Bookmark and Share

Photo Policy & Permits

A bride and groom surrounded by young ring bearers and flower girls.

Photo permits are needed for all special occasion photography during the Garden of Lights. To get a photo permit for Garden of Lights, please call us at 301-962-1404 at least 7-days in advance. Garden of Lights tickets must be purchased before a photo permit can be issued. Garden of Lights runs November 19-January 2. Gardens will close to public at 4pm. 

Brookside Gardens is a stunning 50-acre enclave in the heart of Montgomery County, Maryland. For decades, people have documented their unforgettable moments here in the Gardens, and we welcome you to continue this tradition.

Our mission is to support the horticultural environment and integrity of the grounds. Though the Gardens are free to the public, we do require a Photo Permit Contract and a fee for all special occasion photo sessions, including wedding and engagement photos, quinceaneras, prom photos, family portraits, and filmography. If wanting to take WEDDING PHOTOS or have a small WEDDING or elopement CEREMONY on the grounds, please call us at 301-962-1404. We DO NOT accept online photo permit bookings for weddings. Any booking made online for wedding photos will be canceled. 

Do I need a photo permit?

Permits are only needed between the hours of 9am-5pm. To determine if you need a photo permit, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the primary purpose of your visit to capture photos or video of your family or group?
  • Are you wearing formal attire/costume/wedding attire or coordinating casual wear?
  • Will a photographer (professional, hobbyist, or family/friend) be accompanying you to take the photos/video?

If you answered “YES” to any one of these questions, you must have a paid photo permit.

Ask yourself- can I do this in my backyard? If the answer is yes, but you choose to do it at Brookside Gardens then you need a photo permit.

What do I get for my photo permit?

Your One-Hour Photography Session permit gets you non-exclusive access to all 50 acres of outdoor garden areas.

How far in advance do I need to purchase my photo permit?

Permits can be purchased online 45 days in advance. We recommend purchasing your permit as soon as possible because session slots do sell out fast. Day of permits incurs a higher fee. See the rate chart below.

Can I just walk in and pay on the day of my photo shoot?

Please don’t! We recommend booking your session in advance to guarantee that you get the date and time you want, and that your session does not conflict with other events. We cannot guarantee access to the Gardens for photo permits on a walk-in basis, due to other scheduled events.

What if it rains, or I need to reschedule?

We understand scheduling an outdoor photo session can be tricky. If you need to reschedule a photo session for any reason, simply email Event.Manager@MontgomeryParks.org before the start of your session and we will help you move your session to a different date. You may email any time before your session begins, even on the day of your session. Email confirmation is needed to reschedule.

Can I bring props or furniture for my photo session?

You are welcome to bring as many costume pieces and hand-held props as you like for your photo shoot. Any free-standing materials, such as tables, chairs, clothing racks, or free-standing arches, are not allowed as they could block the pathways for other guests. If you are interested in a more elaborate photo shoot, please contact Event.Manager@MontgomeryParks.org to discuss special rates and media exchanges.

Bringing a Limousine? Let us know!

If your group is planning to arrive in a limousine, party bus, or other large transport vehicle, please indicate that on your request form. Parking for large vehicles is not always available on the premises. Drop off and pick up from large vehicles is available at the Visitor Center only.

Okay, I’m ready! How do I get a photo permit?

You can purchase your photo permit online through Active Montgomery. Use our How-To Guide to help make the processing easier. Photo permits can only be booked on the hour. If you want to book a photo permit for wedding photography, or an elopement ceremony, please contact us at event.manager@montgomeryparks.orgWe do not take wedding photo bookings online.

Photography/Filmography Terms of Use

Please read carefully, as receipt of your payment constitutes understanding of and responsibility to comply with the Terms of Use listed below. For questions or requests, please email Event.Manager@montgomeryparks.org.

  • Photo Sessions are reserved for one hour intervals, on the hour only. You may book multiple One-Hour Sessions. Maximum of 3-hours.
  • The Photo Session must not interfere with others’ enjoyment of the gardens.
  • Do not disturb any plants, stand on rocks or displays, block paths, or climb fountain walls.
  • Photo Sessions are not allowed in the Conservatory.
  • For the safety of all visitors, please be mindful of cords and equipment that pose a hazard.
  • Photo Sessions are reserved as available and may not be permitted during scheduled events or periods of heavy public visitation.
  • Photo Sessions can be rescheduled or transferred. No refunds are available.
  • For any photos published online or in print, please include location in caption: “Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Maryland.”
  • No balloons, cannons of any kind (smoke, confetti, streamers, etc.), or smoke machines are permitted.
  • Please contact us if you plan on bringing any props or other items for your photo shoot.

Non-commercial, Hobby Photography Guidelines

Are you taking photos of just the Gardens? Individual photographers are welcome to photograph the plants and gardens of Brookside. No permits are needed, though we ask that you follow the hobby photography guidelines:

  • Do not disturb any gardens, stand on rocks or displays, block paths, or climb garden or fountain walls.
  • The photo session must not interfere with other visitors’ enjoyment of the gardens.
  • Absolutely no tripods are allowed in the Conservatories.
  • Published photographs should credit location of photograph, i.e. “Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD”.

*Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks, Montgomery County Policy on User Fees:

(Effective January 1, 2010, approved by M-NCPPC Planning Board, October 2009)

Basic facilities, services, and programs (such as trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas), which appeal to a broad spectrum of the community, are supported by general tax dollars and are provided at no additional charge to residents. User Fees are charged for those facilities, services, and programs which provide an individual benefit or an exclusive use. User Fees may also be charged to balance use with capacity and demand, and to allocate scarce resources.