Looking for more info on what an adventurous Wayah Bald Wedding or Elopement looks like? Check out our Planning Guide for inspiration!
At StoryBright Films, we specialize in creating personalized wedding experiences that resonate with your unique story. When you elope with us, you’ll experience a carefully crafted day that feels transformational beyond just a single moment; it’s all about bringing your entire wedding vision to life in a memorable way!
Every detail matters to us, ensuring that your special day unfolds seamlessly with moments that you’ll treasure for a lifetime. Our personalized approach to elopements is beautifully demonstrated here in MacKenzie and JT’s Wayah Bald wedding. Their day was more than a cookie-cutter wedding ceremony; it was an adventurous excursion into the mountains, with intimate moments that perfectly captured their love and shared passion for exploring new places!
MacKenzie & JT’s wedding day was everything they had hoped for when we first discussed their plans — a perfect mix of adventure and personal connection, set against the stunning backdrop of Wayah Bald.
- We started their day at a spacious rental cabin, big enough to accommodate their entire wedding party & for everyone to have a chill “hang-out” kind of atmosphere. This is one of the secrets of how we design elopements — to pair your experience with a gorgeous Airbnb or VRBO! Especially with a larger group, this setting allows for intimate moments of getting ready and anticipation, shared with close family and friends.
- Then just for the two of them … a memorable and emotional first look & vow exchange at a private waterfall (one of our many locals secrets in the area!)
- Venturing to an epic mountain overlook at high elevation for there ceremony, they escaped the summer heat and embraced the cooler mountain air and panoramic views. Can’t beat these long range views y’all!!
- They chose to have their intimate reception back at their charming rental home, a decision that beautifully balanced personal touch with comfort and accessibility for their guests. Everyone enjoyed delicious BBQ from a local spot, first dances, and a sparkler exit too!
MacKenzie and JT’s wedding at Wayah Bald is a great example of the unique, personalized experiences we create at StoryBright Films. We LOVE creating experiences where each moment is intertwined with nature’s beauty and your unique story!
Wayah Bald Wedding & Elopement | An introduction
Hidden away in the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina, Wayah Bald is a gorgeous spot for weddings and elopements! It is most known for the panoramic mountain views & the iconic stone tower … but there is so much more to this spot and to the area too! We love how Wayah Bald is a storybook setting, combining a mountain top with an ideal spot to frame your wedding ceremony. It’s not anything like a traditional wedding venue though … so just keep in mind that it’s best for couples seeking a wedding day that combines romance with the thrill of adventure.
Great views are nice, but a great elopement location requires more than just a beautiful backdrop. In this post, we’ll talk about how Wayah Bald could be a great match for your wedding or elopement, along with pros/cons of the location too. From its easy access and the paved walk to the tower, to the big mountain views, Wayah Bald is not just scenic but also accommodating for couples who want to elope with a few guests along. Additionally, we’ll cover thoughts on nearby accommodations, activities in the area, and planning tips like when to visit and logistics of visiting this remote place too!
Wayah Bald Wedding | MacKenzie + Jt
Personalized Adventure crafted just for them
These two first came to us with a vision of their day in the mountains, but unsure exactly what it would look like (or how to make it all happen). No strangers to epic travels together, they wanted an adventurous feel to their day while including their closest loved ones too. When we first talked, we knew exactly what would be a good match for them!
As we began the Planning Questionnaire process with them, these key points emerged, shaping our approach to designing their day:
- Tired of shopping for big wedding venues, the whole process of planning a big wedding, and agonizing over a huge guest list … they wanted to focus on each other and those closest to them, to have an intimate and meaningful experience away from the crowds.
- Travel and adventure BIG for these two, so a destination wedding (they came to us from the midwest!) was an exciting opportunity to combine their wedding plans with the excitement of exploring a new place!
- The vision for their ceremony involved majestic mountains and the serenity of water too … ideas that drew them to somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Definitely needed to make space for spontaneity too! They even told us that they sometimes start dancing without any notice, it’s so natural for them. So we wanted to design a day where they could have the time to just “be” with each other and enjoy the moment!
With these insights, we collaborated with them using our years of experience in the mountains to show them LOTS of options that could work for their day. We landed on designing a Wayah Bald wedding experience that captured the essence of what they envisioned. Here are some key points that we landed on as we crafted their day!
