Cades Cove is an 11-mile scenic loop going through one of the most historical places in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park filled with cabins, primitive churches, a grist mill, and a blacksmith shop all scattered around fields of beautiful mountain views. Wildlife Overlook is one of the most popular spots in the park area for wedding & elopement ceremonies. This is a great choice from the list of pre-designated locations for a spacious field and ample parking if you bring a few loved ones along.
Things to Pack for Camping Elopement
- Tent: This Coleman 6-person tent is great for tons of space for changing clothes, storing a suitcase (no food or scented toiletries), and sleep without the dog right on top of you. This 4-person tent is more compact if you do not need the extra room or the screened porch, or if the campsite does not accommodate large footprints.
- Portable Bluetooth Speaker: For the first dance or sweet tunes sleeping under the night sky! I love my JBL because it is waterproof and has a clip for my hiking backpack.
- Sleeping Bag: I prefer a flannel lined sleeping bag even in the summer because I think they feel more cozy, but any style will work. Just make sure the temperature rating fits the elements you be camping in.
- Sleeping Pad: Don’t forget this one! This sleeping pad is great for frontcountry camping as well as packs light for backpacking trips.
- Butane Stove: This Coleman portable stove is perfect if you do not want to cook over a campfire.
- Cookware: GSI is my go-to for halulite backpacking pots that are lightweight and made for adventure.
- Ice Chest: Otterbox Venture 45 is the brand I own, and I could not love it more. It has neat accessories that pop right onto the cooler; plus, I can decorate it with stickers I collect from adventures!
- Bear Spray: Better to be safe! I carry the Frontiersman brand.
- First Aid Kit: Again, better to be prepared. This pack from Surviveware is good to keep in your car.
- And don’t forget food, clothing, rings, vow book, marriage license, and any other important personal items!
How to Get Married in a National Park
Whether you choose to get married in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park or another of the 63 National Parks in the United States, each have their own SUP application process and guidelines to follow in order to get married within the boundaries of the park. We are privileged with the opportunity to access these breathtakingly epic spaces, and with that, comes the responsibility to take care of these public lands by following the requirements & restrictions set in place by the park.
Special Use Permit for Weddings & Elopements
A Special Use Permit (SUP) is required to hold weddings, elopements (even those with 2 people), vow renewals, or any commitment ceremonies in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. These guidelines are intended to facilitate discrete services and ceremonies appropriate to the quiet, natural settings found in the park.
You can apply for a SUP up to 1 year in advance, and applications & payments must be receive at least 14 days prior to the ceremony. Keep in mind, there are no guarantees that last minute requests will be approved. The application fee is $50 for spots on the pre-designed location list. If you book an adventure elopement with Magnolia + Ember, I will help you navigate all the legality and applying for the permit, educate you on restrictions specific to the GSMNP, and help you plan the whole experience with any elopement photography package.
Tip For Champagne Popping in a National Park!
Per the restrictions listed in the Special Use Permit, required for any elopement in a National Park, alcohol is only allowed in designated picnic areas and campgrounds. This means popping a bottle of bubbly for that celebratory spray photo is considered an open container and illegal in most park areas.
A great alternative is a 750mL bottle of Topo Chico. Not only does this keep anyone from getting fined or arrested for having alcohol in a National Park, this aligns with the guidelines provided by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. We want to ensure we are mindful about our environmental impact when getting married outside. Sparkling water is better for the environment and does not leave a sugary residue that could be harmful for fragile vegetation and wildlife.
Blog Post: Leave No Trace | How To Minimize Impact When Eloping Outdoors
Tennessee Marriage License Laws
Just as with each park system has its own rules, each state has its own laws for marriage license and requirements to obtain a marriage license. In the State of Tennessee:
- The marriage license fee ranges $90-$107.50 depending on the county.
- Couples who have completed a premarital preparation course within a year prior to the date of application for the license are exempted from paying $60.00 of the fee.
- There is no waiting period.
- The marriage license is valid for 30 days from issuance, and is good for ceremonies performed anywhere in Tennessee.
- Both parties must appear for the issuance of the marriage license.
- Proof of your Social Security number is required for both parties.
- Witnesses are not required in Tennessee, but there is space for two on the license.
- Tennessee is in currently in litigation through Federal Court determining whether marriages conducted by officiants who are ordained through an online ordination process will remain legally recognized. The case remains open and should be taken into consideration when booking your officiant. If you take advantage of my complimentary offer to combine as your photographer & officiant, my credentials were received in person through the Spirit of Love Ministry and are accepted in the State of Tennessee.