Alyssa & JJ are the real deal! They have been dating since eighth grade. JJ proposed in a field of sunflowers, and Alyssa was excited to say yes. The two wanted to get married in the mountains and chose to elope at Craggy Gardens in North Carolina. Family and friends hiked up the mountain while Alyssa & JJ had their first look. They exchanged vows in a misty, magical setting looking out over a stunning vista. We love Alyssa’s bouquet (the best sunflower bouquet we have ever seen!) and all the epic photos. Find out how these two loved Simply Eloped stress-free planning and how they would do it all again if they could!
How did you meet? What was your first impression of one another?
Alyssa: We met in 7th grade, when I joined our middle schools honors classes. Most of our classes during the day were together, and we organically became friends until we started dating in 8th grade!
How did you propose or accept the proposal?
Alyssa: I wanted to go to a sunflower field that is near where we live, because we had never gone before. I knew something was up because when we got there, JJ told me he had to go back to the car because he forgot his phone, but he wouldn’t let me go with him. I assumed he left the ring and was going to propose that day. I texted all of my friends and told them I thought we were getting engaged that day, and we did!
JJ: We we’re heading to the sunflower field, and I had had a ring for a while and was trying to figure out the best way to propose. I thought the sunflower field would be a good location because it was the first time either of us had been there. When we got there, I managed to drop the ring out of my pocket without noticing. Probably five minutes later, I noticed that the ring was gone, so I freaked out a little and told Alyssa I had to go back to the car to get my phone, but she couldn’t go with me. I actually just was searching the dirt for the lost ring. Thankfully, I found it and it was fine. While we were picking flowers, I asked a random stranger to take a few pictures of us, and while we were taking pictures, I decided to propose.
What attracted you to the venue you eloped at? What were your favorite parts about eloping there?
Alyssa: We had never been to Craggy Gardens before, but we looked at a lot of pictures online and really fell in love with the area. I was looking forward to a beautiful sunset from the pictures I saw. Even though we didn’t get to see the sunset (it rained on our wedding day and was very foggy) it was still a beautiful location and the pictures and video turned out amazing. It almost felt ethereal – I felt like I was a fairy!
JJ: I liked that there was a covered pavilion area at Craggy Gardens, which let our guests (and us!) catch a breath after hiking up to the location. There was a very nice view, and the big tree that we did our ceremony in front of was awesome.
Where did you choose to elope and why did you choose that destination?
Alyssa: We chose to elope in Asheville, NC because I think the mountains are beautiful. We live near the beach in SC, and I wanted a change of location. After looking through the locations offered on Simply Eloped, we decided to go with Craggy Gardens even though we had never been there before! The pictures we saw online were amazing.
JJ: We chose the location because it was beautiful, and it was still close to home because we could drive. We also had our first big vacation in Asheville two years before our elopement, and it just felt like a great spot.
How would you describe your elopement venue to someone who has never been there?
Alyssa: There are bathrooms and a large parking lot before the trail when you get to the location. The hike up isn’t too bad; it’s not steep, but it is a consistent incline, and it is rocky. It gets a bit muddy when it rains! If you’re not a frequent hiker, you might want small breaks on the way up. Once you get to the top, there is a cute covered pavilion, and to the right, there is a flat area that overlooks the mountains and has a nice view. There are a lot of locations to take pictures or do your ceremony.
JJ: After a really scenic drive, you get to a parking lot where there are bathrooms. The hike isn’t bad, but it is constantly uphill because you are going to the top of the mountain. There’s a covered pavilion at the top where you can sit and catch a breath if you need to. We held our ceremony to the right of the pavilion, a flat grassy area with nice views and a few wildflowers.
What did you do before the wedding? How did you get ready? How did you feel in the moments leading up to your elopement?
Alyssa: We actually did our elopement and honeymoon all at the same time. So we had an Airbnb booked right outside of Asheville. On the wedding day, we got breakfast downtown together and then hung out at the Airbnb until two of our friends came in. We ordered Poké Bowls for lunch, and then we separated and JJ went to our friends’ Airbnb to get ready while I stayed at our Airbnb with a few friends and my parents. We blasted some music, and they helped me do my hair and get dressed – I did my makeup. Then I rode to the location with my parents and a friend. It was very relaxed and low-key, and I didn’t feel stressed throughout the entire process. I did feel pretty nervous on the ride to the venue, though.
JJ: Before the wedding, we had lunch with some of our friends, and then we went separate ways to get ready. Alyssa and her family got there before us to hike up, so we could do first looks. I met up with the vendors at the trailhead, and we hiked up together. I was feeling very nervous on the hike up.
How was your experience with Simply Eloped?
Alyssa: We enjoyed our experience! It was simple, and we don’t have any complaints. All of our vendors were wonderful, and they made the day go by stress-free.
JJ: We had a great experience. Everything went well, and we’re glad we went with Simply Eloped.
How did you choose to celebrate your elopement?
Alyssa: After our elopement, two of our friends hosted everyone at their Airbnb and made us dinner. It was wonderful, and it was a great way to finish out the day.
JJ: We stayed in Asheville for the rest of the week for our honeymoon. We went hiking, went to waterfalls (Graveyard Falls are awesome), went tubing, and had a lot of great food.
What words of encouragement do you have for those considering eloping?
Alyssa: Do it! It’s so fun and is such a stress-free way to get the wedding day that you want. If you’re worried about upsetting family or friends, just remember that this day is about YOU.
JJ: Do it. It was the absolute best way to get married. Compared to what we’ve heard from our other friends that have done traditional weddings recently, ours was the most stress-free wedding (and we had the coolest venue).