The Magnolia Venue in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

There is something extraordinary about The Smokies, and I am certainly not the only one who thinks that. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park gets roughly twelve million visitors each year, so it’s easy to see why this place is one of the top locations for destination weddings in the USA. Although the scenic views are beyond incredible, for me personally, the significance of this magical place extends beyond the endless stretch of mountains and settles deep within my soul. I have found pieces of me buried in this land: surfaced inner-light as the sun set on Hyatt Lane, discovered truth journeying to unmapped waterfalls, and ultimately, found self-love all because these mountains hold space for you to exist as your authentic self.

With every wedding I photograph at The Magnolia, all of these thoughts and emotions flood back into conscious awareness. Each time I stand on the balcony of this mountaintop venue, I am gently reminded of how beautiful life is and how thankful I am to experience East Tennessee. As one of their preferred photographers, I am lucky to be here quite a bit, and I get just as excited with each new wedding to share the energy of this space with others. I am forever grateful the owners took a chance on me their opening year. Maybe they felt connected through our names or maybe something more. I do like to believe that fate has a say in things, and without a doubt, there is strong sense of synchronicity behind the word magnolia.

Smoky Mountain Wedding Venue

The Magnolia is perched on a mountaintop with endless views of The Smokies offering an intimate and private setting away from the hustle and bustle of tourists exploring Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge. Yet, the destination wedding venue is close enough to town that your traveling guests can easily find a hotel or other rental home nearby, and plenty of accommodation options if you are sticking around for your honeymoon.

kind words from a couple at The Magnolia

“Our photographer Julie was absolutely amazing and having only seen the sneak peeks we are already so impressed with how they turned out. Even beyond the pictures though, Julie was incredibly kind and personable and our families commented throughout the night how nice and professional they thought our photographer was! Julie went above and beyond the roles of a photographer and made sure that we were taken care of throughout the night and she captured so many precious moments! Thank you so much!”

– C+J

kind words from a couple at The Magnolia

“Julie was amazing to work with. Throughout the planning process she was easy to get ahold of and always easy to talk with. I had a surprise planned for my husband, and she not only kept it a secret very well, but got amazing shots of the actual surprise happening on the day of the wedding. It was easy to plan and edit my requested shot list with her as well. The day of the wedding, she was such a great calming presence to have around, and everyone at the wedding loved her… I would absolutely recommend Julie to anyone.”

– H+Z

Third-Party Accommodations

Most often one spouse-to-be and their half of the wedding party will get ready off-site at a cabin or Airbnb, which I’m totally there to capture, before The Magnolia’s private shuttle service arrives to take them to the venue. All the while, the other spouse-to-be and their crew are getting ready in the suite at the venue.

Airbnb cabin with a modern twist, hot tub, patio space, and sleeps up to 8 (rent here)
1960’s A-frame Airbnb cabin with cozy boho vibe, and sleeps up to 10 (rent here)
Mountainside VRBO cabin with grand views, hot tub, home theater, and sleeps up to 12 (rent here)
VRBO home on private 5-acres, indoor heated pool, theater, billiards, and sleeps up to 15 (rent here)

The Bridal [or Groomal] Suite

With A-frame windows, you are sure to get the best views while getting ready for your wedding. The Suite offers vanity lights and mirrors, private bathroom, coffee maker, hanging rack, balcony, and wet bar that you can stock with your favorite champagne.

With Magnolia + Ember photography, I help you build a timeline for your wedding day to ensure I get all the details and happening moments of your day captured. I start the day at the off-site rental home with one half of the wedding party (don’t worry you all can dress back down and relax before heading to the venue in the afternoon), and then make my way to The Magnolia to get the other half of the crew getting ready. At the same time, I’m gathering all the pieces that go along with telling the story like your rings, flowers, shoes, stationery, and whatever else that makes your wedding you.

Weather in the Smoky Mountains

To be completely honest, I don’t even look at the weather forecast before weddings at The Magnolia because I’ve seen it all at this venue and am prepared for whatever Mother Nature wants to throw at us—whether that’s shifting the timeline with ease to accommodate better lighting for portraits or moving the ceremony under a covered roof because a storm changed the original plan. Sometimes the weather says one things but then is proven very wrong, just like in the photo below. The forecast said it wasn’t going to rain at the ceremony time, but just as she came down the aisle… You can hope all you want for a certain outcome, but ultimately you get what you get. All the more reason to hire a photographer who is well-equipped to handle any situation.

With any photographer, lighting, color of scenery, and weather will always affect how the photos look in the end result. However, the overall vibe and feel to them should be the same regardless. As you can see throughout this post, I have highlights that stretch from being surrounded with the fog that gives the Smoky Mountains its name all the way to the brightest sunlight possible. Regardless of the weather, I strive to capture a true reflection of your day with a rich and moody tone that really feeds the emotional side of photography.

