Once you've decided to elope in NC and thrown out the rulebook for traditional weddings, you're probably wondering how you're going to plan this elopement you're dreaming of. Chances are you've never planned a wedding before, and you most likely haven't attended an elopement, so where do you start?

How to Elope in North Carolina

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to planning your North Carolina elopement.

If you're a beach-lover at heart, you can get married on the coast! There are beaches and state parks in both North and South Carolina to choose from. 

Coast of North Carolina

In addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway and National Forests, there are also a variety of state parks like Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell for elopements.

State Parks

If you're looking for mountain views with the comfort of a venue, there are many elopement and small wedding venues here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Elopement Venues

North Carolina is home to 4 National Forests. Pisgah National Forest is the most prominent forest near Asheville and offers many trails including balds with 360º veiws.

National Forests

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most versatile places near Asheville to get married, with stunning mountain views and a variety of overlooks and trails.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville is the perfect city to elope, nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with beautiful architecture and easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.


North Carolina has a myriad of beautiful locations for every couple.

Step 1: Choose Your North Carolina Elopement Location

The best spots for a small ceremony with guests, hiking with your partner, an intimate dinner party, places to stay, and more.

The Best Places to Elope near Asheville

1. Guest Limits:
The Blue Ridge Parkway allows 25 guests total. For over 25 guests, I would recommend booking a small venue.

2. Ability Level of Guests:
If you want to invite grandparents or anyone who is not able to hike long distances, you'll want to get married at an easily accessible spot like an overlook or short hike.

3. Other Ways to Include Family:
There are many ways to include others when you're keeping it small. You can ask family members to write you a letter to read on your elopement day, live stream your ceremony, or host a post-elopement party to celebrate.

Things to Consider:

Step 2: Choose Who to Invite

Navigating the rules of inviting guests to your ceremony in the mountains can get quite confusing, so check out this guide for everything you need to know about eloping with guests!

Eloping with Family in North Carolina


Pros: Cool weather, beautiful fall colors.

Cons: Busy trails during peak foliage, BRP does not issue permits for October.

Tip: Get married at a venue to avoid tourist crowds, or on the parkway in early November.


Pros: Brightest colors, warm weather.

Cons: Busier trails, temperatures can be hot for hiking.

Tip: Get married on a weekday during the summer to avoid large crowds.


Pros: Privacy on the trails, spring colors, comfortable temperatures for hiking.

Cons: Possibility of rain.

Tip: Prepare for rain with umbrellas and ponchos.


Pros: Privacy on the trails, beautiful snowy scenery.

Cons: Possibility of road closures, colder temperatures.

Tip: Have a solid plan B location in case your location is inaccessible due to weather or road closures.

I recommend starting by choosing a season, and narrowing it down from there!

Step 3: Set Your Date

Each state park will have their own rules, which you can usually find on their website.

State Parks

Pisgah National Forest does not require permits for weddings with under 75 guests.

National Forests

You are required to obtain a permit for ceremonies on the Blue Ridge Parkway, capped at 25 guests total.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Some places in North Carolina require that you obtain a permit for your ceremony.

Step 4: Permits

You know those little but important details that only the locals seem to know about? I've listed them all in this blog post so that you can walk into your elopement as a Blue Ridge Parkway pro.

The Ultimate Guide to Eloping on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Step 5: Book Your Local Vendors & Accommodations

Couples usually reach out to me before they have a location or a date, so inquiring is a great first step to begin planning.

Once you've narrowed down your date and general location, you can begin booking local vendors.

You will need to hire an officiant to officiate your ceremony, make sure they are comfortable with hiking and/or specialize in elopements.



Many couples also book a hair & makeup artist, florist, caterer, videographer, etc.

