Dreaming of your own elope Asheville experience? Want to enjoy an epic engagement session in Asheville? Whether your after gorgeous landscapes for your engagement photos, or plan to elope in Asheville, we know where to go. Here’s our top locations for an adventurous day together, and we’ve included itinerary ideas to help you plan your total experience!
How Adventurously Elope Asheville – what you need to know
Here’s a list of what we’ll cover in this guide:
- Why it’s important to plan ahead in 2022
- Ideas for planning your dream elopement day
- Asheville elopement location tips
- Why an airbnb or rental property is important when eloping
- Choosing your the best season for your elopement
- Wedding permit considerations for public lands around Asheville
- Being prepared for the weather & having a backup plan
So much changed in 2020 and into 2021 for planning an Asheville elopement. Let’s get started on all the important details!
Planning ahead is even more important in 2022.
Asheville elopements have always been an awesome way to get married in the mountains – but now the secret is out. Since lots of couples have shifted their big wedding intentions to eloping as a backup, many have discovered that it’s really what they wanted from the beginning. Demand for elopements in the Asheville area has more than doubled than in previous years, which is significantly changing what it takes to plan an awesome day. Here is what to keep in mind for planning in 2022:
Check on wedding permit requirements as soon as possible
The mountains around Asheville may seem like a contiguous expanse of public lands, but there are actually many different government agencies responsible for the area. Depending on where you decide to have your ceremony, you could be on Blue Ridge Parkway land, Pisgah or Nantahala National Forest, or a handful of State Forests or State Parks.
To make it even more complex, each of these agencies has their own interpretation of permitting for weddings. In response to the demand, policies changed quickly over 2020. Some locations (like Max Patch) have become off-limits for weddings due to too many visitors impacting the natural setting.
Our advice? Plan early, get in touch with the permit offices and get the requirements in writing so there are no surprises on your wedding day. Work with a photographer who understands the difference in the agencies’ approach. Permission to have your ceremony at a location is fundamental to making your day possible – don’t leave this up to chance.
More resources below!
Nearby rental properties will be in high demand
After the pandemic made its initial impact in 2020, peer to peer rental programs (like Airbnb and VRBO) took off. Looking for a way to travel and avoid airlines and hotels, travel demand shifted to renting a house or cabin to have a safe space and still be able to venture away from home.
This boom in rental properties is having an impact on elopement planning because having the right rental property nearby is very important for elopements. We’ll talk about that more in a later section, but we’ll reiterate here – planning early means you’ll have the best properties to choose from and not have to spend all day driving to/from your destinations around Asheville.
Take a moment and dream about your Asheville Elopement
So let’s take a step back after looking at some of the planning concerns to keep in mind about eloping near Asheville in 2022. Set all of that aside – and think about what is drawing you to an elopement in the first place.
Why is this important?
The first step towards planning an incredible elopement day is to think (together!) about all the awesome experiences you would love to include in your day. It may seem right to look around at possible locations first and then build a plan, but take it from us – that’s getting a little ahead of things. First, consider what about your day together is MOST important.
Perhaps you want your immediate family to be present, and to set some time aside to enjoy a hike and a mountain view. Your day might start with a sunrise hike to have a mountain top all to yourselves, then exchange your vows. Later you could join up with family at a unique restaurant for a reception, and then retreat to your cabin for campfire time together. You might want to include the emotion of getting ready with your closest friends, and experiencing your first look in a secluded spot. There really are so many possibilities!
Once you have an vision for what you want to experience on your day (and who you want to include) the next step is to choose a location! Looking for inspiration? Check out this post for one of our recent Asheville Elopements!
How to elope Asheville – itinerary inspiration
We believe your day is worth more than arriving at a location, meeting your officiant, saying your vows and being on your way. This is YOUR day, and your chance to make it a romantic & meaningful experience!
