So many times we go out to do a wedding in a cabin and they have no idea what we want them to do. What we want people to understand through this website (and all our interactions with them) is that it's not so much what we want, as what they want. We are happy to be there and to be part of your special moment, we have no need to be catered in any way. Probably the only time that I really want my opionion listened to is when I'm taking pictures, sometimes what the bride and groom have in mind will not be viable for good pictures, then I will say something like, can we shift over here? or have Rev. Bill stand there? just so I can get the best possible shot. My tip for today is this: RELAX, have fun, and have the wedding you want, not the wedding you think we want.
How do you include your family (without actually including your family)?
Very often people who want to get married in this area, especially people who want to get married in their cabin, just want to leave the family behind. It doesn't mean that they want to totally exclude them from the relationship, they just want to be alone for this one precious moment. It's hard sometimes for the families that have been left behind to understand and appreciate this impulse. There are a couple of ways you can include them without actually having them there. We have had people call their parents on their cell phones and lay them near the "staging area" so the parents could hear the ceremony. We have had many people say that a week or two after their wedding they were having a reception at home (in that case I suggest getting a video and pictures so that the video can be played and a memory album set out for everyone to enjoy). I have had people display photographs of family members around the staging area, and even light candles for family members that have passed. Just remember, with a little creativity and cooperation everyone can feel included even if it's just the two of you in your cabin.
Jodie was ordained in 1994 and started her wedding ministry soon after, going from cabin to cabin to marry couples. Her favorite part of her job is interacing with the many brides and keeping them on an "even keel" and calm. When you call Smoky Mountain Cabin Weddings it will often be Jodie that you talk to, so feel free to avail yourself of her years of experience with thousands of couples.
Now that a park wedding is so expensive, what choices do I have?
What we like to tell people is "Use what you have." This not only sounds simple,
it is! If you want a gorgeous mountain view as the backdrop for your wedding,
book a cabin with a gorgeous mountain view. Not only will you save yourself money,
you will save yourself tons
of aggrevation. You won't have to fight traffic, or even
get a permit for your wedding. (One note, however, make sure the rental company
allows weddings in the cabin before you book it. Be honest with them as to how
many people will attend, but stick
to their policies. If their company isn't "wedding friendly," move on, there
are thousands of cabins in the area.) . The main thing is to ask a lot of questions about the view and insist on seeing pictures taken from the deck.
(A hint: If the pictures show a lot of naked trees "framing" the view, then it's probably what we would call a "winter view," visable only
when the trees have no leaves.)
If you look on our "Rental Cabins" page, you'll find links to Jackson Mountain Homes and Timber Tops Cabins, both of whom have a wide assortment of cabins with great mountain views. Another alternative to a park wedding would be an outdoor wedding at "The Pond" or Serenity Falls. Wherever you decide to stage your wedding, remember to relax and have fun!
We would like to involve our children in the service, what can we do?
This is a great question, and like many things involving a wedding, there are many different answers to it. The first thing to look at is the age of the child you want to involve. If the child is under five years of age, then about the best you can hope for is to dress them up a bit and hope they don't cry, get sick or talk over the minister throughout the service.
A slightly older child can be involved by asking them to be ring bearers, flower girls, or even walk their Mom down the aisle. (A quick note about asking a young child to be a ring bearer. It is best if you have a wedding outside or on a deck to give them the decorative pillow without the rings on it. We have seen too often where the rings ended up coming off the pillow and down through the cracks of the deck. Although a bit amusing for onlookers, this is a stressor you don't want or need for your wedding day.) Try to keep whatever you ask them to do age-appropriate and fun for them. Most of all, if the child is reluctant about participating in the wedding, then by all means save yourselves the stress and let them sit it out.
We would like to involve our children in the service, what can we do? Part 2...
There are a couple of services out there that are designed to help incorporate children into the service. These specialized services seek to honor the "blended family" while they also allow the new parents to make a special commitment to their new wards.
One such service is the "family vows" which I created to allow the new parent to exchange a promise with their partner's children. Rather than asking them to love each other (after all, that might not be something the children feel able to do right that moment) the vows ask the new parent to be a guide and mentor to the child. In return the child promises to respect and listen to the adult. Sometimes the vow exchange is followed up with a present like a necklace or ring to the child. (I've even seen cases where the new parent gives a particularly desired toy to a child as a gift...it depends on how formal the situation and your personal preferences.)
