If you’re even remotely interested in the great outdoors (and I’m sure you are if you’re considering an elopement) then you’ve probably heard of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Famous for its Blue Ridge Parkway and a plethora of notable mentions in songs (John Denver was the #1 BRM fanboy), the Blue Ridge is full of jaw-dropping nature to explore. And, crazily enough, the mountains literally look blue! The isoprene released from trees in the area gives the mountains a blue haze when you look at them from a distance. The Blue Ridge is a perfect choice for couples looking for a scenic, east coast mountain elopement!
The first states that pop into your mind when you think of the Blue Ridge Mountains are probably southeast states like North Carolina and Tennessee, and rightfully so. Mount Mitchell, the highest peak of the Blue Ridge, is in North Carolina. Plus, these two states alone are home to 39 of the highest peaks in the range and some insanely picturesque views. But this mountain range is massive and extends through Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, and all the way into southern Pennsylvania. While it dwindles in height after reaching PA, the range technically even extends further than that, its bedrock core reaching into the Northern Appalachians of Massachusetts and Vermont. If you’re considering a mountain elopement but are looking for a less popular or overcrowded destination, you should definitely look into the northern half of the Blue Ridge Mountains that stretches through Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Already sold and wondering how you can make it happen? Check out the guide below!
When it comes to the Blue Ridge, the portions that extend into Maryland and Pennsylvania tend to get lumped together into what’s known as South Mountain. South Mountain encompasses the northernmost extension of the Ridge. It’s 70 miles long and is home to a large chunk of the Appalachian Trail that follows along the ridgeline, so it includes a whole lot of nature to explore. Here are just a handful of reservations, parks, and venues you can look into in each state.
If you love gorgeous fall foliage, small-town Americana, or anything related to US history, you should definitely look into these MD destinations. There are a ton of options for any couple, no matter what kind of elopement you’re looking for. If you want a lowkey ceremony out in nature, look into the state parks. If you’re looking for a serene, small-town wedding with a handful of loved ones, look into venues in the towns mentioned below.
- State Parks: South Mountain State Park, Greenbrier State Park, Washington Monument State Park
- Mountainside towns: Boonsboro, Middletown, Knoxville
- The most scenic hikes: Weverton Cliffs, Annapolis Rock, Washington Monument
Because there is only a bit on the Blue Ridge that extends into PA, there isn’t a whole lot to list here. But the places on this list are pretty dang cool! Just like the Maryland locations, these places offer a lot of small-town charm and colonial history. Plus, exploring the options on this list may help you discover a nearby nature reserve or town that isn’t part of the Blue Ridge, but is perfect for what you’re looking for.
- State Parks: Michaux State Forest, Caledonia State Park, Pine Grove State Park
- Towns: Mont Alto and Waynesboro are two quaint small towns that are close to the base of the mountains!
- Hikes: Chimney Rocks, Rocky Knob, Pole Steeple, Sunset Rocks
Surprisingly, nearly half of the Blue Ridge Mountain range is in Virginia. 116 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway extends through the state as well, providing an abundance of options for elopement destinations! VA thrives on tourism generated from the BRP, so there are lots of beautiful wineries, resorts, cabins, and inns all along the Blue Ridge. Plus, you can find a hiking trail with an incredible view just about anywhere along the Parkway. Here are just a few of the many options to get you exploring!
- State and National Parks: Mill Mountain Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grayson Highlands State Park
- Towns: A lot of the destinations along the Blue Ridge Parkway, aren’t really incorporated towns. But a few you can check out are Roanoke, Waynesboro, and Buena Vista!
- Venues and Destinations: Natural Bridge Hotel (and the Natural Bridge landmark), 12 Ridges Vineyard, The Iris Inn, Peaks of Otter
Permits, Licenses, and all that Jazz
Each state will have its own marriage license process, but all will be relatively similar. No matter where you choose to elope (whether it’s in the Blue Ridge Mountains or not), make sure you bring your ID, proof of citizenship, and factor any fees into your wedding budget.
State parks, nature, or photography permits can get kind of complicated. You should definitely make sure you have a planner or photographer(like me!) who knows the ropes of local permitting. If you choose me as your photographer, I can totally help with that! I know all the ins and outs of obtaining the right permits and licenses, regardless of location.
Small Things to Remember
Once you have your location, accommodations, and vendors lined up, you’re ready for the big day! Here are a handful of tips to remember to make the day as magical as possible.
The most important thing to remember when eloping is proper footwear! If you’re planning on eloping anywhere on a hiking trail, I highly advise against wearing heels. You don’t want a twisted ankle to ruin the rest of your day!
Make sure you are considering which season you want to get married in when you’re planning your northern Blue Ridge elopement. If you want the vibrant reds and oranges of fall to be part of your photos, be prepared for colder temperatures at night. If you’re considering a summer wedding, definitely keep the potential for crazy humidity in mind.
- Blue Ridge Parkway closures
The Parkway is typically open year-round. But sometimes sections will close due to ice, snow, or storm damage. Closed roads suck, but in some circumstances, the roads of the Parkway don’t close even when they should! That could mean you and your partner or your whole wedding party could get stuck in a scary situation. Always check the road conditions and weather forecast before heading out on the Blue Ridge Parkway!
Are you ready to plan your elopement in the Blue Ridge Mountains? As your photographer, I will not only take epic photos of your whole day, but I can help you find vendors, accommodations, and plan your day from start to finish. Contact me here to start the process!