For every one of our couples we do the heavy lifting of planning out a day just for you, based on your interests and what “together” experiences will light up your day the most. Here’s just one example itinerary to truly celebrate the start of your marriage in epic fashion:
Adventurous day itinerary
- Getting ready at your Asheville AirBnB
- Drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to your spot
- Saying your vows just as the sun lights up the sky
- Adventuring on a nearby trail
- Taking time to be in the moment
- Enjoy a champagne celebration and picnic lunch together
- Drive back to your AirBnB
- Downtime after lunch
- Welcome reception for closest family and friends
- Group photos
- Private dinner from a local farm-to-table chef
- Campfire toasts and celebration!
Extend your day & experience together!
- Head out from AirBnB
- Arrive at a “secret” trailhead
- Hike to a secluded waterfall
- Epic portraits & fun with the water!
- Back to the AirBnB for lunch
Wondering how we put all this together?
Tips on choosing a location for your Adventurous Elope Asheville Experience
Think about how many guests you want along for your elopement
The Asheville area has plenty of options whether you are planning a “just us” wedding or inviting a few guests. In general, you’ll want to choose from one of the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks if you intend to have guests, especially if some have mobility issues. If it’s just the two of you, you can experience a hike together and have more solitude from the crowds.
Don’t forget about you – the important part of your day
Since we mentioned planning for friends and family, don’t lose sight of the fact that this day is for you. For example, if you started writing down your ideas for your day together and they started with your own experience for just the two of you, please don’t let that fall aside. You can combine both in your day – have a ceremony with family & go off on your own to have private time together! There are plenty of ways to create a day that still aligns with your dreams and can include others that are important to you. You can have both – don’t worry!
Choose your elopement time & location for the best light
Well come right out and say it – a mid-day ceremony might be the most convenient for sleeping in, but you will not be happy with your photos. The direct overhead light from the sun is just not flattering. Targeting sunrise or sunset for your photo time (or both) is a key ingredient to photography you will love for years to come.
Considering sunrise and sunset is part of the decision for locations you’d choose from. Most of the time, great sunrise spots would not be great for sunset (and vice versa) because the sun would disappear behind the mountains or trees around you. It’s important to scout out locations and check the calendar for the path of the sun for the best light.
Time your plans to avoid crowds
In general, the easier it is for people to access a beautiful location by car, the more crowds you can expect. In 2020, we witnessed so many people visiting the outdoors that parking lots spilled over into cars parked on the road & emergency vehicles were blocked from access. Fighting traffic and possibly running into a Road Closed sign is not our idea of a great day – and we’re sure you’d agree! For these reasons and more, it’s always best to plan for lots of crowds and figure out the best time of day and of the year to avoid them.
Location Inspiration to Elope Asheville
Before we describe a few places to help you envision your day together, we need to emphasize – there are many more locations for you to choose from!
We don’t list all the possibilities here because we are all about helping you with find the right fit for you as your couple and your needs for your day. Every elopement is different, and every location has its unique pros and cons. What you see in awesome photos on Instagram might not reflect the reality of the experience you would have in person.
Breathtaking Waterfall locations for your Elope Asheville Experience
Waterfalls are so magical!
While Western NC is abundant with falling water, there is irony in the fact that only a precious few work well for elopement or engagement photos. Many falls that look amazing for landscape photography don’t work that well when you consider the needs for portrait photography as well. Add to that the safety aspect (some have too many slippery, mossy rocks) and strenuous hikes to boot, and the list gets smaller and smaller.
Below are some of our favorites for fairly convenient and safe waterfall spots!
Dupont State Forest – Waterfalls
Dupont is not too far from Asheville (just a short drive southwest) and is an amazing place for falling water. It is a very popular location with all the hiking, mountain biking & gravel riding possibilities. Plus in the summer you’ll find yourself around a LOT of people if you’re near a popular swimming hole. Our advice? Early morning or off-season is the best!
Nantahala National Forest – Waterfalls
There are some lovely falls hidden away in Nantahala. This one below is fairly convenient to Black Balsam Knob, which makes it a great stop if you want to add another epic spot to your adventure session or elopement day (or extend to another day!). While the drive is down many curvy (and gravel) roads, the access is less than 2 miles of easy trail. There’s not usually a lot of visitors, and it’s a perfect spot to cool off in the middle of summer!
