Escape to the Great Smoky Mountains for this one of a kind adventure elopement complete with glamping and mountain top views.
Eco-friendly. Unique. Convenient. Under Canvas is one of the coolest accommodations out there for couples looking for something different. This elopement destination is nestled in a misty valley just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the start of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Under Canvas offers an eco-friendly glamping experience that is nothing short of unforgettable. They’ve created the perfect balance for a remote stay with high-touch moments between amenities and staff. This is luxury outdoor hospitality at it’s finest without letting guests forget the stunning mountains they’ve come to explore.
At UC, you’ll find s’mores, live music, on-site dining and an adventure concierge. They’ve really thought of everything. You’ll feel well taken care of during your stay. If you’re having an intimate wedding, how amazing would it be to have your closest friends and family hanging out in tents together and sharing their favorite stories about you by the campfire. Talk about an ideal place for a wedding weekend!
Tucked away in the Southern Appalachians, Under Canvas sits amongst ancient mountains. First time visitors to the Smokies will quickly understand where they got their name from. Low hanging clouds drift against a backdrop of a thousand shades of blue. Imagine hiking to the top of a bald to say your vows while wrapped in the magic mist of the mountains. It’s like the Appalachians reaching out to hug you.
Max Patch is about 2 hours east of Under Canvas, located on the NC/TN state line in the Pisgah National Forest. It also contains a portion of the famous Appalachian Trail. It is widely considered one of the prettiest balds in Blue Ridge.
You’ll take gravel roads deep into the forest until you reach the trailhead. Most days, you’ll see cars parked along the road. The good thing about Max Patch is that you can take an easy hike (less than a 2 mile loop) up to jaw-dropping 360º views. It doesn’t take much effort to get a huge reward here. For more detailed directions, check out this post from Romantic Asheville.
The Best Times to Visit
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the country. Its huge expanse tip toes the border of Western North Carolina and Tennessee. Luckily, Max Patch is actually outside of the park in the Pisgah National Forest so, while still busy, it gets you out of the crowds a bit with the same views.
For couples wanting to elope with the Fall foliage, it’s a bit of a guessing game. If you’re flexible with your date, you can monitor the color reports and head to Max Patch when they hit their peak. It’s definitely worth the wait. Regardless of how much color you get, the cool evenings of Fall are a great time to visit. The bald is usually about 10º cooler and breezy.
If you’re more interested in the rich blues and greens the mountains are known for, spring and summer would work best. Rain peaks during these seasons, but it’s typically afternoon showers that come and go.
If you’re anything like me, you love winter and snow! Winter at Max Patch is an option, but you’ll need to contact the park rangers and stay up-to-date with snowfall and road closures to make sure you can get up to the bald. If you’re trying to enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway before or after your elopement, you’ll find there are winter closers. Under Canvas also closes during the winter depending on the weather.
Overall, you’ll want to elope at Max Patch at sunrise or sunset. Sunrise has less visitors. My couples staying at Under Canvas head to the bald for sunset. This gives them more time during the day to explore the surrounding area.
Adventure elopements pairing Under Canvas and Max Patch beautifully combine nature and intimacy. The tents, teepees and surrounding colors lend themselves to a bit of a boho feel. Earthy and romantic vibes are easy to come by when you and your lover are on top of a mountain with stunning views everywhere you look. Check out Will + Bryna’s couples session for an idea of how couples experience these two locations.
For many eloping couples, it’s important to keep the environment in mind during their wedding day. They’ve decided to skip the waste created by big weddings and have an intimate moment with nature as well as each other. Under Canvas provides it’s guests with many eco-friendly amenities. You can feel good about the small footprint you’ll leave here while immersed in the landscape around you.
The combination of Under Canvas and Max Patch gives you the ability to have incredible outdoor accommodations while still being able to easily hike to a location that feels remote.
