May 16, 2022

The Best Places to Elope in NC

North Carolina is a beautiful state with a wide range of natural features to explore. But, in this post we are going to be focusing on the Western part of the state in the Mountains. Why? Because the Blue Ridge Mountains are a very special place and a wedding hub already! Plus, it is where I was born and raised, so I know the area better than anywhere else in the world! If you’re hoping to get married in the Piedmont or the Coastal parts of the state, keep on searching. But, if you’re wondering where in the mountains are the best places to elope in NC, you’re in the right place!

Asheville, NC

More and more couples are choosing the mountains for their destination wedding, with nearly 4,000 choosing the Asheville metro area for their ceremony in 2018 alone. Our temperate climate, stunning seasons, adorable small venues, and national parks make my home place one of the best places in the country to elope. Plus, the Asheville area is an easier destination for couples living in the East Coast’s big cities, and many couples find our amenities to be a little more affordable than some other popular elopement areas. With all these pros, the problem you’re facing may not be deciding whether or not elope in WNC, but where to elope in WNC. 

So many options

It’s a good problem to have! With 125 mountains packed into our little part of the state, there are literally hundreds of incredible views that could serve as backdrop for your big day, and all our small towns provide dozens of little venues that are great at adapting to different events. Not to brag, but I’m kind of an expert on the region (I’ve called it home my whole life, and my dad started taking me out on the trails when I was just a wee babe). These are my expert’s picks for where to elope in NC.

Tips for planning an outdoor elopement in NC

  • Keep your group for your ceremony SMALL (unless you rent a venue). Around 10 people or less is ideal.
  • Don’t book your rental/housing before you pick your location. This is a vast area of beautiful mountain views
  • Your ideal location might be in nearby states that neighbor NC – don’t discredit TN or GA
  • Be prepared to drive – it takes a while to get from place to place in the mountains
  • Accept and embrace all weather – it could be foggy, windy, rainy, or clear at any point in the year
  • Make sure you’re doing your research on permitting before you plan and have your elopement
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles with your elopement – we want to protect the land for future enjoyment.

Best places to elope in NC
For couples who love easy access views:

A couple is standing in their wedding clothes, hugging face to face on the Blue Ridge Parkway; one of the best places to elope in NC.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

 Here’s another name you might recognize! First, a lil’ history lesson: the parkway, which runs through Western North Carolina and Virginia, was begun in 1935 as one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Works Progress Administration projects. As a result, it’s been the most visited unit of the National Parks nearly every year since 1946. Therefore, you guessed it, its overlooks are not the most intimate location to wed. That being said, there are 200 overlooks to choose from, and each one offers beautiful, unique backdrops for a ceremony or just a pitstop.

Benefits of easy access

It may be busy, but planning your elopement for the parkway offers a lot of benefits, too! For one, it’s convenient: The road itself is easy to access, and it provides gateways to hundreds of hiking trails—popular and little known, long and short, hard and easy. The parkway spans 469 miles, which means it covers a lot of terrain with all sorts of different views and landscapes to explore.

What I love about the parkway is you can pull your car to the side of the road and find a beautiful trail to explore at every mile, each one offering totally different sights, sounds, and even smells. If you’re looking for options, the BRP is a great way to access lots of different views in one day. Plus, If you want to get away from the crowds, we can always plan a hike! There are many trails that start from the Parkways itself, allowing you to get off the road and into the woods.

Be sure to visit their Wedding Website for Wedding Permit Info


Some ceremony spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  • Buck Spring Gap
  • Craggy Gardens (Different from Craggy Pinnacle, which is not approved for ceremonies).
  • Chestoa View

    *I keep my favorite, “locals secret” spots off the internet to protect them from over population. Upon booking, all of my couples get full access to help finding the perfect location for them!
Two people are having an elopement ceremony in the winter at a rock overlook near the Blue Ridge Parkway; one of the best places to elope in NC.
A group of people are having an elopement ceremony at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway; one of the best places to elope in NC.

Best places to elope in NC
For those who love backcountry and water:

A couples stands in their wedding clothing facing each other with a summer mountain view and forest behind them.

