Evergreen Era Film + Photo
I am so happy you’re here and considering a Blue Ridge Parkway wedding. After all, this stretch of road is ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL!
I am an elopement videographer and photographer based in the Asheville, NC area. I have helped countless couples plan and capture celebrations on the gorgeous trails and viewpoints branching off the Parkway. I love to help couples get married on their special day amidst these soft, beautiful, mountains that I call home.
I updated this post from its original December 7, 2021 version, adding new photos and information.
What is the
Blue Ridge Parkway?
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a road with zero stop lights or stop signs that spans throughout the Appalachian Mountain range of North Carolina and Virginia. It links together The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Shenandoah National Park. There are multiple campgrounds and countless overlooks spread along the 469 mile stretch, creating a chain of beautiful mountain views and access to breathtaking hiking trails.
Plus, 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. Let’s dive in to the tips and get going!
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?
Don’t have somewhere on the parkway already that you love? 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. Some are also 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 mistaken to be Blue Ridge Parkway locations, but in fact, they ARE NOT on Blue Ridge Parkway Land. These spots are actually on Pisgah National Forest Service Land. Pisgah 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 are Open
It will be important for you to 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.
The parkway is typically closed for a long time in the winter, unless we get some warm weather. If you want to access your location by car, choose a date for your wedding between April through September. But if you don’t mind cooler temps, I help couples plan elopements even in the winter by choosing special spots that are accessible by foot!
Construction road closures are random. However, a Ranger should be able to warn you of that future projects.
I always suggest having a back up location in place, just in case your chosen location is inaccessible.
#3: Apply for a Permit in Advance
UPDATED: The Blue Ridge Parkway used to not give out special use permits for all of October, BUT NOW THEY DO! They also don’t seem to have any regulations around Holidays either (though I still suggest avoiding those dates all together). I do still suggest applying your 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, since they require a 30-day notice, but there is no guarantee they will get back to you in time. A permit should be one of the first tasks you complete after you’ve decided on a location.
You can check out their information and access the permit form on their website HERE.
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 still doesn’t give permits for Holidays or Holiday weekends. Be sure to pick a date that works under those regulations.
#4: Know The Blue Ridge Parkway is Public Land
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 excited to see a wedding happening outside on a mountain instead of at a venue! But, I understand that people and crowds can be a bit of an annoyance. It’s good to start with the awareness that you are choosing public space and there is a high potential for others to be present. Mindset is everything when it comes to an outdoor adventure elopement on the Blue Ridge Parkway!
If you want a space that is more private, hiking deeper into the woods, choosing a location with a lot of open space, or booking a small private venue will give you better 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, many different things can affect your timeline and expectations. I’ve had it happen many times. It is a very real possiblity!
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. A rain storm could come through or thunder threatens on the horizon. Maybe a bear encounter closed a portion of the Parkway. Who knows! Being flexible is always important when planning a wedding outdoors. You also need a backup plan so that you can rest easy knowing you have another option that you are 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 Your Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding 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 Blue Ridge Parkway Well
Hire a photographer or a videographer who has spent a lot of time on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pick someone who has filmed or photographed weddings there before. That will be the perfect person to inspire confidence in your choices and guide you along the journey.
I grew up in Western NC and have spent my life exploring these mountains. I’m able to help you pick ideal locations that are specifically fitting for your needs. Plus, I can provide all the best local insight! Contact me to get started planning your dream Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding.
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.
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. It is ideal for celebrations 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. This open spot is also tucked away from the road. This helps remove the loud road noise you would get at a typical overlook. The impact this makes on your enjoyment AND the recording of your vows is major!
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 has an impressive dining room with a large wall of windows. No matter where you are seated, you can have an epic view.
Chestoa View – Near Linville, NC
Chestoa View, a stunning rock overlook, offers a 180-degree view of the Linville Gorge mountains—among my top spots in Western NC. It’s an ideal ceremony location, easily accessible with a short walk, slightly off the main road for privacy. Plus, it’s near other attractions like Linville Falls and Gorge trails for your elopement day adventures!
#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. You are not allowed to have ceremonies off the left fork in the trail, but you can from the viewpoint via the right. I recommend utilizing this location for ceremonies year-round because it remains accessible 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. A few places, such as Craggy Pinnacle, prohibit ceremonies, but you’re guaranteed to discover stunning views for your ceremony in the Craggy Flats Bald 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 making sure everyone is prepared and brings proper shoes and clothing is key!
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. Protecting rare and sensitive plant life there, simply enjoy the view from inside the rock wall!
Jumpinoff Rock – North of Boone, NC
If you seek seclusion in NC, this spot, a small rock-built overlook, offers views of the surrounding mountain range. Due to its size, it’s suitable for only a small wedding party. There is a wooded, dirt path to the viewpoint only a half a mile from the parking area.
Jumpinoff Rock is smack dab in the middle of Doughton Recreation Area and Boone. This prime spot gives you seclusion and the option of more places to explore for your wedding day.
Where to Stay for Your
Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding
Choosing exactly where to stay for your Blue Ridge Parkway wedding depends on the location 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. 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. You can choose from Mount Pisgah Inn or Peaks of Otter Lodge.
3 – Book a rental nearby an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway 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 book your wedding date if we feel like a good fit!
We plan and prepare together for a streamlined and stress-free experience
Enjoy your Blue Ridge Parkway wedding!
Remember the memories for a lifetime through your photos and/or film.