Undoubtedly you’re coming to the Smoky Mountains to get married because of the stunning landscapes and abounding nature. The views and scenery in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg can’t be matched when it comes to wedding photographs. It makes sense to find a wedding venue that personifies every aspect of the mountains, and that’s why couples have flocked to Honeysuckle Hills for over sixteen years. I enjoy tending to the gardens and landscape features here because I don’t want you to just to take home photographs. I want you to feel like you’re part of something special while you’re my guest on my family’s land. Every time you look at your wedding images I want your heart to leap with the joy of memories flooding in from your experience here. Our venue is unique with its multiple photography sites and adventures. While all venues in the Smokies are beautiful, the average time a photographer spends with the two of you for pictures at other venues is 15 to 30 minutes. Here, I spend at least an hour, sometimes much longer. (If you bring your own photographer rest assured they’ll do the same.) The best part is that you won’t have to spend hours sitting in traffic hopping from spot to spot all over the Smoky Mountains or deal with nosy tourists and Park permits. There are more locations for wedding photographs right here on our property than you’ll be able to use, so this blog article will help you get the most photographic variety and creativity from your Honeysuckle Hills wedding package.
If the focus on story-telling portraiture or use of props is the most important goal, I recommend keeping the guest count as low as possible. By far I’ve noticed over the past sixteen years that couples not only get the most creative images from a smaller elopement at Honeysuckle Hills, but they are more relaxed, too. The emphasis is going to be on your commitment to each other. There is less tug and pull to give your guests attention, and less distraction for both of us. There is also more time for us to converse about your interests, pay attention to details, and use more of our locations and imaginative ideas. The best way to describe Honeysuckle Hills is a huge photography studio with a bonus ceremony.
If a larger wedding with reception is a must, the best way to still get in multiple photography locations is by doing a first look. This is an opportunity before your guests arrive to walk to your fiancé in a pre-determined way so they can turn around and be amazed with all the preparation invested in your dress, hair style, and makeup. We’ll then have an hour to explore the lower grounds and capture intimate moments on camera before the deluge of people arrive. Most of the time we can fit in the mountain view adventure site and horses later in the evening when your guests are being entertained by the DJ. The first look is not needed with an elopement package (wedding without a reception.)
A wedding is one of the least controllable events you’ll ever attend. So many things can happen when there’s a larger guest count. Life happens… people run late. Items are forgotten and must be retrieved. Children can be a little unsettled, especially until they acclimate to a new environment. Because you are loved, family will shower their devotion upon you throughout the day. It is a blessing, but can also be exhausting. My staff and I have servant’s hearts, and we’re going to dedicate ourselves to your happiness and a smooth chain of events at your wedding. But it’s a good idea to discuss with your sweetheart at length to determine what kind of wedding experience you want BEFORE searching for wedding packages. Once the decision is made, maintain boundaries to prevent the wedding from spiraling out of control.
I want my venue to be a place of escape for you. I want you to breathe in the smell of honeysuckle in the summer or the crisp, falling leaves in autumn while we’re creating magical images together. Every wedding package has recommendations for the maximum number of people and photography sites that are realistically attainable while enjoying a laid-back experience.
If you’re a couple who realizes a budget and sticks to it, I love you! There’s absolutely no sense in spending more money than you have for a wedding. Equally, it is extraordinarily stressful to stick to a budget, yet spend it on a package that will not accommodate your needs adequately. My favorite analogy is laying on the bed to get a size six pair of pants buttoned when you really need a size eight or ten. Sure, you got it buttoned, but are you going to feel your best walking around in those tight pants that leave a red rash in your skin after squeezing and rubbing all day? Absolutely not! Are you going to be able to move around well enough to fit in all the events and locations you really, really, really want? Like a marathon runner trying to win in a tight pair of jeans… probably not.
If one of our wedding packages lists a maximum of 15 people and you know from the beginning you can’t possibly get the list under 16, please go to the next package. One reason is because guest counts are more likely to go up than down, so if you already know you can’t get the list down to less than 16, it will likely be 20 when you get to wedding day. Likewise, if you have activities you’d like photographed in addition to the locations for the two of you, consider a package like our “Family Elopement” for the most time on property. Examples are requests for a first dance, first look with family members or the wedding party, presentations of gifts, bouquet toss, cake cutting, or the popular wedding pranks circulating these days on Tik Tok. The larger your guest count, the more likely these additional activities will be requested. If you’re unsure which package will accommodate all your needs, just send me your list of priorities and I’ll create a custom package if necessary.
I don’t mind a bit if you blame it on me. Tell them Regina can’t accommodate more than a certain number of people or events for the package you want. Sometimes it’s not a matter of money… it’s a matter of peace and quiet and a more intimate wedding atmosphere. Don’t cave to the multitude of people who beg to come to your wedding and insist on certain activities if you’d rather have tranquility.
