A Magical Waterfall Elopement at Hanging Rock State Park, NC

A Magical Waterfall Elopement at Hanging Rock State Park, NC

Josh and Kathleen originally planned a small wedding, but their plans shifted to an intimate waterfall elopement at Hanging Rock in NC. They met at 6 am to begin the hike. It was a foggy morning, but they had the entire park to themselves, allowing them to exchange vows privately in front of the upper cascades.

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About This Waterfall Elopement at Hanging Rock State Park

“I loved that the bride and groom prioritized their relationship and what they loved to do together. They are avid hikers and they visit waterfalls often, so eloping in front of a waterfall was the perfect option for them. A small group of their good friends joined that day too, so that was special to have just a few people to celebrate with. The whole day was just about celebrating their love and being outdoors rather than focusing on wedding day traditions that they didn’t care about.” [Samantha, the photographer]

Eloping at Hanging Rock State Park

“We contacted the Park Superintendent to make sure we submitted any necessary paperwork for the permit. Since we were arriving so early we coordinated with the superintendent so they could unlock the gate for us! It’s always best to talk with the park superintendent to make sure you are not breaking any rules.

In order to observe LNT guidelines, We packed in everything we needed and made sure to not leave any trash behind. I also double checked with the park rangers that we were allowed to bring in real flowers for Kathleen’s bouquet. Thankfully they said it was okay! The trails we hiked were not too far off the parking areas, so we didn’t have too far to hike. Everything we didn’t need we left in the cars. Kathleen and Josh did bring their dogs, so we made sure to pick up their poop as well so that other hikers could enjoy the trails after us!

The Upper Falls area does have a visitor center and bathrooms, but the Lower Falls parking area is a gravel lot without toilets.” [Samantha, the photographer]

Top Tips for Eloping at This Location

“The hike up to the top of Hanging Rock will take at least an hour, so make sure to calculate that into when the sun rises or sets! As for the waterfalls, they are about a mile or less from the parking areas. Both of them are easy hikes but there are a lot of stairs once you get to the waterfall. You can get in the water in both places, which makes for magical photos. I highly recommend going early in the morning when no one else is there.

Our visit was in the beginning of October when all the leaves were just beginning to change and the weather was slightly unpredictable. Rather than climbing to the peak of Hanging Rock, we decided to hike through the foggy darkness to the waterfalls. It was so worth it because we were the only ones there for several hours!” [Samantha, the photographer]

Deciding to Elope

“We decided to elope instead due to the pandemic and it’s a lot cheaper. After all, marriage is about two people tying the knot. We always thought that weddings were overrated, I was not the young girl who dreamt about her wedding day. My husband and I share a love for hiking so we decided why not go hiking for our wedding.

Samanthan (our photographer) suggested hanging rock state park. It is near Elizabeth City, NC about 2 hrs away instead of our first plan Asheville which is 6 hrs away. I looked at some photos online, and I thought that would work.” [The Couple]

Hiring an Experienced Elopement Photographer

This couple originally planned a small wedding but ended up eloping because of last-minute changes, making planning pretty stressful. Luckily, their photographer stepped in and saved the day, helping the couple navigate different location options.

“We reached out to Samantha and she asked me what my vision for my wedding and I told her I like waterfalls. She thought it was a good idea and that she can make my vision alive. So I booked her right away. She helped me plan some of the things needed for the wedding since I don’t know anything about it. She was very very helpful and knowledgeable, and she also made me feel very comfortable like I was talking to a sister the whole time, If I had a question it was easy to reach out to her and I didn’t hesitate to talk to her.” [The Couple]

Estimated Cost of This Elopement

Photographer – $1,200
Wedding bouquet – $40
Wedding Attires – $1,000
Total – $3,000

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

From the photographer:

“I absolutely adored watching Kathleen and Josh read their vows to one another in front of the waterfall. It was finally starting to get light out, but the fog was still heavy. They pulled out their pieces of paper with their vows and began to read them to one another. Their words were muffled by the waterfall, so their vows were only heard by them. It was such a beautiful and private moment.

One of my other favorite parts of the day was when we were hiking to the Lower Falls. Once we caught a glimpse of it from the trail we were all so excited! Even the dogs were excited to play in the water. Kathleen looked absolutely gorgeous with her train falling over the side of the rocks.”

From the couple:

“Our favorite part of the experience was hiking in our best clothes. We were wearing hiking boots with our wedding attires. When I got my wedding dress altered and I was wearing my hiking boots with it the seamstress was laughing and thought I was pulling a prank on her, but when she realized that I was not joking she thought it was very unique. I like the uniqueness of our elopement, who hike in their wedding outfits?? We had the whole park all to ourselves too so that was a bonus.”

Final Words of Advice

“My advice to couples is this: celebrate that way that means the most to you. You don’t need all the guests, programs or cakes to make your day special. You just need to tie the knot in a way that is memorable for you and makes the most sense for your relationship. Eloping doesn’t have to be expensive or challenging, you just gotta find the right vendor to go with you! Last piece of advice: make sure to obtain any needed permits and communicate with the State Park superintendent!” [Samantha, the photographer]



Photography | Samantha Couick Photography
Wedding Dress | Silk Bridal Studios VA Beach

Photos From This Elopement

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