Introducing Guerrilla Weddings: How To Make an Aisle Anywhere!

Last week, we concluded our first ever How-To crafts extravaganza. You know, stuff you can do to make your wedding pretty that’s easy, cheap, and includes lots of fun with friends. This week we’re launching our new How-To craft series, a project I’ve been wanting to do for years and years: Guerilla Weddings. AKA, pick a public spot, roll up with your people, and get married. Slightly illegal? Perhaps (check your local rules). Awesome? Definitely. Really, we’re hoping this series will inspire you to think way outside the (expensive) box on wedding planning, plus give you super easy, but also really stunning wedding crafts that you can use at any wedding. We’re also calling this series “APW Goes To Brooklyn” (Meg’s other home).

It’s all shot in my very favorite place, with girl time by Michelle Edgemont, low-key wedding stylist who did the crafting and graphic design, crafting assistance and hanging out by photographer and awesome lady Amber Marlow, and photos by Monica of Hart & Sol East. Also, I’m slightly bitter that I wasn’t there to hang out (next time). Let’s do it!

Guerilla Weddings: Awesome If Slightly Illegal!

Welcome to Part One of Guerilla Wedding Decorations, aka Get Married Anywhere And Make It Look Cool, aka Crafts With Friends. Some of you would prefer to skip the whole traditional wedding ceremony space, which we think is awesome. Possible super cheap option: grab your friends and family, meet in a public space, get married. Done and done. But, this doesn’t mean your ceremony has to be without fun, colorful, easy decorations. It’s a little crazy and might be slightly illegal in some public spaces (check the rules!). Also, you know how the wedding industry keeps yelling at you that your wedding has to be memorable and you should spend a ton of money. This is MEMORABLE (and also basically free). Ha!

Find A Location

The first of our super easy decorations takes basic solid paper and turns it into a sweet way to line your makeshift aisle. The first step is finding a good location. Things that make for good locations: lack of people, dramatic architecture, a flat surface, some shade, and enough room for all your guests to stand around you. Scope out your neighborhood on same the day of the week and the time you want to get married. See what kinds of people are hanging around. Do they look cool? Do they look crazy? Does the local preschool have gym time right then on your favorite patch of grass? We chose Grand Army Plaza, near the fountain, in Brooklyn. We had the arch as a nice background and this part of Prospect Park doesn’t get a lot of people.

The Craft: Make An Aisle Anywhere

You’re going to need at least ten pieces of large, heavier weight paper. Grab a variety of colors, plus throw in a few metallics for added jazz. (Obviously everyone loves added jazz!) Casually cut the paper in approximately 2” wide strips. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect, we are going for laid-back and awesome here. Pack them up to bring to your wedding site, which you’ve already scoped out.

Lay out the strips, on top of each other, creating the borders for your aisle. This is so super easy. Also, actually, you should really have a friend do this for you. (Important note: If it’s windy that day, bring tape to secure the back of the strips to the ground.) Create as long/short, wide/thin an aisle as you prefer.

That’s it! Now, get married and have a friend clean up the strips. Definitely. You are not cleaning up the strips.

Photos by Monica of Hart & Sol East, Crafting and Graphic Design by Michelle Edgemont, with Crafting Assistance by Amber Marlow 

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  • Flood

    You people crack me up. Seriously.

  • KC

    I love the “It’s an aisle now!” effect. :-) And the “use bright colors” reminder is great – I usually go for “subtle” but it’s less useful to have an aisle that you can’t see because it’s the same color as the ground.

    If windy: May I propose 2 rolls of cheap-but-wide ribbon (or crepe paper streamers) + at least 4 weights to hold the ends down (like rocks or, more fancy, mac & cheese boxes full of rocks and covered with white paper; tie or glue the ends of ribbon so they can’t escape as easily) (or use nails/tent stakes to skewer the ends to the ground). Not quite as much fun as the multicolored strips of paper, but if it’s a windy spot, chasing errant strips of paper during the wedding is also not guaranteeably fun…

  • This is awesome. :) It was craft-free, but the first wedding I photographed completely solo (back when I did such things) was a guerrilla wedding at the butterfly house at the Pacific Science Center. We spent longer waiting in line to get the couple and all the guests into the exhibit at once than we did on the ceremony; the exhibit attendants were totally grinning the whole time. Plus, live butterflies as wedding decor with butterflies harmed. :)


  • Ha! I love this. We had our official, DC sanctioned ceremony in a similar way – the officiant and two witnessed drove to a public park, stood under a tree and said our vows while some guy mowed his lawn. And my wife still got teary. Which is one of the many reasons why I married her.

