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Smoky Mountain Elopement Planning With Regulations

The Smoky Mountains is a popular elopement location, and for good reason! From rolling hills and mountain top ceremonies, to cozy wooded cabin locations. There is so much gorgeous variety for both weddings and intimate elopements. However, there are some things you should know before you get married in the Smokies. Here is Smoky Mountain Elopement Planning With Regulations.


Smoky Mountain Elopement pictures with bride being held by her groom as he carries her over large river rocks for their winter wedding

Smoky Mountain Elopement Permits

A Special Use Permit (SUP) is required to hold any type of ceremonies, even vow renewals, inside the National Park at churches and pre-designated locations. The guidelines given by the National Park are intended to facilitate discrete ceremonies that are appropriate to the quiet, natural settings found in the park.



How to Apply for a Special Use Permit

Before anything else, it is so important to read through the guidelines and permit conditions. However, if you are working with a Smoky Mountain wedding planner (hey there!) you can get all of you information from them! They will help guide you through available locations, how to submit applications and payments to the NAtional Park and so much more! Some planners will even do this for you and simply include the cost in their package price.


For more information on Special Use Permits, visit The Great Smoky Mountains site.


greenbrier elopement in the smoky mountains with bride and groom embracing while standing in a creek in the woods

Smoky Mountain Elopement Planning With Regulations

Just like any wedding venue, Smoky Mountain National Park does have regulations regarding approved activities and restricted activities. These are crucial to follow! As Smoky Mountain wedding photographers and planners, we love this part of creation. And we really want to help preserve the natural beauty here so that generations can enjoy the land just like we do. Here is what is approved and not, straight from the National Parks website:



Approved Activities & Items

  • Music: Acoustical instruments / mobile music devices are permitted, provided they are played at a reasonable volume. Sound amplification equipment, including electric musical instruments and keyboards, microphones and the use of a generator, is prohibited.

  • Decorations / Floral Arrangements: Discrete floral arrangements are permitted. Battery powered candles are allowed. All decorations must be removed immediately after event.

  • Seating: The use of up to 6 chairs can be used to accommodate guests with special needs only. Chairs are not provided. The use of additional chairs, benches, hay bales, etc. is not allowed.

  • Historic Structure Use: The permittee may clean a structure before use by sweeping/dusting and/or washing with light dishwashing solution. The use of any chemical cleaning agents is prohibited. The use of a sweeping compound is permitted, provided it is disposed of outside the Park.

  • Photography: With an approved special use permit, photography services may continue at other locations, beyond the permitted timeframe but must be completed on the day of the event. The permit holder is allowed access to any of the following locations for photography purposes only on the same date of the issued permit: scenic overlooks, open fields, stream banks, historic areas, or within ¼ mile of the trailhead on any designated trail. Photographs of the wedding party cannot be taken on paved roads or bridges which are open to motor vehicle use. Photography sessions which extend past the wedding day or outside a special use permit will require a Commercial Use Authorization. A Special Use Permit (SUP) is recommended for photo sessions that take place at the pre-designated locations. Photo sessions at pre-designated locations without a SUP must not enter the area until the permitted event is complete



Restricted Activities & Items

  • The following items are prohibited: horse-drawn carriages, tents/canopies, tables, banners/signs including directional signs, portable heating or cooling devices (electrical or otherwise). The release of live animals is prohibited.

  • Decorations: The following or similar items are not permitted: carpet runners, balloons, garden arches-stands-risers or other similar unnatural props, fireworks, candles/oil lamps, any item which produces an open flame, fog machines, confetti, bubbles, flower petals, silly string, birdseed, rice or any other such material are prohibited.

  • Unreasonable noise, such as horn honking and dragging tin cans, •littering, including that which could result from tying items to a car, is prohibited. The use of facilities, not listed in the permit, is prohibited (e.g. for use as a dressing room or waiting areas or using a structure as a rain shelter).

  • Food, including wedding cake, is prohibited in or near historic structures. Locations suitable for receptions are the picnic pavilions, Appalachian Clubhouse, Spence Cabin, or a venue outside the park. All food preparation, food, and food storage equipment must always be stored inside a vehicle or hard sided structure when not in use. The use of portable stoves, including charcoal grills, is prohibited in front country areas except in designated picnic areas. Do not throw food scraps on the ground or in fire rings.

  • Historic Structure Use: Furnishings may not be moved or disturbed nor may nails or similar devices be used to hang items from walls, furniture, or other surfaces. Writing or carving on any historic structure is vandalism and violators will be cited for such activity.

  • Drones: The use of an unmanned aircraft (UAS) or drone of any kind is strictly prohibited.


bridal portraits for Smoky Mountain Elopement P with bride in a field at Cades Cove with the mountains in the distance holding a white floral bouquet and smiling over her shoulder

While working with wedding professional in the Smokies, you can rest assured that they will be aware of these regulations. But if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out and let us help you plan!!



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