Evergreen Era Film + Photo
It’s no wonder you want to have a Blue Ridge Parkway wedding!
I am an intimate wedding videographer and photographer who has shot countless weddings here. I love to help couples plan their special day amidst these beautiful mountains. After all, THIS PLACE IS MAGICAL
What is the
Blue Ridge Parkway?
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long and spans throughout Virginia and North Carolina. It links together with The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Shenandoah National Park. It creates a massive chain of beautiful mountain views and access to countless hiking trails.
Not only that, but it is an incredible place to have a small wedding or elopement.
Since getting married on the Parkway isn’t the easiest of tasks, I’ve compiled some really important tips. These tips will help you plan your own unique Blue Ridge Parkway wedding so that it flows as seamlessly as possible.
10 Tips for your
Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding
#1: Know what Locations are ACTUALLY on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Picking a location is one of the most special, and possibly most difficult, tasks for couples. I mean, where do you even begin, right?
If you haven’t been somewhere on the parkway already that you love and would like to get married, this is where your videographer/photographer should be able to help. There are so many spots along this 469-mile stretch that would be lovely for a wedding, but some are more crowded and popular than others and some are not available for wedding permits.
Finding someone who knows the area well and who can help you pick the perfect location is super helpful to have an intimate and legal experience.
The first thing to note when picking a location on the Blue Ridge Parkway is knowing what areas are a part of the Parkway System and which ones aren’t.
Popular places like Max Patch and Black Balsam are thought to be Blue Ridge Parkway locations, but in fact, they ARE NOT on Blue Ridge Parkway Land. They are actually on Pisgah National Forest Service Land, which is run by the National Forest Service, not the National Park Service. That means, if you apply for a permit through the Blue Ridge Parkway system for one of those locations, you will be wasting your time (and possibly your money) since they don’t have control over these areas.
#3: Pick a Date When the Roads won’t be Closed
Know that there are road closures throughout the year for different reasons. Construction and snow are the two major occurrences that can shut the parkway down. Sometimes you can get around these closures to certain locations with a different route, but sometimes you can’t.
Based on how often the parkway is closed in the winter, is to plan your wedding between April through September.
Construction road closures are random. However, a Ranger will be able to warn you of that future projects.
#3: Apply for a Permit in Advance
The NPS does not give out wedding permits on the Blue Ridge Parkway for the entire month of October. It is the busiest time of year on the parkway due to the fall colors. I wouldn’t get too bummed about this since the parkway is literally slammed with people during this time. It wouldn’t feel very personal or secluded for your wedding. October weddings might be best deep out in National Forest Land or on Private Land so you get more privacy.
The NPS also doesn’t give permits for Holidays or Holiday weekends. Be sure to pick a date that works under those regulations. I suggest applying for the permit at least 3 months in advance. That gives the Rangers plenty of time to get back to you. You can still try and apply for a permit closer to the wedding date. There is no guarantee they will get back to you in time though.
You can check out their information and access the permit form on their website HERE.
#4: Know That you are on Public Land and there Will be Other Visitors Present
One Important thing to realize when planning a wedding on public land is that there will be other people present.
For the most part, everyone is usually super respectful and quiet. Lots of people are even so excited to see a wedding outside on a mountain instead of in a church! But sometimes people and crowds can be a bit of an annoyance for some. Therefore, just acknowledging that the space isn’t reserved just for you is a good mindset to have.
We are all sharing and enjoying that space together. If you want a space that is more private, hiking deeper into the woods, finding a location with a lot of open space, or finding a small private venue might be your best options.
#5: Have a Back-Up Plan
Even with all of your planning and preparations, you never know what could happen to affect your elopement plans.
When planning a wedding outdoors, things can happen.
The weather in the mountains is super unpredictable. It can be beautifully sunny down in the valley and socked in with fog up on the Parkway. Having an open mind is always important when planning a wedding outdoors. Having a backup plan is necessary so that you have another option that you are still just as excited about.
#6: Find Alternative Floral Options
The Blue Ridge Parkway doesn’t allow live florals due to their protection of the land from invasive species, which is very important! If you still want to include florals in your day, there are lots of awesome options for non-live florals to choose from.
You can find many different Etsy vendors who make alternative floral options from silk flowers to paper flowers and even wooden flowers. They can still look really beautiful and classy if you pick the right one. Plus, they last forever so you can enjoy them for a lifetime and re-use them as decorations in your house.
Some couples might choose to skip the florals altogether.
Honestly, a live floral bouquet can get really heavy and inconvenient pretty quickly. The paper and silk bouquets are also lighter than live florals, but you might just want to be hands-free. I think having a floral wristlet or a floral crown is a great option if you still want florals involved but don’t want to carry around a big heavy bouquet.
For more ideas on different wedding flowers, check out my previous blog post.
#7: Keep it Small
Permits for Blue Ridge Parkway Weddings are only given for 25 people or less, but in my experience, finding a large enough space to easily accommodate even that many people can be difficult.
I think it can feel crowded even with around 10 people. Plus, there aren’t many locations that are easily accessible for family members that might have mobility issues, bathrooms are very limited, and shelter doesn’t really exist at all along the parkway if it were raining. With these factors in mind, I would enjoy the opportunity to have a “just us” elopement experience.
Still, want to include family? Keep it small and with only your closest family and friends.
If you want to have it all; time together just as a couple and time with family, have your ceremony on the Blue Ridge Parkway just the two of you, and celebrate with your family and friends somewhere else. You could even do a private vow or letter sharing on the parkway and have an official ceremony with family and friends somewhere else if the family wants to be involved in an actual ceremony.
