Looking for more info on what an adventurous Foothills Parkway Wedding or Elopement looks like? Check out our Planning Guide for inspiration!
At StoryBright Films, we design & curate personalized wedding experiences that are meant to resonate with your “why” behind your wedding day. When you choose to elope with us, you’ll experience a customized journey that goes beyond just a singular moment; it’s about experiencing an unforgettable wedding day adventure.
We are looking after every last detail for you, working behind the scenes to make sure your day feels spontaneous and is the exact opposite of a rigid, cookie-cutter wedding. You can see how we craft personalized elopements in the story of Allison & Marcus’ adventurous day between the Foothills Parkway and other spots in the area. Their day transcended the ordinary wedding ceremony; it was an exhilarating mountain adventure, filled with intimate moments that beautifully captured their love for each other and exploring new places!
Allison & Marcus’ wedding day was exactly what they had hoped for when we first talked about their vision — just the right mix of adventure together and time with family, with the beautiful backdrop of the Foothills Parkway and the Smoky Mountains.
- We started their day with a morning first look amongst a beautiful fog in the mountains;
- Then we ventured off to a beautiful setting next to a stream for photos together;
- With the weather not cooperating for an outdoor ceremony, we pivoted to a backup plan for their ceremony at their vacation rental;
- And then we ended the day with a reception dinner there & a sparkler celebration too!
Allison & Marcus’ Foothills Parkway wedding adventure is a great example of the unique, personalized experiences 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 get married in the Gatlinburg area, everything looks 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 and bring family into town 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 a Foothills Parkway wedding and how we create a unique adventure for you…
Foothills Parkway Wedding & Elopement | An introduction
Part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Foothills Parkway is a great location for weddings and elopements! It’s known for big mountain views, easy to access overlooks, and convenience to Gatlinburg and Sevierville too … so you don’t have to drive far to experience it! The Foothills Parkway is more than just a series of beautiful spots; it captures the essence of the Smokies, while being apart from the main park boundaries — making it an ideal choice for couples who want the views of the mountains without all the crowds of the more popular park locations.
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 the a Foothills Parkway wedding could perfectly align with your wedding day vision. We’ll discuss its accessibility & the ease of experiencing mountain scenery that requires no hiking to get to! 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.
Foothills Parkway Wedding | Allison & Marcus
Their customized wedding day adventure
These two originally came to us with an idea of having their wedding up in the mountains, but they weren’t quite sure how to bring it all together. They’re no strangers to epic adventures, and they wanted their big day to reflect that spirit while still including their closest loved ones. From when we first spoke to them, we instantly knew what would be a great fit for their vision!
As we got into the Planning Questionnaire process, a few key things stood out, shaping the way we designed their day:
- Wedding venues felt so generic to them; they wanted something that felt customized and fun too, where they weren’t “locked in” to having their wedding at a venue;
- They both loved the mountains and water, so their day had to have that “adventure” aspect to it, like one of the many hikes they’ve been on;
- The vision for their ceremony had to be where a good number of guests could be present; and a place where they could have an intimate reception too.
- Throughout it all, the day needed to be planned (of course) but it needed to feel spontaneous too! That’s really one of our “behind the scenes” secrets — putting together all the fine details for you so we have just the right plan, but coordinating things throughout your day to make it feel like a seamless, fun adventure.
With these insights, we brought our depth of eloping in the mountains to show them various options for their big day. Together, we decided to create an amazing Foothills Parkway wedding experience that captured exactly what they had in mind. Here are the key things we covered as we put their day together!
First things first, they needed a big rental home to fit their wedding party and have a reception with all their guests. Finding an Airbnb or VRBO for over 25 people can be a challenge, but since we are hosts ourselves and have plenty of experience with airbnb wedding venues in Tennessee, we worked with the host to make it all happen!
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! We made sure their rental home could work for the ceremony just in case…
They also really wanted to be by a mountain creek by a unique bridge, so we made sure their plans kept their rental home, creek time, and great photo spots on the Foothills Parkway within a reasonable drive.
Of course, they needed vendors like catering, tables, chairs, and more 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 having an outdoor wedding in a place like the Foothills Parkway, where the weather can be unpredictable, is a whole different ballgame from a traditional 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 also worked for their guests. 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
You might be curious why, with popular wedding venues close by that frequently hosts couples’ photos here, Allison and Marcus didn’t simply reserve a date at a venue. Don’t get us wrong, there are many venues nearby that are undeniably stunning, but it raises a larger question we’d like to explore here — what truly fits with your vision for your day?
