Imagine getting up well before dawn on a July morning to hike to the top of a rocky peak to say your vows together. Hiking, adventuring, and celebrating your love together – let us show you how to have it all at your Grayson Highlands Wedding!
Nestled between two of Virginia’s tallest mountains, Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers, sits Grayson Highlands State Park. With breathtaking views and scenic alpine-like peaks, this was the site of an incredible wedding experience. Can we tell you about John and Catherine?
When you think about eloping, do you envision early dawn light, wild horses, and pledging your vows as the horizon begins to light? With no stress and complete joy? An elopement where you don’t have to worry about the details?
John and Catherine’s Story | Grayson Highlands Wedding
John and Catherine are adventure lovers, a couple from Florida who enjoy hiking and exploring new places. They called us, Mark and Carolyn, in early 2021 to ask if we could photograph their wedding. This was the height of the pandemic, but they wanted to get married in the mountains.
Unfortunately, our schedule was mostly booked, but an idea formed as we talked with them. Would they be interested in a dawn Grayson Highlands elopement in the Virginia Mountains? We already had on our schedule visiting one of our favorite places, Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia, in mid-July.
John and Catherine initially wanted to get married somewhere in Western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As we chatted on a Zoom call, the plan took shape and we all got excited to have their ceremony on a Friday morning, for a Grayson Highlands Wedding just as the sun would rise.
Who is Storybright?
We are Mark and Carolyn, and we specialize in adventure elopement experiences. Elopements with us are far more than visiting a beautiful spot and shooting some photos. We are here to help you create an amazing & adventurous day without the stress of a big wedding. The best part of what we do is listening to your wedding day dreams and then making it all come true!
We are the people behind Storybright. We aren’t some big, faceless elopement “company” … we’re just a husband and wife who love creating carefree elopement experiences for couples in the places we’ve come to know and love. For over twenty years, we have hiked, camped, and explored the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains. We KNOW these mountains as our home. We specialize in planning your elopement down to every detail, and we are there with you the whole way to document your special day with photographs.
John and Catherine’s Grayson Highlands Elopement Day
We met John and Catherine at 4 am on that July Friday. The sky was dark, but the stars were bright and seemed to be present for their unforgettable day. The day would dawn clear and beautiful for their vows to one another.
Since it was so dark, we had donned headlamps to see clearly as we hiked to the peak Carolyn and I had scouted the day before. Both John and Catherine had backpacks with their chosen wedding attire, but they wore hiking apparel to make the trek.
Sunrise for a Grayson Highlands Wedding
As we rounded a turn, there was a whole field of wild ponies bedded down. In 1975, the U.S. Forest Service released wild ponies into the park, hoping to help control the overgrowth of brush in the bald.
To be greeted by the sight of these gorgeous ponies was an out-of-the-blue surprise. Since park-goers are encouraged to leave the ponies undisturbed, we rerouted to another trail. As we passed by raspberry and blueberry bushes, the four of us came to the site we had chosen for their ceremony.
The day before, Carolyn and I had scouted several areas looking for the perfect spot to give John and Catherine an amazing moment, at just the right angle for a summer sunrise. Just before the rocky peak, two small alcoves were ideal for them to change into their wedding clothes. We always try to locate two places nearby if you need to change into wedding attire.
How we create your day
Aside from photographing all the best moments of your elopement day, we help you plan out all the details – so all you have to do is just show up and enjoy. Our goal at Storybright is to craft the day of your dreams without the hustle and hurry of timelines. There is no pressure to stay on anyone’s schedule but your own.
We create an experience that allows you to live in the moment together on your special day–every nuance, every detail. We anticipate what you need to remember your wedding day forever!
Want to learn more about what we do? Check out our Elopement Packages for all that’s included in your adventurous, personalized wedding celebration.
At the Peak in the Park
Once John and Catherine changed into their wedding clothes (complete with heels for Catherine, which she ditched for bare feet after the vows!), we helped them to the summit for their first look. I can hardly describe the sight of them seeing one another for the first time!
