Updated: Oct 27
Weddings don't have to look like the ones you attended with your mom when you were twelve. No shade at all to the colored satin belt sashes and country clubs of days gone by.
They don't have to look like the one you were in as a bridesmaid. Again, getting ready in the upstairs of a barn with strict timelines and a tad too much hairspray can be a vibe. I'm just saying it doesn't have to be your vibe.
So what other options do you have? Well, what's the saying..."if you can dream it, you can do it."
As long as you're recognizing legal requirements, the sky's the limit when it comes to your wedding day, so forget any preconceived notions you have about what weddings should look like, close your eyes, and imagine what the perfect day would be for you two. If tradition and expectation weren't involved, who would be there? If excitement and fun and comfort were the desired emotions, what would the day look like?
Weddings are ultimately about the start to something sacred and beautiful - a marriage. So forget what our culture says you need to make the day a success, and simply focus on what a perfect first day of marriage would look like.
Okay got it in your mind?
If something in you says that a smaller, intentional, intimate day with close family and friends is what would be best, then keep reading for my list of intimate wedding and elopement venues in Raleigh, North Carolina!
And if you're up for something a little more adventurous, stay tuned for my list of places to get married in North and South Carolina outside the Raleigh area.
If you guys are an outdoor-loving, adventurous couple who loves a pretty view (but you want to stay within Raleigh, North Carolina), this could be the perfect spot for you. Greenhills County Park is a former landfill turned park with the closest thing to a mountain view that I've found in Raleigh. There is a picnic shelter along with several other smaller picnic areas, but you could also head to a nearby favorite restaurant or someone's backyard for a little after-ceremony party.
A Park Use Agreement is likely required to elope here. A photography permit is also required if you want professional photos of your elopement (but don't worry - I've secured photography permits through Wake County lots of times so I can tell you it's a fairly simple process and totally free).
Umstead State Park - Intimate Forest Wedding Venue
What about an enchanting forest intimate wedding? Umstead State Park can offer a quiet setting for an intimate small wedding or elopement. It's 10 miles northwest of Downtown Raleigh and offers lakes, trails, and even a very small, quiet amphitheater in the woods.
A special activity permit is likely required along with a permit for having your event photographed. Your photographer or planner should be able to help you secure these.
The Ridge House is a cute little Airbnb in Spring Hope, North Carolina. On that note, you can probably find lots of Airbnbs that would be a pretty spot for your intimate wedding or elopement.
See more from The Ridge House here.
If it's a garden vibe you're after, you can get married at the WRAL Azalea Garden from April to September on Saturdays and Sundays surrounding by beautiful greenery and blooms.
Another botanical garden option is JC Raulston Arboretum. With 10 different garden spaces available for rent (at $190-$265 per hour), this could be a good spot for your intimate wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina.
See more from The Arboretum here.
If you want a more elegant and luxury venue but still want to keep your wedding to close family and friends for an intimate feel, the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina is a five-star hotel and has a lakeside terrace and gardens. It's can be a great choice for your intimate, elegant wedding.
If you want a smaller, more intimate feel for your wedding day, I'm all for that, and I hope you see there are plenty of options even within the Raleigh area! If you're ready to start planning your day, I'd love to hear from ya! Reach out below, and tell me all the juicy details!