This isn’t the traditional landscape you see when researching ideas for your smoky mountain elopement, but it matters. That thick rolling fog is actually what gave the Smokies their name (and of course inspired ours too). More importantly, you may end up with fog as your view – which is STILL beautiful! Rapidly changing weather conditions are only one thing to think about when it comes to a mountain elopement.
Planning an elopement in the mountains of North Carolina might sound super simple. Get the clothes, the rings, the officiant, pick a mountaintop and say “I do,” right? Not quite. There are a few more things you need to consider to stay safe and legal. Here are some tips (and must-dos) before your big day!
- Permits: If you want to have your elopement anywhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway (or many other places in the Great Smoky Mountains), there is a 99.9% chance you need a permit. Please don’t skip this step. If you have questions you can always ask us, or contact the NPS!
- Dates: Depending on where you choose to say your vows, you may need to pay attention to date restrictions – federal holidays, the entire month of October – be careful when selecting your date!
- Privacy: If you choose these beautiful public lands to get married, you need to understand that you aren’t granted the same privacy as if you paid for a venue. You can’t block the area off or prevent people from passing by your celebration – onlookers may stop to watch!
- Weather: While we love a good rainy wedding, the weather in the mountains can change in minutes. You aren’t going to have a tent to run under in the case of a downpour, or a heated space to run in when the wind kicks up in the winter. Additionally, snow and ice can greatly impact accessibility in the winter months, so keep this in mind!
- Location: There are at least 17 (very popular) spots just on the parkway for which permits are not issued. Some due to safety, some due to traffic, and some because they have been ‘loved to death’ and the NPS wants to let those locations rehab. Please be mindful and refrain from illegally hosting your ceremony in prohibited locations.
- Traditions: There are a LOT of little things you may think are harmless that are actually dangerous to the local ecosystems or otherwise prohibited. Live or dried florals, throwing birdseed, candles, speakers, balloons, alcohol…BIG no-nos.
Want more info? Take a peek: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/wedding-permits.htm
LEAVE NO TRACE
That one is real big because as the popularity of elopements grows, so does the impact that we are having on our environment. A smoky mountain elopement seems incredible because it truly is – but there is an astounding increase in littering and otherwise disrespectful behavior from visitors that needs to stop. That’s the chief reason why ceremonies aren’t allowed at Craggy anymore, and why the parks want us to stay away from Black Balsam for awhile; people cannot follow rules. Taking care of these beautiful places is incredibly important – else eloping there is no longer an option.
Learn more here! https://lnt.org/
I hope this is helpful! I have grown up in these mountains, and think it’s incredibly irresponsible not to share information with others that want to appreciate and take part in the same beauty. It hurts to go on a hike or drive the parkway and see trash, graffiti, people with bluetooth speakers on the trails…this land is for everyone to appreciate, and if we don’t take better care of it we will lose that privilege. Do your part, stay legal and leave no trace!