Mark and Carolyn from Story Bright Films invited me to join them and their dog, Rocket, an adventure elopement styled shoot at Black Balsam Knob in western North Carolina, about two hours from the Greenville area. Six months earlier, Mark and Carolyn did the wedding video for Clarin and Bobby, the couple who got dressed up and came with us to the mountains. Clarin and Bobby had considered eloping for a long time. They loved the idea of their marriage being just the two of them coming together before God in the middle of natural beauty, with hardly anyone else around for miles. They ultimately decided to go the more traditional route and share the experience with their families and friends, but they said that being part of this shoot made them feel like they also got to have the fun and intimacy of eloping.
Elopements are such an interesting subject because there are so many differing viewpoints of what they are. We often picture people going on a vacation and making hasty, life-changing decisions without telling their families. We also might picture people spontaneously gong to a courthouse and “making it legal” without any sort of celebration. While these do happen, an elopement is often like a typical wedding, just without guests. A couple who elopes may tell their families years in advance that this is their plan. The bride may still have a bouquet designed for her, a professional hair and makeup artist, and her dream wedding dress. The ceremony may follow the same outline as a church ceremony. While saving money is a factor in some couples’ decisions to elope, others might pay for plane tickets and lodging for themselves, their favorite photographer and videographer, and someone special to officiate the ceremony in a picturesque destination. Some couples even have a reception when they come home so they can still celebrate with their families and friends.
Our first stop was Dill Falls, which involved being on a gravel road in the woods for a while before finding the trail. Clarin was standing in the water in some of these photos with the current pushing her dress around—sometimes adventure involves getting wet and dirty, although I’m pretty proud of myself for not getting my socks wet as I climbed up to the waterfall. Even though parts of the day were scheduled to have an 80% chance of storms, it only sprinkled twice for a few minutes while we were shooting. In one of the photos, you can see Clarin and Bobby looking up, realizing they were feeling rain and not just the waterfall behind them.
Our next stop was the balsam forest. We concluded that it would look like a setting for a fairy tale if it was sunny, or Narnia if it was snowing. That day, it looked a little like Halloween as the rain clouds set in. I actually got cold there, even though it was August. Mark and Carolyn set up a picnic for Clarin and Bobby and they told us about their story as a couple, what they loved about their wedding, and why they were so excited to be part of this elopement shoot. We didn’t see a single person the whole time we were in there! We then hiked up to the mountain right as the sun rays came through the clouds, which weren’t too high above us. I wanted to take all the photos in one spot because it was such an amazing view! After getting some photos of a massive spray of champagne and slow dancing as the sun went down behind the clouds, we headed out to Brevard for an amazing dinner at Square Root (which is also dog-friendly) before heading home.
Your wedding is your special day. It’s up to the two of you whether to celebrate with 300 people you love, or just by yourselves. But remember that it’s possible to have both experiences, just like Bobby and Clarin did.