We were once in your shoes! Our feet were drawn to a Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement – hiking boots and all. But with no one to come alongside us & show us how to get it done, we left our dream aside and planned a big wedding instead – just like everyone else. We wish we would have found someone to be our guide for our Blue Ridge Parkway elopement and show us the way.
While we made things right years later with our own vow renewal in Glacier National Park, we don’t want to you make our mistake from years ago.
If your heart is leading you towards an intimate, emotional experience for your wedding day – this guide is for you. We are for you & your dream day – as your advocates, your guides, your new friends to hold your hands through this entire process.
You were called to this special day. Let’s make it happen.
Planning an Epic Blue Ridge Mountain or Blue Ridge Parkway Elopement
Our first step together: Understanding Your Love Story
When we’re designing the perfect day for you, we put first things first. Before logistical questions like location, timing & lodging – we start with your “why” as a couple. Our customized questionnaire helps us create the right day around your vision – based on a foundation of your story together.
We believe that only by learning about your deepest emotional desires for your day is it then possible to craft the right experience, just for you.
What does this look like? It’s about setting aside all the typical expectations of a bride and groom. Setting aside the ideas of performing in front of a crowd to a strict timeline. Freedom from all the “normal things” you need to spend on at your wedding – and certainly freedom from the idea that eloping is a lesser experience only worthy of a few seconds in front of a court magistrate.
Location. Where are your feet – and your hearts – leading you?
Next we target locations that align with your love story, your personalities – and of course, what fits with your vision of your wedding day. When you close your eyes and think of your day, what does your Blue Ridge Mountain elopement look like?
Do you want to focus on your love for a particular activity together, like hiking, mountain biking or road biking? When you catch yourself daydreaming about your wedding day, do you see mountain tops with 360 degree views, secluded waterfalls (or all of the above?)
Perhaps you’re drawn to a mountain lake experience, driving a 4×4 jeep up to a secluded peak on a gravel road, or you’ve always wanted to say your vows on the Appalachian Trail. Whatever your vision, we are here to make it happen.
Where you exchange vows is the most important part of planning your day.
Knowing all the best places in the mountains and helping you choose one is what we do for you.
From your Love Story to your vision of the perfect location – we invest hours researching and scouting locations in person to help you make the right choice.
We have discovered so many beautiful locations over the years, we’ve cataloged them in an interactive map so you can browse on your own as we collaborate to find the perfect spot for you!
Practical Location Considerations for a Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement
Understand which National Park unit or National Forest district to contact
Looking across a landscape of natural beauty – unencumbered by humankind’s interference – is one of of our most cherished experiences. However, while many of us see a continuous land of forest and mountains, there are boundaries to consider.
Choosing from locations within a day trip of Greenville, SC or Asheville, NC – you could end up in 2+ National Parks, 4+ National Forest districts, or even more possibilities if you consider state parks or state forests (such as Dupont). Each carries with them their own permitting requirements and regulations regarding weddings. Make the wrong phone call, and you could end up throwing your money away on a permit that doesn’t even apply to where you want to go.
Not to worry though – this is our backyard. Not only do we know of great spots for you – we know “where” they are (and who to contact). For specific National Park requirements, here are the direct links for a Blue Ridge Parkway elopement, Smoky Mountains elopement or Shenandoah National Park elopement:
Concerning locations in National Forest Districts – it may be best to say each has their own unique “take” on permits for weddings. In some cases your ceremony may fall under “non-commercial use” (no permit needed), but with a photographer and videographer along it could be interpreted as otherwise. All that to say – it’s our job to know based on where you want to go. The last thing we want you to do is worry about the regulations – let us handle it for you!
Area-Specific Resources on Choosing a Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement Location
Choose a season – which time of the year do you love the most for a Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement?
The outdoor experience is central to your day, so it’s important to choose a time of the year when you will be the most comfortable.
Are you drawn to a morning sunrise with a touch of chill in the air – giving way to the warmth of the day? A spring or fall wedding at elevation might be just the thing for you.
Want to stay warm no matter what? Opt for a mid-summer wedding – in the morning to have the best light, lowest chance of rain, and out of the hottest part of the day.
Rather bundle up and not break a sweat? Use the low season of winter to your advantage to have a prime location all to yourself.
Considerations when choosing a date
Apart from reserving a wedding venue near the mountains, public lands have their own considerations.
For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway does not issue wedding permits at all for holidays, holiday weekends – or for the entire month of October. Above that – we would not recommend a wedding anywhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway at that time of the year. It is so crowded with tourists that even “us locals” stay away until everyone leaves (we know – bad joke…).
If you are attached to a wedding during fall colors, it’s important to remember that “peak color” varies by elevation and weather patterns leading up to the season. Winter is not completely out of the question if you’re willing to deal with weather for the opportunity of solitude together. Winter weddings are great to have your color choices pop in front of a subdued, monochromatic backdrop.
Last, but so very important – apply for your wedding permit early. Some parks claim a 14 day minimum – others ask for 6 months notice. You permit is crucial, so many months in advance is recommended!
Follow the light (and weather) for your wedding day timeline
With a location, season and possible dates in mind – we always say keep an open mind when it comes to your timeline. When applied to a Blue Ridge Mountain elopement, traditional afternoon / evening wedding timelines (designed around indoor venues) don’t work as well in the dynamic setting of nature. Artificial lighting or being able to run inside if it rains are options that will most likely not be available. Instead, we recommend planning for the best of lighting and conditions based on local knowledge of the area & weather patterns.
Example – for a summer wedding on Black Balsam Knob, we prefer a dawn (or early morning) ceremony. Mid-day can be hot with direct sun (not comfortable, nor is it good lighting for your photos). Late afternoon towards evening can bring glorious sunsets as the sun and sky play with the clouds – but thunderstorms (and lightning!) are a very real possibility.
Another reason a dawn timeline is preferred for a summer wedding is crowds. Are you really attached to a particular spot that is normally covered with tourists in flip-flops? Show up to saw your vows at the break of dawn. You’ll most likely have it all to yourself! (This is what we did for our vow renewal in July in Glacier National Park. Amazing the difference!)
While adventure elopements have a more spontaneous nature than traditional weddings, there is actually a much higher need to plan – to account for the many variables of the day. Hiking into a perfect spot can take longer than normal. Weather can send us to a second, third or even fourth backup spot (yes, it has happened!).
Think “out of the box” for florals
If you are interested in a Blue Ridge Parkway Elopement – you’ll need an alternative to live flowers due to park rules. While this regulation only applies to the Blue Ridge Parkway for now – we think it is an important consideration for any outdoor wedding in our public lands.
Invasive species are a serious problem, and all the options for non-live flowers these days can make the switch a positive one. Silk, wooden or paper flowers can last a lifetime. They look amazingly accurate, plus they can allow you more creative freedom when designing your bouquet. Why not?
Other locations for a Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement (such as National Forest lands) do not have the same restrictions. However, we still encourage that we “leave no trace” and not leave any non-native greenery or flowers behind at your ceremony site.
The Adventure Look
You don’t have to forgo your style to be outside!
Our #1 recommendation is to prioritize comfort. We will be trekking & traveling with each other on a fairly active day, and freedom of movement is key!
Having said that, you don’t have to fall all the way back to flannel and/or a hoodie! There are most likely a few simple things to adjust to look fabulous & stay comfy.
- For her – full length dresses (without a train) play wonderfully with the mountain breezes. For warmth, go for wool leggings / layers – which would stay hidden under your long dress.
- Guys – we would choose a lighter-weight suit, or even combine a blazer with a nice button up and your favorite pants.
- Both – wear something you don’t mind getting a little dirty. If you’re worried about ruining a super expensive dress (or suit), you’re less likely to enjoy the freedom of your day. There are plenty of fabulous options out there that won’t break the bank!
We’re here to help you find the right attire that fits your style and helps you enjoy your day! Resources below:
Can we talk about shoes?