Spring

March through May: Spring brings with it unpredictable weather. Changes occur rapidly – sunny skies can yield to snow flurries in a few hours. March is the month with the most radical changes; snow can fall at any time during the month, particularly in the higher elevations. Temperatures in the lower elevations have a mean high of 61ºF. Low temperatures, which are often below freezing, have a mean of 42ºF. By mid-April the weather is usually milder. Daytime temperatures often reach the 70s and occasionally the 80s. Below freezing temperatures at night are uncommon in the lower elevations but still occur higher up. April averages over four inches of rain, usually in the form of afternoon showers. May is warmer, with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s and lows in the 40s and 50s. May rainfall averages about 4.5 inches.

Summer

June through August: Summer in the Smokies means heat, haze, and humidity. Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are common. Temperatures increase through the period with July and August afternoon highs in the 90s in the lower elevations. Evening lows are usually comfortable with readings in the 60s and 70s. In the higher elevations, the weather is much more pleasant. On Mount Le Conte (6,593′ elevation), temperatures above 80 degrees are extremely rare.

Autumn

September through mid-November: Clear skies and cooler weather signal the onset of the fall color season. Warm days alternate with cool nights. Daytime highs are usually in the 70s and 80s during September, falling to the 50s and 60s in early November. The first frosts often occur in late September. By November, the lows are usually near freezing. This is the driest period of the year with only occasional rain showers. In the higher elevations, snow is a possibility by November.

Winter

Mid-November through February: Winter in the Smokies is generally moderate, but extremes in weather do occur, especially with an increase in elevation. It is not unusual to have warm temperatures in the low elevations and snow in the higher areas. About half the days in the winter have high temperatures of 50 degrees or more. Highs occasionally even reach the 70s. Most nights have lows at or below freezing. But lows of -20°F. are possible at high elevations. In the low elevations, snows of 1″ or more occur 1-5 times a year. Snow falls more frequently in the higher mountains and up to two feet can fall during a storm. January and February are the months when one is most likely to find snow in the mountains.

weather pattern info sourced at NPS.gov

Sometimes an uninvited, but always welcomed, guest shows up to crash the wedding…

Important to note: Enjoy them from a distance, don’t approach, and definitely don’t try to feed them.

The Grand Hall

This is where the reception and celebration takes place. With an open air option (front & rear sliding doors and glass garage style doors on both side), you will enjoy a setting that fits whatever weather you are granted on your special day. The Grand Hall can seat up to 100 people, and the venue provides the white-washed Chiavari chairs and tables. Your chosen wedding planner will help coordinate linens and table decor with local rental companies to match your style.

The first dance always fits well with a breathtaking view!

Golden Hour Portraits

After dinner when the guests are up and mingling, and aligned with the timing of sunset, I will take you and your partner away from the reception for some quiet moments together as the sun fades. When I create your timeline, I build this time in so we can capture those epically gorgeous golden hour photos that we all love. And to double the fun, all the ceremonial stuff is done so you can relax a bit more and not worry so much if your dress gets dirty as we explore the wooded ground (amirite?!).

Indoor Reception + Dancing

The beauty about the spaces at The Magnolia, you can do whatever you want with a quick shift of the tables. Sometimes couples have the perfect weather for an evening under the stars (let’s be honest, sometimes my couples even dance in the rain), but the indoor space where dinner is held works as a wonderful option for dancing whether it is because of the weather or just personal preference.

Exclusive Wedding Photography Packages

With my extensive experience working at The Magnolia over the past few years, I have found that a full day of coverage best serves the space. Because of the logistics specific to this venue (guest arrival time via shuttle service, getting ready off premises for part of the wedding party, and such), I offer an exclusive 12-hour photography package that ensures you do not have to settle for less than you deserve. I’m very big on really taking in the moments, and anything less makes the day feel too rushed. I want the day to be enjoyable and as relaxing as possible without feeling like you have to fit all the photos into a shorter timeline. This timeline allows me to start at the cabin or Airbnb and keeps me there all the way to the final moments of the celebration. I will help you craft that timeline to ensure we have the best flow for the whole experience. I also offer this exclusive package for couples who book at their sister venue, The Trillium, so we can adventure down to their private waterfall.

Contact Magnolia + Ember for exclusive pricing details.

Vendor Spotlights

There are many amazing vendors throughout East Tennessee that have had the pleasure of working at The Magnolia. As a professional that is up here quite often, there are a few always stand out and never fail to impress. If you’re looking for what they have to offer, be sure to tell them Magnolia + Ember sent you their way!

MARSH MADE / Arbor Rental and Custom Carpentry

ECHELON FLORIST / Floral Design

JAYE BIRD / Design Studio for Watercolor Stationery

STEPHEN GOFF & THE ROYALS / Live Band and DJ Entertainment Service

HEATHER WOLFE ART / Live Painting

GELATO BROTHERS / Ice Cream and Coffee Truck

kind words from a couple at The Magnolia

“We hired Julie for our October 2020 wedding and it was one of the best decisions we made! She is absolutely incredible!! She was so kind, on time, professional, fun, and adventurous which is everything we could have asked for! It was raining and at the very end of evening most of us went outside and danced in the rain. Julie was out in the rain the entire time snapping photos and enjoying the rain with us. Not every photographer would have done that and that is just one of the many examples of how amazing Julie is. I would recommend Julie to anyone!!”

– B+S

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