Elope in NC – The Ultimate Guide

So, you want to elope in NC huh? Great idea!

You are in the perfect place.
I'm actually a local who was born and raised in the area! I'm also an elopement specific photographer & videographer. That means I know just about everything there is to know about experiencing the elopement day of your dreams here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. So, keep reading to learn how to elope in NC and have the day of your dreams!

Some things to note: I am mainly going to be talking about eloping in the Western part of the state in this resource. That's because Western NC is the perfect place for nature lovers. We have some of the best views on the East Coast, tons of incredible options for outdoor spaces to explore, and endless adventures to have during the day you elope. Asheville is the well known city in this region, but there are tons of gorgeous places on the outskirts of town too. Those spots make for the best outdoor elopement adventures!

A couple stands side by side overlooking a mountain view in NC. They have just eloped and are in their wedding clothes.
A couple is walking along a rock face with a mountain in the background during their elopement in NC. It is sunset and the mountains are very colorful!

Table of Contents

Whatever scenery you are envisioning for your elopement in NC, you’re sure to find it in one of the states many state forests or national parks!

Here are a few of my favorites:

A couple is standing on a mountain at sunrise to elope in NC. They are kissing and surrounded by green trees.
A couple is standing on a mountain in NC for their elopement. They are having their first dance at sunset in front of a big landscape view.

The Blue Ridge Parkway begins in WNC and runs all the way up to Virginia. There are incredible spots for elopements the entire way, not just near Asheville. Great for quick and easy access views. Perfect for a ceremony with loved ones or for couples who don’t want to hike. One of my top picks for couples who want to elope in NC!

These two forests make up a majority of WNC, so there are lots of spaces to choose from when eloping here. Pisgah is more visited than Nantahala, so if you want to avoid crowds, head west. Both areas are beautiful and similar in what they offer - waterfalls, views, rivers, camping, and trails galore.

*Popular locations such as Max Patch, and Black Balsam are in Pisgah National Forest. I try to avoid these locations since they are over-crowded with tourists and photoshoots and don’t usually provide a peaceful and unique experience.

A couple is standing on a mountaintop with a view of fall colors while they elope in NC. They are pointing out into the distance in their wedding clothes.
A couple is having a ceremony while they elope in NC at a flower farm. They are laughing and in their wedding clothes.

Private Venues

There are many private spaces Western NC where you can ensure your alone time during your elopement. We have so many flower farms, wedding venues, rental homes, and spaces that will accommodate a private event. That means you don't have to worry about other people being present and can set up more items like chairs and a wedding arch!

Half of the National Park is in NC and the other half is in TN.
A bit of a drive from Asheville, but worth visiting and exploring the different areas of the park. Great for easy access locations OR long hike/backpacking lovers. You can elope in NC or TN when getting married inside this national park (it crosses state lines)!

A couple is standing side by side on a mountain view while they elope in NC.

FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT EACH LOCATION - CHECK OUT MY BLOG POST:

Best places to elope in wnc

P.S. - Most photographers and videographers should be able to help you pick a location.

I specialize in those “local secrets” spots that you have to hike a bit farther to, but that are OH SO WORTH IT!

State Parks

The rest of public land in WNC is made up of state parks such as Gorges, Grandfather Mountain, and Mt. Mitchell. These are also really beautiful spaces to explore and usually have facilities close by like campgrounds and restrooms. A great place to elope in NC if you want/need to be closer to those accommodations.

Spring

When is the best time of year to
elope in NC?

March - May

The Spring in Asheville is beautiful. The temperature is warming up from winter and the colors are beginning to pop back out. Everything down in the valleys are in bloom! It’s important to note though, that the higher up the mountain you go, the later in the spring it will be before things start to bloom. It’s late May to early June before everything is green on the mountain tops.

Spring and Fall are the most popular seasons for elopements here in Western NC, and for good reason. The spring blooms, fall colors, and mild temperatures are hard to beat.
Summer can be hot (so including a river dip during your day would be ideal), but also busy since school is out.
If you are open to an off-season experience during winter, you will reap the rewards of less crowded everything and views you can only see when the trees are bare!

Summer

June - august

Summer in the mountains is lovely. It can still get pretty warm, but it’s a lush time of year when everything is bright and colorful.
Summer elopements are the perfect time for waterfall exploring and river swims.

A graph of the weather in Asheville, NC throughout the months.

Fall

september - November

The fall is the absolute most popular season to elope in Asheville? Why? The colors!

There’s nothing like when the trees turn red, orange, and yellow, lighting up the landscape. Plus the weather in the fall is decently warm but with a nice crisp chill to the air.
The downside to eloping here in the fall? Crowds. LOTS of people visit here to “leaf look” So finding locations, where you can avoid the tourists is key.

Winter

december - february

If you get lucky and can get some snow when you elope in NC! Winter in the mountains can be magical. But even if there isn’t any snow on the ground, lots of trails have less people and there are views through tree branches that don’t exist any other season. Just note that some locations aren’t accessible at all, or without a longer hike, in the winter time due to road closures.

1.

Shoot for a week day - the less crowded the trails, the better.

2.

Make sure the location where you want to elope is open or provides permits that time of year (For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway doesn’t give out wedding permits for the entire month of October).

Tips for picking your Date
to elope in NC

3.

Avoid holidays - another way to try and avoid crowds and get some privacy.

4.