At Honeysuckle Hills, anyone of walking age counts as a guest, even if they can sit in a parent’s lap during the wedding ceremony. I adore children and they provide some of the most entertaining and adorable moments to capture on camera. They’re the spice of life, and they sure don’t stay little for long! Two of our photography locations were created in honor of my granddaughters. One is our fairy house with a green door that resembles a hobbit house. I had it built as a photography prop for my granddaughter, Eowyn, my little Swedish Princess. The other location is a miniature wildflower meadow for my other granddaughter, the American Princess, named Everlee (which means a beautiful meadow.) Please give me the time needed to include your children at your wedding, whether it’s in photographs or as part of the day as a whole. Littles often require a bit more coaching for pictures, and who knows where they’re going to run off to next out here. We’ve got a sand box, creek, and dozens of other places that children find utterly fascinating. As cute as your babies are, they add to the coordinating needs at your wedding whether they are yours or not. Therefore, we ask that you include any child of walking age as part of the guest count.
One of my favorite hair and makeup artists in the Pigeon Forge area is Summer Lynn. View her talent on her Facebook page called Summer Lynn Beauty if you’re considering being pampered on your wedding day. Any professional makeup artist will always listen to your needs, so the key to the look you want is communication. None of the artists I know here in the Smoky Mountains pressure any of my brides for a look they don’t want. They seem to have a keen intuition when it comes to sensing when a bride is not quite satisfied, too. But again… communicate, communicate, communicate. Do you want to look like a fashion model? Would you rather only do slight accents to your natural features? Just tell your stylists and they’ll doll you up accordingly. Inspiration pictures go a long way to achieving your goal as long as you respect realistic advice from your stylist after they complete their evaluation.
I’ve noticed that everyone relaxes more when they hire a stylist instead of doing their own hair and makeup. I think it has a lot to do with human touch and reassurance with conversation.
You’ll be able to use our spacious bridal suite along with a second dressing area before your ceremony here at Honeysuckle Hills. That alone takes loads of stress away because you’re already at your wedding venue and don’t have to worry about getting lost or not arriving on time. Plus, I’m going to check on you often and make sure you’re comfy cozy.
If you need help booking a stylist, just let me know. I can book them for you, or provide a handy venue welcome guide with referrals to several stylists to choose from.
Do you still have a great grandmother’s glove or heirloom jewelry? Do you both love sports and have a collection of fan memorabilia? Did you ever make a gift for your sweetheart by hand? Anything that is meaningful to you is meaningful to me, and I’d love to include them in the photographs to tell your love story. One of my recent couples met while on the job as a firefighter and a nurse, so he brought his firefighter jacket and she brought a scrub jacket. Couples often bring signs that say, “We Eloped” along with the wedding date. Sometimes the signs even say, “We Eloped in the Smoky Mountains!”
When you reach out to me to start the wedding planning you’ll notice my first question to you is, “How did you meet?” This story gives me LOADS of ideas for the wedding photography and starts the process of getting to know you. The more we communicate, the better friends we’ll become. If we’re friends, we’ll be able to communicate even better on wedding day when your photographs are being created. Even if I’m not the one doing your photography it helps me to make your over-all experience here enjoyable.
My last piece of advice has to do with the fact I have literally sixteen years of wedding photography ideas floating around on social media. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to bring couples down to reality after being presented with their wish list. Sure, I can create a custom wedding package to include every single location and imaginative idea you give me, but it will likely require an investment of several hours. Even on the best days that’s not feasible. Don’t exhaust yourselves… By all means let me know if you like a particular location like our arched bridge or mountain view. If pictures with our horses is a novelty, don’t add the horses adventure session. If you grew up riding horses or have intimate memories of them, you’ll cherish the images with Sugar and Ben along with the memories of the experience.
I like it when you show me pictures that moved your heart from Honeysuckle Hills, because it helps me know if you’re a more affectionate or more reserved personality. If it were up to me, I’d pose everyone with intimate and romantic overtures. Here’s where I have to be realistic myself because some people are more reserved than others. It doesn’t mean you’re not as in love. It just means you express your love differently. Do you love more whimsical images that don’t look as posed? Communicate all of these things to me… I’m listening. Knowing the most about your personality tends to be more important than choosing your photography sites. If I’m not restrained with a long list of “must have” requests, you’ll actually get more original images. If I see the perfect light in an area on our property that is bursting with bloom or geometric design like never before, but I am restricted with a “list,” you may miss out on something out of this world amazing.
Choosing your ceremony location is going to be almost as challenging as narrowing down all the photography sites here. I like setting a time the day before the wedding to meet with you and walk our property. This is when we go over all the wedding details, finalize planning, and choose your ceremony site. I always remind couples that if you love our stone arch but want to say your vows beneath our willow tree, no worries. We can always do wedding photographs at the stone arch as one of your lower grounds photography choices. Many times I use the window light in our wedding chapel for bridal portraits, and these are fabulous in black and white. This area, along with a covered pavilion outside can be used as back-up plans for rain. So, you have a place to get married AND places for photographs in case the weather is so bad all day long that we can’t change the ceremony or photography time. Yes, you read that correctly! Because we only do one wedding each day I have the luxury of changing the start time for the best weather conditions.
Hosting weddings in the Smoky Mountains where I have lived all my 51 years is my life’s work. I can’t say I’ve thought of everything or assure you that nothing is going to go wrong on your wedding day. What I can promise is that your happiness is my priority and I will give 110% (or more) to make your wedding the most memorable day possible, all with tangible memories to re-live the moment a million times.
Let’s get to know each other! It’s time to plan your wedding here in the Smoky Mountains.