Top Great Smoky Mountains National Park Wedding & Elopement Locations
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a beautiful destination for your mountain wedding, adventure elopement, or engagement. We frequently visit various locations throughout the Smokies for ceremonies and engagement photos. Some are closer to Gatlinburg, and others are closer to Townsend. Depending on the side of the park where you live or are visiting, we can make recommendations for the best locations.
We can help you craft and capture your perfect Knoxville wedding, mountain adventure, or intimate elopement. When you book us as your photographers, you’re also booking our vast knowledge of beautiful, unique places in the Smoky Mountains. In addition to being your photographers, we also offer:
- Planning assistance including location suggestions
- Customized photography timeline planning
- Recommendations of the best wedding vendors to work with (officiants, florists, hair & makeup, etc.)
- Help with permitting requirements
What are the best places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to get married or elope?
As a licensed and permitted wedding photographers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for more than 6 years, we photograph weddings all over the park. We’ve visited some of the most popular locations as well as some of the most hidden locations for elopements, weddings, and receptions.
Brides and grooms often ask us for the best locations to get married in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From intimate elopements with just the bride and groom to larger weddings with families and guests, the park has multiple locations we recommend based on your level of adventure and landscape preference.
The Smokies has mountains, coves, rivers, waterfalls, hiking trails, open fields, epic scenic views, wildlife, cabins, historic churches and structures, beautiful foliage and greenery in the warmer months, jaw-dropping fall colors, and snow in the winter.
Permits and Most Popular Locations for Weddings & Elopements
If you are interested in getting married in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will need to obtain a permit for your ceremony, and there is also a list of approved wedding locations. You can also apply for a permit for a non-approved location if you have a special location in mind.
We compiled a list of the top five wedding and elopement locations and most popular places around The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that are the most scenic for couples to consider for their wedding day.
- Spence Cabin
- Appalachian Clubhouse
- Foothills Parkway
- Cades Cove
These are the most popular and scenic locations, but there are many more spots throughout the national park that are beautiful for Smoky Mountain weddings and adventure elopements.
Spence Cabin is a mountain wedding venue in Elkmont. The bright pink cabin is nestled in the forest on the banks of the Little River. It provides an outdoor ceremony site as well as rooms inside the cabin for the bride and groom to get ready, a kitchen for catering, main room for reception seating and serving food, and a patio and screened in porch for indoor/outdoor receptions. The outdoor ceremony site is next to the river, with the water babbling in the background.
Spence Cabin is a short drive from Townsend and Gatlinburg and is a beautiful venue for earthy and intimate weddings. Because it is a cabin, it also provides a rain backup plan for weddings and receptions. It is not air conditioned, but it does have a gas fireplace for heat in the fall months. In the summer months, it is significantly cooler by the river and in the shade with all the foliage on the trees. The cool water is refreshing, and some couples choose to dip their toes in the water…or get in the water all the way!
Spence Cabin is closed during the winter months and the first two weeks in June during the synchronous fireflies in Elkmont. Many couples who choose to get married in the winter months will select Cades Cove or the Foothills Parkway. However, the Spence Cabin ceremony platform by the river can be reserved in the winter months for ceremonies, so you can still get married there but access to the cabin is closed in the winter months.
The Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on northern side of the park, and it is near Pittman Center just outside of Gatlinburg. It is generally not very crowded with less traffic. There are three wedding locations in Greebrier: #1, #2, and the picnic pavilion.
Approved wedding ceremony locations are on the banks of the Little Pigeon River, and there is an abundance of beautiful backdrops for wedding photos including the river, forest, wooden bridges, and large rocks in the river. Greenbrier is a more dense forest than that in Elkmont around Spence Cabin.
If you like more of a dark and dramatic forest backdrop, Greenbrier is a great location for this!
The Foothills Parkway is part of the Great Smoky Mountaions National Park, and it has some of the most gorgeous scenic drives and locations overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains. With multiple locations between Walland and Wears Valley, there is an abundance of beautiful backdrops for wedding photos including the mountains, waterfall, sunsets, forest, and roads. The “Missing Link” was recently opened in 2018 with the most amazing view of the Appalachian Mountains and romantic sunsets.
View more Foothills Parkway engagement pictures and wedding photos:
- Fall Engagement Session
- Summer Engagement Session
- Fall Elopement With Snow
- Fall Wedding Photos
- Summer Wedding Photos
Many couples will reserve Spence Cabin for their wedding ceremony and the Appalachian Clubhouse for their reception. The clubhouse is less than a mile from Spence Cabin, and it is a short 2 minute drive with a parking lot and restrooms.
Built in 1934, the Appalachian Clubhouse is rich in history. Located in the the historic “Daisy Town” section of Elkmont, it has been renovated with modern amenities including running water, restrooms, a large room with two stone fireplaces, a large screened in front porch, kitchen, and exclusive parking.
The Appalachian Clubhouse is open from April 1 to October 31, and it is closed during the winter months.
The Appalachian Clubhouse is a great location if you are having a larger wedding with families and friends. It is a historic building, and it can accommodate up to 96 people. There is no air conditioning or heating, but there ceiling fans and two gas fireplaces inside.
Cades Cove is one of the most popular locations for visitors to the Smokies. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Cades Cove each year, and that’s why it is on our list. However, Cades Cove Loop road is a 1-way driving loop with significant amounts of traffic and congestion. With the increased visitation, it now takes more than 6 hours to drive the Cades Cove Loop and photograph weddings, and 8 hours during the month of October (yes, that includes week days too!). Unfortunately, due to the significant increase in visitation and traffic congestion, we are currently not booking any weddings or shoots in Cades Cove. As national park wedding photographers, our top priorities for our clients are to have stress-free and quiet, peaceful wedding experiences without sitting in traffic for hours.
Cades Cove Loop road is a 1-way driving loop and provides backdrops for all of our favorite things about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: wildlife, forests, fields with mountain views in the background, streams and water, historic structures such as the Primitive Baptist Church, bridges and overlooks for epic photos of the Smoky Mountains.
Some of our favorite locations in Cades Cove for weddings include:
- The Wildlife Overlook
- Missionary Baptist Church
- Methodist Church
- Primitive Baptist Church
- LeQuire Cemetery Overlook
Most couples who choose to elope in Cades Cove will have their ceremony there, then we will take photos around the loop, and then they will go to Gatlinburg for dinner at a local restaurant. Many of the historic churches are beautiful locations for wedding ceremonies and can also be great rain backup plans if needed.
Cades Cove is beautiful year round, with greenery, streams, and lush forests in the spring and summer, amazing colors in the fall, and snow-capped peaks in the winter. Because it’s a 1-way driving loop, traffic can be very slow on the weekends in the summer and during October when the leaves are changing colors.
How Do we Contact you for our Smoky Mountain wedding or elopement?
If you love watching lightning bugs flicker in the trees, get excited by the smell of a campfire, love jumping in a cool mountain stream, and hopping across river rocks, then get in touch!