What a beautiful Shenandoah National Park Wedding Venue! We loved capturing this beautiful fall elopement in the Virginia Mountains for Kristianne & Karl!
Kristianne + Karl
We heard from this awesome couple many months in advance of their wedding day and right away we fell in love with their vision for their day! They both loved “life outside” and wanted to create a wedding day that incorporated the beauty of the Virginia mountains, a ceremony with their family, and of course their dog Gracie!
Traditionally, some might think of a Shenandoah National Park Wedding Venue as a building, but there are so many incredible locations to choose from in the Park that are completely natural. Many overlooks are allowed by the park for weddings, not to mention the Appalachian Trail runs right through the park and there are many hiking opportunities to add any kind of adventure to your elopement in Shenandoah.
If you’re interested in eloping in the park, feel free to check out our Guide to Planning your Shenandoah National Park Elopement. This gives you a sneak peek into all the things we took care of to find the right match for locations and create an incredible day for these two!
Skyline Drive Overlooks – Shenandoah National Park Wedding Venue
Shenandoah only allows fall weddings in the morning, so we planned for their ceremony at a time that would be compatible with getting everyone to the location and be within the park regulations. This is a good move anyway during peak season, as traffic is usually fairly light in the morning. In the afternoons the line to get into the park extends out onto the main road for almost a mile!
The plan for the morning was to have everyone in place at the overlook and then Kristianne and her mother would arrive with dad driving them up. Choosing an overlook was a little tricky, because we needed a spot large enough for their group, and it needed to be accommodating to family members who could only walk a short bit. Of course it needed to be a beautiful location with a great view too!
We loved having the time before Kristianne arrived to capture so many cool family moments. Everyone was able to settle in and get ready, including rings on Gracie for the ceremony!
Wedding Ceremony in Shenandoah National Park
Pro tip: Have a family member on the lookout for the “car” so everyone will get a heads-up to be in position!
Once we saw that Kristianne had arrived, it was a whirlwind of emotion from there. Mark was in position to photograph her and dad just as they walked around the car – and then the look on Karl’s face was completely priceless. They didn’t have a first look, so this was the first time Karl had seen her in her wedding dress. We loved every moment of this as she “walked down the aisle!”
Gracie was so well-behaved – except for just once though! We are so attached to our own “fur baby” and it was so special to see Gracie along for their day.
There is a moment in every wedding that we all know – when the bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife. It’s the first kiss when everyone erupts in joy and applause – so many years have led up to this very moment! For Kristianne & Karl it was actually eleven years in the making. From when they first met working together at a restaurant, their relationship grew more and more to here and now. We could feel it in our hearts their love for each other, as we witnessed two best friends committing the rest of their lives together!
Celebrating with Family
We love intimate weddings with family! To us, elopements can be from a bride and groom creating their day apart from everything, to a couple who wants to incorporate their immediate family. It’s so special to see generations witnessing the sweet beginnings of a marriage, sharing that moment together. From nieces & nephews up to grandparents this is such a special time.
Before elopements we had spent a few years in the big traditional wedding “scene” and although there is a lot we don’t miss about those days, we do draw from the experience of photographing groups to make family photos as efficient as possible. Not that these folks needed any help though! Karl’s mom swiftly moved into action to help us gather everyone for each shot, which was not only helpful but incredibly fun too. Lots of great smiles together for this beautiful family!
Celebrating a Shenandoah National Park Wedding Together
After celebrating with family, we planned for everyone to head down the mountain to a nearby restaurant while we stayed for awhile. There was space reserved that was large enough for everyone to enjoy a reception afterwards, and in the meantime we continued the celebration with these two! (Two more pro-tips: Bring snacks along so you’re able to eat a little something after the ceremony before lunch. It’s amazing how all the butterflies keep the hunger away all morning and then it might suddenly hit you! Also let everyone know to order appetizers at the restaurant and relax, there’s no reason for them to wait and it takes the pressure off to show up in a hurry!)
Check out the photos to see one of the coolest champagne tricks we’d ever seen. Karl had used fishing line to tie a ribbon to to cork, and then they had practiced a few times to train Gracie to fetch the cork and bring it back. So much fun to capture her chasing it down!
Of course it was so much fun the first time, why not play fetch again!
With still plenty of champagne left, Karl showed off his great technique and make the most epic spray pattern ever!
This time was so cool to see the two of them experience. After the rush of the morning, the emotion of their ceremony together & popping the bubbly, it was so sweet to see them take a few minutes and enjoy the view together. Although we were still at the overlook and nearby Skyline drive, we were just below where there was just enough quiet to have time alone.
Appalachian Trail Overlook – Shenandoah National Park Wedding Venue
Before we drove down the mountain for their reception, we had one more gorgeous spot in mind for these two. The Appalachian Trail runs right through Shenandoah National Park, and there are places where you can conveniently access parts of the trail. In this case, we knew of a spot which was a very short walk from the road and had large rocky crags to enjoy the view. Like before, just a little ways off of the main road and we were pretty much all alone. Such an incredible view of Shenandoah Valley below!
Small Wedding Reception in Warrenton, Virginia
When you’re planning an elopement, it opens up so many possibilities for a reception afterwards. Instead of being locked in to large meeting halls or hotel banquet spaces, you can choose from any one of unique restaurants in the area! Most places can accommodate “large” groups and voila – you have a place for a reception and enjoy a celebratory meal at the same time!
Both of us grew up in Virginia and there is something special about seeing all the small towns and historic districts again. Old brick buildings repurposed as shops and restaurants, brick and cobblestone sidewalks – beautiful!
Of course, these two were all smiles heading to the restaurant. This day in October was right before the remnants of a tropical storm moved through, and we were so thankful we had an overcast day without any rain at all.
Inside, Kristianne’s Dad gave a heartfelt toast, and they enjoyed a beautiful custom cake created by Briana Moss of Last Minute Creations. Karl and Kristianne were so generous to us, before we left they packed up a slice for us to take home. Absolutely delicious!
As we look back on this day, we are so filled with gratitude for this amazing couple choosing us for their Shenandoah National Park Wedding.
Congratulations Kristianne & Karl!