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Affordable Couple Only Gatlinburg Wedding
September 22, 2010 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I've been commissioned with planning a cheap couple only wedding in Gatlinburg. What are some things I should know, how can I keep it cheap and what else can they do while there?

The couple in question will stay in a gorgeous condo in Gatlinburg. They wish to marry in the condo itself and the wedding is tentatively set for January 10th. There will be no guests.

I know there are wedding dress/tuxedo rental places there as well as ministers, but the area is unfamiliar. Here are a few questions I have:

* Which dress/tux rental places are and are not recommended?
* Do you have a website that you would recommend for affordable, or better still, cheap, wedding bands?
* Like the rental, which ministers are and are not recommended?
* What is the best place for one romantic dinner for two?
* What kinds of events/activities can be done - while there - that are inexpensive and worth it? Like $20 or less.
* What are the roads like at that time of year?
* Is there a bakery that will make a tiny wedding cake for a decent price? Any alternative ideas for that?
* Are there any other tips or things they should know?

This couple is very dear to me and I want to make things perfect for them in a price range that they can afford.
posted by magnoliasouth to Travel & Transportation around Gatlinburg, TN (16 answers total)
 
* What kinds of events/activities can be done - while there - that are inexpensive and worth it? Like $20 or less.

They *need* to visit Smoky Mountain Brewery. Get a beer sampler and some of the hot pretzels with beer cheese dip.

Breakfast one day at the Pancake Pantry. Only one day, because it isn't cheap, and most days you'll want cheap for breakfast--but their breakfasts are awesome and worth a visit.

They can hike in the Smoky Mountains National Park, of course, though in January Clingman's Dome and other Northern roads on the peaks will be closed. But what trails are open will be free, and pretty with snow-powdered evergreens.
posted by misha at 2:40 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The arts and crafts trail is worth a look, even if you're not buying.

US 441 south from Knoxville is usually kept pretty clear in winter, but heavy, sudden snowfall in the mountains can bring traffic anywhere to a halt very quickly. I wouldn't recommend the northern route from Cherokee.
posted by holgate at 2:56 PM on September 22, 2010


magnoliasouth: " Is there a bakery that will make a tiny wedding cake for a decent price? Any alternative ideas for that?"

Yes. They can feed each other wedding cupcakes. Smokey Mountain Bakery or wherever someone recommends can make them for you. You may have to order 12 but they they can snack on them.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:14 PM on September 22, 2010


If they ski, there is (admittedly dodgy) skiing at Ober Gatlinburg. Lift tickets are generally $30/day, but the snow quality and quantity are... well... don't bother if your clients are coming from Vermont or Colorado or something.

About the only reason we ever schlep into Gatlinburg (it's not far but the traffic can be awful) is for the way-better-than-expected Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Adult tickets are $21.99 and they have penguins.

If they're up for kitschy fun, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede is a dinner-and-show in Pigeon Forge. It's about $50/person, but it's generally considered to be the best of the Americana shows in the area.
posted by workerant at 3:15 PM on September 22, 2010


Unless the couple is very familiar with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, go to Cades Cove, which is lovely any time of the year. The Rainbow Falls hike is easy and beautiful in the winter. And the park is free!
posted by Jenna Brown at 3:26 PM on September 22, 2010


When trying to reacquaint myself with Gatlinburg I ran across a post on Google Maps which described Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg as"an oasis in a sea of fudge". And that it is. Gatlinburg is the heartland of tchotchkes, 64 oz. steaks, cotton candy on hands/sidewalks/nearby clothes, paintings on velvet, T-Shirts exclaiming "I am with Stupid/Him/Her", parents pulling children, children pulling parents and enough dazed and glazed looks to assume everyone is either sleep deprived, stoned but absent fun, has the flu or wishes they were not there.
However, Arrowmont is hidden in the heart of downtown and you might check with them to if they have a room/suite/etc that might be available for a very intimate wedding. In all fairness, the countryside around Gatlinburg is beautiful and numerous rentals will be available in the winter. Non skiing cabins/rooms/condos should be quite affordable. There was a surprisingly outstanding restaurant, built out of contiguous double wides, just out side Gatlinburg but the chef/owner/Elvis Impersonator was tragically injured, and later died, following an auto accident. That does not help does it. It will and can be a wonderful location for a wedding--not in July on a hot day.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:44 PM on September 22, 2010


Something to know, if you don't already, is that Gatlinburg is super cheesy. If you know this, great. But it'd be a bit of a shock if you didn't expect it.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:02 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow thanks for all the answers so far! Please keep them coming.

@bluedaisy: Can you define what exactly you mean by cheesy? Can you provide some examples?
posted by magnoliasouth at 5:07 PM on September 22, 2010


Not to speak for bluedaisy, but to my mind, Gatlinburg is the quintessential cheesy tourist town from the late 50s/early 60s. Think airbrushed t-shirts, "indian" trinkets, corncob pipes that say "Best Granny", personalized mugs, and (my personal favorite) Hillbilly Golf.

It's grown up a good bit in the last few decades, and Pigeon Forge makes Gatlinburg seem almost classy by comparison, but the underlying kitsch is still there and quite strong. I grew up near there, so I'm a bit jaded about it, but overall, if you know what you're getting, Gatlinburg can be quite fun.

