If you’re planning on eloping or having a travel wedding, one of the biggest perks of doing so is that the world is your oyster. There are so many astonishing places to commit your lives to one another, each with amazing benefits. That means picking the place to tie the knot can quickly become overwhelming. How do you choose just one?
But, as a born-and-raised Southerner, I can confidently boast the cities and landscapes in the Southeast are some of the most unique and beautiful. As a wedding photographer, I can also attest that we have many breathtaking places to get married. That stands true whether you’re dreaming of an epic landscape or a historic city as the backdrop of you I-dos.
For the couples based in the Southeastern United States or the couple simply planning to get married here, here are the five best places in the Southeast to tie the knot, straight from the mouth of an expert elopement and travel wedding photographer.
1. Asheville, NC: For the Adventurers + Artists
Why Asheville has been a hot elopement destination for quite some time now has a lot to do with its beautiful mountain ranges: some of the most beautiful in the country. Their rolling hills create the perfect wedding backdrop. The air is crisp and cool (not like many Southeastern locations), and the center of town boasts some killer food and breweries, not to mention the many unique people and places that call this town home. That means there are plenty of extraordinary places to get hitched and celebrate after you exchange vows!
My favorite place near Asheville is Max Patch, located in the Great Smoky Mountains. It has the most gorgeous views of the mountains I have ever seen on the East Coast. Read my blog post about a special elopement ceremony here, or check out the gallery from a full wedding weekend in Asheville by clicking here.
2. Cumberland Island, GA: For Beach-Goers + Wanderers
Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest and southernmost island. It’s completely dedicated to preserving wildlife, including the famous groups of wild horses that freely roam the beaches. Pretty magical, right?
Couples who want to get married here must first acquire a permit from the National Park Service. That being said, the views and unique landscape are definitely worth it. Fun fact: John F. Kennedy Jr. got married here.
My favorite part about Cumberland Island feels like it’s another planet, entirely. I say that as a Georgia-native. One feels completely removed from all city hustle, and immersed into the quiet of the tides and breeze. It doesn’t look anything like Georgia, Alabama, or Florida. If you’re lucky, too, you might even see a sea turtle!
3. Athens, GA: For the Football Fans + Foodies
I may be biased, as I went to school in Athens, but this charming town is full of sweet places to tie the knot. From a gorgeous downtown to rolling country fields not too far off, Athens has it all. Plus, it’s infamous for all the celebration opportunities following your wedding. I’m not kidding; it’s home to almost 100 bars.
May I suggest the Tree Room? It’s a tiny venue with no ceiling (because there’s a tree growing through the middle of the room), but it’s one of the most hidden-gem, romantic places in the city. Perfect for an elopement or intimate wedding ceremony. For inspiration, check out this dreamy, winter elopement at the Tree Room. There’s also the North Campus Chapel, for real Bulldog fans. But you have to get on their calendar early. They tend to book up about five years in advance.
My perfect wedding day in Athens? Having a few beers at Creature Comforts, staying at The Graduate, and brunching at Mama’s Boy.
4. Savannah, GA: For the History-Buffs + Ghost-Chasers
If you’re a fan of history (and ghosts!), Savannah is your town. It’s said to be the most haunted city in America. Beyond spooktastic ghost tours, Savannah is also home to some of the oldest and most unforgettable architecture in the South. If you’re dreaming of cobblestone streets, lush parks, or high-end boat rentals for your elopement or travel wedding, look no further.
Good news is that Savannah also has excellent food and beverage options everywhere you look. I recommend Soho South Cafe for their drinks, brunch, and atmosphere.
If you’re looking for an ideal intimate wedding setting in Savannah, might I suggest Forsyth Park? It’s a huge, rolling park in the center of town and surrounded by gorgeous Victorian homes: how lovely to get married there, and then take a walk with your new spouse by the river.
5. New Orleans, LA: For the Party-Seekers + Music-Lovers
New Orleans is another old (and very haunted) city with tons of gorgeous architecture. If you’re looking for a real party elopement or travel wedding — outside of Vegas — this is the place to be. It helps that New Orleans is also home to incredible culture that is present everywhere you look.
But, apart from Bourbon Street, jazz, and beignets, New Orleans is a phenomenal place to elope because it’s simply so stunning. The soft pastels of the French Quarter are the perfect place to take color-filled couple photos, and there’s lots of opportunities to snap a photo that is just as fun and adventure-filled as your love story is.
(If you’re looking to drop some cash), stay in the historic Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street, and get in line EARLY for beignets at Cafe du Monde. Otherwise, just stroll with your love and take in all of the street artists and jazz musicians before — and after — you the knot. I recommend doing so in the French Quarter or Jackson Square.
For more on how to have the best New Orleans wedding or elopement experience, check out my NOLA profile here.
For most people who chose elopement or travel weddings, it’s all about the adventure you get along with the ceremony. I can fully testify that all of the above locations are jam-packed with memorable moments and travel-worthy destinations. All you have to do is pick the one that is the perfect testament to your love and your relationship.
Interested in getting eloped or married in the southeast? As an intimate wedding and elopement photographer, I firmly believe no one should have to compromise who they are on their wedding day. I’d love to stand by your side as you and your partner tie the knot wherever you choose to do so. Get in touch with me by clicking here.