Can’t wait another minute to marry your intended? Want to keep things simple? Elope to the Great Smoky Mountains this summer! There are a plethora of chapel/minister options waiting to make your quick nuptials affordable and very, very convenient! What’s more, you’ll have a built-in honeymoon paradise awaiting you beyond the chapel doors. You can picnic by rushing mountain streams, watch deer and their young sipping the pristine waters, shop until you drop, dine out at fabulous restaurants or embark on a hiking, zip line or other outdoor adventures in the gorgeous, lush green of a mountain summer.
The venue choices in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville area of the Smokies are dazzling, with something to fit every budget. However, if you want a ceremony that makes you feel as if the entire world has faded away, leaving only you and your fiancé in the elegance of a private estate, Bluff Mountain Inn is the choice for you. Located one mile outside of the Pigeon Forge city limits, the inn has a secluded feel while still very convenient to excellent dining and shopping. Owner Rick King says many couples who were planning a large wedding but decided last minute that it was simply not for them or had specific reasons forcing them to cancel will make use of his inn’s “Elope to the Mountains” package, then head home for a big reception with friends and family. The package includes flowers, a wedding cake, a minister or justice of the peace and a choice of chapel or outdoor wedding on the beautiful five-acre grounds. The package also includes a professional photography session, a cozy dinner for two with a private chef and a honeymoon stay at the inn, among other perks. It’s amazingly turnkey and affordable. Visit bluffmountaininn.com for more details!
People have been getting married in the Smokies for decades, and Rick says it’s easy to pinpoint why. “There’s something about the mountain air, the opportunities for adventure and finding that secluded spot where you and your loved one can tune out the rest of the world, forget about time and concentrate on life, love and each other,” he says.
Guy Jacobs, co-owner of the company that operates the Chapel at the Park and Cupid’s Chapel of Love feels his community is a wedding venue for a variety of reasons. “Gatlinburg tends to be the center point for a lot of surrounding states,” he says, adding that his chapels “rarely marry locals.” The idea of promoting elopement through his wedding business came through an encounter with a teller at a local bank he patronizes. She had recently eloped to a romantic island and was glowing after the event. He sees Gatlinburg, which is so convenient to a park that gets an astounding number of visitors annually, as a trademark hub for tourists and an ideal place to get away and get married. He aims to make it very, very easy on the eloping couple. “We do everything. It’s one stop shopping and I think that’s very, very alluring to people,” he says. The Chapel in the Park, a quaint, white clapboard, very traditional chapel in Gatlinburg, has become a favorite of lovers from all over the country. The atmosphere and package details (visit chapelatthepark.com) make the bride feel as if she has had the traditional wedding she always dreamed of without a hint of the hassle and far less expense. The ceremony is meaningful, allows for treasured photos, and makes the day very special. Cupid’s Chapel of Love, also in Gatlinburg is, Guy says, the company’s “fun, affordable” venue. See details at cupidschapeloflove.com.
In the Smokies Cabins and Chalets features Smokey Ridge Chapel, which is located off of Dollywood Lane. The company can hook you up with accommodations at any one of the individually-owned one to five bedroom cabins or chalets it manages (most are in the Pigeon Forge area) for a Smoky Mountain dream honeymoon after the ceremony. Owner Cindy Hayes says lodging is discounted for newlyweds using their wedding services. “We do everything from candlelight services to those off site, for example, riverside,” she says. Visit smokyweddings.com for package details. “It’s just an easy way to get married without all of the headaches,” Cindy says of her company’s services. She says the Smokies draw elopers because “It’s a great place to come with lots to do!”
The State of Tennessee has removed the barrier of blood tests (there is also no waiting period), making the area an incredibly quick and easy place to elope. Wedding Bell Chapel in Pigeon Forge has, however, taken convenience to new heights. Featured in local media for their drive-through weddings, the chapel seems to have its own brand of good marketing sense. If people elope for privacy, what could be more private than your own car? That lovebird couple that can’t wait another minute can pull up to the Chapel, get married by the ordained minister without leaving their seats, and in a span of three or four minutes, find themselves hitched! They can also stand in front of the chapel if they want to. Same time frame, same hassle-less ceremony. Wedding Bell Chapel also offers traditional chapel or garden weddings and a “Just for the Two of Us” package for those who want to elope but need a bit more pomp and circumstance than the drive-through option affords. (Visit weddingbellchapel.com for the full scoop!)
There are many, many other chapel/officiant/ministerial options for quick elopements in the Smokies. The Smoky Mountain Wedding Association is an excellent resource. Check them out at smwba.com. Many companies will marry you, then set you up in a wonderful cabin accommodation. You can also find a chapel to get a quick hitch done, then head off to the accommodation you have chosen from among the thousands of choices here. No matter your budget, there’s a place to stay and plenty to do in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville area. What are you waiting for? Start your forever with your beloved right here this summer!
Laurie Crater Battles – journalist, blogger, hiker, biker, mom, wife, animal and coffee lover who makes her home in Knoxville.