The vibe of your elopement should match the vibe of your relationship and in the case of Sarah and Bret, that’s exactly what they did! Adventuring, hiking and exploring the great outdoors are all things they enjoyed doing in their 5-year dating relationship leading up to their wedding and they thought it appropriate to incorporate those themes into their ceremony. Trekking down from Rhode Island to Asheville to elope, they chose the top of the mountain at Black Balsam Knob for their ceremony venue. Read more about Sarah and Bret’s stress-free Asheville elopement.
How did you meet? What was your first impression of one another?
We met through mutual friends at a football tailgate at our alma mater, Christopher Newport University. We were both class of 2014 and had mutual friends, yet we never crossed paths until after graduating. We both happened to show up to the tailgate in September 2014 and were briefly introduced and did not give each other a second thought. In June 2015, Sarah was visiting Richmond and hanging out with the same group of friends and Bret was also there. We finally “noticed each other” and sparks started flying. The rest is history.
When did you first fall in love? How did you know?
Bret says probably before our first date. Sarah says probably in the middle of our first date. We couldn’t stop talking, and neither one of us wanted the date to end. Sarah knew after the first date that Bret was someone she’d want to hang out with forever. When we first starting dating were living about two hours away from each other and neither of us thought distance was hard. It’s really easy when you are with the right person.
How did you propose or accept the proposal?
We were planning to visit a friend in Denver over Thanksgiving in 2018. The friend we were staying with suggested we go on a short hike to experience some Colorado mountains. Sarah did not pack great shoes for hiking, but was still super excited and decided to do the hike in very fashionable riding boots. It was super snowy, and we weren’t sure we were going to be able to drive to the trail access point. After some slow mountain driving, the three of us made it to the trailhead. The hike was short, but very steep. Sarah was leading the trio and Bret was noticeably at the back of the pack. Sarah thought it may be the elevation change. We got to the top and Sarah was taking pictures when our friend Zach asked if we wanted some pictures together. Sarah went to pose with Bret near the edge of the overlook. It was breathtaking, and we were also kind of on a cliff! Bret got down on one knee and said some beautiful things that neither of us can remember, but Sarah does remember Bret asking if she wanted to be his adventure buddy for life?! The proposal was a complete surprise. Sarah had no clue Bret was planning to propose on this trip. After the proposal, they went to a cute little mountain town and had mountain pizza and beer to celebrate.
What do you love about your partner?
Sarah’s favorite thing about Bret is how supportive and positive he is. Bret is always looking on the bright side of any situation and is super encouraging. Sarah also loves that Bret is hardworking, thoughtful and doesn’t care what others think about him. Bret has always done his own thing and Sarah really admires that about him. Bret’s favorite thing about Sarah is that she cares a lot about other people and is always trying to include everyone. Bret loves how independent and determined Sarah is and admires her strength in tough situations.
What is the greatest strength of your relationship?
Without a doubt, our friendship. We are best friends. We know a lot of people say that, but we really feel that we could hang out with each other forever and ever, and we really value each other as best friends.
Why did you decide to elope?
Our wedding either had to be really big or really small and family only, because neither one of us could imagine leaving out our college friends or big families and cutting down a list of people to 100 guests. We also wanted our wedding to be adventurous and were having trouble figuring out how to fit both together. Our five year anniversary since our first date was coming up on August 28, 2020 and we thought that getting married on that day would be a great way to celebrate. Also, with the end to the pandemic nowhere in sight, we weren’t sure when we would be able to normally gather again. We wanted our wedding to be centered on the ceremony and not a reception. Once we found Simply Eloped and the Black Balsam Knob venue, we knew this was the wedding ceremony style for us.
How did you find Simply Eloped?
Sarah was Googling Asheville elopements, and it came right up on the search!
How did you know Simply Eloped was the right fit for you?
Sarah plans events for work, but had no interest in doing all of her wedding planning. Bret is an easygoing guy that didn’t want to stress about the planning and wanted to focus on the ceremony. When they came across Simply Eloped and saw that it was all one big package tied in bow, they knew it was the answer. The only time Bret and Sarah were stressed was when Sarah forgot her hair flowers at the AirBnB and Bret had to rush them to the hair salon. Everything else was a breeze.
What attracted you to Black Balsam Knob in Asheville?
We love being outside and hiking. We love to travel and going on adventures has shaped our relationship. We knew we wanted to get married somewhere out-of-state in the mountains, but close enough to home (Richmond, VA), that we could go visit for anniversaries to come! We had traveled to Asheville before and run through Black Mountain, so we chose the Asheville area and beautiful Black Balsam Knob. It ended up being the perfect venue.
What activities did you do before the wedding? How did you prepare? How did you feel leading up to the moments of your elopement?
Our ceremony was on a Friday, and we drove down from Virginia the day before to get settled and get our marriage license. We walked around Asheville, sampled some great beer and had a romantic rooftop dinner the night before. Our AirBnB in Swannanoa was also a dream. It was the cutest little cabin, and that in itself was an experience to make our weekend special. The day of our wedding we picked up some coffee and donuts and went to check out our venue, but we didn’t walk all the way up to the bald, so it could still be a surprise for our ceremony. We also walked around on a trail near the venue and took some pre-wedding pictures. It was really fun and got us super excited for the ceremony later in the day. I think we both had nervous-excitement leading up to the ceremony. We wrote our own vows, so we were both eager to share them with each other.
Tell us about your experience with Simply Eloped leading up to and on your big day!
The Simply Eloped team is truly amazing. We had no worries and no stress before our big day, which is what we were going for. The officiant and photographer they paired us with were without a doubt the best. Our officiant Amanda was so amazing and crafted the most beautiful ceremony for us. Our photographer Cappy is a wonderful artist with a camera and captured our day perfectly. I can’t say enough good things about either of them and Laura from Simply Eloped. Last minute, Sarah decided she wanted to get her hair done and Laura from the Simply Eloped team gave her a great suggestion, and Sarah was able to get a last minute appointment. The vendor for the bouquet was also amazing and dropped the flowers of at the Airbnb, so Sarah and Bret didn’t stress about picking them up. Overall, we felt very taken care of, and we were able to enjoy the whole experience without any worries.
How did you celebrate after?
After our beautiful ceremony and two-hour portrait session, we headed to Asheville and got pizza and beer! The pizza was amazing and some sweet person at the restaurant bought our beers for us! The next day we continued to explore Asheville and take in all the food and great beer.
What words of encouragement do you have for those considering eloping?
Eloping was the best! Our day was personal, intimate and customized to how we wanted to celebrate our love and marriage. We knew we wanted to hike up a mountain and that we wanted to travel for our wedding, and we couldn’t do that with a traditional, large wedding. Also this is such a cost effective wedding style. The money we saved could fund another vacation or house renovations. Our wedding was very “us” and stress free. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Planning: Simply Eloped
Officiant: Amanda Jones
Photographer: Cappy Phalen
Flowers: Merrimon Florist