A Local Photographer’s Guide to Planning Your Epic Nashville Elopement in 2023
Why Elope in Nashville?
Throughout my time in Nashville as a Nashville elopement photographer, it has been incredible to see the city continue to grow. As one of the fastest growing cities in the US, Nashville has quickly become one of the fastest growing destination elopement locations! With it’s endless scenery and tons to do it’s really no surprise! Nashville may seem like an interesting choice, but if you think about it, Nashville is really in one of the most perfect spots. It’s centrally located within the US and easy for people to get to from all over the country. This guide will go over everything you need to know on how to elope in Nashville.
Table of Contents
- Getting To and Staying in Nashville
- Estimated Budget Breakdown
- Weather and Time of Year
- Making Your Elopement Legal In Tennessee – Marriage Laws and Getting your License
- Planning Tips (Including Vendors and Locations)
- Things To Do After You Elope in Nashville
Okay so if you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed at all the planning that’s involved in eloping, don’t worry. You’re not alone. This guide is to get you an idea of what’s possible when you have your very own Nashville elopement. As a Nashville elopement photographer, my job is to make sure each of my couples feel excited and prepared for their elopement. Plus that they have the best day possible!
When you book your Nashville elopement with me you get access to:
- Consultation calls and planning assistance to get to know you and your partner to help plan the perfect day that focuses on you as a couple.
- Location ideas not included in this guide
- Me as an officiant or witness at no extra cost
- A personalized list of things to do around Nashville to make the most out of your trip!
- Tips specific to Nashville to help your day run smoothly
- A photographer and a videographer (all my elopement packages come with a videographer!)
- Access to my client closet which includes dresses you can rent for your elopement to keep costs down!
- A custom timeline that focuses on what’s important to you and your partner so you can have the best day possible.
Getting to and Staying in Nashville
Getting to Your Nashville Elopement
First, let’s talk about getting you here! The great thing about Nashville is that it’s pretty easy to drive to, but I would always recommend people come by plane if your drive is going to be more than 6 hours. The time you’d save by going to the airport is totally worth it. Also, who wants to stress about driving when you’re about to elope in Nashville. Relax, and catch a flight out here!
As a matter of fact, the closest airport is Nashville International Airport (BNA) located just fifteen minutes from downtown Nashville. The airport itself is undergoing some major remodeling as of January 2023 but that doesn’t mean it’s a pain to get around in. Throughout these remodels, they’re actually making a lot of things easier to get to which is why it’s easily one of my favorite airports in the US.
Car Rentals For When You Elope in Nashville
I highly recommend you book a rental car when you fly into Nashville especially if you want to truly enjoy everything the city has to offer it’ll end up being cheaper to get a rental car than to Uber everywhere.
My favorite way to find cheap cars to rent in Nashville is to use Turo, it’s like Airbnb but for cars. When my husband and I first visited here before moving we were shocked at how easy Turo was here. I’ve tried it in a number of other cities and the options and affordability of Turo here is really unmatched.
Interested in trying Turo? Click this link for $25 off your first booking!
If you want the comfort of knowing there’s a company behind your car rental taking care of you, trust me I get it. I travel a lot and if I’m not super familiar with a location it is nice to have that peace of mind. Luckily rental cars in Nashville are pretty affordable!
Staying in Nashville
Whether you’re Airbnb people or hotel people, Nashville has all the options for you! Making your special trip to elope in Nashville that much less stress.
There is nothing wrong with splurging a little bit and getting a fancy hotel for your elopement, I mean if you can’t for your wedding day then when can you? Here are some of my favorite splurge worthy hotels in Nashville. Most of these spots are going to be downtown so keep that in mind when you’re planning your days as downtown can get a little congested.
- Fairlane Hotel
- The Noelle
- Hilton Nashville Downtown
- Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
- Omni Hotel
- The Hermitage
The best thing about Nashville Airbnbs? You KNOW they’re a Nashville Airbnb. The rentals here go hard to show off their Nashville spirit. If you’re wanting somewhere with a little bit more flexibility than a hotel and a space that can fit you and some of your favorite people, here are my suggestions.
