The Complete (2021) Guide to Elope in Asheville

August 27, 2021

How to Elope in Asheville in 2021 and 2022

You’re thinking of eloping in Asheville, but you’re not sure where to start.

You’ve scraped Google for information about Asheville elopements and looked through one guide after another.

The information is good, but nothing really feels like a complete answer.

So you end up with…

  • A list of locations to elope in Asheville, but no information about how to elope there
  • Photos of Asheville elopements, but no information about how to book the photographer
  • Knowing you need a permit but no idea how to apply for one (or where to do it)
  • Plenty of elopement inspiration..but how can it inspire your own?
  • Tips on when to book vendors, but no links to recommended ones

You should be taught how to plan an elopement, not stuck compiling half useful information from 10+ different sources.

hawksbill mountain elopement photographer elope in asheville

That’s where this article comes in!

I’ve already done all of the heavy lifting for you, so you can bookmark this page and reference it for your own elopement.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s cover the basics first.

What is an elopement?

An elopement is when you and your partner decide to marry however you want to (aka you decided to ditch traditional wedding rules).

Usually, this means just the two of you present, but it could also mean inviting your closest friends and family.

A wedding with 10+ guests (you, your partner, + your vendors included!) is not an elopement. 

blue ridge mountains engagement hike hawksbill mountain

I see many elopements in the industry are outside or include some kind of hiking or adventurous activity.

This is not representative of how you always elope in Asheville!!!

Literally, screw all the rules and think about what YOU want to do for your wedding. That’s how to elope.

Why do couples choose to elope in Asheville?

Most couples choose to elope because they didn’t feel like a big wedding was for them.

The drama, planning, and hustle and bustle of a big wedding can feel daunting and overwhelming!

There are many reasons why you may choose to elope, like…

  1. You don’t like being the center of attention
  2. Your family would add drama (instead of supporting you)
  3. You’re not a fan of rules and being told what to do (same tho)
  4. You’d prefer to spend your wedding day doing your favorite thing
couple hiking elopement adventure linville gorge

So whatever your reason, you’re reading this blog post because you want to elope. And if you don’t know if you’re going to elope, then this article may convince you to πŸ˜‰

Table of Contents

  1. How to find your Asheville elopement location
  2. Places to elope in Asheville
  3. When should you elope?
  4. Permit information
  5. Vendor recommendations
  6. How to have a legal ceremony
  7. How much does it cost to elope?
  8. Timeline example
  9. Inspiration

How to find your Asheville elopement location

Suppose you’re not a local to Asheville.

You don’t know anything about the area (but you do know there’s mountain views and stellar beer).

So it can feel daunting to open up Google and not know where to start searching for the perfect elopement location.

With endless mountain views and tucked-away waterfalls, how do you begin?

Surely all of the best locations are hard to find online.

… But not really πŸ˜‰

elopement wedding blue ridge mountains couple

The first thing you need to do is brainstorm what type of location you want for your ceremony.

Close your eyes and put yourself in your shoes on your elopement day.

How do you want to elope in Asheville? What do you see, smell, and hear?

Are you standing on top of a mountain, overlooking sweeping mountain views, or at the base of a waterfall in the middle of a Tolkien-like forest?

Once you’ve figured out what kind of scenery you want, you can start searching.

To search for Asheville elopement locations,

  1. Look for trail and hike recommendations in local hiking Facebook groups.

2. Use Alltrails to search for hikes and trails in the area.

If you’d prefer expert help, send me an inquiry and I’ll do all of the heavy lifting for you.

Places to elope in Asheville

Brewery

Make reservations at a local brewery for your post-elopement celebration, or host your entire elopement there! Most breweries have private rooms for a celebration like yours. My favorite breweries in Asheville are The Funkatorium, Burial Brewery Co., and HiWire.

the funkatorium elopement venue

Waterfall

Asheville has so many hidden waterfalls that it’s impossible to see them all in a long weekend. Crabtree Falls, Linville Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Graveyard Fields, and Moore Cove Falls are all must-see and would make for a beautiful backdrop for your elopement.

moore cove falls elopement couple walking holding hands
looking glass falls couple kissing elopement

Mountains

This one’s for you. My all-time favorite mountain views in Asheville are at Mt. Mitchell. Haven’t you heard of it? Well, that’s because nobody elopes there- and you could be one of the first. Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi, and the views are, well…spectacular.