My favorites are the Donut Friar and the Sky Lift. (Yeah, that's not a typo, its a ski lift that doesn't actually go anywhere but up the mountain and back down again) You can also see one of the original General Lee cars from Dukes of Hazzard and if you're lucky meet Cooter from the show.
posted by teleri025 at 5:16 PM on September 22, 2010


I assumed the velveeta factor was a given. Yeah, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are flashy, gaudy, and crowded. They are home to block after block of outlet malls, airbrush shops, t-shirt stands and Olde Tyme Candy Factories. If you're looking for a more refined, sedate Smoky Mountain experience, try Townsend. FYI: I live in the backcountry outside Maryville. My road dead-ends into the Park. Feel free to MeMail me for more.
posted by workerant at 7:06 PM on September 22, 2010


Gatlinburg is not a small, charming mountain town. It's a town created to look like a small, charming mountain town. Lots of shlock. It's a huge tourist trap. Nothing authentic there. In January I imagine it'll be pretty quiet, and you can get to some pretty places from there, in the Park, if the road is open. And there are some pretty views from rental houses outside of town. But Gatlinburg itself is not really a nice place.

I used to live in western North Carolina, on the other side of the mountain. We went to Gatlinburg for water parks and stupid tourist stuff.

If you'd like a quaint, charming mountain destination, you might consider Boone, NC, Asheville, NC, maybe Waynesville, NC, or, if you would like a smaller town and more access to the outdoors, then Bryson City, NC.

But maybe you already have the condo booked?
posted by bluedaisy at 8:31 PM on September 22, 2010


I recommend not renting a tux. Wear the nicest clothes in your closet.
posted by ovvl at 8:35 PM on September 22, 2010


Just seconding what everyone else has said... Gatlinburg is about as classy as the state fair. It's everything workerant mentioned as well as big lit up Vegas-looking theaters with country acts, year-round Christmas stores, and one hotel after another. My favorite place there was the Hologram Museum, but I think they're closed now.

There are also pretty frequent car shows in the area that turn traffic into a bumper-to-bumper nightmare for hours on end, but I think those tend to be a summer deal.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fun place to go. It's just a hassle, and even the chain restaurants there will charge up to twice what they do in Knoxville for the exact same stuff. You may have different standards of 'cheap' than I do, but Gatlinburg is not a place I would go to for that.

When I got married we got a cabin at Lookout Mountain. I thought it was peaceful and pretty and it's literally minutes from Chattanooga. We pretty much eloped, so I can't recommend anything, but I figured I'd throw it out there as another alternative.
posted by heatvision at 6:33 AM on September 23, 2010


Seconding heatvision. Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is a pastiche of saccharine and velveeta, and unless said couple know what they're in for, they should just go to Chattanooga/Lookout Mountain and have a far better setting for their wedding.

Which dress/tux rental places are and are not recommended?

They should wear the nicest things they currently own. Are they willing to buy wedding clothes? If so, that's another matter entirely.

Do you have a website that you would recommend for affordable, or better still, cheap, wedding bands?

Overstock has great prices on rings, and you can filter by material, gemstone, and price.

Like the rental, which ministers are and are not recommended?
You don't need an ordained minister to be married in Tennessee (see TN-36-3-301).

What is the best place for one romantic dinner for two?
Either of the Bluff View Art District's wonderful restaurants, though I am terribly partial to Tony's. Also recommended: Meeting Place and Table 2.

What kinds of events/activities can be done - while there - that are inexpensive and worth it? Like $20 or less.
- Grab a couple of ice cream cones from Clumpies and walk across the Walnut Street Bridge.
- Walk through the Hunter Museum and check out the amazing views.
- Grab some brews and shoot some pool at the Big River Grille, then go through the passageway that connects it to Rhythm and Brews to hear great live music.
- Stroll along the Chattanooga Riverwalk and warm up with a cup of coffee or cocoa at Rembrandt's.
- Go window-shopping along Frazier Avenue or the Northshore and River Street districts
- Ride the carousel at Coolidge Park.

What are the roads like at that time of year?
- Passable. It really depends.

Is there a bakery that will make a tiny wedding cake for a decent price? Any alternative ideas for that?
Cupcakes, per DarlingBri's awesome suggestion! There's Chattanooga Cupcakes and Whipped, either of whom would love to make them wedding cupcakes.

Are there any other tips or things they should know?
To relax and enjoy their wedding, no matter where they have it!
posted by evoque at 10:48 AM on September 23, 2010


Again, many thanks to everyone so far! The suggestions have been amazing. Love the cupcake idea. I'll look into it.

Okay I think I need to clarify a few things, since I'm seeing various suggestions with a theme here.

* The wedding dress/tux rental is a must. This is what the couple wants. In fact, the groom adorably said, "I'm a 49-year-old-never-worn-a-tux person, and I want that to change." ;)
* Gatlinburg is also a must. They have a place to stay there for free, via a friend.
* They said they knew that they didn't have to have a minister, but they want one. Although I believe they may have already settled on one. I'd have to verify that. Still open to suggestions though, just in case.

I still thank you all though. I'm sure future wedding couples will find these suggestions helpful.

So, with that in mind, any rental recommendations? Or are they all just about the same?
posted by magnoliasouth at 11:24 AM on September 23, 2010


Gatlinburg is not a small, charming mountain town. It's a town created to look like a small, charming mountain town. Lots of shlock.

Indeed. The obvious point of comparison is Helen, Ga, for the ratio of funnel cakes to visitors.
posted by holgate at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2010


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