- Hi Tootsie (4 Bed/4.5 bath)
- Modern Luxury (3 bed/5 bath)
- Jolene’s Rooftop View (2 bed/2.5 bath)
Airbnbs for just the two of you:
- Luxe Designer Studio (1 bed/1 bath)
- Sonder Dovetail (Studio/1 bath)
- LOFT LULA ‘SIETE’ (Studio/1bath)
I’m constantly updating my list of great Nashville Airbnbs! Check out my list of favorites on Airbnb for more options!
Aurora’s Airbnb Faves
Estimated Budget Breakdown
The cost for a Nashville elopement can vary dramatically depending on your vision. When you think about your wedding day, are you imagining it with some of the people closest to you? Or is it a getaway with your partner to celebrate the love the two of you share? Do you want it to be a bit more luxurious or an adventure in nature? Because you don’t have to budget for a traditional wedding, are the two of you thinking of splurging on the details that matter the most, like the florals, or a dream photographer or videographer? Are you wanting to go to the most remote location knowing that you could never convince your grandmother to go there normally? Or do the two of you want to keep it pretty low key?
These are all things to think about when planning out your budget. And trust me, budget planning is going to be important.
One of the benefits of Nashville is that it’s not a remote location. There are plenty of vendors in the area who can help you achieve the perfect day in whatever budget you have.
To give you an idea of what percentages to allocate for each of your vendors here’s an example of a breakdown for an elopement with no guests in Nashville or the surrounding areas. Keep in mind, an elopement with guests will vary dramatically. I’m also adding in the cost for staying a couple days to explore the city. Keep in mind this is a percentage estimate and what is important to you and your partner can and will vary which means where you spend your money may vary as well.
- Photographer/Videographer – 40%
- Accommodations/Exploring the City – 30%
- Outfits – 10%
- Marriage License/Officiant – 10%
- Hair/Makeup Artist – 5%
- Food (for the elopement day) – 3%
- Florist – 2%
Nashville Elopement Weather & The Best Time of Year
One of the best things about Nashville in my opinion is that the weather changes. Most people think of the south and think, oh it’s perfect weather all year long. Except it’s not, we’re not Hawai’i (though I wish we were sometimes) But that means that the time of year is really important when it comes to eloping here.
Because of how unpredictable Nashville weather can be, hiring a local photographer who can have back up plans on back up plans is going to be essential.
Average weather in Nashville via season. This shows the average high and about how often there’s rain during those months.
SPRING (March, April, May): 60-80°F, 9 rainy days in a month.
SUMMER (June, July, August): 80-90°F, 7 rainy days in a month
FALL (September, October, November): 60-80°F, 6 rainy days in a month
WINTER (December, January, February): 30-40°F, 8 rainy days in a month
As someone who lives here, I highly recommend fall (September/October) and spring (April/May) as the best times to elope. The weather is usually pretty perfect and you can really enjoy the best that Nashville has to offer before it gets too hot or too cold! In the winter, there is a lot more rain than what the average says of 8 days a month and you might find yourself searching for more rain plans than you wanted!
Making it Legal – Tennessee Marriage Laws and Getting your Marriage License
Luckily for you, Nashville is a pretty easy place to make your marriage legal. Thankfully, there isn’t a waiting period to get your marriage license (unless one of the parties is a minor) which means you can arrive in Nashville, pick up your marriage license and go get married all in the same day!
A few things to know before going to get your Nashville marriage license:
- Both you and your partner must be present and have ID and social security card.
- They only take cash or card for the fee. It’s $99.50 if you pay via cash and $101.50 if you’re paying via card.
- You must fill out the application form online prior to going to pick up the license.
- You do not need to get married in Nashville to get your marriage license there. Once issued the license is valid anywhere in the state for 30 days.