mount mitchell sunset mountain range
fall elopement couple embracing linville gorge
looking glass engagement photos blue ridge parkway
craggy gardens couple elope in asheville

Forest

Personally, I recommend the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle hike if you’re wanting some of the most beautiful forest photos. The unique shapes of the rhododendron here are unlike any other. But if you’re looking for more of a Pacific Northwest, mossy, tall trees kinda forest, then check out the Balsam Trail at Mt. Mitchell.

couple elopement hawksbill mountain linville gorge portrait

Wedding venue

Another way to elope in Asheville is to book a venue! And there are SO many unique venues close to Asheville that it feels a little overwhelming!! To narrow that list down, some of my favorite venues are…

Hemlock Barn on Nettle Knob

hemlock barn wedding venue boone

Memory Mountain at Wolf Laurel

cabin elopement ceremony asheville photographer
memory mountain fall elopement foggy colors
memory mountain wolf laurel elopement asheville couple

Nantahala Weddings & Events

elopement ceremony nantahala weddings venue photographer
couple kissing lake dock mountain elope in asheville
nantahala weddings reception wood structure

Campground

If the outdoors is where your heart’s at (like mine), then have you thought about eloping at a campground? No? Then let me introduce you to Cardens Bluff, Mount Pisgah, and KOAs to name a few. Find a local campground you love, maybe camp a night or two there, and ask if they allow events with less than 10 people for your elopement. If the vibe is right, then maybe a campground would be suitable for your elopement!

Bride tent black white campground elopement
couple silhouette tent yellow campground
campfire smoke light ray campground elopement
campground wedding reception string lights

Blue Ridge Parkway

There’s a reason why the Blue Ridge Parkway is so famous for elopements. It’s because most of Asheville’s best mountain views and waterfalls are located on trails connected to the Parkway. It’s famously noted for its spectacular scenic views, winding roads, and abundant wildlife and flora. If you haven’t driven the Parkway, then you’re actually missing out on one of America’s most treasured drives.

Eloping on the Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t all too difficult. You just have to go through the proper channels to acquire a wedding permit to secure your date and location. After that, you’re pretty much good to go!

PSA: You can’t elope on the Parkway in October because of the increase in tourism, but you probably want to avoid the crowds anyways.

rough ridge couple eloping foggy mountaintop elope in asheville

Private land

Something that I don’t see anywhere else online is to search for private property for your Asheville NC elopement. The key here is to get permission from the property owner. Just ask if you can elope on their property, mention why you love it, the details they would need about your elopement (when you’d arrive, how long you’ll stay, how many people, etc.), and that you’d like to compensate them for their time and use of the property. It’s really as simple as that. The worst they can say is no, right?

Check out HipCamp for some beautiful private properties in the area that have the secluded mountain (and sometimes waterfall) views you’ve been looking for!

For privacy reasons, the location of the photos below are undisclosed.

mountain view elopement photographer blue ridge mountains
private property old trees red eno

Choosing when to elope

Choosing your elopement date can be as simple as following a formula. As much as I hate all things cookie-cutter, follow the formula below to select your elopement date.

  1. Choose your location (campground, blue ridge parkway, etc.)
  2. Pick your favorite season. Are you envisioning a fall wedding? Then September-November would be perfect. Summer? Winter? You get the idea.
  3. Inquire with your location for availability in the season you chose. It might help to tell your venue/location that your date is flexible, and you’re trying to get an idea of when it would be best to host your elopement.
    1. Hot tip: most venues offer discounts and have more availability for weekday elopements
  4. Book your venue/location! After you’ve got your date nailed down, then start booking your lodging and vendors. To elope in Asheville, secure/book your site at least 6 months in advance (especially if it’s a popular season)
couple kissing forest wedding party mountain
christmas wedding inn at crestwood elopement ceremony
boone high country roan mountain couple tree elope in asheville

Asheville NC Elopement Permits

What’s the deal with permits? And why do so many elopement photographers keep talking about them?

You can skip this section if you’ve chosen to elope at an Airbnb, wedding venue, restaurant, or brewery. Anywhere that isn’t a national park, national forest, or the blue ridge parkway, you don’t need a permit.

Why do you need an Asheville NC elopement permit?

If you are eloping on the Blue Ridge Parkway or in a National Park or Forest, you need a wedding permit.