Nantahala National Forest

 Now here’s a new one for you: Nantahala National Forest. “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word that means “land of the noon day sun,” and you’ll definitely feel the sun on this park’s mountains. This national forest lies about an hour and a half southwest of Asheville. Consequently, its 500,000 acres are way less popular than some of the national parks and forests that are closer to the city. That means it a great choice for couples looking to explore alone on their big day!

A Sacred Place

There’s just something sacred about Nantahala; here you’ll find 30,000 acres of old-growth forests, which means the trees have never been logged, and ancient trees like tulip poplars bring to mind some of the magical trees of the Pacific Northwest. Panthertown Valley has the breathtaking long range views and rushing waterfalls of Pisgah and the BRP without the crowds. You can wind through this forest’s hundreds of miles of trails for hours and hardly see another hiker, giving you and your future spouse the opportunity to just soak up all of nature’s glory.

Water Sport options

Nantahala National Forest is one of the best places to elope in NC for water lovers. The forest is dotted with picturesque lakes whose long, skinny fingers stretch into the woods. This is perfect for a quiet kayak or SUP session. Most of them are filled with crappie, sunfish, trout, and bass if you’re into fishing. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, the Nantahala River has eight miles of Class I and II rapids (and a three-foot waterfall Class III at the end). Rafting would be such a fun adventure for a part of your elopement!

Visit their Wedding Permit Website for more Info

Some special spots in Nantahala National Forest:

  • Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
  • Huckleberry Knob

    *I keep my favorite, “locals secret” spots off the internet to protect them from over population. Upon booking, all of my couples get full access to help finding the perfect location for them!
A couple hugs in their wedding clothes in front of a big waterfall in NC with their dog standing nearby.
A couple in wedding clothes is walking around an old growth tree during their elopement in NC; one of the best places to elope.

Best places to elope in NC
For couples who love privacy:

A small ceremony is happening in a flower farm in NC right before sunset with bright sunshine. The couple is standing with the officiant as the family sits and watches.

Local Venues, Farms, and Airbnbs.

 One of the best places to elope in NC for those that want to keep it low key might be a venue. I’m an outdoors girl at heart, and even I can see the attraction of some of our local venues! Many of these locations are great because they combine the beauty of the outdoors with the convenience of civilization. For instance, the Swag in Waynesville is both rustic and elegant. You can enjoy Smoky Mountain views and have a cozy place to stay with a delicious meal.

So many choices

There are a dozen stunning flower farms around the region, and many of them, like Lady Luck Flower Farm, are open to your elopement. Rather than hike to a destination, you can hold your ceremony in a sea of dahlias. In addition, you could make a reservation at one of the regions hundreds of sweet inns or Airbnbs, where nature is cultivated in big gardens and yards, but is no less beautiful because of it! In cities like Asheville you’ll find big Victorian B&Bs with beautiful lawns, or look at Airbnb for a cabin getaway deep in the woods. There are tons of options to be comfortable and connect to nature. I love getting out and exploring nature, but these small venues give you, your partner, and your party the ability to celebrate in privacy with easy access to other conveniences. They combine the best of both worlds!

Contact the venues to find more info on their pricing and packages

Some of my favorite elopement venues in Western NC:

A small gathering of people are having an elopement ceremony on a little garden spot in NC with the mountains and lake behind them.
A couple stands hugging in front of a beautiful wide river in their wedding clothes. They are smiling at each other and the bride is holding a bouquet.

Best places to elope in NC
For couples who love wildlife and history:

A couple is standing in their wedding clothes, hugging, looking out at the Blue Ridge mountain views, one of the best places to elope in NC.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 Way over to the west is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has lands in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Get this: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country! In 2018, 11.4 million visitors came through the park, more than Yosemite and the Grand Canyon combined. Like some of the other parks on my list, its popularity means the Smoky Mountains aren’t the best choice if you’re looking for solitude, but it does offer a lot of other cool perks.

Cataloochee Valley

The Cataloochee Valley is super unique in that it’s populated by elk! If you plan your elopement for dawn or dusk, it’s pretty likely you’ll see some of these supersized animals, which were reintroduced to the park in 2001 (just keep in mind it’s illegal to intentionally get within 50 yards!).