Pisgah National Forest – Waterfalls
Another one of our favorites for a variety of falls, Pisgah is a beautiful part of Western NC. Near Dupont, this National Forest also sees a LOT of visitors, so we’d recommend the same approach by going early morning on weekends or in the off-season.
Looking for epic backdrop of water for your photos? Or a series of cascades tumbling down the rocks? We’ve got plenty of ideas for you!
Awe-inspiring Mountain locations for your Elope Asheville Experience
Buck Spring Gap
Elevation: 4900 ft
About 45min SW of Asheville, NC near the Pisgah Inn
There is a LOT to like about Buck Spring Gap. It’s fairly convenient to Asheville and facilities are nearby at the Pisgah Inn. The Inn not only is a lodging option but has a restaurant (delicious fried chicken!) with excellent views of the valley below.
At Buck Spring Gap you won’t feel like you’re at a busy overlook with traffic flying by. Take a few steps down the Mountains to Sea trail, and you’ll find a little hideaway that’s great for a “just us” elopement or inviting a few guests for an intimate wedding.
This setting also works well for clearly capturing your vows – less road noise in your wedding video!
There is a good amount of flexibility to Buck Spring Gap. It’s a great spot for an intimate, set apart ceremony; it can accommodate a few guests; not far from Asheville & the Pisgah Inn is just down the road. One of our favorites!
Elevation: 5600 ft
About 45min NE of Asheville, NC near the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center
While the NPS no longer allows weddings on the Pinnacle, the Gardens has so much to offer we still recommend Craggy as an option. The Gardens trail is about 2 miles (out and back) and there is so much to see and experience both there and on the picnic area side of Craggy!
Rhododendron tunnels cover you in cool shade as you walk through to the top. Open mountain top meadows to feel the warmth of the sun as you watch dawn together.
If you’re in love with the lush greenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway, want a view for your ceremony & a grassy meadow for a picnic afterwards, there is a lot to love about Craggy Gardens!
Pisgah National Forest – Mountains
Mountain locations in Pisgah National Forest are very popular, leading to crowded parking lots at times, but with a little planning it’s worth it for your Asheville elopement or intimate wedding! There are truly places for 360 degree unobstructed views of the mountains, and the elevation is perfect during a hot summer in the valley below.
So much variety is available to you. Grassy mountain meadows with wide open views, rhododendron lined trails, quiet woods where you can hear a pin drop – all with a high altitude alpine feel.
Pisgah can work well (with smart carpooling because of limited parking) for a small number of guests – our recommendation is to stay below 10. The National Forest infrastructure wasn’t put in place to accommodate large groups, so we need to be sensitive to other hikers visiting the trails. Read more about our tips to elope in one of the most popular places in Pisgah here: Planning your Black Balsam Knob Wedding.
Nantahala National Forest – Mountains
Located further southwest of Asheville, Nantahala might not have the epic high elevations like Pisgah – but in return you have an opportunity to find places that are under less pressure from tourists. Especially if you’re willing to hike there are great views to experience!
Accessible Mountain Overlooks for Asheville Elopements
While these might not technically be ADA compliant, here are two options if you or your guests are looking for the mountain experience with easiest access. We wish we would have known about these when we were looking for a location near Asheville that would work for our family!
Tanbark Ridge Overlook
About 15min NE of Asheville, NC
This overlook has a short & flat paved path to the very edge, just a few yards from parking. The best views are looking northeast towards the mountains rising from the valley below. This is also one of the few locations (mostly) open in the middle of winter. When the rest of the Parkway might be closed due to snow, if you’re planning a winter photo session this is a great option.
Winter at Tanbark Ridge Overlook, one of the few parkways locations (usually) open at that time of the year.
Glassmine Falls Overlook
About 50min NE of Asheville, NC just past the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center
Named for an observation point to view Glassmine Falls off in the distance in the east, there is a somewhat steep ramp up (but short). The path is mostly paved, but not exactly wheelchair friendly due to the rock breaks in the trail to divert runoff.
