Since we were the first ministers that offered cabin weddings here in the Smoky Mountain region, we thought that we should help people out by suggesting an etiquette for people who want to get married in their cabins.
RULE #1, NO RULES!
Please understand that the whole idea of a wedding in a cabin or chalet is built around the need many people have to shed the many rules, restrictions, and expenses associated with a traditional wedding.  Keeping that in mind, know that you as individuals should be in charge of how your wedding should proceed. Your cabin wedding should reflect your personalities and relationship.  Our goal in presenting this information is to help whatever you plan go more smoothly and easily for everyone.  What follows is not so much a list of rules and regulations to follow, as much as suggestions to help your planning.

Cabin Wedding Ettiquette for your Gatlinburg Cabin Wedding

Payment. This is important.  Know ahead of time if you owe a balance to the officiant and what it is.  It is best to have this amount in an envelope ready for the Minister.  If you want to write a personal check for the balance, know ahead of time if that is an acceptable form of payment.  Many people ask us if it is OK to tip the Minister.  It is OK, if that is something you want to do, but it certainly is not required.  You should only tip if you feel that the service provided by the Minister and his staff warrants it. 

Be on Time.  This is probably one of my pet peeves.  We arrive at a cabin, everybody is rushing about, the bride is still in her slip drying her hair and I know we are going to be made late.  There are lots of reasons this happens, and there are ways to make sure this doesn't happen.  Probably the main reason this happens is because the people don't take time to ask very important questions when making their arrangements.  Too often what I find out is that the people involved were not aware of how busy the traffic would be, how far the cabin is from the licensing office, the hairdresser, the tux rental, or the hotel where the guests are staying. This is all information that can be gathered ahead of time so that you can warn your guests of the heavy traffic and plan your day accordingly. The main problem with running late is that the Minister will then have to be late for all his/her weddings the balance of the day, or just have to come back later to perform your service.  If you are late, be flexible in allowing the Minister to come back later, believe me, that is not their first choice, but it is the most considerate thing for you to do.

Be in Charge (or have somebody who is).  If you are going to have more than a couple of guests to your wedding have somebody designated to greet the guests and Minister, give the Minister the paperwork, arrange final payment or tip, etc. Remember, the Minister is walking into a room full of strangers and is expected to perform.  It is a relief to walk into a room and have somebody who knows what is going on, and is able to assist you in your job.  Some of the most difficult weddings we have worked were ones where we walked into a room full of people and are met with silence.  It makes us as Ministers uncomfortable, and I am sure it makes your guests uncomfortable.  If you have somebody in charge they can help break the ice.

Have Fun! Most of all, your wedding day should be fun and relaxing.  We started doing cabin weddings to offer people an alternative to the stress of a big wedding.  Keep your day simple, enjoyable, and stress-free.  After all, at the end of the day, no matter what might have happened, the main thing is that you will be married to the person you love most in the world.  Even if there are mishaps, you will have exchanged the most precious vows with the most precious of persons.  Relax, have fun, and focus on what's important...the love you two share and the beginning of the life you will live together.
Cabin Wedding Etiquette
Frequently Asked Questions
A destination wedding is a unique thing, it's an opportunity for you to create a wedding that reflects your personality and ideals.  There aren't a lot of rules out there as there are for traditional chapel or cabin weddings.  Below is a list of questions that many brides ask me in preparation for their cabin or intimate chapel wedding.  Remember, this whole event should be something that you create for yourself, don't let anything I say (or anybody else, for that matter) sway you from what you really want.  If you want to have your favorite beagle as your ring bearer, then more power to you.  If you want to get married in your bathing suits in your hot tub (don't laugh, we've done this), go for it...It's your wedding.