Happy feet make for happy souls (yikes – another bad joke – but it’s true!). Stick with your tried and true hiking boots / shoes when we’re on the trail en route to your vow exchange spot. When we arrive, feel free to plan for something a bit more stylish – or stay in your boots – up to you!
Footwear options that are a bit more outdoor friendly (vs. full “tilt” heels) are wedges, bridal boots, or flats. Resources below!
What we bring along for your wedding day
Aside from our extensive camera & audio gear bag (we split photographer & videographer duties, and bring microphones to record your vows – or any other moments for you) – we bring plenty of other gear in our packs. Many locations are at a remote, high elevation where the weather is highly dynamic, so we want to be super prepared for you!
To give you an idea of our level of preparation, here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- Pop-up changing tent
- First-aid kit
- Hand and foot warmers
- Emergency rain gear and blankets
- Headlamps + spares + spare batteries
- Towels (to dry off after a rain shower)
- Tissues (we always cry, and expect you will too!)
- Spare socks
- Trail maps (digital and paper)
- FRS walkie-talkie radios (so no one gets lost!)
Think of us like your personal sherpas. Bring what makes you feel comfortable, stylish and joyful about your day – we’ll handle the rest!
How – and Why – to Document your Day
We are here not only to help you plan your elopement from start to finish – but to serve as your photographer & videographer as well! You are about to begin one of the most epic days of your life, and we assure you that you’ll have zero regrets, being able to experience it over and over again with images & video of your adventure.
Seeing the exact moment when he started crying; listening to your vows in their entirety; experiencing your “first kiss” again – these are the moments which you’ll always be able to look back on. While photo and video are our medium, we are storytellers at heart – and are passionate about experiencing your day alongside you to authentically capture the spirit and emotion of your day.
Your intimate wedding or elopement is just as important as any other couple’s wedding day, and worthy of documenting in detail just as anyone would for a “big” wedding. In fact, we think it’s more important to document your elopement day – to share with family and friends who might not be able to witness your ceremony in person.
It is our heart’s desire to help you create the wedding day you have dreamed about – emotional, intimate – authentic to you as a couple. We are here to help you create a time & space to be yourselves, lose yourself in one another and experience a day that it uniquely yours.
Would you like to invite any guests?
Common misconception – elopement means excluding any guests. We think it can be otherwise!
For sure, if your perfect day is just the two of you in solitude – we’re all in!
Or if you have a strong bond to your closest friends and family and want them present, we are here to help you make it happen!
Depending on your location, we may need to keep the group size below 25 in total (don’t forget to include us in the count!), or maybe less. For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway regulations impose a limit of 25, and some spots on the Parkway may require less due to physical size.
Other National Forest spots (such as Black Balsam Knob) don’t have a limit, but there are logistical considerations such as available parking.
Our advice? Start with a creative mindset and we’re confident we can plan a solution that aligns with your vision.
Creative ways to manage a guest list for your Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement
- Vows & Ceremony at your chosen outdoor location with immediate family – separate reception or after-party later in the day.
- Vows at your location, just the two of you – Ceremony & reception with friends and family.
- Ceremony with friends and family – then escape to your ideal spot alone, exchange vows and adventure for the rest of the day.
More Resources on Eloping with Family
Style your day with meaningful treasures
What are the things that reflect your love, your relationship – what do you hold closest to your heart?
Maybe it’s a life verse that you both share. Using your trusty camp cups for a champagne toast instead of flutes. Grandmother’s shawl to wrap up in as the sun sets. The family heirloom rug to outline the space for your vows.
These fine details provide the finishing touches – and we’re here to not only help you think of what’s important, but to bring them along as well!
Let’s make your Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement a Reality
It is our sincere hope that this Blue Ridge Mountain Intimate Wedding & Elopement Guide is helpful to you – and equips you to take the leap into your greatest adventure ever!
As we mentioned earlier, we had the deepest of desires to say our vows on a mountaintop near the Blue Ridge Parkway. But without anyone to show us how – we left our dream aside.
Years later, it is our calling to help you take that first step and not leave your dreams behind. Let us hold your hand and show you the way – we promise you’ll soon realize it was always meant to be.
Mark & Carolyn