At the top, there is a little “cove” surrounded by a short rock wall. It’s hidden from view from the road and feels like your own private space!
Plan your perfect day with our Elopement Guide below!
We have even more awesome locations to share with you!
This is just a sampling of what’s available near Asheville for elopement locations. We have so many more we’d love to share with you, including all our “secret” spots you won’t find through researching online.
All of our couples receive access to our interactive, virtual map of every beautiful location in Western NC that we have cataloged from our adventures over the years. Why not reach out to us today and let’s start planning your epic elopement!
Highly Recommended – book a nearby rental property to your Asheville Elopement Location
For each elopement we plan for couples, location selection and choice of a rental property nearby go hand in hand. Here’s a few reasons why this is so important for your elopement:
- All the conveniences of home nearby. While it may be possible to day-trip to your Asheville elopement location for some, it is far easier (and less exhausting on your wedding day) to book a rental house as near as you can to your ceremony location for your day. This gives you a place to relax and take your time getting ready, with just a short drive to where you’ll be enjoying the rest of your day.
- Weather backup plan for weather. You’ve probably heard this from us already but it’s so important – having solid backup plans for weather or other circumstances is super important for elopements. We would all love to assume that warm sunshine will be on our side for an outside adventure, but that’s not always what happens. When you have a spacious cabin or house as a backup, you can rest easy knowing that if the spring rains, summer thunderstorms or fall tropical storms make their way through, you can be in the dry and still have a great day.
- Private reception in your own space. Some couples decide to drive to a restaurant in a nearby town for reception, but you might want to have a place all your own to celebrate in private. Take advantage of this opportunity and book a place with a fire pit outside, and enjoy all the feels of a campfire at the end of your day!
Choose the right season for your Asheville Elopement
We do love the seasons in the NC mountains. Wildflower blooms in Spring give us the first visual of a first touch of warmth. Hot summer afternoons make you want to splash around in a waterfall, and makes dawn elopements (to avoid crowds) enjoyable with mild temperatures early in the morning. Fall – what can we say other than gorgeous fire orange and reds in the landscape! Winter brings the real possibility of snow in the mountains too & seclusion from tourists.
When you’re thinking about eloping near Asheville, take a moment to set the calendar aside and imagine what season is best for you. Sometimes life boxes us in and we can’t make the calendar work for our ideal season (we totally understand!). But if you know what time of the year you love the most in the mountains, it makes it clearer what to do for your day when making plans.
For example, it you love the warmth of summer but need to pick a spring date, then an afternoon might be better for you for the temperatures later in the day. Or if you would rather elope in the cool of a fall day but life has you getting married in the summer, then dawn would probably be best to make your day enjoyable!
Backup Plans – Have more than one!
If 2020 has confirmed one thing for us, it’s the fact that backup plans are incredibly important for elopement planning. Roads might be shut down, weather surprises us (how many tropical storms did we have in 2020 anyway!), or a a bus full of tourists might show up at your planned overlook the day of your wedding. In case anything happens, as the saying goes, the best way to an awesome day is to “expect the unexpected.”
Practically speaking, if you have one overlook in mind for a wedding with your family, look for two more that would fit the bill if something happens. If you have a sunrise spot that you would love to hike to together, think about how much realistic space there is at the top in case you discover another couple (or couples!) had the same idea on your date.
When weather were to “happen” – consider where and when you would make the decision to change plans. Is there mobile service, or just down the road? What is the closest structure, building or shelter which could be used just in case?
Think about what the plan is if weather doesn’t cooperate at all. If you would decide to fall back to your airbnb – is there enough space inside for everyone? Is the space lighted well for photos? Is there a covered porch you could use?
Having a Plan A, B & C is key to making sure nothing stands in your way to having a great experience together.
Ready for an Elopement in Asheville?
Choosing the right location is only part of making your dream day a reality. From making sure we avoid the crowds, choosing the best light, or finding a great AirBnB or local farm to table restaurant to make your experience that much more memorable, we’re here to help! Check out our Blue Ridge Mountain Elopement Planning Guide for more info or our How to Elope Guide and to see all the ways we help you create your epic day!