Additional Vendors

Step 7: Building Your Timeline

12:30 pm: Erin Arrives at Airbnb
12:30 pm: Getting Ready
1:00 pm: First Look at Airbnb
1:30 pm: Head to Ceremony Location
2:00 pm: Arrive at the Trailhead
2:10 pm: Begin Hiking to Overlook
2:30 pm: Ceremony
3:00 pm: Family & Couple’s Portraits at the Ceremony Spot
4:00 pm: Hike Down
5:00 pm: Head to Dinner Location
5:30 pm: Celebratory Dinner with Guests
6:30 pm: Head to Sunset Hike Location
6:45 pm: Arrive at Trailhead
7:00 pm: Sunset Portraits
8:30 pm: End of the Day

1. Google search the sunrise and sunset times for your location and elopement date. Keep in mind that the sun will likely disappear behind the mountains earlier than the sunset time.
2. Overestimate how much time you will need. Weddings are unpredictable and don't always go 100% according to plan, so budgeting extra time for each part of the day will reduce stress if something goes late.
3. Similarly, you'll want to estimate an extra 10-15 minutes for driving to account for unexpected traffic.
4. Remember that you don't have to wait until after your ceremony to do portraits! Lots of couples will choose to have a first look, take portraits, and then head to the ceremony.

Timeline Tips:

You can obtain your marriage license at any Register of Deeds Office in North Carolina. The license is valid for 60 days, so you can visit the office anywhere for 2 months-the day before your elopement to get your license.

Step 8: North Carolina Elopement Marriage License & Witnesses

The state of North Carolina requires that 2 witnesses and an ordained officiant sign your marriage license. Decide who you'd like those 2 witnesses to be (I can sign as one!).

1. Obtaining Your Marriage License

2. Witnesses

3. Officiant's Role

Your officiant will need to sign the marriage license as well, and most professionals will take care of submitting the license and mailing you the official certificate. Make sure to check with your officiant about this!

Preparing for Your Elopement Day

Everything you'll need for your elopement day in one list.

Before you hit the trails, review the 7 principles of Leave No Trace so that you know how to best care for and preserve the land you're getting married on.

Review the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

- Review the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.
- Choose a location and review the specific rules for that area.
- Apply for any permits you’ll need.
- Hire vendors that are knowledgable and share the same values as you.
- Research hiking and trail conditions & pack the necessary gear.
- Always bring an emergency/first aid kit.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

- Stay on an established trial as much as possible.
- Stay on rock, sand, and gravel. These surfaces are the most durable and can withstand foot traffic. Avoid stepping on vegetation such as live plants, meadows, fields and wildflowers.

2. Travel on Durable Surfaces

- Pack it in, pack it out: Whatever you bring with you on trail, you should bring out.
- If you pop champagne, don't let the cork fly off. Pack it out with the wire cage & wrapper as well.
- Bring a trash bag with you.
- Inspect the area before you leave to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

- Leave the area just as, if not better, than you found it.
- Do not throw confetti on public lands.
- Avoid damaging trees and plants. Don’t carve anything into trees, and refrain from collecting rocks, sticks or flowers.

4. Leave it Better Than You Found it

Campfires are one of my personal favorite ways to end an elopement day. If you plan to have a campfire during your elopement, make sure you’re familiar with the specific rules and regulations for the area. Have fires within an existing fire pit, never leave a fire unattended, and thoroughly extinguish the fire.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

- Don’t disturb wildlife. Although it may be tempting to get a photo with a dear you see along the trail, refrain from moving too quickly towards them or making a lot of noise. These things will often scare them, so observe from a distance.
- Don’t feed animals. Feeding animals can cause them to depend on humans for food. As a result, making them more aggressive, and less afraid to go up to people for food.
- If you plan to bring your own pet for your elopement, keep them on a leash so that they’re not tempted to chase after other animals.

6. Respect Wildlife

- Be aware of the amount of space your group is taking up. Let hikers pass, and be considerate of everyone on the trail.
- Let others take photos and enjoy the views too. Refrain from staying in one area for too long so that everyone around you has their turn.
- It’s okay to ask other’s for a turn as well. Politely ask others if you can step in for a quick photo, and move quickly so that the next person has a turn.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Now that you've made it through the guide...

The only thing left to do to get the process started, is to reach out below! I'll provide you with all the resources and custom planning assistance you need, so that you can focus on the fun parts of planning your day!