Decide what type of weather you want to experience, and pick a month based on that.

5.

Do you have any personal time off that will lend itself easily to a stress free elopement? That’s a great place to start!

All the Fun Activities to Choose From:

You have so many fun activities you can do when you elope in NC! Even the days before and afterwards are time you can make memories! Your elopement doesn’t have to be just a ceremony and a few photos. It should be an experience full of things you love most, or new things you want to try!

Hiking

Camping (backpacking & car camping)

Mountain biking

cycling

hot air balloon rides

kayaking (lakes, lazy rivers, and white water)

river days at swimming holes

star gazing

sunset watching

picnics

waterfall chasing

yoga, massage, meditation, spas

delicious food & beer (vegan/vegetarian options too!)

Obtaining a

marriage license

To elope in NC

  • You can get a marriage license at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds during office hours (8 AM - 5 PM)
  • You may complete the marriage license application by printing it out at home before your arrival, or you can just fill it out when you get there
  • both people must be present with valid Photo ID’s AND social security cards
  • The Marriage License fee is $60
  • The license is valid for 60 days and can be used anywhere in NC
  • A couple is sitting side by side on a rock to elope in NC. They are making tea and laughing in their wedding clothes. One has a blue suit on and the other a white dress.

    How to Get Around When You Elope in NC

    Asheville is a smaller town, not a big city. Therefore, it doesn’t have a lot of taxi or ride-share services like Uber or Lyft. There are a handful, but there aren’t many.
    I highly recommend renting a car.
    Having your own car will allow you the freedom to explore when and where you want. Plus, there are a lot of outdoor areas that don’t have service around here, so you wouldn’t be able to call a ride anyway.
    If you are feeling adventurous and want to make sure you have access to everything,
    I suggest renting an SUV.
    There are a lot of bumpy dirt roads and pull-offs that need a higher clearance vehicle that would make navigation much easier.

    Where to Stay in NC

    A couple is sitting in a tent smiling with their noses touching. They are going to elope in NC so they have their simple wedding outfits on.

    I’m a big fan of house rentals or straight up camping for the privacy and natural spaces they provide.
    There are BEAUTIFUL and really cute rentals all over Western NC. Some also allow elopements to take place on their property - just be sure to ask beforehand to make sure.
    You can search for local rentals on airbnb or vrbo.

    My suggestion is to try and support locals who have spaces to rent (instead of people who live other places and have rentals here - it helps the local economy more this way).

    Hotels are usually incredibly expensive, and not that exciting for photo or video shots in my opinion, so I don’t recommend them.

    Extra tip:
    Try to pick where you stay after you’ve picked where you want to explore on your elopement day. It’s not uncommon to have to drive an hour or two to get to some of the best spots in the area, so picking a place to stay based on your elopement ceremony location will be helpful!

    What to wear for your NC elopement

    Dresses

    If you’re wearing a dress, something loose around the hips and legs is great so you’ve got enough range of motion to hike and

    Also, having some layers that you are comfortable having photos taken in each option will give you flexibility for the weather.

    Shirts & Pants

    For those wearing a more shirt and pant style outfit, make sure you’ve got something that is a bit stretchy.
    You wouldn’t want your pants to rip stepping up on a big rock!

    Also, having some layers that you are comfortable having photos taken in each option will give you flexibility for the weather.

    Comfort is key for elopements - especially outdoor adventure style elopements.
    P.S. your clothes will likely get a bit dirty. You’re in the great outdoors - gotta embrace it!

    Shoes

    If you’re hiking at all, hiking boots are the way to go. They will be the most comfortable.

    If you prefer to have something a bit less rugged, then just make sure your boots have really good tread. No matter what shoes you wear though, make sure you wear them in before your elopement day so you don’t get blisters!

    Photography, Videography,

    and Planning:

    Hey ya’ll, Im Kathryn

    I was born and raised here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. Thankfully, I grew up hiking these trails with my Dad. I spent summers swimming in these rivers with friends, picking the wild blueberries on the parkway, and catching fireflies in the summer sunsets.

    Being in nature is my happy place. I know what it feels like to stand on a mountaintop and feel the breeze on your face. I know the joy of feeling shaded, comforted, and protected by the dense forest around you is like no other. And you can't forget jumping in the depths of a blue, chilly swimming hole and laying on a rock in the sun to get dry.

    My heart is found in every nook and cranny of these hillsides.
    What an honor it would be to guide you through an elopement day that is full of your own mountain memories, similar to the ones I’ve grown up experiencing.

    Contact me to chat about your asheville elopement

    Most elopement companies offer short and small packages, covering 1 or 2 hours of time, and thats all.
    You might even think that’s really all you need for an elopement, because what else is there to do?
    The secret is - There is SO MUCH you can do.
    The best part about eloping is that you get to choose things that are tailored just for you.
    No going through the motions of traditions and timelines that are meaningless.
    You aren’t eloping because you value your experience less, but because you just want something DIFFERENT.
    Maybe you want something that is more about you as a couple than making everyone else happy.
    Everyone deserves an elopement that is stress free, personalized, and that truly represents what you love and value in life.

    I help my couples have an elopement day that is filled to the brim with memories,

    ranging from 4 to 10 hours of coverage

    How Many Hours of Coverage Should You Have?

    Here’s the deal:
    I believe Your Elopement Is Worth More Than 2 Hours

    Get in contact

    TIPS + INSPIRATION

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