Do we need a marriage license?
We just want a simple service, no fuss.  What can we do?
What should we wear?
What if it rains? (for a wedding scheduled outdoors)
What if it snows?
Do we need witnesses?
Can we get married outside?
Can I have somebody give me away?
Do I have to have somebody give me away?
Can we throw rice (or bird seed, ...)?
Can my children be part of the wedding?
Can we write our own vows?
What if we need to cancel?
What if we need to reschedule?
Do you supply flowers?
Do you play music?
Can you play my music?
What is the deposit amount & when is it due?
We just want a simple service, no fuss...What can we do?
This is easy, if you plan on getting married during a non-holiday time, then just book our budget wedding special.  For $100.00 the minister will come out to your cabin, hotel, B & B or Condo and get you married.  Keep in mind that its the service as we normally perform it, no special requests and no music.  If you plan to get married during a holiday time or Valentine's Day, then you will want to book our regular Basic service for $125.00.   
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What should we wear?
Quite literally, whatever makes you happy and comfortable.  We have people get married in cutoffs and flip-flops, pajamas, and formalwear.  We have no rules (other than clothing is NOT optional), so whatever makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.  If you want to wear a formal gown and tux, then please do so.  If you are a lady that wants to wear a formal gown, and you can't get your guy out of his blue jeans and tee-shirt, then maybe you can compromise, you wear a gown and he wear a nice shirt, slacks and tie (if you can  get him in it).  My point it, don't make this (or anything else about your cabin wedding) a stressor in your life.  Your life is stressed enough without creating problems for yourself.  I've always said we only have one rule about clothing:  It must be worn!.
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What if it rains? (For a wedding scheduled outdoors.)
This is where life does get a little tricky.  Usually if we have a wedding scheduled for the outdoors and it looks like rain I will try to contact you a day or so in advance to discuss your options.  Your option would be to move the wedding to your rental cabin.  Sometimes people will just take their chances and go ahead with the outdoor wedding, and that's fine, but we cannot expose our camera equipment to rain, so we might have to limit the services we provide if the weather is too harsh.  This is one of those things that we take on a case-by-case basis, but you should be aware of the possibilities if you plan an outdoor service.
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What if it snows?
Ok, here's another really difficult question, because there is no simple answer.  This we do on a case-by-case basis.  If your cabin is inaccessible and you are unable to get out, we will reschedule your wedding service until such a time as you do get out or we can get in.  If you are able to get out, we will arrange for you to have your wedding at the chapel or other mutually agreeable spot instead of in your cabin.  There are some instances when travel anywhere in the county is inadvisable because of ice and snow, and, at such times, we will stay in touch with you as much as possible to determine the best time to meet and perform the ceremony.  Keep in mind when scheduling a wedding from mid-December to late February that it is possible, although not probable that you could have snow mess up your plans a bit.  Also keep in mind during those time periods that the higher up you are the more possible it is to be impacted by snow and ice, so a lower cabin would be advisable in the winter months.
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Do we neeed witnesses?
No.  The state of Tennessee does not require that a witness be present for the wedding to be legal.
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Can we get married outside?
Weather permitting, that is a qualified "Yes!"  When I say qualified, here is what I mean.  Here's a scenario:  we get to a cabin and the people have already decided that they want to get married out on the deck.  It's got a pretty view, but it is narrow.  They have about 20 guests, they want us to video tape and take pictures, and want it all on this narrow deck...their pictures are not going to be great & the video will only show them from the waist up at best.  Sometimes it's better to have the wedding inside (say in front of the fireplace), and then do your portrait style photos out on the deck.  In other words, let your common sense rule your judgement. If you get to your cabin and it is perched on the side of the mountain, that might limit the outside to the deck of the cabin.  Your best bet if you want an outdoor service is to make sure the deck is of adequate size, or to schedule the wedding at  one of our outdoor sites.
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Can I have somebody give me away?
It is a tradition for the Bride's Father to give her away, and you are certainly welcome to be as much of a traditional bride as you wish!  Some other ideas (if your Father is not available) would be to have your Mother, a sibling, a child, or even a close friend give you away.  This person will escort you into the wedding area, then will designate to the minister that he/she/they give you to be married.
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Do I have to have somebody give me away?
Today's bride can stand on her own two feet, and there is no rule (especially in a casual wedding atmosphere) that says you have to be given away.  Remember, this is your wedding, it should reflect your tastes, personality, and ideals.
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Can we throw rice (or bird seed...)?
If you are getting married in a private rental cabin, in Creekside Cove chapel, or outdoors, then only throw what you are willing to clean up.  (Bird seed would be fine on the decks, but might we suggest "bridal bubbles" or "bridal bells" as a clean alternative to throwing things?) 
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Can my children be part of the wedding?
If you want your children to participate in your wedding, then by all means feel free to do so.  Often people will have their children escort them in, stand as attendants, or be flower girls or ring-bearers.  Please be sure to keep whatever roll you plan for them "age-appropriate."  I also want to strongly suggest that if you do have a toddler or young child be a ring bearer, just give him/her a decorative pillow to carry, but give the rings to the minister or some other adult.  I have learned by hard experience that a ring dropped on a deck is very likely going to find a crack to fall through, and finding a ring that has dropped over 60 feet into dense underbrush can be a daunting task for anybody.  One thing that parents often do with children that are old enough is to conduct a "family vow exchange" between the child and the new parent.  Feel free to call Jodie at 865/453-9117 to find out how that usually goes.
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Can we write our own vows?
Let's face it, this wedding is all about you two and the promises you are exchanging, so if you want those promises to be personal, from your heart; then all the better.  Just keep in mind that the vow should take the form of a promise.  If you choose to write your own vows, you should read them to eachother.  Usually the minister will conduct the service as normally performed, but then when it comes time for the vow exchange will indicate that you should read your vows to each other.  After that he/she will continue the normal service.  Please keep in mind that if you have requested the super saver service that the service is performed as normally done, no changes allowed, so if you want to write your own vows, be sure to order the Basic service.
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What if we have to cancel?
If you cancel at least 2 weeks before your scheduled wedding date, then we will refund all but 10% of your deposit amount.  If you cancel within the 2 weeks before your scheduled wedding date, then we will be unable to refund your deposit.
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What if we need to reschedule?
If you let us know at least two weeks before your scheduled wedding date, then there is no problem.  If it is within the two weeks before your wedding, we usually cannot reschedule unless there is some kind of emergency.  Please call Jodie at 865/453-9117 if something comes up, we would rather work with you than have you cancel or be upset.
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Do you supply flowers?
No, but we know people who can!  For fresh flowers, contact the girls at the Kroger florist at 865/429-0874 and they will be glad to create something nice for you.  If you want more exotic flowers (read not roses), then be sure to call a couple of weeks in advance so they can order what you want.
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Do you play music?
For an indoor Basic service (or a service on a deck), yes.  If you order a budget, music is not included with that.  If you are getting married at an outdoor location, then we do not supply music.  (Feel free to bring a battery operated stereo and your own CD is you wish to have music outside.)  We do also have music for all in-chapel weddings.
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Can you play my music?
Feel free to bring a CD player and the CD(s) you want to have played.  It is best to limit your selections to two songs, otherwise it becomes all music and very little service.  (Keep in mind that the average service is only about 10-15 minutes long, if you want three songs played they will be about equal in lenght to the service, and, to be honest, it will begin to seem awkward.)  Feel free to consult with Jodie at 865/453-9117 if you want to customize the wedding service in any way, including the music.
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Bill,

