There are a number of reasons couples choose to have an adventurous wedding day. Some couples want to invest their wedding budget into an unforgettable experience for the two of them. Some people want to spend their wedding day creating memories and spending as much time with their fiance as possible. Some people don't love the spotlight or fear that family drama will overshadow the meaning of the day. And some people just hate the idea of planning and coordinating a large affair! Whatever your reasoning, it's valid and you should choose the wedding day that aligns with what you think will make you most happy that day.
My favorite part of elopements is that couples get to go to exciting destinations and share a new experience together! And one of the most beautiful and unique locations that Pennsylvania has to offer is Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands.
Ohiopyle includes a sweet little town and state park built around the Youghiogheny River that has a diverse array of scenery for you and your fiancé to see throughout the day! From Cucumber falls to the riverside boulders, and even an overlook with views for miles over the forest, Ohiopyle is definitely a top destination for elopements in the Northeast US.
So how easy is it to get married at Ohiopyle? You'd be surprised how simple it can be! Here are a few "to-do" items and ideas to make your intimate wedding the perfect, memorable day you deserve...
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 an administrative fee around $30 (as of 2022).
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. I have resources for how to craft a beautiful and meaningful ceremony that I send all of my couples, so don't worry! You're not alone in that process.
Just because you're having a smaller guest list doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the dress budget! If you want the gown of your dreams, you have full permission to splurge on it. Just remember that you will get dirty! But you'll have the most fun experience in that dress and the dirt will tell a story.
Kimberly Jaymes Bridal, located in Latrobe just North of Ohiopyle, is my favorite little bridal boutique in the Laurel Highlands (she does suits too), and there are really creative and unique options from Etsy creators! If you're planning your wedding in a smaller timeframe, consider purchasing a dress that's been pre-loved! Online, check out stillwhite.com and in Western PA, Bridal Maven is my favorite little bridal consignment shop! If you're working with a smaller budget, Lulu's has been great to some of my past brides, and you'll even find some amazing options on Amazon for as low as $30 (just make sure you read the reviews so you don't get something low-quality!). Or if a dress isn't your style, a white jumpsuit or pantsuit will give you that "I'm getting married!" look and still allow you to scramble up the mountainside while also looking like a show-stopper!
Be sure whatever you choose to wear is comfortable, doesn't irritate your arms when you move them, and leaves room to move around. If you're wearing a long dress, tell your seamstress to add a wide ribbon loop under the train so you can wrap it around your wrist and carry it easily. If you're not getting alterations done, you can still use a safety pin and pine on onto the dress or sew one into the train subtly.
Be mindful of the weather when you're planning your attire. Summers can be very hot and humid, and the rest of the year can be unpredictably cold (or warm - that's PA for yyou!). For the summer - those wearing long-sleeved shirts and jackets should be prepared with a t-shirt underneath so you can remove them while you're on your trek. You don't want to be dripping with sweat! And for dresses, lightweight and flowy will make your life easier. Bike shorts are also a huge lifesaver for my thick-thigh girlies! In the colder months, it's important to be prepared with a cover-up and leggings under your dress (fleece-lined or nude if you have a slit).
Prioritize Footwear! You'll need shoes, sandals, water socks, or boots that have good traction and that you don't mind getting wet or dirty. Don't worry - you can bring another pair to change into for pictures if you're feeling a more elegant look.
Choose Your Location
Ohiopyle has scenery for days, but you'll want to choose what's right for you and your guests (if applicable). Consider how far you'd like to hike and mobility restrictions for your and your guests. All Wild North Weddings couples receive assistance choosing the perfect location for their wedding day, so don't feel alone in this! Location ideas include:
Riverside Flat Rocks
The Falls Platform near the Visitors Center
The Ferncliff Peninsula
Tharp Knob Overlook
Choose Somewhere to Stay
There are TONS of cabins, cottages, B&Bs, and chalets in the area that will provide the perfect accommodations for your stay! You can use the usual vacation rental sites, but a lot of places will allow you to book with them directly too! Check out discoverohiopyle.com/lodging or search "Ohiopyle Vacation Rentals" for individual listings. Or let me know if you want any personal recommendations and I'll be happy to share houses that past couples have rented as well.
Looking for something unique? You can stay in one of the houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright!
Don't write off camping either! Popping up a tent, getting a fire started, and stringing lights across the campsite is a super romantic way to end the evening with your new life partner. Check out the campsites and small cabins at Scarlett Knob, Ohiopyle State Park, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park (great if you're bringing kids too!), Yough Lake, and Kentuck Campground. Hipcamp and Glamping Hub are great websites for your search!
The fun doesn't stop when the sun goes down! The Falls City Pub in the town of Ohiopyle is a great place for the family to celebrate afterward 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. The Kristian W. Klay Winery is a great picnic spot that has an amazing wine selection too! Or you can hire a private chef to cook dinner at your cabin for you.
Another favorite post-wedding tradition - the first dance! If your accommodations have a fire pit on-site, have your first dance in front of the fire! Or an evening soak in the hot tub!
Book Your Photographer!
Shameless plug here - visit the Pennsylvania Adventure Weddings page for more information about PA wedding elopement packages! My top priority on elopement days is to help you create an experience, not just deliver great photos. I want to tell your wedding story, share the emotions you felt that day and the fun you shared together, and provide you with memories that you'll love forever. And in addition to photography, I'll also provide:
✓ Location Scouting & Research
✓ Vendor Recommendations
✓ Customized Timeline Building
✓ Activity Recommendations
✓ Assistance with Permits
✓ An exclusive elopement planning guide
If you're ready to take the first step towards your "best day ever!" then fill out the contact form at the bottom of any page on my site! We'll talk about all of the possibilities, ease your mind of any hesitations you may still have about eloping, and get planning!
More Elopement Inspo:
Hey there! I'm Carly D'Angelo-Hall - a photographer specializing in documenting weddings and elopements across the U.S. If you love the idea of a wedding with adventure, excitement, and a little romance sprinkled in, 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 photography packages, and fill out the contact form to get connected!
Wedding and Elopement Photographer documenting weddings in Pennsylvania including Pittsburgh, Cook Forest, Allegheny National Forest, The Laurel Highlands, Ohiopyle State Park, The Poconos, and more!
Wild North Weddings is an elopement and adventure wedding photographer documenting weddings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Denver, Colorado, Vail, Colorado, White River National Forest in Colorado, Moab, Utah, Arches National Park, Utah, Sedona, Arizona, Glacier National Park, Montana, Grand Tetons National Park, Montana, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Taos, New Mexico, Zion National Park in Utah, Arcadia National Park, The Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Smokey Mountain National Park, Shenandoah National Park, the Pacific Northwest, and more!