Many couples travel to Asheville and the mountains of North Carolina for an elopement or a small wedding celebration with a few friends or family members. It's the perfect place to elope. Since we have so many public lands such as national and state parks and forest, nature provides the ultimate setting and decoration! Having a simple wedding means there is more time for exploring. Photo by Meghan Rolfe.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Weddings and elopements with 25 people or less are allowed along the Blue Ridge Parkway with a permit (application fee of $60 and permit fee $40). There are many places, ranging from waterfalls to mountaintops, but none are private. So you may have some extra onlookers. The permit covers two hours for a ceremony - no receptions. Permits are not issued for federal holidays or the month of October (busiest month due to fall color). Keep it simple: no live plants, no releasing of doves/butterflies, no birdseed/rice throwing, no open flames, no decorating with ribbons, no balloons, no alcoholic beverages. For ideas, see our Top 50 Parkway Stops near Asheville. No weddings allowed at busiest spots such as Waterrock Knob, Graveyard Fields and Devil's Courthouse. Go to the Blue Ridge Parkway website for Wedding Policies & Permit.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A permit for a ceremony or portrait photography is required ($50) with application completed at least 14 days in advance. Much of the park is open to outdoor weddings with a maximum of 20 people and six cars. If you want a larger wedding, they have approved locations for a ceremony - including historic churches:
- Road to Nowhere, Fontana Lake overlook, maximum of 15 cars and 30 people
- Deep Creek Picnic Pavilion, a good choice if you want a picnic afterwards. A very busy area in the summer with camping, waterfalls and tubing.
- Historic Mingus Mill (no private events March-Nov 9AM-5PM when open for tour) - perfect for evening wedding.
- Historic Smokemont Church, maximum of 6 cars and 40 people (pic above)
- Collins Creek Picnic Pavilion off Newfound Gap Road
- Heintooga Overlook on Heintooga Ridge Road, adjacent to picnic area. Entrance from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Historic Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley - maximum of 10 cars and 50 people (pic at very top of page)
If you have a NC license, be sure to stay on the NC side of the park. Remember that since this is a national park, there are many regulations. Download a PDF of their Permit Guidelines for Weddings. For more info and permit applications, go to their website.
Pisgah National Forest & Nantahala National Forest
If you have 75 or fewer people, a permit is not required. If you want to get married at a developed site with an office, just notify them first. Otherwise, you can have a ceremony anywhere on public forest land. Of course, you cannot block trails or prevent other guests from visiting. You cannot bring in decorations, flowers or food (unless it's a simple picnic). Keep it simple!
Chimney Rock Park
Find a variety of spots for a wedding for the cost of park admission for each guests. Say your vows atop the famous Chimney or in front of Hickory Nut Falls if you have 15 guests or less. Stay away from weekends in July and October. Contact them to check dates - all weddings require a reservation. For larger groups, they have a Pavilion for up to 150 guests. And their Old Rock Café has a great outdoor deck for a meal afterwards. Read more.
Elope on the private grounds of America’s largest home and get access to the entire estate for photos! Their Elopement Package includes luxurious overnight accommodations for the couple at the Inn on Biltmore and up to 12 chairs for guests. Biltmore’s wedding team books elopements within 90 days of the big day. You can add on special experiences like a carriage ride, special tours of the house and a romantic dinner. Go to their website.
Morse Park by the marina offers a lot of lakefront spots - no reservations needed for a small wedding with no chairs / decorations. A gazebo is also available by reservation. Another option is renting a pontoon boat and getting married on the lake. Nearby in Chimney Rock Village is the Riverwalk with plenty of spots by the rushing river. Read more.
North Carolina Arboretum
The beautiful setting of gardens and natural areas has an elopement package for 10 or less guests. It includes one hour at a wedding site, table, folding chairs setup, free parking, event coordinator, bridal room, and one year membership. $500 for Sunday-Thursday dates and $1,000 for Friday or Saturday. Go to their Website for more.
State Parks: Mt. Mitchell, Lake James, Gorges, South Mountains
A Special Activity Permit is required, but it's only $35. Call the state park office first for best locations and their procedures.
NC Mountains Elopement Packages
Rate: From $495
Rate: From $1250
Rates: From $449
Rate: From $2,100
Rate: From $1395
Getting Married in the Asheville Courthouse
Marriage Licenses are issued during business hours (8 AM-5 PM) at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office at 205 College Street, Asheville. Arrive by 4:30 PM. For more info, call 828-250-4301. Once you obtain a marriage license, marriages can be performed by a civil magistrate on the 2nd floor of the Buncombe County Courthouse (60 Court Plaza, Asheville). The magistrate is generally available on weekdays at 8:30 AM and 4 PM. However, this is not always the case, so it is advisable to call the magistrate’s office before arriving to ensure that he will be available. The fee is $20, payable in cash only. For more information, call the magistrate’s office at 828-259-3407. You will need two witnesses.
If you would like to get married after business hours or on the weekend, you may be able to do so by a criminal magistrate at the Buncombe County Jail. Please contact the criminal magistrate’s office at 828-250-4690 for more information.
For larger shindigs, see our Top 30 Asheville Wedding Venues.