Cades Cove

You’ll also find lots of wildlife like white-tailed deer, turkeys, and even brown bear at Cades Cove, another valley in the park. In addition, before the park was established in the ‘30s, settlers built small towns here, and some of their historic, quaint buildings have been preserved. If you love vintage, history, and nature, you could combine them all with an elopement in one of these valleys! Great Smoky Mountains National Park has pre-designated areas for ceremonies, but if you apply early enough, you can request to hold your elopement somewhere special.

Visit their Wedding Permit Website for more Info

*I keep my favorite, “locals secret” spots off the internet to protect them from over population. Upon booking, all of my couples get full access to help finding the perfect location for them!

Best places to elope in NC
For couples who like to hike:

Two women in their elopement dresses stand with hiking backpacks on in a mossy forest looking at the view and the river in NC.

State Parks

 I’ve mentioned a lot of national parks and forests, but our state parks are a great option too! These destinations are smaller, but they still have those beautiful views and trails, plus some fun facilities if you want to do something a little different on your wedding day.

Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge. As a result, the trails in this park are long and pretty strenuous, given the elevation, but it’s worth it because they offer a heck of a view!

Mt. Mitchell

The summit of Mt. Mitchell, one of the country’s first state parks, is the highest east of the Mississippi. And oh boy does it have the views to prove it (on a rare clear day). The park’s observation deck is easily accessible. From there you can gasp over miles of spruce-fir forests and the long mountain range. This park has miles and miles of trails and camping, too! Similarly, this makes it a great option if you want to say your vows somewhere that’s all-natural rather than man made. But, you are going to have to work for it with some hardcore hiking.

Gorges

More backcountry adventure is available in Gorges State Park. It’s in Transylvania County—the land of the waterfalls!—so you’ll find lots of rivers, gorges, waterfalls, and rock walls here. It’s one of the state’s newest parks, so there are plenty of modern facilities, but it’s also extra adventurous when you get back on its long miles of trails.


Visit the state parks website to find the contact & info for wedding permits.

A couple is standing side by side but also face to face in clothes they eloped in on a mountain in NC. The fall colors are on the trees in the landscape and there are some cloud inversions.
A couple is hiking through a high grassy trail in their wedding clothes in NC; one of the best places to elope.

Best places to elope in NC
For couples who love it all:

A couple is standing in their wedding clothes, hugging, looking out at the view on Roan Mountain, one of the best places to elope in NC.

Pisgah National Forest

 Even if you’re not from around these parts, you’ve probably heard of Pisgah. This national forest is home to some of our most popular sights, including Black Balsam and Max Patch. Both of these sites are “balds”. This means their elevation is too high for deciduous trees and too low for coniferous trees, leaving the mountains bare except for grasses and wildflowers. These mountains’ natural landscape makes for spectacular panoramic views, which come at a price.

Both Max Patch and Black Balsam are almost always overrun with photoshoots, tourists, locals, and in the case of Max Patch, AT thru-hikers. Therefore, the National Forest service actually requests you don’t use these spots for your elopement anymore. They just aren’t a great location if you want a truly intimate elopement.

The Good news?

There are tons of other beautiful places to elope in Pisgah National Forest! The park covers 500,000 acres of protected lands. These lands include hundreds of waterfalls, icy swimming holes, soaring views, and deep, beautiful forests. It’s truly a mecca for outdoorsy folk and the perfect place to elope if you want to include a long hike or even a swim in your day! I’ve hiked and location scouted all over the park. I’ve even kept a detailed map of the miles I’ve logged! That way I can suggest some personalized places for you to celebrate and explore!

Visit their Wedding Permit Website for more info


Some other popular spots in Pisgah National Forest:

A wedding couple is kissing on a mountain right before sunrise in one of the best places to elope in NC.
A couple is standing in one of the best places to elope in NC, facing each other and embracing on a mountain trail surrounded by green bushes and trees.

Summary

Whether you consider yourself a true outdoors person or you just like pretty views, Western North Carolina is home to the perfect place for your elopement. I know that even when you narrow the list of options, choosing a destination for your ceremony can seem overwhelming! Therefore, my advice is to pinpoint the most important aspect of your experience—the location of the ceremony, the lodging, the food, or the activity you want to do —and make that decision first. Then make the rest of your decisions from there! If you want more personalized help with all of these decisions, that’s what I’m here for!

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