Monday, April 24, 2017

10 Reasons a Wedding Venue is Better than a Cabin for your Ceremony and Reception

Thinking about getting married in a cabin in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg?

Cabins are certainly a beautiful vacation getaway when you’re in the Smoky Mountains.  They are also an excellent honeymoon choice along with lodging for your wedding guests.  But… when it comes to a wedding ceremony, a cabin often falls short.

Before I explain why a wedding venue is better than a cabin for a wedding, I will go ahead and admit I own a wedding venue.  One of the many REASONS I own a wedding venue is because I have direct experience with how challenging cabin weddings are.  You see, once upon a time I was just a traveling wedding photographer who was paid to go to cabins, churches, and wedding venues.  I knew there just had to be a better way for brides to enjoy their sacred and special commitment than the chaos I experienced 95% of the time… thus Honeysuckle Hills was born. 

I still get brides who call me daily, telling me they’re on the fence about having their wedding at a cabin or at a destination wedding venue like ours.  I take a deep breath, and then I tell them exactly what I’m about to tell you now.

Here’s why I humbly believe that wedding venues are the better choice:

1) If you’re inviting wedding guests, even a multiple bedroom cabin can cramp your style.

No matter how spacious their living room is or how many bedrooms there are, always remember YOU are the center of attention.  Therefore, unless you’re willing to lock your door and turn up a loud fan or music, you’re going to be overwhelmed with family and friends wanting to “help.”  They’re going to want to be in the same room as you, and it’s difficult to maintain any kind of order.
Paint this mental picture.  Clothing on the floor.  Empty water and soda bottles scattered everywhere, especially if there are children present.  Someone borrowed your lipstick and you can’t find it.  No one seems to want to help clean it all up… and this is the place you’re getting married.  In five minutes.

2) Parking.  Ask the rental agent how large the parking area is at the cabin, and how many cars are allowed.  This can be a major problem if parking is unavailable for all your guests.  The guests staying at your cabin might not be a problem, but what about all the other guests coming in just for the wedding itself?  And what about any vendors who will need a larger area to haul in food, equipment, etc.?

3) Seating.  Will it be all right if your guests stand during the ceremony?  Most cabins either do not have enough seating for a higher wedding guest count, or they don’t have the right kind of seating.  Additionally, most cabins have fire codes that limit the number of people allowed inside at one time. 
Some cabins have outdoor covered pavilions or gazebos they allow guests to reserve.  This is a blessing if you can find it.  Be sure you are allowed to lock in a specific time period, and that no other cabin rental guests are allowed at any time. 

4) Decorations.  Who’s going to decorate?  Surely you’re not getting married with that moose over your head, right?  Actually many people love this, but if you don’t…

Most cabins do not come with any type of decoration even remotely related to weddings, so you’re going to have to invest some money and time into making it look like you want.  This includes that pavilion or gazebo area we just talked about.  The time you’re allowed to decorate and when it’s due to be cleaned up is also important to know. 

5) Who’s going to direct your wedding?  If it’s just the two of you getting married, this isn’t as much a concern as it will be if you have guests.  Still, who really wants to yell out their bedroom door to say, “OK honey, it’s time to walk up to the fireplace now.  I’m coming right out!” 

But if you have guests, even a few, it gets crazy.  No one will listen to a familiar family member.  But they will listen to a hired coordinator, and you will appreciate the organization that comes along with having one.  I beg you, if you’re still set on the cabin for your wedding, at least hire a professional like Lindsay from Custom Love Gifts. 

6) Photography.  You’d better hire a seasoned professional who knows what they’re doing, or your pictures will be terrible.  Most cabins have huge picture windows, and while it’s beautiful to marry in front of a mountain view, the lower priced photographers typically either don’t know how to expose this properly and / or don’t have the right equipment to do it.  The result is silhouettes, light flares, and washed out images with no contrast or color “pop.”  Your better photographers will also know how to find locations at the cabin for story-telling wedding images.   This still won’t compare to the scenic gardens and views of a wedding venue.  If you don’t believe me, just look at the cabin next door to yours.  And the two next door on the other side… Oh… and one just happens to be under construction. 

7) Noise.  Speaking of the other cabins next door to your ceremony (yes, even if it’s at their private wedding gazebo there will likely be another guest’s cabin in sight,) there is absolutely nothing you can do about children laughing and screeching or the couple who decided they want to argue loud enough for all to hear about who’s going to make the beer run.

8) Want a DJ or band?  You’d better ask first if the cabin has the electrical requirements for the DJ, and what their ordinances are.   You sure don’t want to pay for a rockin’ sound system only to have your cabin neighbor call the cops on you for being too loud. 

