Are you looking for the best place to have an elopement in Tennessee?
Well you came to the right place. This guide includes some of the most beautiful places for elopements in TN as well as information about permits and other helpful tips and tricks to ensure you have the absolute best wedding day! This list is constantly growing as I find new locations to share so if you're not seeing something you absolutely love quite yet, be sure to check back at a later date or feel free to contact me about finding the perfect place for your elopement.
Please keep in mind that many of these locations are outdoors and may require hiking, camping, etc. - In order to maintain the integrity of these places for future generations to enjoy it is important to adhere to the Leave No Trace principles to minimize negative environmental impact.
Here is a list of locations currently covered in this blog post:
- Fall Creek Falls State Park
- Roan Mountain State Park
- Great Smokey Mountains National Park
- Rock Island State Park
- Cherokee National Forest
- Snooper's Rock
- South Cumberland State Park
- Virgin Falls State Natural Area
- Cove Lake State Park
- Ijams Nature Center
- Lookout Mountain
Keep reading to learn more about each of these locations and what makes them the best elopement locations in Tennessee!
1. Fall Creek Falls
Distance from the nearest hub city: Fall Creek Falls is only a little over an hour away from Chattanooga and about two hours away from both Knoxville and Nashville. Memphis is a little over five hours away.
Permits required: If you wish to have a wedding outside of one of their pre-selected wedding locations you will need to apply for a special use permit. Fees vary for every event depending on a number of factors - you have to submit your permit application to find out exact fees for your event (there is no charge to submit the application). Fees may range from $0-$250+.
What makes it great: In addition to the many beautiful waterfalls, Fall Creek Falls is also great because of the accessibility of some of their elopement spots. They have a secret overlook that can be rented for $200 that only requires a short walk but is completely private. This is a great option for couples who have friends/family attending that may not want to make a long trek to get to the ceremony location - you could totally go off and explore by yourself for some rad portraits before or afterward on one of the many trails.
Pro-tip: Like any state park, Fall Creek Falls is going to be more crowded on the weekends and during peak-tourism season. Consider planning your elopement for a weekday or during an off-season for the most privacy.
2. Roan Mountain State Park
Distance from the nearest hub city: Roan Mountain is about two hours from Knoxville, four hours from Chattanooga, five hours from Nashville and eight hours from Memphis.
Permits required: Yes - Roan Mountain is a TN state park so in order to have an elopement at a location other than one of their three venues you will need to apply for a special use permit. Fees vary for every event depending on a number of factors - you have to submit your permit application to find out exact fees for your event (there is no charge to submit the application). Fees may range from $0-$250+.
What makes it great: Roan Mountain is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Tennessee with incredible views to be seen from the top of the rolling grassy balds. If you dream of getting married while surrounded by a 360 degree view of mountains, Roan Mountain might be for you.
Pro-tip: Roan Mountain gets snow quite often during the winter months. While that may make for a beautiful snowy elopement day, it can also lead to road closures. If you're planning on a winter wedding at Roan Mountain be sure to keep an eye on the weather and any road closures that may come about because of excessive icy conditions.
3. Great Smokey Mountains National PArk
Distance from the nearest hub city: GSMNP is only about 45 minutes from Knoxville, two hours from Chattanooga, three hours from Nashville and six and a half from Memphis.
Permits required: Yes - To have an elopement in the Smokey's you will need to apply for a special use permit. This permit is $50 for any of their pre-approved locations or $150 for any event held at non-listed locations. Permitting is much more strict for national parks and even permitted locations may have additional restrictions. You will also need a photography permit for elopements within this park.
What makes it great: Well for starters, there are no entrance fees for GSMNP, which is pretty sweet. Additionally, with over 500,000 acres to explore, even in the busy seasons you can find a secluded spot for an intimate ceremony. The breathtaking mountain views aren't too shabby either.
Pro-tip: If you are considering the Cade's Cove area of GSMNP for your elopement, keep in mind that it can get INCREDIBLY busy during peak season.....like 4-5 hours of traffic busy. Don't get me wrong it's still a beautiful area for elopements, but this is just something to keep in mind as you will need to plan your day accordingly. Elopements in the Cade's Cove area are restricted to M-F during October as well as only being allowed in designated areas.