  • Amy March

    Wow. I really dislike the implication that your wedding is so important you get to ignore the rules.

    • Ok, “might be illegal” is a slight exaggeration. Really, anytime a large group of people assemble in a public place with a professional photographer present, it’s a good idea to contact the local city office and obtain a permit first.

      • Amy March

        Okay. I guess I just don’t view it as “guerilla” if it’s all legally permitted and stuff. And the post mentioned local rules but didn’t exactly suggest not doing this if it would violate them.

        • Kyley

          Slightly illegal? Perhaps (check your local rules).

          This is very clearly a suggestion to do your homework and find out if what you want to do is feasible & legal.

    • Corrie

      It didn’t quite come off that way to me, since it was twice noted to check your local rules.

    • meg

      You do need to check your local guidelines to see what the rules are about public gatherings. That said LOTS of people say vows at a public park, just like they would have a picnic at a public park, in a respectful non-disturbing way, and things work out fine. It’s a rather modern construction that weddings need to be a huge event that we plan for for months and pay huge fees for.

      Your wedding is not so important that you get to ignore rules. Rather, we think weddings are so normal that you should treat them the way you would any other event in your life. And I, personally, have had tons of parties in Prospect Park without permits. (That said: CHECK THE RULES.)

      • “That said LOTS of people say vows at a public park, just like they would have a picnic at a public park, in a respectful non-disturbing way, and things work out fine.”

        Truth! Ian and I said our vows at Audubon Park in NOLA without a $25 permit or official permission. I intended to get one, but we just ran out of time. Honestly, more people noticed our photo shoot than our wedding.

      • What I found when scoping out sites to have our tiny wedding is that less people=an easier time. Also, no obvious wedding dress makes it much easier too. I actually had a park ranger tell me “well, for only 6 people, and you just wearing a nice dress, I think you could get away with it. Don’t block any paths.” This was at a site that required folks to go through the restaurant on site and pay a hefty fee, normally speaking. But she said a 5 minute thing was likely doable.

        I also found that this is easier if you don’t have a pro photographer. There are some parks that require *hefty* permits for the pro to be shooting there. So it’d be fine for DIY photography but not otherwise. Again, check local regs. It took me perhaps two hours of calling over several days to figure out where to hold our little guerilla wedding (we did Bridal Veil Falls in Oregon, near Multnomah Falls).

    • Hope

      In the town we got married you cannot get a permit to marry in the public parks. It was definitely a grey area as there was nothing saying it was illegal but no way to do it “legally”. The park guys could have asked us to move on or been ok. I think that helps explain “slightly illegal”.
      In the end due to our many guests and need for seats we chose a private property.

  • Taylor

    awesome. I may well steal this idea even though I’m not having a guerilla wedding just because it looks so pretty!

    That said, guerrilla weddings are awesome. One of the places I looked into for having the ceremony was an arboretum owned by the local university–big gorgeous park full of trees. But when I looked it up, they explicitly said no weddings (because tree research is serious business).

    My mom was surprised when I told her because she (a court commissioner) once performed a wedding there. Just her and the two people getting married (you dont even need a witness in our county). I thought that was so awesome. So guerrilla that even the officiant didnt know

    ETA* even though the park is used for tree research, it is a public park often used by distance runners–lots of trails, picnic-ers, and causal strollers alike. so its not like they were trespassing

  • Krystal

    Another way to get around the wind issue would be to grab a needle and fishing line or some other semi-sturdy thread and string half of the strips on one line, and half on another, an voila! You’ve got two equal lengths of line loaded up with pretty strips that you just have to plop down somewhere and secure the ends. :)

  • I love this post for many reasons, but mostly because it made me realize that not only did I elope, but I also had a guerrilla wedding. I want to get that as a tattoo now.

  • Snow Gray

    My grandfather got married a few years ago at Battery Spencer on the Marin Headlands – it’s a spot that has an AWESOME view of the Golden Gate – a lot of pictures of our famous bridge are taken from there, actually.

    He just told us to dress warmly and a small group of us gathered just before sunset, had their short but sweet ceremony, then watched the sun go down and light up the bridge while we ate homemade cupcakes. It was super cold and windy, but awesome!

