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Hi Thank you so much for visiting the blog! Whether you're looking for more pretty pictures, inspiration for your wedding day, or some useful Deep Creek info, I hope you'll find a comfy seat, maybe a cup of coffee, and read on!

The Wedding & Family photographer with the MOST Deep Creek experience!

Holler! I'm Jessica

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cascade falls lostland area

Get Married in the Woods at Deep Creek: Part Two

March 2, 2024

Inspired by a wedding I recently booked (less than 10 ten people, ceremony on a trail, dinner at a nearby restaurant afterwards…aaahhh it’s going to be glorious!), here’s part two of some woodland wedding inspiration and how it’s really quite easy to make happen here in Deep Creek + Garrett County, MD. Read part one, too!

deep creek wedding in the woods

Let me preface this post by saying everything below is based on what I’ve experienced in Garrett County, MD and in our state parks. Marrying in the woods in a national park, for example, comes with more rules and regulations when using their spaces.

Pick a spot

One of the cool things about marrying in the woods is that you can sort of “pop up” wherever you’d like! On a trail, in a sea of ferns covering the forest floor, in front of a waterfall, on a giant rock next to the waterfall, or even in the woods in the backyard of a house.

This can be especially easy when it’s just the two of you or a very small group of people. It’s not so easy to “pop up” if you’ve got a giant crowd you need to find space for. 

You could opt for some day-of spontaneity and simply head out from your car and walk until you find a pretty spot. (I definitely recommend a spot that presents a photogenic background!) Or plan ahead and visit the location before the wedding day. You can better prepare footwear and supplies with option #2.

savage river lodge trails

For Deep Creek and Garrett County, many wooded, forest, waterfall locations that make great ceremony spots are within our local state parks, so you can count on parking, bathrooms and pavilions.

Having some family and friends join you? I highly recommend the pavilions at Swallow Falls State Park and Deep Creek Lake State Park for pre- and post-ceremony festivities. The stone pavilion at Swallow Falls can make an especially beautiful wedding space with two large working fireplaces, sturdy picnic tables, beams that are easy to drape lights over…it can be a whole scene! And it’s $30 or less to rent.

Another state park pavilion to mention is the Tall Oaks Pavilion at New Germany State Park. I’ve photographed two weddings at the space and love the wedding-the-woods opportunity and vibes it presents. Here’s a blog post from a wedding that happened back in 2015. The pavilion has had renovation since then and the “lake house” is just down the road, which makes a great space for a smaller reception.

New Germany State Park also has cabins available for rent so you can stay right on property, too.

new germany state park wedding tall oaks pavilion

I also really like the Lostland area of Garrett County for weddings in the woods. Cascade Falls and the Potomac River are accessible from Lostland Run Road and would make such magical locations for a ceremony! I would not recommend this for a large crowd, though. Parking is limited (especially at Cascade Falls) and it’s a one-way road.

 cascade falls lostland area

Decide who will be with you

Like I mentioned above, it might be easier to get married in the woods without a crowd. So if a woodland setting is top priority for your wedding, maybe make it just the two of you, an officiant and a photographer/videographer. Or maybe just invite a dozen of your friends and family. 

The overlook at Muddy Creek Falls at Swallow Falls State Park can be reserved for a ceremony and has space for maybe 30 to 40 people to stand (or sit, if you bring in chairs…and I’m just guessing with the 30-40, not sure if there’s a max set by the park or not, but 30-40 seems comfortable based on my experiences.)

swallow falls wedding swallow falls wedding

Find an officiant

Many couples are opting to have friends and family be their officiants, which is a lovely way of including someone that is very important to you. It also makes the ceremony extra personal.

But if you need officiant recommendations for Deep Creek + Garrett County, I can share contacts of four ladies who do that work here!

Fun fact: there are some places in the US where you do not need an officiant. Self-solemnization and is allowed in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Those states have plenty of woods to get married in, but I’m still here to convince you to do it in Deep Creek. 🙂

The paperwork

This is really the only “rule” or physical thing you need to get married, no matter where you’re getting married: the paperwork. You need a marriage license to make it official and legal. And it’s really a quite simple process! In Maryland, you must apply for the license in the county where your ceremony will take place.

