Monday, June 05, 2017

Four Unique Ways to Get Married in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee

You just did an internet search for "where to get married in Tennessee."

You then discovered that Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg just hit you with thousands of wedding package options.  So, what do you do now?  How do you possibly read through all that info?

This article will help you find the perfect place to get married in Tennessee.

I've been a wedding photographer for twenty years, and continue to run a successful wedding venue in Pigeon Forge that I started eleven years ago.  Yes, I will naturally show my love for my own property, but I also know we are not the perfect match for every single bride reading this article.  So, I'm going to also tell you about some of my other favorite places to get married in the Smoky Mountains.  Some of them I've had personal experience with from my traveling days as a wedding photographer, and the others I am praising based on direct knowledge of brides' experiences shared with me.

The easiest way to decide which type of wedding is right for you can be found within these categories:

The Full Service Wedding Venue
The Traditional Wedding Chapel
The Public Park / National Park wedding
The Cabin Wedding

You may already know which category you belong to, but if you don't here are some descriptions and referrals to help you.

The Honeysuckle Hills Full Service Wedding Venue

(There are other full service venues in the Smoky Mountains, but this description is for ours exclusively)


  • More privacy in the mountains of Tennessee 
  • Couples only weddings, or weddings for up to 100 guests with reception
  • More conveniences you'll need like dressing rooms, decor, and seating, tables, linens
  • Wedding director included to keep everything running smoothly
  • Spacious atmosphere with flower gardens, creek, and horses
  • Choices for outdoor wedding ceremony locations
  • Back-up plans for rain
  • Venue only or all-inclusive options
  • The southeast's best wedding vendors available, including the famous
  • The absolute best and most creative photography available
  • Family owned, so you're treated like family instead of a customer
  • Lasting friendships made through the wedding experience
  • Pricing ranges from $1000 to $10,000 depending on number of guests, time reserved, and chosen amenities for the reception
  • Sales tax is already included in our quotes
  • Cabin rentals within five minutes of the venue / Hotels within ten minutes
  • All wedding couples treated equally with love and respect


  • Expect to pay a little more, since the quality of service is considerably higher
  • Full service venues book more quickly, so plan ahead if you can

Honeysuckle Hills was created from my love of photography.  Even if you don't hire me as your wedding photographer, I've landscaped my venue so that whoever you use will have endless opportunities.

Our wedding venue is famous all over the United States and beyond.  If you're looking for the best place to get married in the Southeast, and especially in Tennessee, we are sure to please.  Just ask our couples from as far away as Texas, Wisconsin, California, Canada, Virgin Islands, Sweden, and Ireland...

I know how unorganized and stressful some weddings can be, because I was that bride's photographer before I built Honeysuckle Hills.  I knew there just had to be a better way...

Every detail has been considered so that you don't have to worry about things like who's going to tell your wedding party what to do, who's going to pin on the boutonnieres, or who's going to help decorate.   I also know brides want a beautiful outdoor atmosphere with back-up plans for rain, so we work hard and invest daily in our flower gardens and property lay-out.   Our horses pull together the wedding experience even more.

There are definitely more ways to get married in the Smokey Mountains and Pigeon Forge, so if this type of wedding experience is not for you, read on...

The Traditional Wedding Chapel

  • Cheaper pricing, with an average of $150 to $750
  • Better atmosphere than your local courthouse
  • Back up plans for rain 
  • Organized staff who can keep you focused and on time
  • One-stop-shopping for dress and tux rental, flowers, and more

  • Less time to enjoy the wedding experience 
  • Photography is exposed properly, but not creative
  • Limited guest counts (they are usually too small for guests over 35)
  • Some are more personal than others, so do your research and read reviews

Many times these are advertised as the "affordable" wedding, but let's face it.  Affordable is a subjective term, because some of us make more money than others.  Aside from the public park wedding, they are literally the lowest price you will find to get married in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  The reason they are cheaper is because they are able to do several weddings a day.  By helping more people get married, they can charge you less.

Seriously... if you can't afford this kind of wedding, you need to stay home and save the money it requires to travel and just get married at your local courthouse.  There is nothing wrong with that, and it has its own romantic story and memories you will equally cherish. 

