So you’ve decided that a big wedding isn’t for you? You’re thinking “we love the outdoors, we love hiking, and we can’t stand crowds”? Then eloping in the Great Smoky Mountains is exactly what you need! I mean TALK ABOUT VIEWS! Right? This is one of the best places to elope in the south! Here's how to elope in the Smoky Mountains in 2022.
If you’re still trying to put your finger on what is an elopement anyways, allow me to break it down! Elopements have changed drastically over the past few years. Gone are the days when an elopement is this secret wedding that’s done without family permission or approval! Elopements are no longer those shotgun weddings in Vegas!
e·lope: to forgo a large wedding for an intimate wedding experience where the focus of the day is on just the couple.
If you want to know if an elopement is right for you, go take this quick quiz!
How do I elope?
That is a phenomenal question, and there’s some things to consider if you’re going to elope in or near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
1. Think Big Picture!
If you’re planning your elopement, that means that you’ve decided that the big wedding isn’t for you. So regardless of whether you choose to invite some family and friends or if it’s just you two, remember, the day is about YOU TWO! If you two were to spend an absolutely perfect full day date, doing all of the things you love to do as a couple, what would that look like? There’s no wrong answer! And the sky is the limit! Want to skydive into your ceremony? Do it! Want to spend the day binge-watching Stranger Things? Get those PJs READY! Always wanted to visit a castle in North Carolina? Consider yourselves Sir and M’Lady!
If you two love the outdoors and hiking, why not go on a hike together and have your ceremony at the top of one of the Smoky Mountains gorgeous trails! I mean, have you seen the Blue Ridge Parkway? Stunning! If you two are big fans of paddle boarding, kayaking, or even canoeing, why not go out onto one of Western North Carolina’s beautiful lakes? Bear Lake is absolutely gorgeous, and here’s an insider tip: it’s SO quiet and off the grid!
2. Pick a day, time, and place to get married!
Finding a place is just the beginning of the journey! This is going to determine when the best time frame to elope is going to be. Make sure you keep in mind the amount of people that are going to be there when you’re going to elope. For example, during the fall, the Blue Ridge Parkway is absolutely packed! But don’t worry, there’s plenty of hidden secrets where you can elope. That may just mean that if you plan on getting married in Cades Cove, you may want to adjust the time of day that you’re doing it in order to avoid any unwanted crowds!
Another important thing to take into consideration is closures! If you’re wanting to elope in the winter on the Blue Ridge Parkway, keep in mind that the parkway is often closed in the winter due to the snow. Maybe there’s a gorgeous spot off of the parkway that you can do! Or you can wait until it opens back up! Same goes for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some roads and trails close during the winter due to the snow.
3. Planning the logistics!
There’s a lot of things that go into eloping in The Great Smoky Mountains! But don’t let that deter you. That just means that you need to make sure that those that are planning your day with you should be researching what needs to happen. You’ll definitely want to have a photographer capturing your day! And like Backpacks and Bow Ties, many photographers that know the area well are very well equipped to assist you in planning. You may want to hire an elopement planner, but a lot of times we act as your planner since we’re spending the whole day with you! I personally do location scouting for my couples to find the perfect spot for when they say “I Do”!
Other things to consider in your planning are:
- Do I need a permit? (spoiler: if you’re eloping in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you DO!)
- Do I have a backup plan if it rains? Always have a couple back up plans and locations in case of bad weather or other circumstances! Pack some umbrellas! At the end of the day, you can't control the weather (and neither can we, but boy would that be a good selling point if we could). So embrace whatever comes your way on the day of!
- What are the marriage laws for the state that I’m in? In North Carolina and Tennessee, a marriage officiated by someone that was ordained online is NOT recognized! This is something that I see a lot, but it is 100% not recognized legally here, so please make sure you have an ordained minister! I’m happy to help you find one! Another option is to due the legal paperwork before your actual elopement and have whoever you want officiate your elopement, or do it yourselves.
- Where can we stay? There’s a lot of really freaking cute Airbnb’s in the mountains! If you'd rather camp, The Great Smoky Mountains has literally hundreds of front country campsites, and plenty of backcountry ones as well.
You’ve done all the heavy lifting, the planning is done, you’ve gotten the necessary permits, you have backup plan A, B, C and D ready! Now it’s time for you two to simply ENJOY your day together! Don’t stress about anything, and enjoy every part of the journey! If something doesn’t go as planned, have fun with it! You’re eloping because you’re adventurous, different, and don’t want to do what social norms say you should. So who cares if it rains a bit! Get your dress dirty! Have fun!
5. Throw a Party!
One of the things a lot of people THINK they’re missing out on when they elope is having a reception where they can celebrate with friends. Let me be the first to tell you that that is 100% NOT TRUE! You’re eloping because you want to have an intimate ceremony, and that’s outside-the-box! So there’s surely no rules about receptions! Plan to have a reception where everyone can come and celebrate! It doesn’t have to be a crazy thing in a ballroom. It can be in your backyard! As a photographer, I honestly love shooting receptions and backyard weddings. Because everyone is having a freaking blast, and it's very intimate. Some of my favorite photos are those of the reception. You can have the intimate wedding of your dreams AND the party of your life! I like to photograph couple’s elopements, and have some photo’s delivered for them to share at their reception. And I love to also be at the reception capturing the moments when your dad is breaking it down on the dance floor! You don’t have to compromise, and you don’t have to settle!
Need Help Planning Your Elopement? Contact me and I’ll walk you through it step by step!
We're offering free hotel stays for your vacation or honeymoon if you book your wedding or elopement with Backpacks and Bow Ties in 2022/2023!