These permits are issued to ensure that the land is protected, and elopement photographers need a commercial photography permit to photograph your elopement if you choose to host it in a national park, national forest, or on the blue ridge parkway. Legally speaking, the permit covers our ass, and we need it to conduct business on government property.

wisemans view elopement asheville permit

How to get an Asheville elopement permit:

  • Look up your elopement location to find the government agency that manages the land (hint: it’s most likely the Blue ridge parkway, a national forest, or the Great Smoky Mountains national park)
  • Search for “special permits” or “wedding permits” on their website
  • Follow the steps listed on their website to apply for a permit.
tanbark overlook elopement blue ridge parkway

Hot tips:

  • If you run into issues applying for a permit, call the ranger station for assistance! Most rangers are super friendly and will help you.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway doesn’t allow elopements in the month of October.

Vendors

Choosing vendors is one of the most FUN aspects of planning your elopement! There are so many freaking talented elopement vendors in Asheville, and I’m so stoked to drop some names here.

When choosing your vendors, make sure you communicate your vision with them and that they can get on board with it. But if their name is on this list, then I can vouch that they’re amazing, reliable, and dope people to work with.

You’ll want this vendor team when you elope in Asheville.

Hair & Makeup

Nicole Phillips β€’  https://www.nicolepbeauty.com/ 

She is fantastic at what she does. Hands down the best makeup artist I’ve ever worked with. She’s always on time, listens to my requests, is always a joy to be around, and does a flawless job. Seriously, I don’t see a single pore every time she’s put foundation on. You’re gonna love her.

lgbt lesbian couple boone elopement nicole phillips

Florist

Cicely Florals β€’  https://cicelyflorals.com/ 

Dany is a friend of mine, and not only is she a gem of a person, but her work also is stunning and beautiful, and you will love working with her as much as I do. She’s my #1 goal for all things floral, and her floral work is perfect for an Asheville NC elopement.

cicely florals asheville florist elopement

Videographer

Me! (Seriously though) β€’  https://www.blueberryrocketstudios.com/super-8-wedding-films/ 

If you didn’t already know, I make Super 8 films, which are basically 3-minute short films shot on cameras from the 70s, and they’re vintage, nostalgic, and unlike any other wedding video you’ve seen. And since I’m already your photographer, you get a sweet bundle discount too (wink wink).

Catering

Azafran Chef β€’  https://www.azafranchef.com/ 

Oh man, oh man, is their food really freaking good. I would eat their cooking every day if I could, and their team is kind, organized, and really responsive. Seriously their food is some of the best I’ve had, at a restaurant, catering, or otherwise.

private chef asheville azafran

Dessert

Stick Boy Bread Co β€’  https://www.stickboybread.com/wedding 

I’ve worked with Stick Boy for years, and every time one of their cakes is around at a wedding, I just have to get a slice. Their flavors are so freaking good, and their designs are beautiful. Oh, and they’re a joy to work with.

stick boy bread co elopement boone cake

Officiant

Heartfelt Elopements β€’  https://www.heartfeltelopements.com/ 

I personally haven’t worked with Julia, but my partner has, and he can’t sing Julia’s praises enough. She is thoughtful, intentional, inclusive, kind- I could go on and on. I’m secretly dying to work with her because of all of the beautiful things I’ve heard.

officiant asheville heartfelt elopements julia

Ring jeweler

Rhodes Wedding Co β€’ https://www.rhodesweddingco.com/ 

I can’t rave enough over how beautiful these rings are. Honestly, I want 2 or 3 just for myself. They make custom wedding bands and engagement rings, and they’re all spectacular. Check them out for yourself.

custom elopement rings rhodes wedding co

Attire

Juniper James Bridal β€’ https://www.juniperjamesbridal.com/

Go to Lauren for your wedding dress. Don’t bother looking anywhere else; just go see Lauren, and she will put you in the wedding dress of your DREAMS. She’ll make you look like the queen you are.

Out of the box vendor ideas:

  • A jeweler that will let you make your own rings 
  • A live painter during your ceremony
  • A tattoo artist who will give you wedding day tattoos
  • A hot air balloon, helicopter, or floatplane pilot 
  • A professional 4×4 or vintage vehicle driver
  • A rock climbing, canyoneering, or mountaineering guide

Legality

Let’s dive into the legal aspects of an Asheville elopement and make your marriage official.