Just a quick note to thank you for a wonderful service.  Our trip went exactly as we had hoped.  We had a wonderful cabin and you gave us a beautiful, yet simple, ceremony.  We very much appreciate the way you handled our special day.

Thanks again,

Mark and Carey Todd
Winchester, IN
Do we need a marriage license?
Yes*, and it must be from the state of Tennessee.  For all the regulations regarding licenses, where to get them, etc.  Visit our License Information page.  *If you are renewing your vows you do not need to get a marriage license.
Keep it Simple. If you want bridesmaids, flower girls, arches, formal processionals, candelabra, etc. then you are probably wanting to get married in a chapel or church that is designed to accommodate such formalities.  It is not that these things aren't great in the right setting, but we have seen people try to squeeze 50 of their closest friends and relatives, a formal archway, three bridesmaids, three  groomsmen, a flower girl, ring bearer and eight-foot train into a small one bedroom cabin.  What resulted was difficult to describe, very hot, and probably not at all what the bride started planning.  (Please read Follow your heart again.)  Although it would have cost the couple a bit more to rent a chapel the results would have been much better.  Remember, the whole idea of a cabin wedding is to keep things simple.  It's alright to wear your dream dress, even if it does have an eight foot train.  It's alright to wear a tuxedo.  It's alright to have 50 of your closest friends attend.  Just keep in mind what the setting is that you have selected and plan accordingly.  You will be so glad you did.
Follow your Heart. The reason you decided to have a cabin wedding in the first place was to have a wedding that would be uniquely yours, simple, and uncomplicated.  Follow your heart.  Don't complicate something that should be essentially simple, no matter what other people tell you.  The minute you tell people you are going to get married in a cabin they are going to want to help "plan" the event.  That's nice if that is what YOU want, but be sure what they plan fits with what you want, not their pre-conceived notions of what a wedding should be.  In other words, always remember Rule #1!
Call Us At (865) 453-9117
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Welcome to Smoky Mountain Cabin Weddings, your full service Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge wedding provider. We perform weddings in cabins, condos, B&B's, or outdoors...We come to you.
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What is the deposit amount and when is it due?
The deposit amount is normally 50%; with one exception.  If you book a wedding with a 2-tier or larger cake, then the deposit amount would be the retail cost of the cake plus 50% of the balance.  So, for instance, your cake is $120 and your wedding costs are $280, for a total of $400.  Your deposit amount would be $120 for the cake and $140 for 50% of the balance, for a total deposit of $260. 

The deposit should be mailed within about 5 business days of getting a confirmation that the time, date, and location you are requesting are all available.  You may mail your deposit to us using a personal check, or you may also call us to use a debit or credit card.  We accept Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. 
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