Colleen and Garrett Exchanging Wedding Vows in The Great Smoky Mountains

Colleen and Garrett Exchanging Wedding Vows in The Great Smoky Mountains


Colleen and Garrett planned an intimate elopement ceremony together at the Great Smoky Mountains, where they would spend their day writing and exchanging their wedding vows and exploring together.

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About This Elopement Great Smoky Mountains

Photography by Megan Schukei

“This couple is from Tennessee and their original plan was to get married in Glacier National Park. Some health issues happened and they decided on the best place that was most meaningful to them right by their home. The couple spoke their vows in Cades Cove and then spent the whole day exploring the park. Everything from the historic cabins to ending the day at the top of the park.” [Megan, the photographer]

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Permits and LNT for the Great Smoky Mountains

“To Elope in The Great Smoky Mountains, you need a permit through the national parks office! My couple got married at Cades Cove, and they chose to elope just the two of them. It’s important to stay on trails in the Great Smoky Mountains to protect natural surfaces.

Cades Cove is actually a pretty busy location to elope at in the Great Smoky Mountains. My couple chose to elope in December, which was a great time of year because the park is significantly less busy than during the summer and fall. Another tip is to make sure that you have plenty of time planned for your elopement! The road to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains is a one-way road that can get congested. So it’s important to have enough time planned for traffic. Also, highly recommend getting married during the week and at sunrise if you are interested in eloping during the peak season in the Great Smoky Mountains!” [Megan, the photographer]

Learn how to leave no trace during your elopement.

Deciding to Elope

“We wanted our wedding day to be an intimate day together where it really felt like it was just about us. I had no real desire to plan a big, elaborate wedding and always just pictured marrying Garrett in nature somewhere, so that’s exactly what we did! Our main goals were candid photos, beautiful landscapes, and intentional, authentic moments that we could remember and look back on forever.

Garrett and I are both Tennessee natives and graduated from the University of Tennessee, which is pretty close to Smoky Mountain National Park, so we have a lot of special memories there. Not to mention, the park is gorgeous and we had the best possible day weather-wise. We wrote and said our vows at Cades Cove around noon and it was 65 and sunny, which was absolutely incredible for December weather. At the very end of the shoot, we drove to the highest point of the park where it was FREEZING, snowing, and very windy, however, Megan got some gorgeous shots up there. I love the juxtaposition of the photographs from the beginning of the day and the photographs from the end of the day.” [The couple]

Planning Their Elopement

“The planning process was incredibly simple, which is exactly what we were looking for. We had several Facetime calls with Megan in order for her to get to know our personalities and discuss how we pictured our elopement. I fell in love with the dreamy quality of Megan’s photographs and trusted her artistic vision completely. We knew that we wanted to write and say our own vows somewhere jaw-droppingly beautiful and that was the jumping-off point. Megan walked us through the permit process and scouted locations in the park prior to our big day. I bought a dress and it felt like the planning was done!” [The couple]

Estimated cost:

Photography: $5,500
Dress: $1,200
Permits: $150

Total ~ $6,850

Memorable Moments From This Elopement

From the photographer:

“I would say just getting to spend the whole day exploring the park together! We started with them writing vows and exchanging vows at Cades Cove, next went and explored a historic cabin nearby, next up drove through the park to explore Mill Creek, and lastly ended the night at the top of the park just as snow was starting to fall. A full day exploring the park together.”

From the couple:

“Writing our vows while sitting on a vintage quilt with a gorgeous mountain in the backdrop will always stay with me. It was the week of Christmas, so we basically had the park to ourselves. It felt so completely natural and intimate and looking at those photographs brings me right back to that moment.

I made my own bouquet with flowers from Trader Joe’s the day before. We packed Publix subs and ate them with Megan after we said our vows. I was barefoot the entire time because the shoes I bought just didn’t work out. So in the last set of photographs we were literally running down the road while it snowed and the wind was whipping our hair everywhere and I was barefoot in like 20 degree weather. So worth it though. The entire day felt authentic, intimate, and honestly like a dream.”

Photos From This Elopement

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