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As you are planning your Smoky Mountain wedding, there are some things to keep in mind. It’s no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is such a popular destination for weddings. There is no other place on Earth like these majestic mountains! The scenery is stunning and the Smoky Mountain area has ample resources for your wedding attendees. There is no other destination like the Smoky Mountains!

Luckily, as you’re planning your Smoky Mountain wedding, there are plenty of resources. With decades of experience, we’re here to help!

Here are a few tips for planning your Smoky Mountain wedding:

Plan Early

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service has a list of pre-approved wedding ceremony locations in the National Park. The most popular locations include mountain rivers, streams, views, historic churches in Cades Cove, and waterfalls. National Park rules only allow two weddings per day at each of these locations. Make your plans as early as possible to have the most options.


The National Park requires a permit for all weddings within the park’s boundaries. The permit allows you to have your ceremony at a specific location but does not give you exclusive use of that location. All areas of the park are open to the public. Because of this, an experienced, local wedding professional will be able to suggest a day and time that gives you the best opportunity for privacy. You can obtain your permit or let your wedding services provider get it for you.  

Information on permits and a list of approved wedding vendors are available from Lisa Brown at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 828-497-1930. Learn more about weddings inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park here.

Keep it Simple

The outdoor locations in the Smokies are best suited for small, simple weddings with less than 25 guests and little to no decorations. There are a few indoor wedding locations that are better suited for weddings with more than 25 guests including the rustic churches in Cades Cove, The Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin.


The weather is the Smoky Mountains is simply unpredictable. The temperatures during Spring and Fall are especially erratic. While normally comfortable, temperature can fluctuate dramatically in these transitional seasons. Make sure to work with local vendors to come up with a back up plan for inclement weather, and consider temperature fluctuations when planning your wedding attire

Marriage License

If your wedding site is on the Tennessee side of the National Park, you must obtain a Tennessee marriage license. It is surprisingly easy to get your marriage license in Sevier County, simply apply online. There is no waiting period and a blood test is not required. If you and your fiancé are both legal residents of another state or country, your marriage license will cost $41.00.

The county clerk has three locations: Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. More information on Tennessee marriage licenses can be found here or by calling the Sevier County Courthouse at 865-453-5502.


Although GPS is getting better all the time, it’s best to get directions. Confirm directions to your lodging, wedding services, and wedding ceremony with the companies you are working with. The rough terrain and winding rivers make GPS problematic in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge areas.  There are old roads that are no longer passable, one-way roads, and lots of traffic considerations that GPS doesn’t always take into account.

We recommend having a printed map with directions for your guests.


The National Park consists of rocky terrain. It is best to wear flat comfortable shoes. This is good advice not just for the bride but also for her guests. If your dress has already been fitted for you in heels, it would be best to wear flats and then change into heels just before the ceremony.

The terrain can also be challenging for anyone who has a hard time getting around. If you have guests who have a handicap or may have difficulty walking on uneven surfaces, we suggest an alternate location in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for your wedding ceremony. You can still have wedding pictures made in the beautiful settings of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but your ceremony would be more accessible for your loved ones.


Your decision to marry in the Smokies will more than likely have to do with the amazing scenery.  To take full advantage of the breathtaking scenes you should hire an experienced, local photographer. Also note that only authorized photographers are legally allowed to photograph inside the GSMNP.

It’s easy for amateurs to photograph the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains with today’s technology, and almost as easy to make good photos of people. However, it can be difficult when you combine the two. There are challenging lighting and composition considerations that are unique to this area.  A good photographer will be familiar with these challenges, and they can recommend the best locations for your wedding photos.

Planning your Smoky Mountain Wedding: Next Steps

Planning a destination wedding can be intimidating. The great thing about planning your Smoky Mountain wedding is the large variety of resources available to you. There is a variety of local, professional wedding vendors, chambers of commerce, and informational websites such as the Smoky Mountain Wedding Association ready and excited to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. For even more tips, read this!

View our wedding packages here, and contact us today to plan your Smoky Mountain wedding reception entertainment!

Written by Eric Gebhart of New Beginnings Photography for your Smoky Mountain Wedding Packages


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