4. Rock ISland State Park
Distance from the nearest hub city: Rock Island State park is roughly 1.5 hours away from both Chattanooga and Nashville, two hours away from Knoxville and about 4.5 hours away from Memphis.
Permits required: Like the other state parks mentioned, if you wish to have a wedding somewhere other than one of the pre-designated locations you will need a special use permit. Fees vary for every event depending on a number of factors - you have to submit your permit application to find out exact fees for your event (there is no charge to submit the application). Fees may range from $0-$250+.
What makes it great: Rock Island is home to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls in Tennessee that make for an excellent backdrop for your wedding day. Rock Island also has very affordable cabins and could double as your honeymoon location if you are looking for something a little more budget friendly - or if you want to make a full weekend out of your wedding.
Pro-tip: Like with many other state parks, weekends and summer's can get busy at Rock Island. The best time for an elopement would be during the week, but if that isn't an option, consider having a sunrise elopement to ensure more privacy.
5. CHEROKEE NATIONAL FOREST
Distance from the nearest hub city: Depends on which section of the forest you visit.
Permits required: Permits may be required for both the ceremony and photography. I am currently awaiting confirmation from the Ranger District Office.
What makes it great: With over 600 miles of trails and 15 different specific recreation areas, the Cherokee National Forest has something for just about every eloping couple. Want a waterfall for your elopement - no problem. Maybe you want a scenic overlook, the CNF has ample amounts of those too. This area is especially great for anyone wanting to do something a little more adventurous such as a multi-day backpacking elopement or a paddle board elopement.
Pro-tip: Many areas within the CNF are great for exploring on horseback. If you and your person love to go horseback riding and want to incorporate that into your wedding day, this might be a great location for you!
6. Snooper's rock
Distance from the nearest hub city: Snooper's rock is about 40 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, a little over two hours from Knoxville, 2.5 hours from Nashville and 5.5 hours from Memphis.
Permits required: Your photographer will need to make sure they have the commercial permit needed to shoot in Prentice Cooper (the forest Snooper's Rock is located in). It doesn't cost anything but does have to be applied for at least two weeks in advanced.
What makes it great: The sunrise views at Snooper's Rock are hard to beat. It also only requires a short walk if accessibility is a concern and since it's so close to downtown Chattanooga, you can pop into town to grab some breakfast at one of the many incredible local restaurants to celebrate!
Pro-tip: Snooper's Rock does close to the public occasionally during hunting season so be sure to check the hunting schedule to make sure it will be open on your desired elopement date. Additionally, Snooper's Rock is becoming increasingly popular for sunrise elopements in Chattanooga, I would highly recommend hiring a local photographer (such as myself) who has access to the private calendar that shows when other elopements are happening to ensure that you don't have to share the views with another eloping couple.
7. South Cumberland State Park
Distance from the nearest hub city: South Cumberland State Park is a little under an hour away from Chattanooga, 1.5 hours from Nashville, 2.5 hours from Knoxville and 4.5 hours from Memphis.
Permits required: If you wish to have a wedding somewhere other than one of the pre-designated locations you will need a special use permit. Fees vary for every event depending on a number of factors - you have to submit your permit application to find out exact fees for your event (there is no charge to submit the application). Fees may range from $0-$250+.
What makes it great: With over 90 miles of trails and multiple overlooks, waterfalls and forests to explore, South Cumberland State Park is the perfect location for those who are looking to spend their elopement day exploring the outdoors. If you don't want to spend a full day within the park, Foster Falls is a relatively easy trail, only a few miles round trip.
Pro-tip: While there are many different falls to explore, my personal favorites are Foster Falls and Greeter Falls - both would be so fun to say "I do" in front of.
8. Virgin Falls State Natural Area
Distance from the nearest hub city: Virgin Falls is roughly 1.5 hours away from Chattanooga, a little under 2 hours from Knoxville, just over 2 hours from Nashville and 5.5 hours from Memphis.