- Either you or your officiant must bring the license back to the county clerks office within 30 days. If you do it you’ll be given your official marriage certificate on the spot. If you have your officiant do it, it will be mailed to you within a few weeks.
- You will NOT be able to get married at the clerks office right away. They currently do not offer civil ceremonies at the clerks office. You will need an officiant.
For more information on getting your marriage license in Nashville visit the county clerks website.
Tennessee Marriage Laws You Need to Know About
In 2019, Tennessee passed a law that stated that anyone ordained online cannot legally officiate a wedding. This means that you need to find a separate officiant right? Well not exactly. Almost immediately after this law was passed companies like United Marriage Ministries filed a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee stating that this law was unconstitutional. As a result a federal judge stopped the law from going in to effect until the lawsuit can be resolved. In January of 2023 this law is still awaiting a final decision which means, that an online ordained minster can still legally marry you in the state of Tennessee. However, there are stories of clerks from different offices turning away online ordained ministers when they go to turn in marriage certificates.
Nevertheless, to ensure there are no hiccups, and you’re being safe, I strongly advise turning in your marriage certificate yourself. If you want to be extra safe, here is the list of who can solemnize a marriage in Tennessee according to Nashville.gov.
Tips for Planning Your Nashville Elopement
Now that you know how you’re getting to Nashville, where you’re going to stay, AND are ready to get your marriage license. Let’s plan the fun part, let’s elope in Nashville!
Finding Your Vendors
Next, let’s talk about vendors for your elopement in Nashville. Throughout Nashville is home to so many amazing vendors! Here are some of my faves. Keep in mind, I only support vendors who are inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly. Which is why I don’t have a ton of recommendations for each vendor. I take a lot of time to make sure each vendor I recommend to my clients has the same values that I do. I also share exclusive vendors and locations with my clients so if you’re looking for something more personalized, send me a message to book your elopement today!
Dawn Stiles McMillin
Dawn is my favorite officiant in the Nashville area, I recommend her to all my couples who are eloping, she is fun, friendly, and can tailor your ceremony to you!
Flowers by Rachel
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
East Nashville Greenhouse
Cumberland River Park
Tailored by Al
Fabulous Frocks Nashville
Hair & Makeup
House of Elysian
Declan & Mae
What to Bring When You Elope in Nashville?
The great thing about Nashville is that it’s a pretty easy city to pack for. If you’re a hiker/outdoorsy person be sure to bring your hiking boots and gear because there are a TON of spots close to the city to get some great hiking in. There are even some great locations just a couple hours out of town!
One thing I would be sure to pack if you’re planning on having your elopement in Nashville is a clear umbrella or two just in case of rain. You can have a ton of fun in the rain here but this does help if all of your backup plans for your elopement are exhausted and you just want to get married!
Nevertheless, please always practice Leave No Trace principles wherever you are and be sure to:
- Pack out everything you bring wherever you are. Especially if you’re in a park or nature area in the c city. Nashville is a beautiful place and when you come back to celebrate anniversaries you want to be able to go back to the same places you did when you got married.
- Stay on the trails, if you go hiking in any of the amazing places around the city, please stay on the trails and respect all the wildlife you’ll encounter!
For more information on Leave No Trace and the 7 LNT principles head over to Leave No Trace: Center for Outdoor Ethics
Things to Do in Nashville
After you’ve had your perfect day, you want to hang out and explore all the amazing things Nashville has to offer? Here’s my list of favorite things to do in Nashville after your elopement. This list includes some of my favorite restaurants and attractions in the city!
Places to Eat After You Elope in Nashville
Things to Do When You Elope in Nashville
- Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
- Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- Mural Tour of Nashville by Golf Cart
Looking for even more to do? Book your elopement with me and I’ll curate a custom must sees list with some of my personal favorite local haunts as well as things I think you and your partner would love to do together in Nashville to make your elopement vacation special!