With the risk of Covid-19 couples are rescheduling their big wedding celebration to a much later date, but many are still ready to take the leap and marry their significant other now. The Justice of the Peace may seem like the most simple option, but you don't have to sacrifice a dreamy and romantic wedding by "making it legal" at the courthouse. Ohiopyle, located in South Western Pennsylvania, is a beautiful little town and state park built around the Youghiogheny River that has a diverse selection of spaces where you and your fiance can be married! From Cucumber falls to the flat rocks in the middle of the river, and even an overlook with views for miles over the forest, Ohiopyle is probably one of my favorite spaces for a wedding ceremony in Pennsylvania.
So how easy is it to get married at Ohiopyle? You'd be surprised how simple it can be! Here are a few steps and ideas to make your intimate wedding the perfect, memorable day you deserve...
1.) Secure Your Permit - All weddings at Ohiopyle require pre-approval from the PA State Parks, and I'm always happy to help guide my clients in the right direction to obtain this. The only cost from the park affiliated with an intimate ceremony (for example 10 people or less) is a $25 administrative fee.
2.) Find Someone to Officiate - There are 2 ways you can go about having your wedding ceremony officiated. The first is by hiring an ordained officiant, local mayor, judge, or any other person who can legally officiate your wedding. There's usually a small cost affiliated with this depending on the person performing the ceremony.
The second option is to tie your own knot and have a self-uniting ceremony! Pennsylvania is one of few states where you can have a self-uniting wedding license, only requiring signatures from at least 2 witnesses of the event. All you have to do is tell the clerk at the courthouse that you'd like a self-uniting marriage license and mail it back in afterward, just as you would any other marriage license. With this, you can state your own vows or even have any family member or friend "officiate" the ceremony with readings of your choice.
3.) Attire - Ladies, If you have your heart set on an amazing Hayley Paige gown, buy it! You'll look and feel amazing (as you should) in the dress of your dreams and you'll never regret purchasing what your heart wants. Besides - you're saving money here, so why not splurge on what you want most! If you'd rather have a smaller dress budget, there are some amazing options on Amazon (just make sure you read the reviews so you don't get junk from overseas!). The pretty lady on our landing page is wearing a $28 dress from there! A gorgeous white jumpsuit would be amazing too. Just remember - a good pair of hiking or water shoes could be your best friends that day (but bring the heels for pics if you want!) Guys (or my girls who love a more androgynous style) khakis and suspenders are always a cool look for your wedding day, but if you're feeling a suit or tux, bring it!
4.) Book Your Photographer! Shameless plug here, check out the Adventures page at wildnorthweddings.com to read more about our Laurel Highlands elopement packages, starting at $800 for 3 hours of coverage + digital downloads and print release. I've been documenting wedding days for 6 years now and I'd love for yours to be next! Shoot us a message if you're interested in learning more!
5.) Choose Your Location
Below are some of my favorite spots at Ohiopyle, but the options are limitless! The park service recommends the Visitor's Center overlook of the river and the Tharp Knob Area overlook of the forest as well, as both are easily accessible to guests who may not be up for a climb or hike. My favorite is on the riverside flat rocks and Cucumber Falls personally. Both are a little more of a hike but still easy for most (though not handicap accessible).
6.) Make Your Plans For Afterwards - It's a special day that deserves a celebration! You can reserve a Vrbo, a cozy room in one of the local bed & breakfasts, stay in one of the houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, or stay at Seven Springs. Looking for dinner plans? The Falls City Pub in the town of Ohiopyle is a great place for the family to celebrate afterwards with big flavor and a casual atmosphere. It's difficult to get a reservation at Treetops Restaurant in Acme, PA but if you can snag one it's a unique and delicious dining experience! Another regional favorite is Out Of The Fire Café in Donegal. Their patio dining has a beautiful view of the ridge (particularly beautiful in the fall!) with upscale flavors. Staying the weekend? Plan another big adventure for you and the group with white water rafting, kayaking, or biking the trails with Wilderness Voyageurs!
7.) Send Announcements - Snag some postcards from Vista Print with the stunning wedding photos you received of the two of you laughing, crying, and having the best day ever. Put a "We Eloped!" tab on it and share them with all of your favorite friends and family. Postcards are cost-effective and the postage costs less than normal envelopes. And if you plan to party with your favorites later on, be sure to add a "Save The Date to Celebrate!" on the back! Details can follow, but at least they'll have it on their calendars.
Words Of Advice:
One of my favorite parts of the concept of eloping is that couples are spending money on what they value most, rather than what they think they're supposed to. If you want to spend an absurd amount of money on a bouquet, spend $28 on your dress, stay in a super luxury cabin for the weekend and drink boxed wine, or stay in a tent under the stars and pop champagne fireside, do it! Wherever your wedding day takes you, always remember that it's your day and to stay true to what you want from it. Don't let anyone else cause you unnecessary stress, and don't be afraid to say "no" or "yes" to people. There's no right or wrong when it comes to weddings, so don't hesitate to do things your way.
Hey there! I'm Carly D'Angelo-Hall - a photographer specializing in documenting weddings across the U.S. If you love adventure, experiencing new things, and if you like to live "outside of the box", let's talk about how I can help you create and capture the wedding day of your dreams! Visit wildnorthweddings.com to view all-inclusive wedding day and adventure session packages.