Ready to plan your Black Balsam Knob wedding? We’re here to help!
What You Need to Know – Your Black Balsam Knob Wedding
Did you know? During parts of the year, Black Balsam Knob weddings are as popular as weddings in Yosemite and Zion National Parks.
There’s a good reason for that. Black Balsam Knob, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway South of Asheville on the Art Loeb trail, is spectacular. It’s been described as legendary and exceptional.
The trail to Black Balsam Knob begins under a tree top canopy and ascends to a mountaintop rocky landscape dotted with wildflowers and expansive Blue Ridge Mountain views.
It’s the Instagram worthy wedding virtually every bride dreams of.
However, a Black Balsam Knob wedding also serves up a serious slice of Instagram vs. Reality humble pie.
Many photos you see of weddings at Black Balsam Knob are highly edited. Photographers have to work quickly to get photos without hikers and tourists ruining the moment. Black Balsam Knob weddings have become super popular! The Pisgah National Forest has asked the public to moderate their use of the area. Parking at the trailheads is limited and crowds have created concerns for emergency vehicles being able to pass through.
Any hiker or outdoor enthusiast respects the motto of “leave no trace” when enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, especially during an event as sacred as a wedding. Many times we’ve chosen to avoid Black Balsam Knob in order to be one less hiker and leave the beauty of the area for someone who hasn’t experienced it yet.
Our recommendation for a wedding at Black Balsam Knob?
Consider the off season. November through May sees significantly less trail traffic, although the weather can be unpredictable.
If you’re seeking a private experience for your wedding at Black Balsam Knob and it simply has to be during the busy summer or leaf season, consider a ceremony during dawn hours or a weekday. Avoid the crunch of trail crowds with your group by having photography for just the two of you done at Black Balsam Knob and host your ceremony elsewhere. If you are planning to family and/or friends along, keep the total number of guests below 10. To see the current regulations on weddings here, check out the Pisgah National Forest permits page.
If you’re open minded to other locations, we LOVE creating an experience that is private and unique and can suggest many alternatives that offer the same beauty and more privacy than Black Balsam Knob. We usually recommend a Roan Mountain wedding as an alternative and as outdoor enthusiasts, we are happy to share with you the trails we have found that provide beautiful backdrops for wedding ceremonies and elopements. All our clients have access to a map of 40+ locations we’ve cataloged over the years!
How They Met
Olivia and Ben are the quintessential example of a couple that were simply meant to be. They initially met on a dating app and neither of them expected the encounter to produce anything meaningful, yet it was a classic example of the right place and the right time for both of them. Their casual first date at Mellow Mushroom led to a second date planned in the parking lot before leaving, when both of them simply knew “this was forever.”
Bonding over board games and outdoor adventures solidified their relationship, and soon they were a family of three with their beloved pup Raleigh. Amidst the uncertainty and stress of the pandemic, a five month deployment, engagement, and simply managing life, their bond has created calm and happiness in both their lives. It’s that calm and happiness that was evident the first time we spoke with them.
Planning a Black Balsam Knob Wedding
Part of our process when meeting couples who are interested in hiring us to plan and photograph their elopements is a discovery phone call. We find out more about them, and they find out more about us. Olivia and Ben expressed to us afterward that they had been nervous about the phone call with us, but felt such a sense of calm and connection after we spoke. What’s funny is we were nervous too! We want couples to feel comfortable being themselves with us. It’s the only way their elopement will truly be everything they’ve hoped for. Olivia and Ben knew they wanted help creating a day that was uniquely theirs, yet showed respect for tradition and the sanctity of marriage.
As elopement photographers, we have planned events in less than three weeks. It’s not ideal, but we can do it. However, Olivia and Ben were fortunate to have time on their side, and that’s our top recommendation for all our couples – allow for time. It allows for smart choices & lets the plans for the day organically come to life. When Olivia and Ben chose us, they told us they were initially drawn to our photography style and that it felt special to have their marriage planned and filmed by a married couple. The best part is that’s exactly what we’ve set out to do. It’s our goal to connect with couples in a way that creates trust and allows them to express themselves to us and each other in a way that results in the most beautiful day of their lives. We see elopements as a fun double date where we just happen to be taking pictures and filming a video.
Ben echoed our ultimate goal when he told us after the day was over that he wasn’t quite sure exactly what he wanted until he experienced it. For Olivia and Ben’s Black Balsam Knob Wedding in May, they booked us in January. This gave us plenty of options and time to ensure everything would be as seamless as possible.
