Interested in a Grandfather Mountain Elopement or Wedding? Here’s our top tips to have your big day in this amazing location!
Grandfather Mountain Elopement Wedding
Grandfather Mountain is a beautiful and iconic mountain located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This unique spot is known for rugged terrain, breathtaking views, a diverse array of plant and animal life, and quite the interesting history to becoming a North Carolina State Park!
Today, Grandfather Mountain can be thought of as two “parts” – the “attraction” side and the “state park” side. The former contains all the attractions like the Nature Museum, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, and a Scenic Drive past overlooks and picnic areas. The State Park side contains most of the hiking trails (including Profile View) and has a rugged personality more like that of hiking trails along the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.
How you choose to have your Grandfather Mountain Elopement or Wedding comes down to many different decisions! If you’re bringing guests and want a drive up overlook, then the western “attraction” side may be best for you. If you want to have an adventurous hike, then the trails on the eastern side might be a great match for your vision!
Below are some of our top tips for planning your wedding at Grandfather Mountain.
Top Planning tips | Grandfather Mountain Elopement Wedding
Which season is best?
Purely by the numbers, it seems “everyone” wants to elope in the fall, so one would think this is naturally the best time to elope at Grandfather Mountain, right? It’s true that fall is an amazing part of the year for the scenery. However there are pros/cons to each season – here is our take on each one!
- Spring: This is a great time to be at Grandfather Mountain if you want to have milder weather than winter but also want to be away from peak season tourist traffic. At elevation, you won’t see leaves on the trees (spring arrives late at high elevation) but with the views of the valleys below you will see the first of green as you look down from the mountain. Sometimes you’ll get a late season snow or cold snap so it’s important to be prepared with backup options should the mountain be closed towards the top.
- Summer: Our favorite time of the year to be in the mountains! While it may be hot down in the valley, it can be quite cool at the top of the mountain, since it is over 5000ft in elevation. However, we would avoid times towards mid-day for a ceremony or photography as the sun will be high overhead and cast unflattering shadows.
- Fall: Crisp mornings and mild afternoons, plus seeing the colors change make this one of the most enjoyable times of the year. Remember though – that’s what everyone else is thinking. It’s important to be realistic about expectations of privacy for a fall wedding. More about the pros/cons of a fall elopement below!
- Winter: In inclement weather the drive to the top of Grandfather Mountain will usually be closed. Ice on the trails can make them dangerous too. However, if you want to be in the area anyways for ski season, eloping at Grandfather in a winter wonderland can be epic!
Weekday or Weekend?
Our opinion – if you have the flexibility to have your elopement or wedding day during the week – go for it. The mountains have only gotten more popular in recent years, and planning your date away from a weekend is a great strategy to be away from peak tourist visitation.
If you want to elope in October
Be very careful with expectations for your wedding day if you choose October. Especially for an October weekend, you’ll need to be ok with the possibility of others being close by to your ceremony. It’s just a fact that October has tourists all over the mountains. Traffic can be heavy, so getting anywhere will take more time. Also – plan far ahead (like a year in advance) as lodging, vendors and everything you would need for your wedding will book up quickly for this peak season.
Hire the right help
Speaking of hiring vendors, the number one priority should be hiring a photographer that has experience in the outdoor setting of Grandfather Mountain, and who has worked with the park staff in the past. Planning a Grandfather mountain elopement or wedding is not like booking a traditional wedding venue. The park staff is very responsive as far as securing your date on their calendar – but all the remaining details will be entirely up to you. You will need an experienced advocate who can make sure everything is taken care of.
Deciding where to have your ceremony, what time of day, what you need to bring, how to work around other tourists … these are just some of the details to handle. This isn’t ideal for a bride and groom who have so many things to deal with for wedding planning, so it’s best to hire the right help you through the whole process.
Of course, handling all the planning and coordination details is what we specialize in, so please reach out to us and we would be happy to help!
Contact the Park about your plans
If you do end up choosing to DIY your wedding at Grandfather Mountain (although we would not recommend planning things on your own) you’ll need to contact the park staff and make sure you understand all the details for your wedding day there. Their policies change from time to time, and you don’t want to be caught by surprise with your plans.
For more info about the park, here are some useful links below:
Best Locations | Grandfather Mountain Elopement Wedding
Grandfather Mountain is like a smaller version of the Blue Ridge Parkway, only a short drive away – it has a handful of overlooks that work well for a small wedding. Most are western facing which are great for sunset, but there are also some that work best for morning. Especially in the busy season, mornings are best for the least amount of tourists around.
Mile-High Swinging Bridge
No visit to Grandfather mountain is complete without a visit to the iconic mile-high bridge. The views from here are in many directions and it’s an incredible spot for photos together! Our advice here though is not to use the area around the bridge for a ceremony as it is heavily visited. We would rather you have a more private spot elsewhere on the mountain for your vows and then come here for photos before or after.
If you are truly seeking an adventurous day, the trails at the peak of Grandfather will take you to views & away from the tourists that flock to the main parking lot at the top. Ladders and steep climbs await you but the payoff is huge!
Where to stay nearby
Grandfather Mountain is located near the popular mountain town destinations of Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, and more. There is a wide selection of large vacation homes to choose from in this area! The sweet spot for homes is usually 12-15 guests which dovetails well with the typical (max) group size we’d recommend for a Grandfather Mountain elopement or wedding. For our recommendations on where to stay in NC in general, check out our blog post Airbnb Wedding Venues in NC.
If you are looking to have a wedding for a larger group than about 15, we’d recommend looking at spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway which has locations which will permit up to 25.
Grandfather Mountain Elopement Wedding | Madeline & Ryan
Spending the day with these two high school sweethearts and their family is an experience we will always remember. We first met up at their beautiful Airbnb cabin near their ceremony location and felt so welcomed by everyone!
When we first spoke with these two almost exactly a year before their date, a number of themes emerged for both what they wanted – and what they didn’t want – from their day.
One story that came forward was how one of their close friends had a big wedding recently and was stressed about everything the whole time – not only through the entire planning stage but also on the day itself too.
Taking this observation to heart, these two decided that they wanted a day they could actually enjoy, and for the planning (and of course the big day!) to be carefree. Combining that with the fact that the area around Grandfather mountain was where they spent summer vacations, and we had the perfect formula for their dream elopement!
After getting ready, they read letters from each other – and then turned around for their first look. We loved how they were able to share this moment together, with tears of joy, in privacy.
Then off to their ceremony location with a little extra time for traffic just in case (because, October y’all!).
With the setting sun directly west, these best of friends made it official at Grandfather Mountain with their family looking on. And then what a golden hour we had as the sun set!
Before leaving the mountain, we ventured towards the top where they could experience the mile-high bridge alone, catching the last light over the horizon. Just minutes before, the summit was covered with people, and we are SO thankful for the park staff allowing us to stay just a little bit longer ❤️
Returning to their cabin for a reception with family, everyone celebrated with champagne and delicious cupcakes to end the day!
Madeline & Ryan, we are forever grateful that you chose us to capture this perfect wedding day! Your sweet love & the kindness of your entire family will be with us always. We are so happy to be a part of your journey together and wish you many years of adventure together!
Ready to plan your Grandfather Mountain Elopement or Wedding? We are here to help!
Even for a small, intimate wedding experience or an elopement for two, there are LOTS of details to handle for your big day. Why not take that stress off of your shoulders entirely? If you are ready to crate an amazing day in the mountains, reach out to us today. We would love to help!
Mark & Carolyn