December 22, 2020

Spring Backpacking Elopement in the NC Mountains

Have you been considering a backpacking elopement as the perfect way to celebrate your marriage? Caralynn and Derek’s story is the perfect inspiration for you! They originally had a totally different location and timeline planned for their elopement day. But then, alas, COVID happened closing their original trail pick and inspiring them to backpack instead of just hike. Thankfully Plan B turned out to be even better than Plan A!

Here’s their story:

The Adventure In

Since the road was closed to their previous chosen location, we had to pull together a new timeline to a new location. The new hike was a bit farther to hike to then option A was. Because of that, mentioned that they could camp at the top if they wanted to. Thankfully they were down for the adventure. By the next morning I got a text saying they were in! They had cancelled their rental and were so excited to get to use their new camping gear!

We spent the entire afternoon hiking, taking snack breaks, wading in streams, and eventually ended up on the mountaintop to set up camp and celebrate. Caralynn brought along her instant camera to snap some shots throughout the day. I loved that they had some sweet and simple photos immediately to enjoy.

Evening celebration

The weather cleared up perfectly for a gorgeous sunset and a perfect spot all to ourselves. They shared their vows as the warm light glowed and had a first dance under the open sky. They put a few special items in a time capsule box, we popped some champagne (made sure to keep that cork!), and they lit a candle to memorialize their loved ones who couldn’t be there with them.

Once the stars came out we took a few cool night photos and said our goodbyes. Then I left them to make dinner and sleep under the stars. What a way to spend their first night as a married couple!

Watch their Backpacking Elopement Film

Backpacking Elopement Package Details:
– Half Day Experience
-6 Hours of coverage (4 PM to 10 PM)
-A strong focus on video, with a few photos along the way

Looking back now, we could have easily filled a full day of coverage. This would allow for time to swim a bit more, explore a few waterfalls, and make dinner together before the sunset. But, it was still an incredible 6 hour celebration!

I’ve listed their package details below with bits and pieces of their real timeline. This shows you the real behind the scenes of a backpacking elopement day!

Caralynn + Derek’s Backpacking Elopement Timeline


Pack up gear and begin hike (3.5 miles) – explore waterfalls and scenery along the way and enjoy the journey! I’ll take some footage/photos as we go

I love taking a “beginning of the journey” photo for the couple right when we start the hike to memorialize that moment and get everyone comfortable with the camera! It’s a sweet and simple ice breaker.

This trail that we chose for their backpacking elopement in NC is a really beautiful trail with lots of diverse landscape along the way – one of my favorites!
It allowed us to really enjoy all the different natural areas NC has to offer in a short period of time.

“you don’t have to hike up to your location in your wedding clothes!”

I also wanted to note here that you don’t have to hike up to your location in your wedding clothes! I’ve had lots of couples ask me about hiking and how they work around getting sweaty. You don’t have to wear your nice clothes on the journey, and we also take it slow and steady so you aren’t working really hard for the climb. I’ve got lots of weight in my backpack (it’s full of camera gear and other things!) so we are never in a rush for elopement hikes.

These two were total troopers! This was one of their first backpacking trips and they were tired by the time we made it to the top, but getting to see the view gave them a RUSH of energy. The were so excited with how beautiful it was!

6:30 PM – Arrive at Mountain Top
Set up your tent (if there isn’t a spot, which I imagine there will be, we can find another area and adjust the timeline)

7:00 PM – Detail Shots
(clothing hanging, handwritten vows, flowers, etc.)

Get ready together somewhere at the top that’s pretty and private

They both went barefooted throughout the rest of the evening since there was lush grass and smooth rock below our feet. Getting ready was a really sweet and simple moment of joy for the two of them (and what a view, right?!)

7:30 PM – “ceremony time”
Trade rings
read personal vows

7:45 PM – Some alone time after vows

When I do photo + video package, I record a couples full vows in video form so they can re-live that special moment in the most realistic way. I use their vows in their film (if they want) and give them a full separate recording to enjoy on it’s own. This means I don’t have any photos of the exact vow moments, but I truly believe it is better to re-live through video anyway!

8:30 PM – Sunset on the mountain top

first dance
Hot tip: download your first dance song onto your phone – you likely don’t have service in outdoor spaces, so if you want to make sure you’ve got your first dance song to play, you better have it downloaded onto your phone fully!

8:00 PM – Pop Champagne

8:15 PM – Hang out/relax/take polaroids
Light candles to honor loved ones (need candles and a lighter!)
Eat cake

9:00 PM –  Star Photos once it gets dark enough

One of the best parts about a backpacking elopement is getting to see the stars! You’re camping overnight, so there is all the time to wait until it gets dark enough outside. it takes a while for the stars to come out even once the sun has gone down. Therefore, you have to take this into consideration to get star shots on an elopement day

Kathryn will hike back to car while ya’ll stay and enjoy!
Around 1.5 hour hike back

10:00 – Coverage Ends

Watch their film to fully experience the day below: