Planning a Cabin Wedding
by Rev. Jodie S. Champoux
The thought occurs to you...the perfect wedding for the two of you would be a quiet service in the mountains. You can picture it now...a romantic fireside wedding in the privacy of your own rental cabin. It sounds great, but where do you go from there? You are confronted with a dozen questions, from "Who's going to marry us?" to "What should we wear?" The great thing about any destination wedding is the amount of control you almost automatically get. Unless you tell somebody where you will be and how to get there, you can be pretty sure they won't be "popping in" for your private wedding service uninvited. You can decide if you want guests, how many, and who. If you get a lot of complaints from your family about not "being there" promise to have the service video taped so they can enjoy the experience with you after the fact. Many of our couples say they are going home to a nice reception or open house for their family and friends. They display the pictures from the wedding, play the video, wear the same clothes and get to celebrate the union publicly in that manner while still keeping the actual wedding ceremony intimate.
The first decision to make is: Are we going to invite anybody to the wedding?
This decision will color a couple of other choices along the line. For instance, if you want to bring along children from a previous relationship, parents, siblings, or friends you need to get a cabin large enough to accommodate every one. You want to be sure to choose a destination that will have interesting things to do for the age groups you are inviting along. Let's face it, you might enjoy "vegging out" in a log cabin for a few days--just enjoying the fact that the phone doesn't ring--but to a 12-year-old, that is the definition of torture. Sometimes couples will invite their parents and children for the wedding, but then send the children home with Grandma and Grandpa to be spoiled for the duration of the honeymoon...a clever idea at the very least.
The second decision is: "Where do we want to stay?"
This can be a daunting question. Just here in the Smokies there are literally thousands of rental cabins spread over a wide range of terrains. When it comes to selecting a rental cabin (and a rental company), my strongest recommendation is to ASK QUESTIONS! Way too often we get up to a cabin to do a wedding service and we hear "We love the cabin, but.." But it's too high up, it's not high enough up, it's not private enough, it's too secluded, it's too far from attractions, there are too many stairs...etc. Any of those conditions would have been prevented by just asking a few questions. Ask how high up the cabin is (relative to the main attractions in the area), how many minutes from the downtown area (don't ask about mileage, it's a lot slower driving in the mountains than it is in flat areas), ask what kind of view to expect, how old the cabin is, what condition the furniture is in. Don't expect to pay bargain rates for a cabin and get top quality furnishings and view, it just won't happen. Ask how close your nearest neighbor is. Ask what kind of grill is on the deck, what size the beds are, and if it gets cable or satellite. I've always found that the more a questions a guest asked the better I was able to "tailor" their cabin choice to their specific needs and the happier they were with their stay.
When choosing a rental company ask about their cancellation policy, their deposits, their fees. When comparing prices, don't just go by nightly rates, tell them how many nights and ask them to give you a price for the entire stay, taxes, fees, and all. That way when you go to make a reservation there will be no surprises. Ask them about their snow policy if you are coming in the winter. Ask them what happens in an emergency. One company I worked with required 100% of the money up-front, and had a very simple cancellation policy...no cancellations, no refunds. It's hard to believe that anybody even booked with them, but they did.
The third decision is: "Who will marry us?"
Again, this can be a difficult decision. Just here in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas we have probably a dozen ministers willing to go to rental cabins to perform ceremonies. Take a look at their websites (starting with Smoky Mtn. Cabin Weddings, of course), and evaluate each on several criteria. Price should be a consideration, services available, etc. The main thing to look at is "Does this man/woman seem to "fit" our idea of a minister to marry us?" Look the site over, you should be able to get an idea of the person's personality and background. If not, move on. If you are having pictures taken, find out what type of equipment is going to be used and who will take the pictures. Again, the main thing here is to ask questions. Find out their reservation policy, cancellation policy, etc. The more questions you ask, the more likely you are to find somebody that is just perfect for the two of you.
What decisions remain...
There are still a lot of details to decide on. Do you want to carry flowers? Should you order a cake? Many people ask me what they should wear. Most of the people getting married in their cabins wear "church clothes" (well, actually Easter Church clothes would be more the definition). We do have some people dress very casually, we had one couple get married in their bathing suits in the hot tub and another get married in their pajamas. Sometimes we will show up to do a service and the bride and groom are in formal wear, it's just how they envisioned their cabin wedding. When it comes to what you wear, it's nice to feel comfortable and relaxed, wear something you feel confident in so your pictures show your best "you." Remember there are no rules because this is YOUR wedding. The last (and probably most important) bit of information you need to gather in this process is about your marriage license. Be sure to find out what the requirements are, what days you can get your wedding license and where. If you have been married before you might need your divorce decree. Find out if the state you are going to has a blood test requirement or a waiting period. If you are getting married on a holiday weekend, make sure to ask what the holiday hours are for the courthouse, and ask what type of traffic conditions you might be facing. Again, the more questions you ask, the more prepared you will be to deal with what comes up. The last thing you want when planning your cabin wedding is a surprise (unless it's jewelry from your fiance, then a surprise is OK).
This couple got married in their "jammies"...when we say there are no rules, we really mean it!
Even though it was only the two of them, this couple opted for a formal look, it just was their style!
What really matters is who you are with and the promises you exchange.
Rev. Jodie Champoux has been helping couples plan their weddings in the Smokies for over twelve years. Her experience as a reservation agent in a thriving rental company gives her the ideal background to help couples select their rental company and cabin. You can book a wedding with Rev. Champoux through Smoky Mtn Cabin Weddings.
Call Us At (865) 453-9117
Copyright © 2007 Smoky Mountain Cabin Weddings. All rights reserved.