About Kate
Lifelong “sporto.” Traveler. Organized optimist. Adventure accomplice.  And, with my whole soul, I believe that you and your partner should marry in a way that feels like you. SO... Four years ago, I completely reworked my photography business to honor that vision. I changed course so that you can too.  Ready to explore eloping?!  Let's Chat!
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4 Mistakes to Avoid when you elope in Tennessee

How-To & Tips

If you want to elope in Tennessee, keep an eye out to not to make these 4 mistakes.

I don’t like to highlight the negative, but these mistakes need to be highlighted. They can be made easily and lead your wedding to take a turn for the worse! So let this blog and my nerdy advice help you have a smooth Tennessee elopement. ❤️

Mistake #1 to avoid when you elope in Tennessee – Not thinking about the weather.

The South is known for temperate winters and muggy summers but there can be surprises at any time of the year! So, when you elope in Tennessee you need to think about the potential weather.

Why is Tennessee special weather-wise?

Well, for example in the late summer and into peak fall, Tennessee could be impacted by hurricane winds and rains. And there can be freezes in the winter and true cold weather, like this incredible winter waterfall elopement.

And, some parts of the state are actually not accessible in the winter! Surprising for the South, right?!?

Sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway close due to snow and/or ice, so pick your Tennessee elopement location carefully!

As you plan your wedding experience, be mindful of the time of year and time of day that you elope in Tennessee!

If you’re going to elope in Tennessee you need to think about the legalities of the marriage.

Mistake number two is people don’t do the appropriate research into the legalities of their wedding. Permits are often required in public lands/parks and rules on your celebrant’s ordination is a little unique in Tennessee.


Your location might require permits and other approvals to use it as your wedding spot.

I know that might feel like a lot of things to think about (especially if you’ve never really heard about these things before) but that’s a possible stress I take off your plate when you work with me as your elopement concierge & photographer.

I help all of my couples gather all the information that they need. Together we get all the paperwork squared away!


In Tennessee specifically, they are a bit more strict on ordination licenses. If your wedding ceremony officiant (or, whomever you plan to have officiate!) has been ordained online, it won’t be recognized within the state.

GULP. Does this make it hard to elope?

There are totally ways to get around this hiccup, they just require you to be creative and intentional.

How? Well.. you can:

  • Marry ahead of time at the courthouse
  • Go with a more traditional route in hiring your officiant
  • OR, even better, when you book me as your elopement photographer, I have gone through the extra steps the state law requires for a formal non-online ordination! This allows me to legally officiate weddings in Tennessee! (And pssst—my help to do so is at no extra cost to my eloping couples!😊)

So if you’re going to elope in TN, make sure you think about the legalities of who can marry you!

Lastly, you will of course need to make sure you get your marriage license! In Tennessee, it lasts for 30 days after issuance.

Mistake #3: Only eloping near the tourist spots when you elope in Tennessee

Tennessee has always been beautiful and worth visiting, but the attraction to Nashville has blown up. Gatlinburg and Great Smoky National Park are other hot spots for tourists. All of these spots can give way to incredible elopement activities and opportunities (they are popular for a reason!) But there is a sacrifice you make when you stick to the trendy, tourist spots.

Obviously there are positives and negatives to being near the central spots.

For one, if you’re looking for more access to things and more “obscure” elements, you’ll have an easier time. For example, if you want a smorgasbord of gourmet vegan desserts, the tourist spots will definitely have more options.

But you’ll have to pay more for things like unique lodging, risk “available date” issues, need more lead time, and potentially get lured into the trap of “all the things we need to have” with all of the options you find in front of you.

The biggest practical negative to your elopement hub being a tourist spot is that you’ll have to pay for it. More demand, higher prices!

Both Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Nation Park have an intense wedding industry. This means you may find you’re funneled back into the likely high-priced, high churn, highly used wedding industry experience even though you envisioned a beautiful unique elopement.

The biggest vibe negative to your elopement hub being a tourist spot is that, with rare exception, it has been done before.

While that’s not THE reason to not choose a location, if you crave something unique for your Tennessee elopement, it can feel disappointing…

Thinking you want to get married with a beautiful elopement in Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

Well, there are actually LOTS of rules about that with location limits, permits, and vendor approval requirements! I talk about their rules on eloping here, or, reach out and we can talk through other options if you really dig that GSMNP vibe, but without the headaches 😉

You deserve freedom, flexibility, and a chance for a little more privacy. ❤️

By not working with someone on your elopement or intimate wedding who excels in finding off the beaten path you might think the beaten path is all that’s out there for you.

But there IS another option. I pride myself on my ability to find the “vibe” my couples are looking for even within the limitations you may have (including wanting something unique!)

(And if vegan cake and seasonal market flowers matter to you but you don’t want to be near it all at a major hub, we’ll do what we can to find a way to meet your needs. 🤗)

Check out this full flushed list of other incredible Tennessee location spots!

The final mistake: Thinking you have to plan your elopement on your own in Tennessee

As a proud photographer of all, I aim to always be mindful of the sensitive aspects that each of my couples could face. With that in mind, I don’t want any of my couples to venture to the south without a thoughtful guide to help them towards the direction of tolerance, safety, and comfort.

The south IS evolving. Those of us that live here and believe in the beauty of that evolution, affectionately refer to it as the New South. But the Old South is out there.

If you’re in public spaces, inclusivity is more the norm and I always (ALWAYS) actively seek places, locations, and vendors that are welcoming to ALL my people.

But I do believe it is best to have a guide to support you on this journey. I’ll vet your vendors for you, help you to do our best to avoid bad spots, and create an incredibly empowering elopement experience. Your love should be celebrated beautifully in all the ways that make you happiest❤️️

Elope in Tennessee Successfully

Hopefully seeing the above list of 4 mistakes can help you plan your elopement more successfully in Tennessee, but there are a couple of other things you want to keep in mind. I’ve gathered a quick list of other resources or topics for you to be aware of:

  • This blog covers all the things you need to think about when trying to elope quickly, but it’s also a great resource on things you need to think about when planning your elopement, regardless of your timeline.
  • You can check out this post to learn how much an elopement should cost.
  • This blog gives you 7 questions to ask on your hunt for your elopement photographer.
  • If you want to include friends and family in your elopement, this blog shares with you how!

I’m currently booking for 2024 weddings and if that’s you, now is the time for us to talk! Drop me a line here to let me know your vision— I would love to help you elope in Tennessee!

What should I know about eloping in Tennessee?

Make sure your marriage is legal!!
Tennessee doesn’t recognize any officiants who have been ordained online! GULP! This means you are stuck going a more traditional route in hiring your officiant OR finding someone (like meee!) that has a formal ordination that can still support your original vision to elope in a private, special way.

Hi! I’m Kate, 

and I’m in your corner.

Lifelong “sporto.” Traveler. Organized optimist. Adventure accomplice.

With my whole soul, I believe that you and your partner should marry in a way that feels like you.   SO... Four years ago, I completely reworked my photography business to honor that vision.  To create a safe space for couples to create a wedding experience that feels right.

I changed course so that you can too.

Freeing couples to get married exactly how they want to, with no limits on what that looks like.   Is that bold?!?  Maybe, but you're ready!  

Reach out below and let's get started🙌

Let's build your elopement adventure!