The best thing about having an elopement photographer is that they are experienced in elopement timelines. These timelines are different from a traditional wedding. They have enough structure to give you a good plan for the day, but enough flexibility to let you explore and adventure without restrictions. Your photographer will also be able to create a backup plan for you if weather becomes an issue.
Your timeline will also depend on whether you’re doing an elopement with just the two of you or if you’re having an intimate wedding weekend and bringing your closest friends and family. Under Canvas is an awesome place to consider if you’re bringing along your pals.
For an intimate wedding weekend, I’d help my couples craft a laid-back mountain experience that includes help from the adventure concierge offered by Under Canvas. You can make your outdoor dreams come true with activities like fly fishing and white water rafting. Your weekend would conclude with your intimate wedding at Max Patch.
If it’s just the two of you eloping, you’ll wake up to an easy going morning at Under Canvas. Hopefully you had a night of stargazing from inside of your tent! You can enjoy breakfast while taking in the view of the valley. You can take your time getting ready together (or separate for a first look). We’ll take photos around the community before heading out towards Max Patch. During the two hour journey, we can stop along the way for photo opportunities.
When we get to the bald we can take our time scoping out the perfect spot for your vows. You’ve got 350 acres to choose from and you really can’t go wrong. We’ll spend the evening watching the sunset and getting epic photos of the two of you.
After your elopement, you can head to Asheville which is just an hour southwest of Max Patch. Here you can stay at a boutique hotel like the Grand Bohemian Hotel or find an Airbnb that suits your style needs. Head into this quaint mountain town for a celebratory dinner and drinks! You’re married!
Considerations for Elopement Vendors
If you want florals for your elopement or intimate wedding, I suggest picking them up along the way. Depending on where you are traveling from, Atlanta, Asheville, Chattanooga and Knoxville all have great wedding vendors. Your elopement photographer should be able to share their vendor list with you and help you plan these details.
I work with a floral designer here in Atlanta, Flaura Botanica, who is an expert at designing long-lasting floral arrangements that can travel to your remote location. She created the bouquet and boutonniere seen in these photos and the florals traveled up from Atlanta and lasted for the weekend festivities.
Your elopement photographer will also be able to help you find a hair and makeup artist too if you’d like as well as local partners for food and sweets.
Most of my couples get legally married at their local courthouse before their ceremony so they don’t have to worry about an officiant or the legality of eloping. This is totally optional! You can do this or you can have an officiant. The hike to Max Patch is very easy!
East Coast Elopements + Photographers
Typically the West Coast gets all the love for adventure elopements, but the East Coast is quickly making its way onto the scene. Elopement photographers and adventurous couples alike are loving the option to elope in the South East. We’re so lucky to have such a vast area of wilderness located next to easily accessible airports and major cities. We’ve got just as much adventure and opportunity for an epic and intimate wedding day experience as any other part of the country.
So if you’re looking for mountaintop views, bold and rich blues from the Appalachians and a wildly unique venue, Under Canvas and Max Patch checks all the boxes.
On a personal note, I grew up spending every summer in our family cabin in WNC. This area of the country has such a deep rooted place in my heart and I want to show couples the magic it can offer for their adventure elopement or intimate wedding.
6 Reasons to Elope at Under Canvas and Max Patch
- Glamping gives you the outdoor feel without having to actually camp.
- It’s the perfect place for an adventurous wedding weekend if you’re bringing your closest friends and family along.
- You’ll have all the amenities you need to comfortably get ready for your elopement.
- Max Patch is an easily accessible hike for any level of adventurer.
- You can enjoy Max Patch during the majority of the year.
- You’ll have an unforgettable backdrop to your bespoke adventure elopement.
Are you ready to plan the adventure elopement of your dreams on the East Coast? The Great Smoky Mountains offer so many amazing locations. I can’t wait to learn more about you and what location would work best for you!
Interested in learning more about Under Canvas? Check out their website to see their locations across the country with more coming soon! No matter what landscape you’re wanting for your elopement, they’ve got you covered!