9) The Reception.  Again, seating and tables are going to be an issue inside cabins, along with the space to cook for all those guests, or the space for the caterer to set up, or heaven forbid the amount you’re about to be charged for that glass of wine Aunt Martha just spilled on the carpet. 

10) The Officiant.  Wedding venues often offer better rates for a minister's fee since they do more than one wedding at their location.  Venues are also extremely picky about who they hire to conduct their couples' ceremonies, so you're more likely to get a caring professional with an excellent reputation... instead of the guy with the long beard in the pick-up truck trying to make a quick dollar. 

So, you can see how challenging a cabin wedding is compared to all the conveniences a good wedding venue has.  A destination wedding venue in Pigeon Forge like Honeysuckle Hills will take care of all the items on your wedding checklist.

  • ·         Open spaces and gardens for your guests to enjoy
  • ·         Yard games like horse shoe, corn hole, and a sand box for the kids
  • ·         Privacy (not open to the public, and no one else is allowed during the time you reserve)
  • ·         Wedding decorations and multiple ceremony locations to choose from
  • ·         Back-up ceremony locations in case it rains
  • ·         Seating, tables, and table cloths already in place
  • ·         Variety of locations for gorgeous wedding photographs
  • ·         Horses who love the wedding guests and provide a romantic atmosphere
  • ·         A wedding director to make guests feel welcome and tell the wedding party what to do
  • ·         A relaxing mountain stream running through the property
  • ·         A miniature mountain waterfall and wishing pond

I always end my more opinionated articles with the statement that I wish to offend no one... this is simply my humble thoughts based on twenty years of experience in the wedding industry.  Everyone is unique.  Every wedding situation is different... so please consider what I've said as related to your own wedding story.   

Now, on with the wedding planning!

Here are some excellent links to help you find what you need to get married in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain area:

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Weddings in the Wilderness

The woodland forest…  Its verdant greens in the canopy above and mossy carpet below beckon those who can hear its still, quiet voice.  If you are one of the blessed ones who can hear its calling, you know how precious it is to find your own tree-filled escape.  Aside from National Parks, a private forest of one’s own is rare.

If you want to get married among the trees as the birds sing your processional, Honeysuckle Hills in the Smoky Mountains of East TN has three options that will delight the naturalist’s heart.  

The Willow Tree

Planted nine years ago, our willow continues to stretch its trunk skyward and spread its loving branches down, enveloping our couples as they read their wedding vows. 

The wedding willow tree is easy to get to, especially for family and friends who want to watch you get married outdoors beneath the branches blowing in the breeze. 

The dressing rooms, back-up areas in case it rains, and all other full-service wedding amenities are available with the Honeysuckle Hills wedding willow tree.

The Enchanted Forest Wedding

Fairy-light lanterns, ferns, and a tree-limb bridge complete this romantic wedding-scape.  Listen to the creek that flows practically at your feet, and even the hoof-beats of horses as they gallop up to witness your commitment to each other.

The enchanted forest at Honeysuckle Hills has seating for 20 to 30 of your guests, absolutely perfect for couples who want a private wedding in the wildnerness. 

This area is also at the spacious Honeysuckle Hills venue where you'll find dressing rooms, back-up rain plans, and all the full-service wedding amenities you need.

The Secret Mountain

Are you the couple who takes spontaneous adventures, hiking, fishing, or simply exploring?  Do you delight in finding secret places that no one else knows about? 

If this is you, don’t share your sacred wedding location with anyone else.  Regina can lead you on the romantic adventure of your lifetime in the mountains she grew up in.  These trails are not open to tourists.  It’s all private land with a map to your very own outdoor wedding spot in the middle of nowhere. 

You’ll have a story all your own.  You’ll have memories created in the mountains of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN that rival even the best-selling romantic novel!

The private mountain wedding is not located at Honeysuckle Hills.  Just like a back-country camping trip, you'll need to arrive ready to travel by foot.  Bring a back-pack with the essentials (extra shoes, lipstick, cell phone, etc.)  Regina will bring bottled water and the minister.  

To plan your own woodland forest wedding, contact Regina at

Regina married her sweetheart in the company of their rescue squirrel, "Sassy" in 2016. The mountain location they held their ceremony is an old stomping ground for generations of Regina's family.  Her great-grandfather who lived in those same hills was responsible for carrying many of the timbers for Mt. LeConte with his mules many years ago.

She  created the Honeysuckle Hills wedding venue in Pigeon Forge, TN to share her love for photography, flowers, and YOU.