Looking for more info on what it looks like to elope in Tennessee? Check out our Planning Guide for inspiration & all the details!
At StoryBright Films, we’re all about creating personalized wedding experiences that truly resonate with the heart of your wedding day. When you decide to elope with us, you’re in for a one-of-a-kind journey that goes beyond just a single moment; it’s all about embarking on an unforgettable wedding day adventure.
We take care of every little detail behind the scenes, ensuring your day feels spontaneous and breaks free from the typical, cookie-cutter wedding experience. Take a look at M+T’s story, where you’ll see how we crafted their unique elopement in the beautiful Tennessee mountains. Their day was more than just a regular wedding ceremony; it turned into an exciting mountain adventure, full of intimate moments that perfectly captured their love for each other and their passion for exploring new places!
M+T’s wedding day was exactly what they had hoped for when we first talked about their vision — a day for just the two of them to experience their love for the outdoors, with the beautiful backdrop of the Tennessee mountains.
- We started their day at an Airbnb cabin for just the two of them to get ready;
- They had their first look in total privacy at the Airbnb;
- Then we ventured off for a hike to a mountain view;
- We explored multiple mountain balds and chose just the right spot for their ceremony;
- Then we finished the day celebrating with champagne and cake!
As we describe M+T’s Tennessee elopement, it’s a great example of the unique, personalized elopements we create at StoryBright Films. We LOVE creating experiences combining the beauty of the outdoors and your unique story!
Don’t just get married — go on an adventure!
If you’ve been looking around at ways to elope in the Tennessee mountains, everything can start to look the same. A ceremony somewhere in a nice setting, a handful of photos, and you’re done. Eloping with us is nothing like that!
This is your opportunity to go on an adventure that truly reflects the two of you, what you like to experience with each other, and to take in all the sights of the area too. With such a wide open blank canvas in front of you, it would be tragic to miss out on the opportunity. Said another way, why get all dressed up for a 30 minute ceremony? There is so much more y’all can have fun with while you’re here!
Read on to learn more about ways to elope in Tennessee and how we create a unique adventure for you…
Why Elope in Tennessee
The Tennessee mountains are a great location for weddings and elopements! With many places for big epic views and waterfalls too, there is no shortage of gorgeous spots.
You should know though … a beautiful view is just one thing to consider when looking for an outdoor wedding or elopement location. In this post, we’ll dig into how a decision to elope in Tennesssee could perfectly align with your wedding day vision. We’ll discuss locations that are easily accessible, and others that (if you’re up for a hike) offer more privacy. We’ll also dive into tips for nearby accommodations, local activities and more sights to see, and planning tips such as the best times to visit and permits too.
An Adventurous Day to Elope in Tennessee | M+T
Their personalized wedding day adventure
These two came to us with a simple idea: they wanted a day in the mountains with big epic, but they weren’t sure how to make it happen — much less where to go. They’re used to spending lots of time out “in the wild” and wanted their day to have that spirit, while also having “comforts of home” nearby to have a relaxing time outdoors. Right from our initial chat, we knew exactly what would work for them!
As we went through the Planning Questionnaire process, a few important things became clear, shaping how we planned their day:
- They were used to spending days outdoors camping and hiking in remote areas, so they wanted their day to have that kind of feeling;
- Due to work schedules their day had to be on a holiday weekend;
- At the same time they wanted the most privacy as possible. Of course, we know these mountains inside and out and knew just where all the secret access spots are!
- All along, the day had to be carefully organized, but it also had to maintain that spontaneous feeling! This is one of our little “behind-the-scenes” secrets; handling all the little details, so we have the perfect plan, while also keeping things coordinated throughout your day to give it that feeling of adventure.
With these insights, we brought our depth of eloping in the mountains to show them various options for their big day. As we worked through our planning process, it was clear that a decision to elope in Tennessee would capture exactly what they had in mind. Here are the key things we covered as we put their day together!
First things first, they needed the right rental home that would be nearby the hike we had planned. It needed to have space as a backup plan in case of weather too, and photograph well. Finding an Airbnb or VRBO for an elopement means considering far more details than just finding a place to stay, but since we are hosts ourselves and have plenty of experience with airbnb wedding venues in Tennessee, we know just what to recommend!
Now, about backup plans: We always make sure we’re ready for the dynamic weather in the mountains, and you’ll see how that came into play later on their day!
