Elopement in the Blue Ridge Mountains


Towards the close of autumn this year, when nearly the very last leaf had fallen down the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Walker, Taylor and six guests made their way along the Appalachian Trail – 4,600 feet to the summit of Max Patch Mountain.

It was only five years ago they were on their first date while on deployment together in the Middle East. And now, with a 360-degree vista of Mount Mitchell and the Great Smoky Mountains as their backdrop, the bride and groom said their vows. My husband, Ben, had been deployed alongside them for those 10 months of deployment in Kuwait, witnessing their relationship from its very earliest days. So when Taylor reached out to ask if I would photograph for them if they traveled from Minnesota to North Carolina and eloped in our new home state? Well, that was a pretty easy yes. And when photo arrangements were settled and they asked if Ben would be willing to officiate?? That was also an easy yes!

On top of a mountain, reunited years post-deployment, we watched as Walker and Taylor exchanged rings. Together with their guests they cheered, clinked glasses and we took hundreds of portraits before hiking down the trail, the last echoes of celebration cascading over the ridge as the setting sun pushed us along.

Returning to our cars, we set our destination to the little mountain oasis of Saluda, NC. Under the glow of street lamps through the charming historic district, we made our way to Azalea Bistro, each of us unaware as we set foot over the threshold, that the glory of our mountain top experience was about to be dwarfed by the journey of our senses. Three-time James Beard Foundation Nominee, Chef Tallent, prepared a fusion of low-country and French cuisine, filling our table with plates of braised short rib and vidalia farro, red beet apples, date puree, wilted Swiss Chard, carrot mousse and pistachio; roasted root vegetables, mussels with capers and squid ink… wild caught salmon with butternut squash gold beet puree… roasted duck breast with poached shallots and truffle parsnips… it was the kind of food that could make strangers become friends and inside that room, his culinary expertise insisted the world pause for a little while in honor of the new bride and groom (we complied).

Walker and Taylor, as you exhale the crisp Carolina mountain air, may you breathe in fully the joy of life still to come and live well for each other. For the days when you get lost in the weeds of life, may you take home with you memories of the clarity in mountaintop views and the big-picture perspective they offer. May the valleys of your life together be the strengthening bond between every mountaintop experience you get to share. We are beyond excited for both of you to be husband and wife and thrilled to have been witnesses! Congratulations!!!

Want to see more? Click here for a glamorous wedding at the White Oaks Farm in South Carolina…

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