In our experience, couples who appreciate a pre-packaged approach and are accustomed to the traditional fast pace of a wedding day timeline may find a wedding venue to be a suitable choice. It offers a sense of convenience by offering a single location for both the ceremony and reception.
However, it’s essential not to make assumptions based solely on others’ choices. 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, moving from one “thing” to another without a moment for themselves? If you’re seeking a more personalized and unique experience, a traditional wedding venue may not be your ideal match. This perspective is precisely what led Allison and Marcus to us. While certain elements of their day retained a traditional touch, the way it all unfolded—especially the time we carved out for them to have alone time—embraced an unconventional approach. This is why we crafted their day without relying on a traditional wedding venue!
Starting the day | Foothills Parkway Wedding
Before their first look
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 all day … so even before their day, we set in motion plans for having their ceremony at a covered outdoor space at their rental home. While the two of them were totally on board with a ceremony in the rain, we had to take into account the perspective of the guests being in the elements as well.
So to compromise, we met up in the morning before most of the rain came through, to take them on a journey on the Foothills Parkway and next to a stream that they had been looking forward to as well.
Traveling separately before their first look, we met up with Allison at the cabin where she had been getting ready!
First look on the Foothills Parkway
While Allison and Marcus definitely wanted to celebrate their special day with their cherished friends and family, they also wanted to make time for some private moments. Prior to the ceremony where they exchanged vows in front of everyone, they wanted to have a first look alone and to experience a little adventure too. First we whisked them away to an overlook on the Foothills Parkway set apart from the road, where they could have a little privacy for their first look and enjoy some time together for photos too! Loved the look on his face when he first saw her!!
And yes, that’s our van in the background. It was the perfect place to hide Allison away before their first look, out of the rain!
Foothills Parkway Wedding | Enjoying an adventure together
These two loved the scenery of the Smokies, especially a landscape of lush green combined with mountain streams. We loved taking them to this spot!
Foothills Parkway Wedding | Ceremony
Shifting to backup plans for the wedding ceremony
Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, and that’s exactly why we had this beautiful vacation home as a backup. In fact, although we had originally intended on a ceremony at the overlook with closest family — at the end of the day we all agreed that this worked out so well. Marcus was able to spend time with mom who put on his boutonniere, and Allison shared a moment with dad before he walked her down the aisle. Under a covered backyard patio and out of the rain, these two shared a heartfelt ceremony committing themselves to each other before God.
Time together before the reception
We always love giving couples a little time and space right after the ceremony. While everyone went inside to set up the reception, we set these two apart to enjoy a moment together. There is no disputing their love and joy together!
Foothills Parkway Wedding | Reception
Gorgeous vacation rental in Sevierville for a Wedding Reception
After their reception was all set up, everyone enjoyed the amazing BBQ and then we did all the fun traditional things … cake cutting and toasts too!
Then a sparkler send off with the last light of the day!
Planning a Foothills Parkway Wedding or Elopement
There’s a lot that goes into creating the right plans for a Foothills Parkway wedding! Here are our top tips to think about:
- As with all public lands, the first place to start is checking on if you need a permit or not. The Foothills Parkway is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For a wedding on the park, expect to apply for a permit. However, because the permit situation is dynamic with regards to weddings and portrait photography (especially over the past couples of years) if you are researching on your own then we would definitely reach out to the rangers directly. If you’re working with us, we’ll manage these permit questions for you!
2. Reservations and Fees:
- There is no reservation system (at the time of this writing) for the Foothills Parkway. However, the park currently has a parking pass system in place (more info here: Great Smoky Mountains National Park | parking tags)
3. Accommodations and Facilities:
- Are there accommodations nearby? Yes! You’re in what some have called the vacation rental capital of the entire nation. There are cute cabins for two and massive vacation rentals that can house multiple families. We have a relationship with some great hosts in the area — reach out to us for recommendations!
- What about parking, restrooms, etc? For parking, see the fees section above about tags you’ll need to purchase to park on the Foothills Parkway. The only restrooms along the Parkway are at the Look Rock Picnic area, so plan accordingly!
4. Best Time for a Foothills Parkway Wedding:
- When is the best time / season / day of the week for a wedding here? It depends! Everyone loves the fall for colors but there won’t be much privacy on the weekend. The Foothills Parkway is at a lower elevation than much of the rest of the park, so as long as the road is open you have more options in the off season than at higher elevations. Some locations work best for sunset; others might not depending on the time of the year.
