Imagine a wedding venue with a porch that feels like a tree house, an adorable succulent-inspired wedding cake with matching cupcakes and Adirondack porch chairs for guests to sit in as they watch you say “I do.” That's exactly what Alyssa and Rob had in mind when they planned their sweet and charming mountain wedding at the Gatlinburg Mansion. And lucky for us, JoPhoto was on hand to capture the day.
The Gatlinburg Mansion is a 14-bedroom luxury cabin-style venue that's an impeccable blend of guest comfort, gorgeous views of Mount Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and a delightfully laidback downhome feel.
How did you meet?
We met 11 years ago in high school, at our first “house party”. Our friend Patrick, who also happened to be our wedding officiant, introduced us. It was the first and last time we ever lied to our parents about our whereabouts!
What is your proposal story?
Rob proposed at the top of Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, VT. I asked him for bug spray, and got a diamond ring instead!
Tell us a little a bit about your wedding (your vision, color, style, and location choices).
Rob and I are born and raised in Connecticut, with both of our families residing here as well. But, from the get-go, we knew we wanted an intimate wedding outside of Connecticut…and selfishly, we wanted a wedding that lasted for more than a day :). “Scenic” and “rustic” was a must. So, using those elements as a starting point, we searched across the entire country for large houses, beautiful landscapes and rustic locations that fit the bill. Once we came across the Gatlinburg Mansion, we knew we had found the perfect place. Having passed through Gatlinburg on a cross-country trip years before, it just felt so right. Lucky for us, our families went along with our crazy scheme, and we managed to convince all 32 of our loved ones to make the trip to Tennessee, most of them for the first time! Once we found the location, aesthetics like color and style just fell into place. “Rustic” was the buzzword, and we just ran with it!
Tell us about your attire choices.
Knowing that we were planning a “cabin wedding” helped guide many of our design choices, specifically attire. I had a pretty strong vision for this part, and Rob was kind enough to let me run with it. With “romantic” in mind, I had always envisioned the ladies in long, flowy dresses and the men in vests. I knew I wanted the bridesmaids to be mismatched, and in various neutral tones (with the exception of my older sister, the MOH – I wanted her to stand out). shopping for the groomsmen was SO fun (they're not quite as picky!! lol!). And thanks to the most fantastic Men's Wearhouse Associate – shout-out to J.J. McKenna in Manchester, CT! – we designed an outfit that fit the setting perfectly, while being classy, comfortable and affordable.
What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?
MOST important for us: A wedding planner!!!
Being totally remote in CT, our wedding planner was CRITICAL.
Jackie (Elease Productions) was amazing and kept us on track in so many ways. Not only did she help me immensely throughout the planning process (meeting with vendors, keeping me on track with timelines, researching gift ideas, gathering location information, the list goes on…), she was CRITICAL for the day-of coordination (managing all vendor arrivals/set-up, putting together decorations, keeping the groomsmen in line (!!!), maintaining the proper cadence of the event, the list goes on…).
When we started planning, Jackie gave us the best piece of advice: She told us to agree upon the three MOST important aspects of our wedding, and the three LEAST important aspects. We decided that photography, videography, and music would be our main focus, and we would not get too hung up on food, flowers, or decorations. All in all, we just wanted the beautiful mountain backdrop to be the focal point, and for the overall “vibe” to be right for the setting!
We asked a lot of people for their feedback around this. Here are the three most common responses:
- People won't really remember the food (unless it's really bad!!)
- Years from now, when the wedding has come and gone, all you'll have is the photos and videos from your special day – so make them count.
- Most people who didn't get a videographer regretted it and wished they had!!
What were your favorite parts of the day? (memories and stories)
- Walking towards my best friend and future husband, in the most beautiful location, surrounded by the people I love most in the whole world – just taking it all in!
- When my Grandpa gave me my late Grandmother's wedding ring – it meant the world to me and more.
- Dancing to “My Girl” with my Dad
- Having everyone tell me AFTER the wedding, that a tornado warning was in effect for the area, and they had designed a contingency plan for an inside wedding (which included me walking out from the food pantry, lol!)
- Dancing the night away with my family and friends, just so much love.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
Yes! Enjoy the process!! Even when things get stressful, make sure to focus on the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It should be fun and exciting!
Also, find vendors you can trust! We were so fortunate to find some of the most wonderful, professional, and talented vendors, and being able to put 100% trust in them gave us so much comfort on our wedding day.
Why Did You Choose the Mountains?
From the peaks of Vermont to the rocky coast of California, mountains are in our blood. For us, the mountains are stunning, romantic, epic, and awe-inspiring. A perfect place to bind two people forever.
What are three things you're glad you did?
- Found the most amazing photographers and videographer,
- Stuck to our guns in planning a destination mountain wedding, and
- Designed a wedding that was exactly what we wanted (with the help of the most incredible vendors).
What are 3 things you wished you hadn't done or hadn't worried about?
- Spent quite as much money on live music.
- Bought high-heel wedding shoes, when I spent the ENTIRE day in flip-flops (yes, I walked down the aisle in flip-flops!)
- Stressed so much in the month leading up to the wedding! It's easy to get hung up on silly wedding details sometimes, and the smaller ones have a way of working themselves out.
How did you find your vendors?
We found our vendors through hours (and hours) of Google searches, as well as referrals through our wedding planner and photographers! Every single vendor was incredible. I would recommend them to anyone.
What's your biggest piece of advice for other couples planning a mountain wedding?
My biggest piece of advice for couples planning a mountain wedding: For us, having a wedding planner was life-changing! It alleviated stress leading up to the wedding and allowed us (and our parents) to be totally immersed in the events on the day-of. No matter what type of wedding, I would recommend a wedding planner or day-of-coordinator to anyone and everyone!
Gatlinburg Wedding Vendors
Photography: JoPhoto | Ceremony Venue: Gatlinburg Mansion | Event Planning: Elease Productions | Hair &Makeup: Whitney Evans Beauty | Wedding Cake: Gail's Custom Cakes | Videography: KNOTTED ARROW | Groom's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Bride's Shoes: David's Bridal | Headpiece: David's Bridal | Wedding Dress: SWEETHEART (NEW) | Submitted via: Matchology