An adventurous day at Black Balsam Knob
Olivia and Ben wanted an adventurous day that reflected their love of the outdoors, and Black Balsam Knob delivered. The hike to the ceremony site was just enough to feel like an adventure, yet not so much that they were sweating in their gorgeous wedding clothes. For a couple who hiked strenuous Angel’s Landing in snow and ice, it was only fitting that their wedding day be one that was simple but adventurous. A wedding at Black Balsam Knob was not at the top of their list as we began to plan, but with the right timing, it became the perfect option for them. Olivia and Ben’s Black Balsam Knob wedding delivered quiet time in the woods, balanced with joyous family time and epic views.
Olivia and Ben began their Black Balsam Knob wedding by meeting us at the trailhead, before their ceremony guests had arrived. The beginning of the trail, with its balsam fir canopy and pine needle covering on the forest floor is dreamlike. It’s an ethereal moment to see a bride in her flowing white dress as she looks upon the man she is about to spend the rest of her life with. It’s a backdrop and a moment that is simply indescribable.
Olivia and Ben’s Black Balsam Knob wedding took place on a Sunday in early May, so crowds and parking were not an issue for us or their guests. When preparing for elopements – especially in the off-season, we follow several weather apps and services and prepare for any kind of weather. Our clear umbrellas always stand ready if Mother Nature decides to surprise a bride and groom, but they weren’t needed on this day. As we drove to the trailhead to meet Olivia and Ben, we passed through a shower. By the time we arrived, the shower had passed and the sun was out, creating the perfect amount of light and warmth. An iffy weather day in May meant we were able to find plenty of privacy as we ascended the trail before the ceremony, with light filtering through the trees as if we’d special ordered it.
A day of adventure and tradition
As we led Olivia and Ben through their elopement experience, their unique and authentic personalities shone through. Their love for each other is genuine, and we could feel why their friends describe them as the kind of couple who would “drop anything for a friend.” As elopement photographers, it’s so inspiring to us when the day unfolds in such an authentic way for the couples we work with. There is something about an outdoor adventure that allows two people to just be themselves and really soak in the meaning of their wedding day. Olivia and Ben were so easy going and just happy. They radiated. As we traversed the trail, Olivia’s designer gown trailed behind her gathering twigs as she walked, Ben stopping to pick them out of her train. There’s something beautiful that happens in this kind of wedding that just doesn’t happen elsewhere.
We made our way toward ceremony time for Olivia and Ben and saw that the gorgeous sunlight was giving way to a classic feature of Black Balsam Knob – the fog. The weather was incredibly dynamic at Black Balsam Knob on their wedding day, but it delivered exactly what we needed. Olivia and Ben’s day had just the right touch of tradition. Her blue Van’s sneakers peeked out from under her dress, showing off the “Something Blue” that allowed her to hike to the ceremony.
Olivia and her Dad descended the trail on her walk down the aisle to her brother as the Officiant. The changing weather on Olivia and Ben’s special day seemed as if we’d experienced three seasons in one day. It didn’t phase anyone, many guests packed simple backpacks and Olivia donned an appropriate and stylish jacket for the ceremony. Even the couple’s dog Raleigh dressed up for the occasion and was able to join for the special day.
Time to reflect
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the weather changed again and the wind picked up, encouraging family and friends to head to the couple’s Airbnb where a private chef was preparing a celebratory dinner. After a special leave no trace sparkling water toast, we descended the trail just a little ways and set up a picnic for the newlyweds. Allowing them time to reflect and catch their breath after several hours of attention and their marriage ceremony is something that is so important to us.
Thankfully the changing weather meant there were no crowds and Olivia and Ben were able to spend their first few private moments together as husband and wife on the trail at Black Balsam Knob. Our knowledge of the trail helped us find just the right spot that provided a break from the wind.
As part of our planning process, we design our elopement timelines to allow couples time to reflect during their special day. So often, traditional wedding ceremonies become about the attendees and not the couple – exactly the opposite of what you’d want in an elopement! For Olivia and Ben, after a day of adventure, they had a moment to truly absorb the commitment they’d just made to each other. For us, that’s when we know we’ve done our jobs right. We witness the love between two people that can’t be overshadowed by an event. Our goal is to create an event that brings out the best in the couples we serve and highlight the love that brought them together.
Olivia and Ben are an adventurous couple. They had a vision for their wedding day and they trusted us to bring it to life. They knew they wanted to elope near Asheville. They knew they wanted to hike. They knew they wanted the ceremony to be shared with their closest family and friends yet still feel sacred as it was, in their own words, “our forever.” This is a couple that expressed a shyness for the camera and a desire to not be the center of attention. Yet, somehow, making them the center of our attention made their love for each other the star of the show.
Olivia & Ben, we are so grateful to create this adventurous day for you! Thank you so much for trusting us with your elopement, and allowing us into such an epic and intimate day. Your resolve to enjoy every moment – despite the changing weather – and your sweet kindness as a couple are an inspiration to us. We wish both you and Raleigh many family adventures to come!