Of course, they needed vendors like a hair and make-up and a private chef to make their day complete. We tapped into our local network of service providers to assemble the perfect team for them.
Pro tip: We’ve said this before, but when you elope in Tennessee, especially in the mountains where the weather can be unpredictable, it is a whole different ballgame from a traditional wedding venue. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of! We carefully designed their day to minimize travel and handle potential issues (like avoiding crowds) to create an adventure that was perfect for them (as you’re reading ahead, would you think that this was over a holiday weekend? We avoided all the crowds because we knew just where to go). Our advice: Stay flexible and open-minded because there are plenty of ways to make a dreamy mountain wedding day!
Why they didn’t choose a traditional Wedding Venue
Many of our couples initially contemplate a grand wedding at a traditional venue, just like M+T did. So, you might wonder why they ultimately chose to elope, just the two of them. Let’s clear this up: while there are undeniably stunning venues in the Tennessee mountains, it prompts a broader question—what aligns best with your vision for your special day?
In our experience, couples who prefer a pre-structured approach and are accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a traditional wedding day timeline often find a wedding venue to be a convenient choice. It provides the ease of having a single location for both the ceremony and reception.
However, it’s crucial not to jump to conclusions solely based on others’ decisions. Here’s a piece of advice: attend a few weddings and observe how the bride and groom experience their day. Does it seem like they’re following a predetermined script, rushing from one event to another without a moment for themselves? If you’re after a more personalized and unique experience, a traditional wedding venue might not align with your needs. This is the perspective that led M+T to us. While their day retained some traditional elements, the way the plans came together—especially their hike up to a mountain top—embraced an unconventional approach. Hence, we crafted their day without relying on a traditional wedding venue!
Starting the day | Elope in Tennessee
Early on in the day (and actually the day before) we decided together to change up the timeline of their day. The weather was showing for a significant chance of rain in the midafternoon, and we had been planning on a sunset timing on the mountain top. To adjust for the weather we worked with their vendors to move everything up a bit! That’s another key component of planning that often people don’t think about — elopement friendly vendors. Typical wedding vendors are stuck to rigid schedules; but the vendors we work with are used to being flexible!
We met up at their Airbnb where we settled them in to separate rooms for getting ready before their first look:
While we were fairly certain the mountain location we had scouted out for them would be super private, we decided together to have their first look just outside the Airbnb. There’s a lot of practical reasons for this, but one thing in particular is that by this time, couples are usually dying to see each other! So we had their first look immediately after getting ready.
Love how they spontaneously danced after seeing each other. A sign of things to come!
Elope in Tennessee | Hiking to the Ceremony spot
After getting ready and their first look, we ventured off to their ceremony spot. It was a gorgeous hike through the first signs of spring, high in the mountains! With no one else around, it was such a treat to hear the birds around and not a sound of people or traffic to be heard.
Elope in Tennessee | Ceremony
A personal ceremony centered on faith in God
M+T are strongly grounded in their love for Jesus, and one thing they wanted to make sure was incorporated into their wedding ceremony was sharing communion. We made sure real wine and bread made their way safely up the mountain to their ceremony spot!
We did capture their ceremony on video and actually made an entire Highlights Film of their day so they could share with family and friends. But for privacy they’ve asked us to keep the video (and their names) undisclosed. But take it from us, they had some of the sweetest vows we’ve ever heard. They wrote the entire ceremony themselves, with only a small part for the officiant. Love what they came up with and it truly reflected their thoughtful nature and love for each other.
Exploring more of the mountain top
Remember how we mentioned earlier that your elopement day is far more than a quick 30 minute ceremony? This is a great example of what comes next, and we love building this part into the planning for our couples. When you’ve just said your vows, full of those “we just got married” feels, it’s time to celebrate! This looks different for everyone, but for these two it meant hiking up to the very top of the mountain and taking in all the views together!
Elope In Tennessee | Epic Mountain Views
As we were in the initial planning stages of their day, it was very clear that there was a song for these two that was THE song. It was what we needed to play for their first dance, without a doubt. So when we summited the mountain top, out came the bluetooth speaker and the dance moves!
And I know we keep saying this, but this was a holiday weekend y’all and we had the entire mountain to ourselves. This is the kind of scenery and privacy we’re able to find for you, because we’ve lived in these mountains for over 20 years!
