I have a tendency to get a little rigid in my thinking. I am not a creature of change.
As such, I occasionally find myself somewhat bewildered that society as a whole has gone on and evolved without seeking my blessing.
For instance, I had a pretty clear vision of what it meant to elope. Namely, a bride and groom escaping from their home region to run off and get married either because the pressures of wedding planning were becoming overwhelming or some other factor like parental disapproval.
That, my friends, is no longer what it means to elope, at least not in Gatlinburg.
In Gatlinburg, elope is now a very big tent and it’s very big business.
Gatlinburg has long been a popular destination for weddings – and presumably elopements – and there is a fine framework in place for those who wish to plan a formal destination wedding as well as those who prefer to go out on a limb and wing it.
Here are our best tips for eloping in Gatlinburg.
1. Pick a well-reviewed location
It used to be that eloping meant you’d forgo a certain type of romanticism.
Getting married in a fever at the courthouse by a justice of the peace isn’t traditionally romantic, but I do think there’s something to be said for the passion of “We can’t stand not being officially wed for another minute longer.”
But that kind of passion meant losing the picturesque setting, the bride in a white dress and all the traditional trappings of a wedding.
Now, under new elopement you can have your wedding cake and eat it, too.
Several establishments in Gatlinburg are set up to do beautiful, scenic small weddings on relatively short notice for a couple who has chosen to elope.
For our top picks, check out our list of best wedding chapels in Gatlinburg.
2. Create a small guest list (45 or less)
For some, the original point of eloping was getting away from any and all pain-in-the-arse relatives who were getting in the way of true love.
But in Gatlinburg, you’re welcome to create whatever version of elopement you’d like.
Create a destination elopement with just immediate family, or a few friends, or the dog.
We don’t care. We don’t judge. Just come on down and bring your wedding dress. For the right price, Gatlinburg has plenty of businesses that will do the rest.
3. Bring your own license (and other necessities)
While elopement packages in Gatlinburg can be all inclusive, there are a couple of things you’re going to need.
First, a significant other. We don’t provide those on demand. Although, hang around the right establishment at closing time and you might get lucky.
Also, a license.
You can’t get wedded-up in Gatlinburg without a license issued from the Sevier County Courthouse.
You can pre-apply online at the Tennessee County Clerk website and your license will be forwarded to the Sevier County Clerk’s office for processing.
A license must be used within 30 days or you have to get another.
You and your beloved will need a valid photo ID issued by the government like a driver’s license, passport or a state-issued photo ID.
4. Pick a date and make a reservation as far ahead as you can
This seems antithetical to the very idea of eloping.
Certainly, you can elope the old fashioned way, without going to a wedding company and purchasing a package.
But if you want a full service elopement, you’ll want to keep a close eye on available slots.
Gatlinburg is a romantic wedding destination and as such, slots can fill up quickly.
This shouldn’t be too surprising for a town where two-hour wait lists for dinner are commonplace. If you have to wait two hours for a steak, you can imagine wedding venues may also be spotty last minute.
I’m sure that if you’re really doing it spur of the moment, someone will accommodate you. But if you want to be sure to get what you want, plan ahead a little and reserve.
5. Don’t stress
The big appeal, at least in my eyes, of eloping is avoiding all of the stress that comes with planning a big wedding.
For packages as low as $400 or so, there are plenty of places in Gatlinburg that will cater to your needs.
Depending on your price, they can get an officiant, a photographer and more to take the pressure off and allow you to enjoy your big day without worrying about who wanted fish or chicken or whether Aunt Molly got seated in the wrong section and on and on and on.
Weddings are joyous occasions.
The appeal of eloping to Gatlinburg is that you can enjoy a romantic wedding in the mountains. All you have to do is relax and have fun.
Are you thinking about eloping in Gatlinburg or know someone who has? Let us know in the comments!