Smoky Mountains 

How to Elope or Get Married in the Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers an enchanting backdrop with its majestic mountains, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. This comprehensive guide will help you plan your elopement or wedding in the Great Smoky Mountains, covering everything from obtaining a marriage license to choosing the perfect venue and activities.

1. How to Elope in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Step 1: Obtain a Marriage License.  Location: Sevier County Clerk's Office, 125 Court Avenue, Suite 202E, Sevierville, TN 37862..  Office Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM..  Requirements: Both parties must appear in person with valid photo IDs (driver's license, passport, etc.). No blood tests are required.  Application Process: Fill out an application form at the Clerk's Office or online through their website.  Cost: Approximately $40 to $100, depending on residency and whether you complete a premarital preparation course.  Waiting Period: There is no waiting period; the license is valid immediately upon issuance.  Validity: The marriage license is valid for 30 days from the date of issue.
  • Step 2: Choose a Location.  Consider factors such as accessibility, privacy, and scenic beauty when selecting your elopement spot. The Great Smoky Mountains offer a variety of stunning locations, each with its own unique charm.
  • Step 3: Hire an Officiant.  Civil Officiants: Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have several civil officiants who can perform your ceremony. You can find a list of registered officiants through the Sevier County Clerk's Office. Religious Officiants: If you prefer a religious ceremony, local churches and spiritual leaders can officiate.
  • Step 4: Arrange for Witnesses.  Witness Requirements: Tennessee law does not require witnesses for marriage ceremonies, but you can include them if you wish.
  • Step 5: Permits and Permissions.  National Park Permits: Required for ceremonies within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visit the National Park Service website for more information.  State Park Permits: For locations within nearby state parks, permits may also be required. Contact the specific park office for details.

Featured Destination: How to Elope or Get Married in the Smoky Mountains

Your Comprehensive Guide To Eloping or Getting Married in the Smoky Mountains

2. Top Locations or Venues for Ceremonies & Receptions
Top Locations:
  1. Cades Cove - Features: Scenic valley surrounded by mountains, historic churches, and abundant wildlife. Best Spots: Primitive Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Missionary Baptist Church. Permit Required: Yes, $50 for a special use permit. Contact: (865) 448-4104 | Cades Cove
  2. Newfound Gap - Features: High elevation with expansive views, access to the Appalachian Trail. Best Spots: Newfound Gap Overlook. Permit Required: Yes, $50 for a special use permit. Contact: (865) 436-1200 | Newfound Gap
  3. Clingmans Dome - Features: Highest point in the park, panoramic views. Best Spots: Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, surrounding trails. Permit Required: Yes, $50 for a special use permit. Contact: (865) 436-1200 | Clingmans Dome
  4. Greenbrier - Features: Lush forest, wildflowers, and a picturesque river. Best Spots: Greenbrier Picnic Area, nearby trails. Permit Required: Yes, $50 for a special use permit. Contact: (865) 436-1200 | Greenbrier
  5. Foothills Parkway - Features: Scenic drive with multiple overlooks. Best Spots: Look Rock, various overlooks along the parkway. Permit Required: Yes, $50 for a special use permit. Contact: (865) 436-1200 | Foothills Parkway

3. Top Activities to Incorporate into Couples Elopement or Wedding Day
Enhance your elopement or wedding day with memorable activities:
  • Scenic Drives - Drive through the park’s scenic routes such as Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail or the Foothills Parkway. Contact: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - (865) 436-1200
  • Hiking and Photography Sessions - Explore the park’s numerous trails and capture your special moments. Popular Trails: Laurel Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops.
  • Horseback Riding - Enjoy a romantic ride through the park’s scenic trails. Providers: Smoky Mountain Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables. Contact: Smoky Mountain Riding Stables - (865) 436-5634 | Smoky Mountain Riding Stables
  • Waterfall Tours - Visit the park’s beautiful waterfalls such as Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, and Abrams Falls. Contact: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - (865) 436-1200
  • Cabin and Firepit Evenings - Rent a cozy cabin and enjoy a romantic evening by the firepit. Providers: Gatlinburg Falls Resort, Cabins USA. Contact: Gatlinburg Falls Resort - (866) 347-6659 | Gatlinburg Falls Resort