Remember the rain we talked about coming in later in the afternoon? As if on cue, we could see the clouds and rain showers coming in from a far distance at this vantage point. We had time for one more big event—a champagne pop, and completely spontaneous … running through the open fields too!
Hiking back & One more tradition
M had made a beautiful cake for their wedding day, so it was one more tradition they wanted to include on their day after we hiked back! And when we realized how much she loves her truck, we had to grab a quick photo of them together in front of it!
How to Elope in Tennessee
How much does it cost to elope in Tennessee?
Whenever we’re shopping for something that’s new to us, there is always the question of “how much does it cost?” We completely understand that, and that’s why we’ve created this resource below for you to see the big picture of what it might cost to elope in Tennessee. Use this budget calculator to see how things add up in comparison to your budget:
We’ll say though that when you are wondering how much it costs to elope in Tennessee, you need to consider your aspirations for your day, and your needs and wants. Be careful assuming a dollar amount without doing the research on what would be a good fit for you. There are companies in the Smokies that will “get you married” for a few hundred bucks. That might be all you need, but before assuming that — take a look at what a more immersive experience might feel like for you!
Elope in Tennessee | Legal Requirements
Laws and public land policies are subject to change, but here is a quick run down of where things stand as of this writing (link to Sevier County as an example):
- You can usually expect the marriage license to cost around $100
- There is no waiting period, but the license must be used within 30 days & picked up in person
- You can pre-apply online before showing up in person
- Witnesses are not required
Public Land Permits
Most of the permit questions surround the Smokies, so here is a link to find out more info concerning the National Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park wedding permit.
As of this writing the permit situation is in flux with the park so we would definitely reach out to them directly; or if you’re working with us, just ask us! We know the local situation when it comes to permits in all the places we go to for elopements so you don’t have to.
When to Elope in Tennessee
As with a lot of things in life, the answer to this question is definitely “it depends!”
- Fall: It seems that everyone loves the fall for weddings. That’s with good reason because with the leaves changing, cool weather and sunsets that aren’t way past dinner—it’s an awesome time of the year to have the perfect weather and scenery too. But the mountains are always covered with tourists during peak season. October especially has the roads literally traffic jammed, especially on weekends. If you’re thinking about the fall, makes sure you talk with your elopement planner / photographer about what makes the most sense for you. Eloping just the two of you during the week? Can definitely be possible. Have a group of 25 and need a weekend? Need some out of the box thinking (like booking an Airbnb wedding venue in Tennessee)
- Spring: Our next favorite season vs. fall. While you don’t get the diversity of autumn color, you do get spring blooms everywhere, less traffic, and better availability of everything from a place to stay to vendors like officiants and hair and makeup. If you love the look of flowers on your day then spring might be your best choice?
- Summer: Conventional wisdom is to avoid summer. We’d say this highly depends on your plans. We’ve spoken to many couples who shifted their plans from spring to summer when they realized it was a better fit for their day! If you are going to elope in a lower elevation spot in Tennessee then we would avoid mid-summer because it can get so hot and humid. On the other hand a sunrise summer elopement is an amazing opportunity to start the morning with a cool breeze as the sun rises and then swim in a waterfall pool mid-day. And there are many high elevation spots in June/July that feel like spring and have blooms too. Again, it all depends!
- Winter: Again, conventional wisdom is people usually avoid winter. But don’t neglect this season! Winter means crisp cool air and short days which make for gorgeous sunset! No leaves on the trees means unobstructed mountain views that would be hidden the rest of the year. And far less tourists means more privacy for you.
The main thing to keep in mind? Reach out to us for assistance! Every couple has their unique story, and each wedding party brings its own set of preferences and needs. Instead of trying to replicate an elopement you’ve seen online, focus on designing a day that resonates with your adventurous spirit, fulfills your desires, and takes practical considerations into account to ensure everyone has a great time.
With our extensive experience in planning elopements in stunning outdoor locations like the Tennessee mountains and beyond, we’re here to support you through every step of the planning process, including helping you choose the ideal season and time of year. Let us help you create a wedding day that’s as special and adventurous as your love story!
Searching for the best place to elope in Tennessee?