5. Other National Park Regulations:
- Are there any specific regulations we should be aware of? There is a lot of fine print you need to agree to when applying for a wedding permit in the park, so read thoroughly! Also, we follow a ‘leave no trace’ policy with all our elopements. This means no confetti or birdseed, and make sure that all decorations and waste are removed after the ceremony.
The main thing to remember here? Ask us for help! Every couple has their own story, and each wedding party has its unique needs and preferences. Instead of trying to copy an elopement you’ve seen online, focus on crafting a day that matches your sense of adventure, fulfills your desires, and considers the practical aspects that make it enjoyable for everyone.
With our extensive experience in planning elopements in stunning outdoor locations like the Foothills Parkway and beyond, we’re here to assist you at every stage of the planning process. Let us help you in creating a wedding day that’s as special and adventurous as your love story!
Foothills Parkway Wedding & Elopement Planning Guide | Nearby attractions and Activities
The Foothills Parkway can be a perfect spot for a ceremony or photos together on an adventurous wedding day, but did you know there is SO much more to see in the area?
Here’s even more info to enhance your experience when planning a Foothills Parkway Wedding:
- Scenic Drives:
- Foothills Parkway! Ok this is probably obvious but the Foothills Parkway is much more than just a spot to find an overlook, it’s a great drive to take in all the mountain views with plenty of scenic spots along the way. Especially as you’re driving the part from Wears Valley to Chilhowee, our favorite section! It’s a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
- Tail of the Dragon: Looking for a more thrilling drive? The nearby Tail of the Dragon features hundreds of curves (literally) flanked by the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a bucket list drive if you’re a car or motorcycle enthusiast!
- Nature and Hiking:
- Look Rock: An observation tower that’s the highest point on Chilhowee Mountain (and the entire Foothills Parkway), offering stunning views of Mt. LeConte, accessible via a short hike.
- Hiking Opportunities: There are no shortage of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including those near the Foothills Parkway. Pro tip: The park can get crowded in busy season, but if you find the right trail, it can feel like you’re all alone.
- Historic Sites:
- Historic Churches: Consider visiting historic buildings such as Palmer Chapel, Smokemont Baptist Church, or Cades Cove Churches for a touch of history and architecture. Some are available for weddings too!
- Nearby Attractions:
- Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge: Close to the Foothills Parkway, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention these major centers of attractions and fun. If you want to blend your outdoor elopement in nature with nearly endless tourist activities, then you’ll want to check out these towns!
- Chilhowee Lake and Recreation Area: Want the exact opposite of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge? Keep driving past the end of the Foothills Parkway, head through the back roads past Tellico Plains, and you’ll want to check out the Chilhowee Recreation Area. And while you’re headed that way, drive the Cherahola Skyway too! It’s a much lower traffic “version” of the Foothills Parkway (pro tip: there are great overlooks here for an elopement too!)
The area around Foothills Parkway has a myriad of options to create a fun day in the mountains. We’re here to help you plan the perfect day as we recommend cool places to explore and great places to stay in the area!
Ready to get started planning your Foothills Parkway Wedding or Elopement?
At StoryBright Films, we’re more than just photographers; we’re creators of extraordinary wedding experiences that are as unique as your love story. We’re here to help you create the perfect vision for your day, and transform it into a truly awe-inspiring reality, whether your wedding day takes place at Foothills Parkway or any other breathtaking mountain destination.
Our approach to weddings and elopements is highly personalized. We invest great care in every aspect of your day, from crafting a curated list of locations to designing the entire experience from start to finish. With our extensive planning expertise and seamless day-of coordination, you can fully unwind and enjoy a day that’s been tailored just for you.
Your love story is one-of-a-kind, and our goal is to craft a wedding day for you that reflects that uniqueness. Whether it’s exchanging vows with the stunning backdrop of Foothills Parkway, sharing a private moment by the river, or hosting an intimate reception at a nearby vacation rental, (or an entirely different vision) we’re here to make your dream day a reality.
If you’re considering a Foothills Parkway wedding but aren’t sure where to start, reach out to us at StoryBright Films. We’re here to guide you in planning a wedding experience tailored to your preferences. Contact us, and let’s begin creating your epic adventure in the mountains!
🙏💕 Mark & Carolyn