The Blue Ridge Parkway is an iconic and accessible place to have the ultimate mountain elopement or small wedding. The parkway is 469 miles of windy roads that runs from North Carolina to Virginia and is open year round with only temporary closures. With a little bit of planning and preparations your mountain wedding day vision can come to life at a surprisingly low cost.
This Blue Ridge Parkway Elopement and Small Wedding Quick Guide is to help get you started in your planning process and to show you that it really isn’t difficult to have a beautiful mountain wedding!
Per the National Park Service regulations for the Blue Ridge Parkway “All weddings, “elopements”, and/or vow exchanges that occur within the boundary of the Blue Ridge Parkway require a Special Use Permit.“
Which of course directly translates to, you cannot get legally married on the partway without a permit!
For direct access to all the information on the Wedding Special Use Permit and for how to apply, here’s the National Parks Official Link: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/wedding-permits.htm
This is the authority and information for how to get married on the parkway. However it can feel overwhelming which is why I decided to give some quick tips to help you have the elopement day of your dreams!
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing where you’d like to say your vows. Here are some important considerations to get you started on the right foot!
First and foremost you’ll need to ensure that the location you’re looking into is actually on the Parkway. If you’re not sure about it either email the parkway staff or ask your photographer or planner!
If you haven’t already, here’s a link to an interactive map (https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/maps.htm) to show you the parkway and to help in choosing a general location.
Accessibility is very important consider no matter if it’ll just be the two of you or you’ll also have guests. If hiking to the top of a mountain doesn’t sound appealing (or feasible) consider locations with a paved path. There are beautiful scenic overlooks that are wheelchair accessible!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is public land so everyone has access to it. When choosing where you’d like to say your vows consider how popular that location is and whether you two are comfortable with unexpected visitors. If seclusion is more appealing to you, consider less popular locations or spots that require some hiking or consider going at sunrise.
Choosing a week day over a weekend and locations that are further away from bigger cities will also help in getting a more secluded spot.
Although the Parkway is open all year round, in the winter, sections are closed off to vehicles. If you are not up for making a long trek to have a winter elopement on the top of the mountain, I’d consider planning your elopement in the Spring, Summer time or early fall.
Because of the fall colors, the Parkway does NOT issue Wedding permits for the whole month of October! If you’d like to get married in October I would suggest considering Shenandoah National Park.
Winter is not the only reason the parkway might be closed. Make sure to check out the road conditions of your preferred location to make sure there isn’t a land slide or construction happening. Check out that website here: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm
While utilizing public land it’s important to follow the rules and regulations that are in place. Not only are these rules for your own safety and others but it’s important for protecting out beautiful wild spaces. By following these, you ensure that we protect our wild spaces for our future enjoyment and generations!
This is not the comprehensive list of all the rules and you will need to refer to the parks website for more.
In general, 25 people is the limit although there are some locations with smaller maximum number for safety reasons. This is limit is to minimize the impact that a large group of people can have and to also ensure there isn’t overcrowding. Remember that the parkway is open to all and you are not allowed to block off any section for your wedding. If you are wanting to include guests, consider a gather place to celebrate after you two elope on the parkway!
Not only is this necessary to give the parkway staff enough time to process your request but is is required for applying. The sooner you have a date in mind, the better chance you have of getting approved and not missing the deadline!
The parkway is an incredibly popular location, especially during the holidays and seasonly changes. Because holidays and October tend to bring in even more visitors the parkway does not issue permits for those times. The priority of the park is to ensure that all visitors have a wonderful experience and it would get overcrowded very quickly. If you are looking to have an October elopement, consider alternative locations such as local State Parks!
Directly from the website “This includes cut flowers for bouquets and potted plants. Live plant materials may contain insects or unwanted pests that could be introduced into the park. Silk or paper flowers are allowed.”.
Do NOT worry, there are some great alternatives to live plants, not only can you rent bouquets but you can also DIY your own bouquet. If you’re thrifty, you can find artificial flowers second hand and give them a new life as your bouquet! I’ve experimented with a few ideas so if you have questions, shot me an email!
If you’re interested in learning more about minimizing your impact while hiking I recommend checking out more information on Leave No Trace principles: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/leave-no-trace.htm)
Elopements and Small weddings have been gaining in popularity but the wedding industry still largely focuses its guides and resources on traditional weddings. Because of this, I’ve found that some alternative wedding couples feel lost when starting their planning process. As a Wedding and Elopement photographer, I’m here to help take away some of the guess work and help you go in the right direction!
If you’d like to learn more about my services or have any questions click on the button below!
If you found this Blue Ridge Parkway Elopement and Small Wedding Quick Guide helpful I’d love to know that too!