#8: Expect Fog at Higher Elevations
The Blue Ridge Parkway is known for being moody and foggy, especially around Mount Mitchell.
Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain East of the Mississippi, therefore the clouds just like to sit atop its peak like a hat. Fog is just something that you just have to embrace when picking a mountain located in a temperate rainforest for your elopement.
If you get a clear day, you’re lucky, but the fog is just as beautiful in its own way.
I help all my couples mentally prepare to focus on each other more than the weather for their wedding day because joy and nature are all around you no matter what!
#9: Consider a Location Farther Away from Big Cities
As I mentioned in the intro, the Blue Ridge Parkway spans from NC all the way up into Virginia. That means that there are LOTS of locations for an elopement along that span of the roadway.
As you can imagine, lots of the most popular hikes are around the bigger cities, like Asheville NC. If you’re hoping to have a more private location, consider choosing a spot farther away from bigger cities.
#10: Hire a Photographer/Videographer who Knows the Area
Hiring a photographer or a videographer who knows the Blue Ridge Parkway really well, and has filmed or photographed weddings there before is going to be so helpful.
Because I grew up in Western NC and have spent my life exploring the mountains, I’m able to help couples pick ideal locations that are specifically fitting for their celebration and give them all the best local insight.
Best Places To Have
A Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding
(P.S. a lot of photographers’ websites or blog posts list locations in Western NC that aren’t actually a part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, so be sure you do your own research before following their advice, or just hire a local like me who knows her stuff! Knowing exactly what land management system a certain location resides under is imperative for permitting.)
I don’t share my favorite locals’ secret spots for weddings online, since I reserve them specifically for couples who book with me. So, if you want to access ALL the good stuff, reach out to me on my contact page.
Buck Spring Gap – South of Asheville, NC
Buck Spring Gap is an awesome option for an elopement or a small wedding with a few guests who can’t walk very far. There are a few places for a ceremony, and both are quite accessible from the large parking lot right nearby. The best thing about this location is that not only is it accessible, but it is tucked away enough from the road that you will get away from the loud road noise you would get at a typical overlook. This is super helpful for a videographer to capture your vows cleanly and clearly on audio.
There are a few areas to explore and hike around after your ceremony, including a really lovely view of the mountains. This spot is also super close to The Pisgah Inn & Mount Pisgah Campground. This means you have plenty of great options for a place to stay overnight directly in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Inn also has a super impressive dining room with a large wall of windows, allowing everyone, no matter where you are seated, to have an epic view.
Chestoa View – Near Linville, NC
Chestoa View is a beautiful little rock overlook that has a 180-degree view of the mountains overlooking the Linville Gorge – one of my favorite places in Western NC. This is a great ceremony location that is accessible, only requiring a short walk, but a little bit off of the main road to get a view and some privacy. It’s also close to a lot of other fun places to visit during your elopement day like Linville Falls and trails in the Gorge!
#3 Beacon Heights – South of Boone, NC
This hike is a short one at a distance of less than a mile round trip but does have a lot of steps involved. I love this trail because it gives you a great mix of forested areas and mountain views at the top. The view to the left at the top is not allowed for ceremonies, but you can have ceremonies at the viewpoint to the right. I like to recommend this location for ceremonies year-round because you can access it on foot easily even if the parkway is closed.
This spot is close to a college town, so be prepared for some young people celebrating you at some point along your hike.
Craggy Gardens – North of Asheville, NC
The entire area of Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge is pretty spectacular. There are a few places in the area where ceremonies are not allowed, such as Craggy Pinnacle, but you will be sure to find a place with gorgeous views for your ceremony in the Gardens area.
There are lots of low-lying trees and rhododendron in the area, making it colorful and lush. Plus the grass gets really high in the spring and summer! The rules are constantly changing about whether or not you can visit the Pinnacle for just video and/or photos, so check with the ranger to confirm before your wedding. In order to access the Craggy Gardens area, your group will have to park down at the Picnic area and hike up a little less than a mile to the top. The trail is a bit steep, so make sure everyone is prepared and brings proper shoes and clothing!
Note: Make sure you don’t go out of the rock boundary at the top of Craggy Pinnacle Trail if you do go up there for photos. Rare and sensitive plant life is being protected there, so just enjoy the view from inside the rock wall!
Jumpinoff Rock – North of Boone, NC
If you really want to get far away from the larger towns, but stay in NC, this spot is another small, rock-built overlook that has a view of the surrounding mountain range. You wouldn’t be able to get many people to fit in this location, so your wedding will have to be quite small.
Thankfully, if you need accessibility for those who can’t walk very far, the viewpoint is only a half a mile from the parking area.
Where to Stay for Your
Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding
Choosing exactly where to stay for your Blue Ridge Parkway wedding depends on the location along the Parkway that you choose. But no matter what, you have one of three options.
1 – Book a campsite at one of the many campgrounds along the Parkway and camp out of a tent, camper, or camper van!
2 – Book a room at one of the handfuls of lodges that are on the Parkway, such as Mount Pisgah Inn and Peaks of Otter Lodge.
3 – Book a rental nearby through a rental company like Airbnb or VRBO
Still Looking for a Photographer or Videographer
to Help Capture Your
Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding?
We chat on the phone and you can book your wedding date whenever you’re ready!
We plan and prepare together for a streamlined and stress-free experience
Enjoy your wedding day!
Remember the memories for a lifetime through your photos and film