I have been around as a wedding photographer in Western North Carolina for several years now. I absolutely love my chosen career and I live for the moments of pure joy and love that I capture. But here are 5 things that I wish my clients knew about getting married in the mountains.
Access to Mountain Views
When anyone types in search keywords such as Western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountains, or the Great Smoky Mountains into google, stunning mountaintop views immediately pop up in images.
Yes, we are known for these breathtaking images of rolling blue hills off the horizon. However, it is essential to note that most of the photos that google sources were taken from protected areas. Locations such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, the National Forests, or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
While these lands are accessible to the public, they do require special permits to hold weddings. This ensures that the land is respected. It also ensures that native plants and animals do not become harmed.
For example, did you know that this region has several endemic species such as Rock Gnome Lichen, Spreading Avens, and certain salamanders? Ecological systems can quickly become damaged if we are not careful.
That is why weddings and guests are limited to certain areas. For more information on holding a wedding in a protected natural area, all you have to do is visit their respected sites such as:
- Weddings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- National Forest Permits
- Weddings on the Blue Ridge Parkway
It is the client’s responsibility to secure the permits required to hold a wedding event, not the photographer’s.
Of course, your other option is to look for a mountain view through locally owned and operated wedding venues. There are several in the area that offers views just as stunning as protected lands!
Plan Your Drive Accordingly
On the same note as finding a natural area to hold your wedding, I wish my clients knew more about driving to their locations. The vast majority of my clients, both for weddings and family photoshoots, are from out of state.
If you have never driven on a twisty mountain road, it can take a while. I couldn’t help but get tickled a little over a year ago when I was chatting with a bride’s father.
The entire family was from Texas, and while I was waiting on the bride to finish getting ready, he told me, “There is one thing I have learned since I have been here.”
Turning, I looked at him and asked, “And what is that?”
He laughed and said, “That even if the GPS or map says it is only 15 miles, it can take up to 45 minutes to get where you need to go!”
Thankfully where they were staying and hosting the wedding was at the same location. Otherwise, this bride’s father could have made the mistake that many do when driving Western North Carolina mountain roads. That is misjudging how long it can take to get from point A to point B.
Curves can be steep, and you have no choice but to slow down! And if you are not familiar with driving winding roads, you will most likely go slower than you are used to. There is nothing wrong with that because anyone would rather you be safe than to speed and end up in a wreck.
Also, many experience motion sickness, especially when traveling our roads in the dark. I had a bride who was late to her sunrise wedding because she did not plan for motion sickness.
Take precautions and leave a little earlier if you are unsure of where you are going.
Being Late Will Affect Your Shoot Time!
I cannot stress the importance enough to you that being late for your wedding in a national forest area or in the parks is not acceptable. There are several reasons for this, but I will highlight the most significant one.
In the Fall, local wedding professionals work as if every day is Black Friday in a retail store. Especially in the month of October! There was one Wednesday last year that I worked four elopements in a single day.
I do my best to fit in everyone who reaches out to me for a photo session or wedding in Autumn. Why? Because it really is one of the most beautiful times of the year.
Therefore, if you are late for your session or ceremony, it will affect how much time I have to photograph you!!! I understand that if you are getting married, this is one of the most important days of your life, but there are others who are doing the same thing.
If you are late, I cannot stay past your scheduled time because it isn’t fair to the other bookings that I may have on my calendar.
PLAN PLAN PLAN PLAN PLAN!
I can’t stress it enough to everyone! Please just factor in some time for mishaps, hair and makeup, running late, etc.
Fill Up Your Gas Tank!
Finally, one issue I have run into more times than I care to entertain is clients not stopping to get gas for their vehicle. This seems obvious, but it happens more often than you think.
Once you cross the borders of protected lands in Western North Carolina, there are no gas stations. Trust me just take the five minutes the night before your wedding and fuel up, so you do not have to think about it.
While driving with the fuel light on may allow you to play gas tank roulette where you are from, it doesn’t bode well with mountain driving.
Put Your Wedding License in Your Car the Night Before
Ok, so I lied there was one more thing I wanted to mention to you. Along with forgetting to fuel up, another common mistake that people make is failing to bring their marriage license with them.
When you fuel up your gas tank the night before, go ahead and put your marriage license in with what you are bringing with you the next day or lock it in your glove box.
If you make this mistake, you are costing your wedding officiant time and money if they have to meet you on another day.
Wedding Professionals Want You to Enjoy Your Day
I will close with this at the end of it all; we want you to enjoy your time with your loved ones and celebrate life’s joyous moments. Starting your day off with stress by forgetting things, misjudging travel times, and running late can put a damper on the mood.
Simply be proactive about everything, and I promise you will have a great time!
If you would like to learn more about booking a wedding with me, you can do so here.