4. Best Restaurants
Celebrate your love with a meal at one of Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg’s top restaurants:
  1. The Peddler Steakhouse - Cuisine: Steaks and seafood. Features: Historic building, riverside dining. Contact: (865) 436-5794 | The Peddler Steakhouse
  2. Cherokee Grill - Cuisine: American, Southern. Features: Rustic mountain lodge ambiance, extensive wine list. Contact: (865) 436-4287 | Cherokee Grill
  3. The Greenbrier - Cuisine: Upscale Southern cuisine. Features: Historic log cabin, fine dining. Contact: (865) 412-1576 | The Greenbrier
  4. The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant - Cuisine: Southern comfort food. Features: Family-style dining, apple-themed dishes. Contact: (865) 428-1222 | Applewood Farmhouse
  5. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que - Cuisine: Barbecue. Features: Casual dining, smoked meats. Contact: (865) 429-2200 | Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

5. Best Times of Year to Elope or Get Married in the Great Smoky Mountains
  • Spring (March to May): Pros: Mild temperatures, blooming wildflowers, longer daylight. Cons: Potential for rain, higher tourist traffic. Ideal For: Outdoor ceremonies and photography.
  • Fall (September to November): Pros: Cooler temperatures, stunning fall foliage, fewer tourists. Cons: Variable weather, early sunsets. Ideal For: Intimate ceremonies with vibrant natural backdrops.
  • Summer (June to August): Pros: Long days, lush greenery. Cons: Hot and humid, crowded. Ideal For: Early morning or late evening ceremonies.
  • Winter (December to February): Pros: Quiet, serene landscapes, potential for snow. Cons: Cold weather, some locations less accessible. Ideal For: Cozy indoor ceremonies or unique winter wonderland experiences.

6. Ideas for Making Your Day Special
  1. Incorporate Family Virtually - Live Streaming: Use platforms like Zoom or Facebook Live to share your ceremony in real-time. Virtual Toasts: Schedule a time for family and friends to join via video call for speeches and toasts.
  2. Celebrate Your Love Story - Personal Vows: Share heartfelt, personalized vows that highlight your journey together. Memory Box: Create a time capsule with mementos from your day to open on a future anniversary.
  3. Unique Elopement Ideas - Adventure Elopements: Incorporate activities like hiking, horseback riding, or scenic drives to reflect your adventurous spirit. Picnic Setup: Hire a local company to set up a romantic picnic at your ceremony site, complete with local delicacies and a cozy setting.

7. FAQ: Comprehensive Information for Eloping or Getting Married in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Permitting: Do I need a permit?  National Parks: If you're planning to get married in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will need a special use permit. Permits ensure the protection of the park's natural resources and help manage the number of visitors. Contact Information: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - (865) 436-1200.  State Parks: For locations within nearby state parks, permits may also be required. Contact Information: Check with the specific park office for details.
  • Cost of permits: National Parks: Typically around $50. State Parks: Varies by location, contact the park office for specific fees.
  • How to apply for a permit:  Applications usually require details about the ceremony, including date, time, location, number of guests, and any special requests. It’s advisable to apply several months in advance to secure your preferred date and location. Documentation: Provide a detailed itinerary and any other required documents. Include a copy of your marriage license if applicable. 
  • Guest limits and restrictions: National Parks: Generally limit the number of guests to ensure minimal impact on the environment. For example, popular spots may have restrictions on group sizes. State Parks: Guest limits vary by location and specific site capacity. Always check with the managing office.

8. Travel Costs and Hubs
  • Nearest Airports:
  • McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS):  Approximately 40 miles from Gatlinburg, about a 1-hour drive. Airlines: Major hub with numerous national flights. Contact: (865) 342-3000
  • Asheville Regional Airport (AVL):  About 90 miles from Gatlinburg, approximately a 2-hour drive. Airlines: Offers several flights from major U.S. cities.  Contact: (828) 684-2226
Travel Costs:
  • Flights: Vary significantly based on season and advance booking. Off-peak times generally offer lower prices.
  • Accommodation: Range from budget motels to luxury lodges. Booking well in advance is recommended, especially during peak seasons (spring and fall).
  • Transportation: Car rentals are essential due to the remote nature of many scenic spots

"We'd book Jennifer over and over again. She made us feel so comfortable and made sure our special day felt special and unique."

— Sarah & Mark


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