First, they needed a BIG rental home to accommodate their wedding party to have a reception with guests at the end of the day too. It can be a challenge to find an Airbnb or VRBO that will allow 25+ people on-site, but as hosts ourselves we “know” the space and worked with the host to make sure everything went smoothly!
They also wanted to experience a waterfall in private, so we made sure the plans for the day kept both their rental home, a waterfall and Wayah Bald within a reasonable drive.
Of course they also needed vendors like hair and make-up, catering and others to help complete their day so we pulled from our local network of service providers to build just the right team for them!
Pro tip: We’ve said this before but having an outdoor wedding in a remote and dynamic location for weather (like Wayah Bald) is nothing like getting married at a traditional venue. There are some compromises (like driving distance to the ceremony spot, planning restroom stops, and finding a reception space). We carefully planned their day to minimize these compromises and create an experience that matched their desire for adventure and the needs of their guests too. Our advice: be flexible and open minded as there are lots of ways to create a dreamy day in the mountains!
Why we didn’t go to a wedding venue
You might be wondering, with a popular wedding venue nearby that uses this spot for couples photos, why didn’t these two just book a date at the venue? Don’t get us wrong, that venue is a gorgeous spot, but it really speaks to a larger question that we thought we’d touch on here … which better suits your needs?
From our experience, couples who want their day to be more pre-packaged and straightforward about what they get, and are accustomed to the “pace” of a typical wedding day are a good match for a venue. It offers a way to choose one place for your wedding ceremony and reception.
However we would be very careful making that assumption for yourself! A piece of advice: attend a few weddings and observe what they are going through as a bride and a groom. Does it seem like the same “canned” timeline that everyone else has to go through? Does it seem like the bride and the groom are shuttled through events of the day without time for themselves? If you’re craving something different, that feels more personalized, maybe a traditional wedding venue isn’t your thing. That’s the perspective that MacKenzie and Jt came to us with. Sure, there were elements of their day that had a traditional flair, but the way it all came together (especially the time we made for them to be together on top of the mountain) were decidedly un-traditional. This is why we designed their day without a traditional wedding venue!
Starting the day | Wayah Bald Wedding
Time together and with friends
To things were super clear to us about these two as we started into planning their elopement together — they loved being around each other non-step (their friends called them “inseparable”) and they loved being around their friends and family too. That’s why we landed on finding them a big rental home where everyone could hang out together to start their day!
Getting ready for their day
This was the only part of their day where they were separate — before their first look. This was also when they finished writing their vows to each other too. We kept the girls and guys on different floors so there was no peeking!
First look & private vows at a waterfall
While these two definitely wanted this day to be celebratory with their loved ones, they also wanted private time too. Before their ceremony in front of everyone, they wanted time to share vows and have a moment to be with each other for their first look too. We took them to this nearby waterfall which was perfect for them!
Wayah Bald Wedding | Ceremony
Big mountain views for a wedding ceremony
The views up here are so epic, and on a clear day you literally can see for miles on end. Here we met up with the rest of their guests and they shared in a heartfelt and emotional ceremony (just look at dad giving her away!) — on top of a mountain — which was exactly what they had been dreaming about! Even though it was the middle of the summer, being at high elevation it was definitely cooler than in the valleys below.
Time together to dance
We’ll be honest y’all, this is one of our favorite times of the day for every single elopement. Right after your ceremony is where we love to “build in time” for you to just hang around a bit on the mountain. It’s time to enjoy those “we just got married” feels & take in all the scenery!
Here we literally just stood back and let these two be themselves. A little dancing, and a whole lot of laughing too! We hid inside the tower as a short rainstorm passed, and then headed back down the mountain to meet everyone for the reception.
Wayah Bald Wedding | Reception
Returning to their spacious rental home with a beautiful backyard (perfect for a reception!) we set up everyone for a grand entrance with bubbles, they shared a first dance … and then everyone dug into the BBQ! There were lots of stories to be shared so during dinner there were toasts (and roasts) too. A perfect setting for an intimate reception!
Then to finish off the perfect day, everyone gathered together for a sparkler send off!
Planning a Wayah Bald Wedding or Elopement
There’s a lot that goes into creating the right plans for your wedding day at Wayah Bald! 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. Wayah Bald is located in Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. Because the permit situation is dynamic with regards to weddings (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 or parking fee (at the time of this writing) for Wayah Bald. However, that also means that anyone could show up at anytime for a wedding ceremony. That means in peak season it’s important to plan ahead for others that might be present. Weekends will be busy, so plan accordingly, or choose a weekday!