    One note about any weddings in public places – you might have tourists. We had quite a few strangers watching & photographing their wedding!

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  • YES. We are calling our wedding a flash mob wedding…I don’t know what the rules are for the pond we’re getting married at, but if they’re going to make their website impossible to navigate to find out, I’m going to gather 25 people for 15 minutes and get married darn it!

  • Kat

    or an even easier guerilla aisle. Two rolls of streamers. Guest at front keeps the loose end and hands the roll to person behind them. Roll gets passed to the back. Same thing repeated on other side. TADA!

  • LBD

    We totally had a guerrilla wedding. You can’t reserve any spot on the beach in Seattle Parks (I would have done it if I could have!), so we just picked a less visible part of Golden Gardens. My only nonnegotiables for a wedding were thus: I’d get to wear a lovely dress and that I’d be barefoot on a beach. Golden Gardens is near our house, where we got ready beforehand and then had our mini-reception. I figured hey, people have bigger picnics / gatherings on the beach than our wedding of 20 people would be without having to get any special permit, and we were planning a 15-minute thing. I was honestly more worried about the champagne we had stashed in the cooler, but the Parks Dept. would probably have a lot of work ahead of them to be busting everyone with a surreptitious beer at Golden Gardens on a nice Friday afternoon in August in Seattle. THAT was definitely against the rules, but you can blame my mother-in-law for that one.

    We scoped it out a couple weeks before, and it was our officiant actually who suggested this lesser known part of the beach, as she’d done other small weddings there before. The Parks Dept. requires a permit to reserve a spot for a ceremony, but doesn’t have any rules that I could find saying you can’t have a wedding anywhere but those reservable spots. One of those things where it’s not expressly ALLOWED, but not expressly forbidden either. It was unclear. We decided it was a better to beg forgiveness than ask permission situation. Your mileage may vary.

    It worked out fine. We did no rehearsal. I was wearing an actual wedding dress. Onlookers seemed amused or pleased. We sent my sister-in-law and the sig. other of a bridesmaid ahead with our dog to stake out a spot. We had no decorations. Our photographer had worried we would have rain. I said NAH IT WILL BE FINE, had no alternative plan, and we had glorious weather. Afterward, we got some flack from some dude setting up for a wedding later that evening in the actual rentable Bathhouse while the sig. other of one of my bridesmaids was taking pictures of us playing on the playground in our finery. Oh well. Bridesmaid S.O. ran great interference. Our thang was over and done before the guests of that wedding even started arriving.

    My guess is, if it’s a laid-back place, few if anyone will have an issue, as long as it’s a small bare-bones affair. I guess my standard was thus: rules I’d bend for any other friends and family celebration at a park I felt okay bending for the wedding.

    Ultimately, for us, it was really important that we get married someplace we could easily visit again and again each year. Thus, a public park. You’ll find us celebrating our first anniversary with a sneaky bit of champagne in that very spot come August. Naughty, naughty.

    Final verdict: the planned and permitted and above board big reception the next day was a billion times more stressful than any element of the guerrilla ceremony.

  • Fenn

    I like the idea of a guerrilla wedding, but I don’t like this craft. I have yet to be anywhere that wind wouldn’t blow these pieces away. Once the wind starts blowing them away, how would you chase down all of them? It just looks like a way to cause a lot of litter.

    • I was kind of with you on the wind, and thought, “Ok Michelle might be way off with this one.” but they stayed put just fine. It’s obviously something you can’t do on an especially windy day, but the day we shot this was still and it worked out really well.

    • meg

      She gives you windy day notes, which if there is a breeze that’s going to kick them up, you should obviously use!

  • Alli

    My groom is so ahead of trend! His first idea for a wedding was a flash mob wedding in Central Park. With balloons or lanterns in the hands of the guests on the “aisle” to create it. I now wish we’d made this a reality, with the amount of money we have spent on a ceremony venue. And I completely agree that if you can have the same number of people at a location for a picnic you (should be able to) have them there to see you exchange your vows.

  • Steph

    You guys, this is genius!! What a way to turn a ceremony into a daring adventure.Thanks so much for sharing.

  • fermi

    I know this has nothing to do with the guerilla wedding post, but what shoes is Amber wearing on the top photos, before she changed into flats. I have been looking for a pair like that everywhere, please tell me!!!!!!!!!

  • Brianne

    Love it!

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