My absolute favorite wedding chapel in Pigeon Forge is an off the beaten path venue called Friendly Falls.  I think I enjoy it so much because of the calming effect the river and natural waterfalls have.  The owners, Tina and Clyde, are genuinely friendly, too.  You will have a much more personal experience here than you would at a traditional wedding chapel. It has a more earthy, eclectic feel.  It's one of my favorite places just to go chill after work, and a lot of our brides set up a rehearsal dinner here.

If you want to stick to the traditional wedding chapel look and feel (the miniature mountain lodge / cabin / church appeal,) my favorite is Pastor Dale's Wedding Bell Chapel.  This man is absolutely adorable!

The Public Park / National Park Wedding

  • The absolute cheapest way to get married in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
  • Pricing averages $99 to $250
  • Spontaneous romance
  • If you love attention from strangers, you'll be the star of your own public show
  • Quick, easy, and no-frills
  • No back up in case it rains
  • Permits required to get married in the Smoky Mountain National Park
  • No photographer, unless the minister is open to using your camera after the ceremony
  • No seating for your guests
  • No privacy (even if you get married in the National Park you will encounter tourists)

All you have to do in this case is call up an ordained minister who will meet you literally anywhere in town.  My favorite traveling minister is Tommy Orange.  Talk about spirited!  His personality shines through his smile and happy eyes.  You will not be disappointed with this man.  I call him often to marry our Honeysuckle Hills couples, and everyone gives him a five star review.

If you need help finding a public park, Pastor Orange can help you. 

423-580-4892 (call or text)

Don Fields Photography can help you with a full wedding package if you want to get married in the Smoky Mountain National Park or in Pigeon Forge.  They can help you with the permits required, they have an ordained minister on staff, and they travel anywhere in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area for off-site wedding photography.  They even have an ordained wedding officiant in their family!

The Cabin Wedding

Most of the same descriptions below can also be said of the DIY wedding venue (where you reserve the property but no one is there to help you.)

  • You don't have to leave your cabin to get married
  • Mountain Resort feel and atmosphere
  • Everyone comes to you
  • More private than the public park, but not by much

  • Neighboring cabin noise (some cabins are closer together than others)
  • Photographers have fewer opportunities and work in cramped conditions
  • Challenges with parking and proper seating for the ceremony
  • You must decorate on your own
  • Guest count restrictions 
  • Chaos for weddings with guests without a coordinator
  • Guests will linger a lot longer in your cabin than you may want them to
  • Pricing is not necessarily cheaper over-all.  You must put in the research time and work required to keep the costs down on your own.
The only time I would recommend a cabin wedding is if you're eloping to the Smoky Mountains and want to combine an unannounced wedding and honeymoon together.  It's a no-frills, no-fuss, less expensive way to get married since all you have to do is pay for the minister.

My favorite cabin rental company in Pigeon Forge is owned by Dollywood, and you know Dolly doesn't do anything less than first class.

Keep in mind that cabin rental companies want to rent cabins.  Cabins are awesome!  You definitely need one for your honeymoon or a place for your guests to stay.  But the only reason they usually offer little gazebos and reception halls is to help them rent more cabins.  Unless they specify their resort is for weddings and events (and nothing else,) their primary goal is to provide lodging, and they do this well.

If you're having a wedding with guests, please consider a wedding venue instead. If your heart is set on the cabin atmosphere for your wedding, I urge you to hire a wedding coordinating service.  They can pull together all the things the cabin rental company leaves out.  Even if the cabin comes with its own coordinator, they are focused solely on what works best for their cabin as a rental, not on you as a bride and your unique wishes.

Please... strongly consider adding the outside wedding coordinator.

My favorite Tennessee wedding coordinator is Lindsay with Custom Love Gifts.  This woman is super-organized, charming, and experienced.  I use her services at Honeysuckle Hills, because I know she has the bride's interests at heart just like we do.

Wherever you decide to get married in East Tennessee... Lindsay is your wedding angel.  

If you need a photographer for your cabin wedding, Don Fields Photography is the best.  His family has been in the wedding business for as long as I have, and his daughter and new son-in-law are especially talented.  Ask for Jessica and Garret if you can get them.  Pricing averages $500 for the first hour, and $250 for each additional hour for photography.

By the way... Garret is an ordained minister.  If all you need is a minister and photographer to come to your cabin, call 865-774-7610 for a full cabin wedding package.

I hope this article has helped you with your Tennessee wedding location choice.  The Smoky Mountains is the best place to get married in the world!

Still have questions?  

Email me at

You can also call 866-572-7724