3. Accommodations and Facilities:
- Are there accommodations nearby? Wayah Bald is well off the main roads in the area and is about 1hr from Franklin, NC. So we wouldn’t call it near to anything really, but it’s worth it! The best selection of vacation rentals are in and around Franklin, NC. The road to Wayah is a steep and curvy mountain road so plan extra time to drive if you’re not used to this kind of driving.
- What about parking, restrooms, etc? There is a moderate size parking area (at least in comparison to typical trailheads we go to in the area). But it’s not going to accommodate situations of 20+ people driving up in their own cars. To respect the space, wear and tear on the gravel road, and to allow for others to visit too, always carpool please!
4. Best Time for a Wayah Bald 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. Plus this is a high elevation spot in NC so don’t follow the typical “leaf foliage” calculators or you’ll show up too late for color. This isn’t a great sunset spot because of the direction it faces (depending on the time of the year) so morning is usually best.
5. Other National Forest Regulations:
- Are there any specific regulations we should be aware of? 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 key takeaway from all this? Reach out to us for personalized planning assistance! Every couple’s story is unique, as are the needs and preferences of each wedding party. Please, don’t just try to replicate an elopement you’ve seen online. Instead, focus on creating a day that aligns with your sense of adventure, desires for your day, and takes into account practicalities that make it comfortable and enjoyable for everyone involved.
With our extensive experience in designing elopements in epic outdoor locations like Wayah Bald and beyond, we’re here to support you every step of the way in this planning process. Let us be part of your journey in crafting a wedding day that’s as unique and adventurous as your love story!
Wayah Bald Wedding & Elopement Planning Guide | Nearby attractions and Activities
Wayah Bald is the perfect spot for a ceremony, but did you know there is SO much more to see in the area! For example, just nearby is this hike amongst mountain streams to another mountain top … where you can see the Wayah tower on a clear day..
Here’s even more info to round out your experience when you plan a Wayah Bald Wedding:
1. Hiking Trails
- The Appalachian Trail and Bartram trail are just a few ways to explore this area!
2. Waterfall adventures:
- There are a few waterfalls nearby and also many more towards Highlands, NC too! Some are easy to access by the road, and others need a hike (which is great for more privacy). Ask us about the best ones!
3. More scenic overlooks and drives:
- With the Blue Ridge Parkway and Cherohala Skyway nearby, these are great drives to see even more scenery!
4. Local towns:
- Don’t miss the unique spots of Franklin, NC and Highlands, NC! Also the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is close by via the gateway town of Bryson City which is a great visit too!
The area around Wayah Bald has a ton of options to choose from so you can rely on our experience to not only design the perfect wedding day for you but to also recommend places to see and where to stay in the area!
Wayah Bald Wedding | Adventure Elopement Highlights Video
Want to see what a multi-day adventure might look like around Wayah Bald? Check out this Highlights Video where we ventured off to a nearby hike, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the NC Arboretum too!
Ready to get started planning your Wayah Bald Wedding or Elopement?
At StoryBright Films, we’re more than just photographers; we create of extraordinary wedding experiences as unique as your love story. Our commitment is to turn your vision into an awe-inspiring reality, ensuring that your wedding day (whether at Wayah Bald or another epic spot in the mountains) is an unforgettable adventure.
Our approach to weddings and elopements is highly personalized. We pay meticulous attention to every detail of your day, from curating a list of locations for your day to incorporating experiences in the surrounding area. With our comprehensive planning expertise and seamless day-of coordination, you can relax and enjoy a day meticulously tailored just for you.
Your love story is one-of-a-kind, and our mission is to assist you in crafting a day that authentically tells your story. Whether it’s exchanging vows overlooking the stunning vistas of Wayah Bald, sharing a private moment in a tranquil setting near a private waterfall, or hosting an intimate reception at a nearby Airbnb; our goal is for your wedding to eloquently mirror your unique journey together.
Have you been envisioning a Wayah Bald wedding but aren’t sure where to begin? Reach out to StoryBright Films today for a consultation with us! We’re here to guide you in planning the ideal wedding experience, customized to your desires. Contact us now, and let’s make your dream day a reality!
🙏💕 Mark & Carolyn