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Spence Cabin Elopement

Spence Cabin

Situated in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits the perfect wedding venue for those seeking peace, nature, and charm. One visit and you’ll fall in love with the Spence Cabin. It’s rustic yet romantic and small yet quaint. As a wedding photographer, it is among my favorite places to capture true love. And as a National Park Service-approved photographer, I am authorized to provide my services within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This, of course, includes weddings at Spence Cabin.

About Spence Cabin

Tucked away within the Elkmont Historic District is the Spence Cabin. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cabin is a peaceful location perfect for small, intimate weddings of up to 40 guests. A large room of 432 square feet features a gas fireplace, and four smaller rooms range from 118 to 165 square feet.  Furnishings include:

  • 40 folding chairs
  • Four round tables that measure 6 feet in diameter
  • Eight rectangular tables that measure 2.5-by-6 feet
  • Six rocking chairs

A warming kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave is available for use. There are plenty of outlets to help keep food warm in slow cookers. The traditional lighting is rather dim, adding to the cabin’s ambiance. Additionally, there is no air conditioning or heating but ceiling fans and the cool mountain air keep temperatures comfortable. In cooler weather, the gas fireplace adds a warm touch. When selecting a wedding venue, two restrooms and parking are important but often overlooked features.

The Setting

I love using the word peaceful to describe Spence Cabin. It truly is a place that takes the focus off the hustle-n-bustle of everyday life by centering you among nature. Guests enjoy the 192-square-foot screened-in porch that faces the Little River and the stone patio, which provides a close view of the river.

The cabin is rustic yet charming. Built in 1828, it radiates a quaintness not found in your standard hotel ballroom.  Combined with the natural setting, the opportunities for capturing the intimate emotion between those saying I do, are amazing.

My style is natural light and documentary photography, making the Spence Cabin a location where I excel at my craft. I focus on capturing natural expressions, touches, and emotions—just like the surroundings in which they occur.

The Arbor

The stone arbor on the back of the property is a focal point for any wedding or elopement at Spence Cabin. The stone arbor can be adorned with lush greenery, beautiful florals, or fabric to complete any wedding theme. Imagine walking out to the stone patio and underneath a beautiful arbor. With rustic doors opening to reveal this secluded haven, your wedding day at Spence Cabin promises to be an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Capture the essence of your love story against the backdrop of the stone arbor and create memories that last a lifetime.

Spence Cabin Wedding

Spence Cabin Reservations

To book Spence Cabin for your wedding or elopement, there is a three-step process: Reserve, Apply, Pay. For inquiries about your reservation, application, or payment, please reach out to grsm_special_use_permits@nps.gov.

1. Check availability and make a tentative reservation by emailing your request to
grsm_special_use_permits@nps.gov prior to submitting an application OR reserve your date at: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/234712. If the requested date and location
are available, a tentative reservation will be made to hold the location. Sites are available 1 year in advance.
2. Submit Application form (10-930 or 10-930s) in .pdf or .docx format to grsm_special_use_permits@nps.gov
3. Make payment (see fees & payment section) Application Fees are Non-Refundable. You can pay online at www.pay.gov.  
• Finalized Special Use Permits will be emailed to the applicant and must be signed upon receipt.
• Application and payment must be received at least 14 days before an event and at least 21 days for
special requests. There are no guarantees a last-minute request can be accommodated.
• Permit holders must ensure all service providers understand and adhere to the permit conditions to
avoid termination of the permit. The permit holder may be held liable for any condition not adhered to by the vendor(s).

More information can be found at: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/wedding-information.htm

Bride and groom exchanging rings at elopement in Great Smoky Mountains

Spence Cabin Directions

As one may expect, Spence Cabin is tucked away amidst the lush greenery of the National Park. You may have difficulty finding this rustic cabin without cell service to get to this historic location. Before embarking on the path to Spence Cabin, make sure you and your guests are aware of the complexity of the trip and plan in advance!

Spence Cabin Watercolor Map

Looking for an elegant Spence Cabin map? Try my semi-customizable watercolor map that is sure to wow your guests!

Step-By-Step PDF Guide

Need a little more assistance? No worries! I have created a step-by-step PDF with photos to help you along the way! Download my Spence Cabin Directions guide for assistance in your planning journey!

Spence Cabin Elopement in the Smokies

Commercial Use Authorization

The National Park Service requires commercial use authorization—commonly called a CUA—for any person or business providing commercial services to park visitors. Approval is granted by a park superintendent and is based on the applicant’s ability to meet the terms and conditions of a CUA.

Regarding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I have a CUA and, therefore, can photograph weddings within the park.  The National Park Service takes the process of issuing CUAs very seriously, and it is a great honor to have their approval. Completing the application process was important to me as I love capturing the beauty of a wedding against the natural backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. I have experience photographing ceremonies at the Spence Cabin and the official authorization to continue doing so—an important deal when securing the right photographer for your special day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

You’ll still need a Special Use Permit from the park to marry there. Be sure to complete the required application and submit the $50 non-refundable fee no less than 14 days prior to your ceremony.  Applicants must follow certain guidelines. Applying for a Special Use Permit is a fairly simple process and well worth the time as marrying surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains is truly a magical experience.

Destination Weddings

A destination wedding doesn’t have to mean a theme park or beach wedding. An intimate wedding in the woods is still a destination wedding. This is especially when it comes to Spence Cabin in the Smokies. While the park welcomes millions of visitors each year, an intimate wedding with your closest friends and family is what Spence Cabin is all about. The peaceful setting with only the sounds of nature surrounding you is a destination in itself. If this is the type of wedding venue you envision, you’ll want to establish contact with a wedding photographer. Specifically, a photographer with a CUA—that’s me—Erin Morrison Photography.

Erin Morrison Photography

My goal in wedding photography is to capture the true representation of who you are as a couple. I enjoy getting to know you before the ceremony and learning what makes you connect. Always up for a challenge, and I don’t mind getting a little crazy if the right shot calls for it.

Getting married is a big deal, but the wedding doesn’t have to be. If a smaller, more intimate wedding is your goal, seriously consider the Spence Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a 1928 restored oasis, waiting for couples to celebrate their love within their walls, on their porch, or stone patios.

The national parks are for all to enjoy; therefore, the park service’s rules must be followed. It is required that your wedding photographer have a CUA. I have my CUA, a love of Spence Cabin, and I specialize in wedding photography that resonates with your love. I’m honored when couples ask me to capture their special day. If you are planning a wedding at Spence Cabin, let’s chat. The Spence Cabin is available for rental from April 1—October 31. The earlier we chat on the phone, the sooner we can get a date on the books! I would love to get to know you!  Contact me today to inquire about availability and rates.


Natural light + honest photographer for all humans.


Knoxville, Tennessee



Office Hours: M-F 8am-5pm | S-S 12pm-5pm

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