Intimate Black Balsam Knob Elopement | Pisgah National Forest, NC | Rachel + Cody

Weddings

Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement

You know those couples that you secretly root for? The ones where you just want everything right in the world to come their way, because they are just that kind of amazing? Rachel + Cody are that.

To know them, simply, is to love them.

When Cody proposed to Rachel at the Grand Canyon, I screamed. Alone. In my house. I screamed so loud, I WAS SO FLIPPING EXCITED. If I’m correct, I think Cody’s mom spilled the beans to me before it even happened – EVERYONE who knew was so flipping excited! Of course, wedding planning quickly ensued after their engagement became official, and I was so excited to be the one selected to share their love story.

And what a story, it would become.

Rachel + Cody selected September 19, 2020 as their wedding date to be married in Peoria, IL, but as we all know with 2020, life had other plans. With their wedding year, came a global pandemic, fear, uncertainty, and in the wedding industry… postponements and cancellations were rampant. For the safety of their family and loved ones, like so many other 2020 couples, Rachel + Cody postponed their wedding by a year.

Or so everyone thought.

About two months before their original wedding date, Rachel + Cody secretly reached out to me to see if I knew anyone who photographed weddings in the mountains (TN/NC area). My heart skipped a beat. When I finally realized what they were saying, I knew that this couple – this very amazing, adored couple of mine, that I had been waiting forever to tell the love story of – was secretly eloping, without even thinking, I could only scream – I am coming with you!!!

And so, the journey in planning a mountain elopement began.

Thank you to Google search engines for finding us the very best blog posts – cue “how to hike in your wedding dress?” and “is it bear season right now in North Carolina?” as search terms.

Thank you to Instagram #hashtags for finding us the most drool-worthy locations.

Thank you to my husband, who without – I would not have been able to tie my hiking boots at #34weekspregnant, lol, you sir, are a blessing! And such a fun fellow adventurer at that.

Thank you to mother nature, who provided us the most beautiful and breathtaking scenery, complimented by a hazy foggy glow that rolled in right during Rachel + Cody’s vows, creating one of the most spectacular scenes I’ve ever bared witness to.

And most importantly… thank you to Rachel + Cody, for trusting us in the location we suggested, in the planning of the images, and most importantly, in trusting us to keep their secret. Because if you didn’t hear this most important detail yet…

This wedding was a complete secret. Even after it happened. For 363.5 days we could not say a thing. No wearing wedding bands. No sharing of images with friends. Nothing. This entire elopement was going to be a surprise, to be unveiled on their new 2021 wedding day.

There’s no denying that this has been a hard year… and for so many reasons… but keeping the secret that Monmouth’s sweethearts had already tied the knot – in a jaw-dropping, breathtaking location with images that I have had to keep to myself for 12 long long months, was a certain kind of torture… but, after their wedding this weekend, I realize just how very WORTH IT, it was. Never have I witnessed a more emotional wedding ceremony, in over 10 years now of shooting weddings. I was bawling – in fact, I don’t think there was a single dry eye in that room.

Rachel’s brother, Eric, served as the officiant (the only other person in the room that knew of the elopement, learning about it just a few weeks prior to the service). After the exchanging of the vows, and rings were (finally) placed back on the their fingers, Eric announced to everyone that he had some news… that he wouldn’t be able to introduce Mr + Mrs Whiteside for the first time, because they had already been introduced – and cue, the most beautiful, honest, breathtaking video that began to play. A combination of Rachel + Cody’s GoPro videos from their time in the mountains, spliced with some of the images below – put together by their incredible videographer, Zack Turner, and oh my word – it was 5 minutes of just the rawest emotions.

I will never, ever – for as long as I live – forget this wedding (or this pair).

I think we can all agree, that it takes a certain kind of couple to be able to pull something like this off. Rachel + Cody, cheers to you both. Thank you for the love that you two have for each other, and for entrusting me, specifically, with the greatest story of all.

xoxo, A

Because, what would this post be without a little bit of the behind the scenes of our scouting, my social media cover story that we were in the mountains on our “babymoon,” and of course, the 4 very best secret keepers EVER – together in a pic.

The story of a lifetime. You guys ready for the big reveal?
Here… We… GO!!!
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
We headed to the Pisgah Inn which is the only stop on the drive from Asheville to Black Balsam Knob with restroom facilities, and well – the sweeping views were clearly out of this world. We knew this would be the perfect place for pre-ceremony portraits.
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Soaking in the fact that they are about to get married!!!! We are just a few miles away from their ceremony site.
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Cars parked and headed to the Art Loeb Trail trailhead of Black Balsam Knob, the mountain on which they are about to get married.
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
After hiking back down the mountain, we found the most magical little patch of ferns and moss in the balsam forest, a perfect place to enjoy their first slice of cake as Mr + Mrs.
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
We played some tunes, they danced their first dance, and it was just a sweet, sweet time to relax and reflect.
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
We had so many hiking “essentials” to prepare us for the journey, we had to have a little fun with all the things we didn’t need.
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography
Black Balsam Knob, Asheville, NC Elopement, Adrienne Gilbert Photography

HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY MR + MRS WHITESIDE!!!!!

Your life together is already, the greatest adventure. Thank you for taking us along on the ride. And to everyone else who has made it this far on this post – you need to watch the video they shocked their family and friends with – linked below (have your tissues).

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Photography by Adrienne gilbert