Below is a brief overview of how to have a legally binding elopement ceremony.

But if you’re wanting something more in-depth, then check out my other blog post, “5 easy steps to plan your Asheville elopement.”

  • Obtain and fill out your marriage license. You can do this part 100% online.
  • Elope and sign the marriage license
  • Submit the marriage license to the register of deeds
  • You get your marriage certificate (your legal document to prove you’re married) in the mail.

That’s kind of it! I go into more detail about what to do to obtain your license in my other blog post.

How much does it cost to elope in Asheville?

Most Asheville elopements that I photograph cost between $3900 and $6,000, depending on how much you’re wanting to spend. That includes your lodging, permits, catering, photography, travel costs, wedding attire, the whole 9 yards. 

groom getting ready fall north carolina elope in asheville

Here’s a typical Asheville NC elopement package cost breakdown for my clients:

  • Photography – $2000 (half day coverage) to $2500 (full day coverage)
  • Officiant – $300 to $500
  • Lodging for 3 days, 2 nights at a luxe Airbnb – $500 to $1500
  • Wedding attire – $800 to $2500
  • Travel (gas or plane ticket + food) – $100 to $1200
  • Day-of celebratory dinner at a restaurant – $150 to $450
  • Florist for a bouquet and boutineer – $100 to $500

Total cost = $3950 to $9150

Of course, you can always make your elopement more luxurious, but this is typically how much my clients spend on their Asheville elopement. And keep in mind that these are cost estimates.

Example Elopement Timeline

It’s time to start piecing everything together. You’ve got your vendors booked, permit acquired, wedding attire purchased, and you’re almost ready to go. The last piece of the puzzle is your timeline.

Your elopement photographer will be able to help you put together a timeline. I do it for all of my clients, and I’d love to help you put together your elopement timeline! 

elopement hug foggy max patch

To give you an idea of what an all-day elopement can look like, here’s a timeline example:

  • 9:30 am – Photographer arrives at Airbnb to capture details & getting ready photos
  • 11:00 am – First look on location & couples photos
  • 11:45 am – Grab a packed picnic and leave for the lake
  • 12:00 pm – Arrive at lake and canoe to a secluded beach
  • 2:00 pm – Begin canoeing back to the parking lot
  • 3:00 pm – Leave for the ceremony location, stop at overlooks and short hikes along the way for photos 
  • 5:30 pm – Arrive at the ceremony location; ceremony followed by exploring & portraits
  • 7:00 pm – Head back to Airbnb
  • 7:30 pm – Arrive Airbnb for a private chef dinner overlooking the mountains
  • 9:30 pm – Photo coverage wraps up
max patch elopement couple running blue ridge mountains

Elopement Inspiration

If you need some help dreaming up your elopement, take some cues and inspiration from these past Asheville elopements! 

When you’re looking through these photos galleries, make notes about things they did that you could incorporate into your elopement, locations they hiked to, or their attire. Let these photos inspire you, not pigeonhole you into a box.

Dan & Gaby

elopement ceremony fall wedding north carolina elope in asheville
wedding dress elopement asheville fall
elopement reception polaroid couple

Chelsea & Aimee

elopement ceremony boone chetola resort
long exposure lgbt couple elopement boone chetola

Lauren & Lucas

couple double exposure unique photography elopement
couple elopement blue ridge parkway asheville ceremony

Ready to elope in asheville?

Send me an inquiry to kick-start your Asheville elopement journey!

We’ll hop on the phone and chat about your wedding hopes and dreams like we’re 13 (and I’ll help you make it happen).

I’m stoked to get to know you πŸ™‚

asheville elopement photographer
elopement photographer puppy

Contact me to document your elopement.

Limited availability left for 2022.

Let’s make your love story look like a movie.

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WOW this is the ultimate resource for eloping in Asheville! The images are stunning and this post is packed with SUCH amazing info.

Thank you Aimee! I’m glad you found it helpful πŸ™‚

Wow this guide is perfection! Love the images!

Thank you so much Traci!

I am adoring the way this article is laid out! You’ve provided such helpful and easily digestible information for couples looking to elope amongst the beauty of North Carolina! Super appreciate the price breakdowns, too! What an incredible resource this is.

Thank you Sienna! I’m glad it was easy to read and helpful! πŸ™‚

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