February 1, 2021

Forest Elopement in the NC Mountains

Sallee and Daniel knew they wanted a wedding experience that was built around who they are and what they love most as a couple. These two spend a majority of their time in nature and going on adventures! As NC locals, an elopement in their home state was an ideal place for them. I just happened to recommend a location that was the first place Daniel ever took Sallee backpacking. They knew it was the perfect spot to say their vows and pledge their lives to one another.

We planned their day around things that felt good to them, from involving just a few of their loved ones, camping, hammock time, drinking a few beers, and enjoying the evening around a campfire.

It was relaxed, emotional, personal, and just right for these two sweet nature lovers.

With all of my real elopement blog post stories, I like to give you the breakdown of the full timeline in the hopes that it will help with planning your own elopement day! If you find some inspiration in Sallee and Daniel’s North Carolina forest elopement, take that idea and then personalize it to make it your own.

Sallee + Daniels Elopement Timeline

Half day package (6 hours)
Photo + Video
Looking back, we all agreed we could have easily done the full day 10 hour package and would have felt less rushed. We ran out of time to sit and have dinner together, so don’t be afraid to level up your package – it is always worth it!

If you want to check out my elopement packages, you can do so on my Packages Page!

3:30 PM

COVERAGE BEGINS – Meet at Trailhead
Say hi, chat a bit, and get our bags packed up

3:45 PM

Hike to Campsite from Parking Lot
(1.5 miles – an hour and a half slow hike time)
I always budget in an hour per mile of hiking for elopement days so we can take our time, enjoy the sights, and take some photos/video along the way.

5:00 PM

Set up Camp
Arrive at campsite and set up camp to reserve your spot.
Thankfully Daniel had hiked out earlier that day to set up their tent to reserve their ideal spot. Unless there are reservations, you never know if a campsite will be taken or not!

These two were quick and worked together like a team of champs to set up their sweet little North Face backpacking tent. Thankfully they did, because Sallee and I took cover from a surprise rain storm in the tent when Daniel hiked back down to the trailhead to meet his mom and children.

5:30 PM : Getting Ready
find a cozy spot in the forest to change and do hair/makeup

I loved how simple Sallee made her makeup. This part of the day felt like a really special yet simple ritual to prepare for the emotions these two were about to experience during their ceremony. I also just adore the idea of a forest being a “bridal suite”. I truly think mother nature always provides some of the most beautiful places for my couples to get ready.

6:00 PM : Family members arrive to the campsite

It was especially sweet how Daniels children helped him get ready, and how Daniel helped them do the same. It was a genuine and personal moment that they were able to share together that I think will go down as a really special memory for them all.

6:15 PM: Forest Elopement First Look
Daniel reads Sallee’s letter “open before you marry me”

The flowers for the day were dried flowers made from all the flowers Daniel and the kids have given Sallee over the years. What a SUPER personal and special way to make the little details unique and meaningful.

6:20 PM

Family Portraits
Sallee gave all the family members their own little floral pieces to wear made from the same dried florals. She even wrote them all little notes to tell them how much she loves them. Personal details are everything for elopements!

Afterwards we took a few formal family portraits and then prepared for their ceremony!

6:40 PM

personal vows, trade rings, celebrate!

If you want to hear how incredibly genuine, and emotional, and poetic their vows were, make sure to watch the video at the top!

6:50 PM

Head back to falls together
(kids, grandma, and officiant can leave from there)
Portraits at Falls playing in the water and exploring

7:30 PM

Hike back up to Campsite

This was our chance to get some hiking portraits in their wedding clothes. Since they hiked up in regular clothing earlier that day we didn’t get them earlier. The forest was so vibrant and green! I never like to edit out colors because I think Mother Nature did beautiful work to being with! And as always, we took our time making our way back up the trail. Eventually we got back to their little campsite honeymoon suite with a view for the night.

What we had planned:

  • Beer cheers
  • Dinner/snacks
  • Sunset watching
  • Hammock time

    We didn’t get much of a sunset due to the unexpected cloudy skies, and we ran out of time for dinner together, but we made sure to enjoy everything we were still able to do before I left; hammock time, beer cheers, and a good campfire.

One of my favorite things about North Carolina is finding wild blueberries along the trail. It truly feels like you’ve found a sweet little treasure!

8:30 PM

Campfire time

9:00 PM

Star Photos out on the rock face
Unfortunately the sky was fully cloudy, so we weren’t going to be able to see any stars. But we did get some cool images during hammock and campfire time instead! Daniel was somehow able to create a beautiful fire out of damp forest wood, so he was a magician!

9:30 PM

Kathryn’s coverage ends & hikes back out 

We said our goodbyes (which are always so hard since we usually become such fast friends) and I headed back down the trail in the darkness. This way they were able to enjoy their little campsite with privacy. I was so happy when they texted me the next morning. They sent sweet photos from their phone of camp breakfast topped with a few wild blueberries.

Dreaming of your own forest elopement?