weddings” below for more information about this type of event.

When is a photography permit required?

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, a photography permit is required.

  • Is the primary purpose of your visit to capture photos of you, your family, or a group?
  • Will a photographer, professional or hobbyist, paid or not, take the photos?
  • Are you wearing wedding or formal attire, or coordinating casual wear?
  • Are you promoting a brand or taking photos for a sponsored post?
  • Will you be profiting from these photos?
  • Do you plan to use props of any kind?
  • Did you make a special trip to do this at the National Arboretum?

Scheduling a Photography or Video Shoot

Permit applications found here must be completed and emailed to

Permits require fourteen (14) days’ notice and are available for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Video shoot sessions are offered before or after normal visiting hours (see fee schedule). No walk-up permits are granted. For frequently asked questions, click here. View the complete rules from the Federal Register.

Learn about the Arboretum’s gardens and plant collections to determine the best location for your session.

The National Arboretum cannot endorse or be made to appear to endorse a product or political view.


The U.S. National Arboretum is a federal facility administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Events and commercial activities, including weddings and photography, are subject to authorities, rules, and fees as per the Code of Federal Regulations Title 7, Part 500, Subpart A & B, Guidelines for Use of Facilities.

Weddings at the U.S. National Arboretum are managed on our behalf by the Friends of the National Arboretum in conjunction with MTG Hospitality. All wedding ceremonies and vow exchanges of any size require prior approval, fee payment, and coordination through these entities. If you are interested in having your wedding at the U.S. National Arboretum, please contact Natalie Thomas at

Pop-up weddings are not permitted at any time. Any unauthorized ceremonies observed on the grounds will be stopped by Security, and parties will be subject to removal.

For more information and media requests, email us at