Joyful • Intentional • real


How to Elope in Tennessee

just married couple sitting on the rocks in front of twin falls at their rock island state park elopement

So you want to elope in Tennessee, but you have no idea where to start? I got you! There are so many options when it comes to planning your elopement, and Tennessee has endless beautiful backdrops for your day. Let’s break it down so you can unlock the full potential of having an elopement and know what steps to take to make it happen!

What is an elopement?

First things first, what even is an elopement? Eloping has become very popular, especially in the times of covid, and it can mean different things to different people.

To me, an elopement is a wedding day that is truly about the couple. It can be just the couple or in can involve their closest friends and family, but is kept intimate and doesn’t have more than 25 people attending.

The day is personalized to the couple and their favorite things whether that’s going on an epic hike and saying their vows with amazing views or getting married in their backyard and having a small catered dinner party with beautiful details and their favorite people surrounding them.

Elopements are meant to be low stress and plans can be flexible within the general timeline. Without the stresses and traditions of a traditional wedding, elopements allow the couple to have more time doing exactly what they want and they can craft their entire day into whatever they love doing the most. If the couple loves to travel and adventure they may have a destination elopement in a place they love or that’s at the top of their bucket list.

The structure of the day can truly involve any activity or location, but the thing that all elopements have in common is that the focus is on the couple and every part of the day has meaning behind it and is hand picked by the couple to be part of their wedding day.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Are you getting excited about what your elopement could look like?

What do you do during your elopement?

You might be thinking that this sounds awesome, but not sure what an elopement day would entail. The best part about eloping is that it can be whatever you want! I suggest thinking about the best times you’re had with your partner and what those things have in common. Do you love to travel? Hike to beautiful views? Eat amazing food at home or at a new fancy restaurant? Is there a certain city or location that’s special to you two? Once you start brainstorming, you can dream up a day that is totally unique and perfect for exactly who you are and what your relationship was built upon.

Your elopement timeline and the events during your day is something that your photographer and/or planner can help a lot with. They will help with making sure you have a relaxed, perfectly timed day with plenty of time to take it all in. And beautiful photos of course!

Where should you elope?

Your elopement location is such a fun decision to make, but it can also be overwhelming with so many options. Here are some things to think about to help narrow down the options:

Would you like to elope in nature or in the city? If you envision your elopement in nature(mountains, beach, red canyons), think about any bucket list places or places that are already special to you. Most national and state parks allow elopements with a permit and small fee. If you think a city elopement is more up your alley, there are so many fun options: courthouse wedding, downtown rooftop, art gallery, private room at a restaurant. Whether you have no guests or just 20 of your closest people, there are so many locations other than wedding venues where you can get married.

How many people would you like to include in your day? You can have an entire day with just the two of you or you can include close family and friends in any part of your day. Some people prefer to have a private ceremony with just them and then join their people later for a celebratory meal together, and some people can’t imagine getting married without their family by their sides. Figuring out how many people you’ll be including for different parts of the day will help you figure out the perfect location.

Elopement Location Ideas in Tennessee

There are of of course amazing locations all over the country, but if you’re looking to elope in Tennessee, here are some TN elopement location ideas to get your wheels turning:

Rock Island State Park, Twin Falls– Beautiful wide waterfall with easy access after a short walk onto the rocks. Lots of other beautiful locations in the park for photos and a variety of cabins onsite for easy accommodations for you and your guests.

Fall Creek Falls State Park – Tall waterfall with calm water underneath that you can swim in! Lots of overlooks and beautiful hikes within the surrounding park as well. Large lodge onsite for accommodations.

Roan Mountain State Park – Gorgeous mountain views in East Tennessee with cabins inside the park.

Snooper’s Rock or Lookout Mountain – Scenic overlooks near Chattanooga with a winding river and views for miles. Incredible at sunrise or sunset(depending on which you choose) with frequent fog making it look like you’re up in the clouds. Chattanooga is very close by so a ceremony in nature and small reception in town would work perfectly.

Urban Elopement – Nashville, Chattanooga, & Knoxville are all perfect cities for an urban elopement. There are so many things you can do for an urban elopement, but here are some fun ideas: Get ready in a fancy hotel or cool airbnb, first look somewhere scenic, courthouse or rooftop ceremony, picnic in the park, bowling with your people, bar hopping, dinner in a private room at a restaurant or hire a private chef for dinner at your airbnb, go out on the town or have a chill evening somewhere more private. Endless options!

intimate wedding ceremony at east nashville home wedding

How do you elope in Tennessee?

Of course a very important part of eloping is making sure you’re actually married at the end of the day. In Tennessee, you can apply for your marriage license online but you need to go to a county clerk’s office to get your marriage certificate in person to verify your identity. You typically need a drivers license and proof of social security number(social security card or tax documents with SSN) to verify your identity. A marriage certificate costs about $100 and then needs to be solemnized within 30 days by your officiant which can be a number of authorized individuals. All legitimate TN officiants should fall into this category, but just double check that they are legally able to solemnize your marriage. Once you’re married(!) your officiant will send in your completed wedding certificate and it will be mailed to you once verified by the county clerk’s office.

black and white portrait of eloping couple after their tennessee elopement

Sample Tennessee Elopement Timeline

Now that I’ve got your wheels turning on what your elopement day could look like, here’s a sample elopement timeline so you can see what a full day elopement can look like.

Ben & Talia

Chattanooga, TN


Getting Ready Location: Luxury Treehouse Airbnb

Ceremony Location: Machine Falls

Additional Portrait Location: Treehouse property bluffs/overlooks, hot air balloon

Meal/Celebration Location: catered dinner at Treehouse

9:00 am

  • wake up, coffee, lite breakfast, mimosas & being together on the patio
  • getting ready – separate rooms

10:30 am 

  • emotional first-look & private moment

11:15 am

  • leave – travel in rented jeep to Machine falls

11:45 am

  • arrive at falls and begin hike

12:30 pm

  • vows, first kiss, portraits at falls

1:30 pm  

  • Picnic near falls – beers, charcuterie, fave foods

2:15 pm 

  • Travel to hot air balloon

3:30 pm  

  • Private air balloon ride

4:30 pm 

  • leave for dinner at airbnb

5:15 pm

  • arrive at airbnb 
  • Freshen up / change clothes

6:30 pm

  • 5-10 of the closest friends and family join in for toast, feast by private chef, firepit, and a little dancing

7:15 pm

  • Sunset photos at bluffs

9:00 pm  

  • Photographer end time

What happens next?

You’re probably feeling equally overwhelmed and excited, and that’s totally normal! If you’re ready to start planning your day but need some help with the details, I’d love to help you out! As an elopement photographer who’s done this many times, I love helping couples plan their day in an authentic intentional way that is better than they could have ever imagined.

Get it touch here and let’s start dreaming up your incredible elopement!