For Garrett County, the cost is $40 (cash or check) and everything is done at the Clerk of Circuit Court’s office in downtown Oakland. There is a two-day waiting period, so if you apply for the marriage license on a Thursday, you need to wait until at least Saturday to have your ceremony. You also need to have your ceremony within six months of applying for the license or it will expire. 

Out-of-town couples, plan a visit to Deep Creek + Garrett County within six months of your wedding day to take care of the paperwork and any other logistics or decision-making needed for the big day…like choosing your wooded ceremony spot, meeting with a chef or visiting the restaurant where you’d like to have your post-ceremony meal/celebration.

Or you can arrive at least two days before your ceremony date, visit the clerk for your paperwork and make your wedding day a multi-day wedding getaway.

new germany state park wedding

Make sure you have the right shoes

Now that you know where in the woods you’ll be marrying, you can find appropriate shoes for the terrain. Spoiler alert: high heels and slick soles will not be the best option. If you must go fancy though, carry them with you to the ceremony spot.

I recommend boots (especially if it’ll be winter or muddy) or hiking sandals. 

Whether you’re walking just a few minutes or a mile into the woods, appropriate shoes will make things easier. Otherwise, we’re going to spend time waiting on you to dodge rocks, fallen tree limbs and mud.

hiking shoes for your weddingboots for your wedding

Consider a backpack

To carry your fancy shoes (if you insist), or a water bottle, snacks, the rings…even a blanket to place on the ground where your change of shoes, backpack and other supplies can safely sit once you reach your ceremony spot. 

Get ready together in a cute little cabin

For some reason, when you get married like this…in the woods, in the forest, just the two of you, with a very small group…there seems to be more room to break the “rules” (the rules that aren’t actually rules). Majority of couples do not get ready together on their wedding day, but why not!? Why not spend the morning or afternoon with your fiance instead of trying to hide from them because of some superstitious tradition?

I’ve seen a handful of couples get ready together and it’s just the sweetest. Helping zip the dress, tie the tie, make tea together, sit and chat together…and a cabin makes an especially cozy and appropriate place to do it. 

savage river lodge cabin woodland elopement having tea together before wedding new germany state park cabin bride and groom getting ready together

Have a nice meal afterwards

What’s a wedding day without food and drink? Sit on the deck of your cabin with wine and a charcuterie board, visit a nearby restaurant, have a private chef cook for you. You can even order a small cake to share! No matter the size or location of your wedding, there’s still reason to celebrate…

savage river lodge elopement cake savage river lodge bar

Want more ideas for getting married in our woods here in Deep Creek + Garrett County, MD!? Shoot me an inquiry or give me a call! Happy to help you paint this kind of wedding day picture…

get to know ME more!

Hi Thank you so much for visiting the blog! Whether you're looking for more pretty pictures, inspiration for your wedding day, or some useful Deep Creek info, I hope you'll find a comfy seat, maybe a cup of coffee, and read on!

The Wedding & Family photographer with the MOST Deep Creek experience!

Holler! I'm Jessica

Browse the Blog:

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Scenes and thoughts from deep creek

Well hey now! I thought for sure it had been more than seven months since I blogged last! Wish I could do it more…and plan to as soon as the new JFP website comes out.

I’m not sure I’m starting anything consistent here, just sharing some random thoughts and scenes from Deep Creek on this random Wednesday…

Scroll through some favorite blog posts!

- Dani

Jessica is amazing and she made us feel so comfortable! Having her capture our wedding was like having my best friend with me for every moment! Jessica's photos are fun, whimsical, and sophisticated!

We are not a stoic couple and did not want posed (or trying-too-hard) photos! Jessica was able to capture our personalities and the elegance of the day! I can't stop looking at our photos!

"Jessica is amazing!"

- Jessica and brandon

The best decision I could have made for my wedding was hiring Jessica Fike as a photographer! I was in a wedding prior that she was a photographer for and seeing how organized and easy and strategic she was to work with is what convinced me! She makes you feel so comfortable and helps teach you how to pose and smile and look so natural! She keeps you on schedule throughout your day and captures so much emotion in her photos. She is worth every penny plus more!

" the best decision."

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