Updated: May 24, 2020
When you make the intentional decision to break tradition and have an intimate wedding or elopement, the doors blow open with endless options on where you can spend the day and what scenery is around you as you exchange vows.
At first these options may really excite you, but then it starts to get a little intimidating. Maybe you and your partner are having a hard time deciding on the scenery you envision. Maybe the weather at the location of your dreams isn't ideal on the date you've chosen. Maybe you just don't know where to even begin.
Where To Begin:
The first thing y'all get to do together is just DREAM!
I recommend setting the tone by finding a calming and distraction free place where you can sit together and start dreaming with an open mind. At this point, don't worry about the logistics. This is a chance for you to really hone in on what would make the day most meaningful and authentic for y'all.
Close your eyes and just picture it. Don't think of it as your wedding day yet, just think of it as your ideal day together. Where are you waking up? What scenery is around you outside? What are you having for breakfast? What activities do you have planned for the day? How do you plan to celebrate at the end of the day? Who, if anyone else, is with you?
Now, imagine this is your wedding day. You are holding hands with your partner. You are looking into their eyes. Maybe you are laughing, maybe you are crying. As you start to exchange vows, where are you? What is the weather like? Look past your partner for just a moment, and what is the view?
Do this activity and don't hold back. You CAN have that perfect wedding day that you are envisioning.
Once you have a vision, it's time to turn that fuzzy picture in your head into a reality. A few things to consider that will help narrow down those location options:
1. The weather & scenery: Look back at the vision you created together. Once you have the answers to what kind of weather and scenery you envision, you can start narrowing down location options right away. Also want to note that it's okay if you and your partner disagree on the scenery. Maybe you envision waterfalls and your partner envisions mountain tops so you pick a location that allows you to have both.
2. Secluded or accessible: How important is seclusion to y'all? We could hop on the Appalachian Trail and find so many stunning secluded locations, but they may require more of a hike. More accessible locations *usually* mean you have a higher chance of running into other people. If seclusion is especially important while you exchange vows, but you're not up for a big hike, you could also consider booking a venue in or near one of these locations.
3. Just y'all or a few friends & family: If you want to include family and friends this could impact what location you choose. You will need to make sure the location is able to accommodate the number of people you want to include. A mountain side overlook may be great for the two of you, but not all of them would be able to accommodate 10+ people. Another thing to consider is how much hiking your family and friends will be able to do. Maybe it's really important that you're grandmother is there, but a hike just isn't possible for her.
How to make it Legal:
at this point your fuzzy picture should start look a little more real. One last thing you need to think about before you get set on a location, is how to make sure you are taking all the steps necessary to make it legal.
If you are reading this blog post there is a good chance that Tennessee is at the top of your list. In order to get married in Tennessee you will need to obtain a marriage licenses in Tennessee. *Here* you can learn more about the requirements and fill out an online marriage license application.
Depending on the specific location you choose, you will more than likely need to get a permit. *Here* you can find more information on permit requirements for Tennessee State Parks and *here* you can find more information on permit requirements for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Top 10 Tennessee Outdoor Elopement Locations
From Cades Cove, to the many forest, river and mountain hikes, you really can't go wrong with this location. Some of the most popular hikes include Charlies Bunion , Andrews Bald, and Chimney Tops. If you and your partner are avid hikers, this location may be ideal for you. You truly cannot beat the breathtakingly lush forests and mountain views. If you are set on a short hike, there are still several other activity options to fill up your day at this location.
This incredible State Park features the highest waterfall in the Eastern U.S. But this waterfall isn't the only breathtaking feature at this state park. You will also find beautiful gorges, streams, and a lush forests. If you and your partner are fans of hanging bridges, you may want to consider this incredible location. With 29,800 aches, there is plenty to explore.
Close to the North Carolina border, this location features beautiful 360 views of the rolling hills and mountains in East Tennessee. Hop on the Appalachian Trial, hike until you find the spot that just speaks to y'all, exchange vows and then share an intimate picnic dinner while the sun sets. You could make this an all day hiking adventure or keep the hike short and end the evening celebrating around the bonfire at your cabin.
The waterfalls featured at this incredible state park will have you feeling like you just stepped into another world. If you and your partner are fans of waterfalls, you will definitely want to consider this State Park.
5. Signal Mountain
There are several incredible hikes on Signal Mountain that could easily be done in a day with time to dance around a bonfire after the sun goes down. The image used in this blog features one of the overlooks on Signal Mountain. The hike is moderately strenuous, but short. This location is ideal for sunset ceremonies.
6. Snooper's Rock
This overlook features a beautiful winding view of a winding river and gorges. This location is great if you want to include a few close friends and family members. The hike is short, and the overlook is big enough to accommodate a handful of people. This location is ideal for sunrise ceremonies.
7. Ozone Falls
This is one of the many beautiful waterfalls in Tennessee. This location features a short hike and a breathtaking waterfall. Imagine having a summer wedding and exchanging vows behind a waterfall. Of all the incredible waterfalls in Tennessee, Ozone falls reminds me the most of the PNW.
This scenic parkway features several pull-offs with amazing views of the rolling hills throughout middle Tennessee. One the feature stops which would make the sweetest backdrop for you to exchange vows in Jackson Falls. With 48,000 aches there are endless hiking options including a 40 mile overnight hike.
If you are hoping to find something close to Nashville, this is a great option! The hike to the overlook is about 15 minutes and is fairly easy. The overlook features a beautiful view of the winding Harpeth river. This location is ideal for sunrise ceremonies. Here you will also find a small waterfall that could easily be hiked in the same morning. If you and your partner love canoeing this may be the perfect option for y'all!
If you envision exchanging vows in a beautiful cave, this might be a good option for y'all. There isn't a long hike, and there are several options for beautiful nearby reception venues if you are wanting to include several friends and family.
While this post features a few of my favorite locations, don't forget to consider your personal favorites! Maybe there is a certain waterfall or hike that is meaningful to y'all already. Maybe you have a family friend with an incredible farm or backyard. Whatever location you choose, it will be the most perfect day because it is the day that you marry the love of your life! Enjoy this season of planning!!
What location is at the top of your list?
Head *here* to start planning your unique adventure!