As we’ve said before, every couple is different and has unique needs for their day. Honestly, simply listing out all the best places to elope in Tennessee would be a list too long, and oversimplifies what needs to be a personalized approach to planning. It’s not as easy as looking at a few photos of a place and deciding to get married there. Think about it – would you buy a car without test driving it? Some people do these days, but we’d rather not. It’s such a big decision, right!
Likewise, where you choose to elope in Tennessee is far more than browsing through a few photos and “adding to cart” then showing up on your wedding day. There are many factors to take into account! So instead, here is an overview of the kind of scenery you can find in the Tennessee mountains so you can get a feel for if it matches your wedding day vision!
Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There is a LOT to this area, but we would summarize it as having an awesome selection of vacation rental cabins, great selection of wedding vendors, and about an average selection of outdoor locations for an elopement. That seems a little odd to say, since the smokies are home to incredible mountain vistas; why would we say that?
A few reasons: The National Park is fairly strict on where ceremonies can happen and will only issue a permit for locations on the list; and all of these approved locations are basically roadside overlooks. This means if you want to hike in a little bit to a private spot in the woods, it’s not allowed. It also means (most) of the approved places will have you next to road noise. Not the most private or intimate!
On the other hand we have photographed elopements in the the area before and because it offers so much, we find ways to work within the regulations and still create just the right day for you. Take a look at the photos below and you’ll get an idea! We love combining a gorgeous Airbnb for a ceremony with photos at spots in the park.
The Smokies in the spring
Smokies in the fall
High Elevation Mountains
If you want the biggest, most epic views; the best spots are at the highest mountains! These can be tricky to access because of trailhead parking being so small, and a hike is involved. So often this works best with just a couple or with a few guests that can hike about a mile.
Where to Elope in Tennessee | Chattanooga area
The elopement locations in the Chattanooga area for us are a mixed bag. On one hand we love the city for all it offers. There is SO much to see and do, and the city itself just speaks to adventure. More info here! Things to do in Chattanooga.
It feels like there are mountains all around, the river has it’s own activities too, and don’t forget awesome destinations like the aquarium! Wineries, distilleries, breweries, and a vibrate restaurant scene make eloping in Chattanooga a rival to eloping in Asheville when it comes to comparing cities.
Scenery in the Chattanooga area is less like the smokies or the high elevation mountain spots we described previously. It’s more like a river gorge, and the overlooks tend to be developed (like Rock City Gardens) and fairly touristy. Most scenery has a valley view of development, so it doesn’t exactly feel “wild.” So as far as places to elope in Chattanooga, that’s something to consider!
However there are some hidden gems in the area that can make for the perfect pairing of an adventur-ish Chattanooga elopement and enjoying all that this amazing city has to offer. Here are a few photos below to give you an idea!
Elope in Tennessee | Finding the right Airbnb
No guide about eloping in Tennessee is complete without advice on a place to stay! Sometimes our couples choose to have their ceremony at the Airbnb for convenience and privacy (and then venture off for a hike for photos in the wild). Others choose to have there ceremony on top of a mountain or at a waterfall; and often (especially with guests) the Airbnb is used for a reception location. We’ve written a whole guide about this, check it out here! Airbnb wedding venues in Tennessee.
Ready to Elope in Tennessee?
At StoryBright Films, we’re more than just photographers; we’re creators of exceptional wedding experiences that are as unique as your love story. Our role is to assist you in crafting the perfect vision for your day and then bringing it to life, whether your wedding unfolds amidst the Tennessee mountains or another epic destination.
Our approach to weddings and elopements is highly personalized. We pay meticulous attention to every detail of your day, from carefully selecting locations to artfully designing the entire experience. With our extensive planning expertise and seamless day-of coordination, you can relax and immerse yourself in a day that’s been exclusively tailored for you.
Your love story is one-of-a-kind, and our aim is to design a wedding day reflects that fact. Whether it involves exchanging vows against the breathtaking backdrop of the Tennessee mountains, sharing an intimate moment by a river or waterfall, or hosting a private ceremony or reception at a charming Airbnb (or any other unique vision you have), we’re here to turn your dream day into reality.
If you’re contemplating eloping in Tennessee but feel uncertain about where to start, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at StoryBright Films. We’re here to guide you in planning a wedding experience that perfectly aligns with your preferences. Contact us, and let’s get started on creating your epic mountain adventure!
🙏💕 Mark & Carolyn