New River Gorge Rock Climbing Elopement

New River Gorge Rock Climbing Elopement

Umi and John put their wedding off for almost two years because they didn’t find something that felt like them. That was until they planned their elopement in West Virginia! They included close family and friends during their New River Gorge elopement.

Are you thinking about eloping in Virginia? Search our elopement directory to find the best vendor for your wedding day.

Details From This New River Gorge Elopement

Umi and John planned a 2-day elopement adventure that perfectly represented them as a couple. The first day was very family-centered, and the two had their elopement ceremony over an accessible scenic overlook. After their ceremony, they spent the evening in the cabin with their loved ones.

The second day, they woke up before sunrise to hike to an amazing overlook, where they shared fog-shrouded private vows and went rock climbing in their wedding attire. They saw some of the best views New River Gorge has to offer.

“I love planning and capturing elopements because when my couples know and feel supported to design an adventure specifically to what THEY want, the difference in wedding experience is so real. It’s fun, less stressful, empowering, and it’s freedom. My couples get to build something that really matters, and to celebrate in places and in activities that are special to them… and that’s what I love… it’s not just a wedding, it’s truly an experience.” [Kate, the photographer]

Deciding to Plan an Intimate Wedding Ceremony

These two decided to plan an adventure elopement after looking at venues and not really falling in love with any of them. They also tell us how the stress was really not for them, and they wanted to base their wedding day around how their relationship started, hiking, and amazing adventure.

“We decided that we wanted to make this wedding about us instead of for other people. Johnny’s whole family gets together once a year during New Year at the greenbrier and the previous year we decided to go rock climbing and found the New River Gorge. It was gorgeous and we knew we wanted to explore it more. It was between that and the Shenandoah area of the Appalachian and Kate found some amazing spots on both.” [Umi and John, the couple]

Planning Your Elopement at New River Gorge National Park

Kate, the photographer from MAKE / Adventure Stories Photography, tells us the city of Fayetteville is a perfect hub for adventurous and nature-orientated elopements. The New River Gorge is the newest national park in the US, so it’s a great option for couples who are looking for a different location not overcrowded with tourists.

“One thing to keep in mind when planning is that the gorge is long! So be sure to allow extra time for travel, and make sure that you’re super aware of the distance from lodging to locations and vice versa when planning. And while there are a ton of location and activity options available, and the park is beautiful all year long, couples with their heart set on water-based activities on the New River, Gauley River, or on the nearby Summersville Lake will need to look carefully at their elopement timing. Water levels fluctuate throughout the year which can create a very different adventure level or experience for things like white water rafting, or even activity availability based on the time of year!” [Kate, the photographer]

Explore some other places to elope in Virginia.

Rock Climbing Tips During Your Adventure

Out of the whole day, the couple tells us rock climbing in their wedding attire was probably one of their favorite experiences. They would have never imagined they would rock climb on their wedding day!

Kate tells us hiring a guide is a good option if you’re not sure where to start on your rock climbing adventure. They will know where to go and help you manage your gear, safety, and technical aspects of your adventure. It leaves you plenty of free time to focus on each other instead of the technicalities of the adventure.

“Rock climbing in your wedding attire is totally possible! I’ve had couples where the bride chose to wear a romper-style outfit so the harness would fit over the top. But, I also have couples where the bride has opted to keep her dress from the ceremony for the adventure! In that instance, flowy styles are your friend! It allows a climbing harness to fit comfortably underneath, and the skirt will fall away from your feet as you climb so you can move safely and easily. Pro tip: a dress with a slit in the skirt is a plus for managing how the dress works with a harness & rope, and, for ease in a movement when climbing.” [Kate, the photographer]

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

Kate tells us Umi and John spoke without apology to the things that mattered to them. They were flexible with timelines when things had to be navigated through any delays. Their mentality allowed them to have an amazing elopement experience during their wedding at New River Gorge.

“They had made the choice to have a long engagement until they could figure out how they wanted to marry, so I loved how thoughtful they were in their decision-making. And because of that, they were willing to think outside the box to hit all their goals (proper adventure, their pups, and, family!).” [Kate, the photographer]

This elopement was filled with memorable moments from the pups needing a bath after the first look after rolling around some “dark yuck” to Umi’s mom making hand-rolled fresh traditional Korean Kimbap for their sunrise hike. These special little touches show how family can be a part of your elopement, even if they don’t adventure with you.

“We were so lucky to be able to experience some beautiful cliffs in a truly amazing location. As I worked myself up and down my own rope for the images on the wall, I loved seeing John and Umi push themselves on the climbs, but also laughing, cheering, and egging each other on. Smiles galore! I know couples worry when they see a full-day elopement package because they think it’s an all-day photoshoot! But, I think seeing elopements like Umi and John’s can help them know that it’s totally not that at ALL! It’s so much play and very little posing!” [Kate, the photographer]

Are You Ready to Elope?

After seeing this New River Gorge adventure, are you ready to elope? Kate reminds couples to leave time in their day to just relax and enjoy the experience. Planning an adventure elopement can be awesome, but being present with each other is also important. So don’t try to pack it all into one day, and ask about a multi-day experience with your photographer.

“For anyone who is on the fence about doing a similar adventure style wedding, we would highly recommend it! The hardest part was not being able to include all of our family and friends in the wedding but in the end, we made up for it with a post-wedding road trip to see many of our friends and family that were not able to be included. Looking back I don’t think we would change a thing. Life is an adventure, why shouldn’t one of the most important milestones along the way be one too.” [Umi and John, the couple]

Check out the top 10 reasons why couples elope.

Vendors Involved

Photography | MAKE / Adventure Stories Photography
Succulents | Succulents for Hire
Guide |Blue Ridge Mountain Guides (Rock Climbing Guide Service)


Photos From This New River Gorge Elopement

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