One particularly lovely service I officiated at was a "sand" service. The bride had obtained three glass vases, one with her name, her daughter's name, and and one with her fiance's name engraved. There was a fourth vase with the new last name of the family engraved (this was a much larger vase). The bride had obtained the fine colored sand from a craft store that is used to make sand sculptures. Each person's vase was filled with their favorite color sand. I created a service to give dimension and meaning to the intermingling of the grains of sand and then they all poured their sand in at the same time. The neat thing was that this created a unique sculpture from their favorite colors all mixed together and was something they could cherish as a family forever.
The last kind of service I would like to discuss is the family unity candle. You can obtain unity candles with multiple wicks so that each child lights his/her own wick while the parents light the center wick together. This is also a great meaningful service, but should be restricted to children old enough to handle a candle. As always, feel free to call me (or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to discuss any of these ideas.
What can I do to make my wedding more "my wedding?"
Too often today, we are forced to accept things the way that everybody else has them. Our clothing is mass manufactured, our food is all the same. The one thing that I think most people want to be personally theirs is their wedding day. The first thing you want to ask yourselves is "what can we do that will best reflect our personalities and our relationship?" For instance, if you are really "outdoorsy" people, it would be out of character to rent a tux and gown and have a formal service. Feel free to show up in the clothing that makes you feel "you." If your relationship is low-key and private, then maybe having 200 people witness your service would not be your style either. Find a way to get married that reflects your relationship, your style. Use those bride magazines for ideas that reflect you more, or, just make something up. If you want to carry streamers or kites or balloons, then, by all means, streamers, kites, and balloons for everybody. Your wedding day shouldn't be just a day of getting dressed in really uncomfortable clothing and worrying whether the flower girl is going to cry, it should be a day to celebrate the joy of your being together, the wonderful experience that you have discovered in each other.
Being a wedding minister in the Smokies means that I've officiated at litteraly thousands of wedding services from the very very simple to the profoundly formal. The ones that have touched me the most are the ones that I know the couple is having a ton of fun and when they look into each other's eyes, it is hard for them to contain all the love they feel for one another. Sometimes it has been the form of a "Jimmy Buffet" wedding (yes, we had plastic palms & parrots & of course margarittas), or sometimes the bride and groom wore sandals and blue jeans. All I knew was that it was most certainly "their" wedding, and nobody would ever quite duplicate that feeling or that moment.
I have about 20 guests & want a wedding on the deck, how can I be sure the deck is big enough?
To be brutally honest, you can't be 100% certain, at least not without staying at the cabin. There are things you can do (short of a pre-wedding "scouting" trip) to be more certain that the deck will be big enough. First thing, look at the pictures provided of the cabin, is the deck a "wrap-around" or just across one side. A wrap-around will give you a lot more flexibility in staging. Next, ask questions. Ask the reservation personnel if they know the approximate dimensions of the deck. If they don't know, see if they can find out by asking the home owner, maintenance, or cleaning personnel. Third, use common sense! If the house is an intimate studio-style one-bedroom cabin, do not expect to get 20 of your closest friends on the deck to have a formal wedding.
I've actually seen where the bride's train was too big for the deck on some of these smaller cabins. The way to avoid this is simple, rent a larger cabin. If you are having 20 or more guests you should rent a 3 to 4 bedroom cabin. Let your immediate families stay there and rent a small honeymoon cabin for the two of you to "escape" to after the wedding. That way the party can continue, but you aren't spending your honeymoon night with your new mother-in-law camped out in the loft above you.
My last point is one I've made often enough...don't try to duplicate a big formal church wedding in a cabin. This is difficult to do. Pare down your guest list (if you can) and simplify the process. If you want a wedding in the smokies & want the big formal thing with lots of guests, then there are chapels that will be a better "fit" than a cabin and you will probably be happier with the results.
What one thing most "cabin-wedding brides" would
recommend to future brides.
Most of the brides that we marry in their cabins truly enjoy the simplicity of the whole process. In talking to them later (after all the "new" has worn off their husbands), most say they would have taken more pictures. Now, this isn't the case with all my brides, let's face it, some people hate having their picture taken so much they don't even want wedding photos. Most brides would rather err on the side of too many, rather than too few. One way to have more photos is to take advantage of our complimentary digital photography. Think about it...whether your wedding is ultra casual or very formal you will want a variety of good photographs to remember the day. If it is just the two of you at the service having us take more photos makes even more sense. Just be sure to tell me what you want in terms of quantity and quality of photographs, and I will be glad to customize a package that will suit your budget, your personalities, and your future needs.