Permits required: Virgin Falls is managed by Fall Creeks Falls and you will need an approved special use permit if you wish to have an elopement here. Fees vary for every event depending on a number of factors - you have to submit your permit application to find out exact fees for your event (there is no charge to submit the application). Fees may range from $0-$250+.
What makes it great: Well, for starters, there is a 110ft waterfall, so that's kinda cool. Additionally, because of the length of this hike, you are not likely to run into any large crowds so if you are wanting a private vow reading with an epic backdrop this is the perfect location for you.
Pro-tip: This is not a short hike - this is a 9ish mile hike. So make sure you are properly prepared with water and snacks. This would make for a great all-day adventure elopement (which of course I highly recommend and love to help my eloping couples plan).
9. Reelfoot lake State Park
Distance from the nearest hub city: Reelfoot Lake is two hours from Memphis, about three hours from Nashville, five hours from Chattanooga and a little under six hours from Knoxville.
Permits required: Yes - Reelfoot Lake is a state park and you will need an approved special use permit if you wish to have an elopement here unless it is at a pre-designated location. Photography permits may also be required. Fees vary for every event depending on a number of factors - you have to submit your permit application to find out exact fees for your event (there is no charge to submit the application). Some elopements may not require additional fees at all.
What makes it great: This one is for all my west Tennessee people. While it may not have the mountain views or majestic waterfalls that other state parks in this guide offer, that doesn't mean it isn't just as beautiful - it's like being in a flooded forest! The views of the lake as the sun goes down are something you don't want to miss!
Pro-tip: This location is excellent for those who want to invite family and friends to be apart of their special day. They have many easily accessible locations for a ceremony as well as places for a small reception afterwards.
10. Ijams nature center
Distance from the nearest hub city: Ijams is only 10 minutes from Downtown Knoxville, a little under two hours away from Chattanooga, about 3 hours from Nashville and a little under 6 hours from Memphis.
Permits required: If you wish to have a photographer, there is a $30 fee for their photographer pass. Additional fees for having a ceremony there will vary based on the location/number of hours needed. You can find their pricing *here*
What makes it great: While it may only be 10 minutes from downtown, you'd honestly never know. With over 300 acres to explore, it's easy to forget how close you are to town. Ijams Nature Center has a very enchanting, mystical vibe reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. It is also very affordable and easy to get to - plus, being only a few minutes from downtown means you could go celebrate with a night on the town after saying "I do".
Pro-tip: If you like coffee and need a little pick me on your special day, be sure to visit K-Brew! They have three different locations in Knoxville but it's honestly one of my all time favorite coffee places (and I promise you - I've been to a bunch). I always like to try their seasonal drinks because their employees come up with the recipes themselves. Additionally, they have some AMAZING bagels if you need a little pre-wedding snack.
11. Lookout Mountain
Distance from the nearest hub city: Lookout Mountain is located just 15-20 minutes outside of downtown Chattanooga, about 2 hours from both Knoxville/Nashville and 5 hours from Memphis.
Permits required: It depends on what location on Lookout Mountain you choose. There are multiple options, some require permits/applications, some do not. This is why it's great to hire an elopement specific photographer (such as myself) as we can help you figure out the best places and if permits are needed or not.
What makes it great: Lookout Mountain provides some of my absolute favorite views of the Tennessee valley and some of the best sunsets I've ever seen. If a sunset elopement is something you are interested in, Lookout Mountain could be a great option for you.
Pro-tip: There are many AirBnB's up on Lookout Mountain that could serve as a getting ready space (potentially even a ceremony spot depending on the rental) and most of them are within just a few minutes drive of the best views in the area.
Found your perfect Tennessee elopement location?
If any of these locations pique your interest and you're all set to have your special day in Tennessee, I'd love to help you craft your dream elopement day! In addition to providing photography services, I provide all of my couples with location scouting, vendor recommendations, and customized timelines to help reduce stress and allow them to focus on the most important thing - enjoying their elopement day! Check out how it works or click the button below to contact me for more information.