Below them was the green valley and as the sun peeked over the horizon, the whole space transformed into the most fantastic vision. While John and Catherine were bathed in the soft orange light of the sunrise, they spoke their vows of committing to one another forever.
It was an emotional moment of love and commitment in one of their favorite places. To see the darkness of the forest and hiking trails slowly illuminate was breathtaking. As the sun came over the horizon, you could hear birds chirping and the horses gentle snuffles as they woke up. There was nothing but John and Catherine in unmatched nature. It was one of those moments you wish you could just freeze forever.
We’re not just any photographers
Elopements are a niche specialty all on their own in the world of weddings. We are not your ordinary wedding and photography vendor. Of course, you get high-res photos of your epic wedding day, but we capture the candid moments & unexpected joy of experiencing your own adventure. We know exactly how to balance capturing the beauty of being out in nature with the story of your wedding day. Telling your story in photo and video is our craft.
Along with planning your elopement vision, we will help you find an Airbnb nearby, provide resources to help you plan your elopement and flesh out the details, and put it all together in a timeline of your day so you can see exactly how it all comes together.
We will help you find the vendors you need such as hair and makeup artists, a local bakery for your celebratory cake, and other details that complete your day. From hiking to a waterfall and jumping in after the vows to playing pool at a craft beer spot, your day is filled with only what you want to do. If you want to have a small reception party at a local restaurant or tavern, we can make that happen!
The Hike Down
After the hike back down to the original meeting place, we treated John and Catherine to a breakfast and coffee reception after their Grayson Highlands Wedding. Carolyn and I had brought sausage, eggs, and cheese from a local farm to grill. Along with some toasty bagels too!
It was the perfect way to end a delightful but early morning. John and Catherine were beaming, and so were we!
Yes, we really think of everything
From our days of shooting traditional weddings (and our own wedding day too) we’ve noticed many things that go overlooked when it comes to the needs of the couple. One of those is that the bride and groom don’t have a chance to eat until the reception. And then they are visiting and chatting with the guests, so there is little chance to eat even in that setting.
Part of our planning service includes help organizing a meal for the bride and groom. This can look like a campsite breakfast of farm-fresh food with plenty of coffee, a yummy food and wine picnic from one of our trusted picnic vendors, or a dinner at a farm to table restaurant. In short, we take care of the planning and particulars for your whole wedding adventure experience – and we want you to be well fed and cared for the entire day!
Why Adventure Weddings are the Best
What is there not to love about adventure elopements? You get to combine an amazing experience in the beauty of nature with a one-of-a-kind day. The whole day goes at your pace and follows your vision for getting married.
Here are some reasons why we think outdoor weddings that reflect your love of outdoor experiences are the best choice:
- Getting married in the mountains is an unforgettable experience. It can be just the two of you in nature, or you may choose to bring along your closest family to make it an intimate wedding.
- Once you have pledged your love and said your vows, you can stay there to explore, hike, swim–whatever makes you happy!
- You will LOVE your photos. What could be better than epic mountains or waterfalls as your wedding day backdrop?
- The day is more intimate, which is what many couples are trending towards. After your elopement adventure, you can host a big party at home for your friends if you wish to, but the day itself is all about the two of you.
- There is no stress like what couples experience in planning a traditional wedding. We all the details and are with you every step of the way to ensure that everything is perfect for your special day.
We are convinced that adventure elopements are THE way to start your married life together. That’s why we are here to help you create those unforgettable moments and document the day for you to look back on for years to come. As you open up your wedding photo album, admire your photos printed on large canvas on the walls of your home, or watch your highlights video (for the millionth time!), you’ll always remember how perfect it was.
Ready to create your epic day? Contact us at Storybright, and let’s get started on your elopement vision! We are here to share with you our years of experience in the mountains and help you create the most amazing day – handling all the details and alongside you every step of the way. We are excited to hear from you!