Written by Victoria Grace| All Photos by Victoria Grace Photography
There is something special about Haywood County. I love that I am close enough to Asheville to go there for the day, but far enough away that I can appreciate life in the mountains without all of the hustle and bustle of traffic. I am forever trying to encourage my clients to head this direction for their engagement shoots and always thankful to stumble across venues out here nestled in the very mountains that I call home. The following are just a few of my favorite spots for engagement photos and favorite wedding venues in Haywood County. If I included them all, this post would never end.
1. Lake Junaluska
I’ll start with Lake Junaluska – because I probably shoot here more than any other place. It’s beautiful and it is also where my daughters and I do things like Easter Egg hunts and watch the 4th of July Fireworks every year. Shooting a wedding here is high up on my bucket list (here’s looking at you, engaged couples still hunting down a venue). The sunsets here are hard to beat. Besides the fact it is a stone’s throw away from where I live, Lake Junaluska is beautiful year round and has places that provide cover should the weather feel less than cooperative and rescheduling isn’t an option (like if hair and makeup was being done professionally or you’re coming in from out of town). It is also an ideal spot for clients who want mountain views but aren’t able to hike (like pregnant women and families with small children).
2. Max Patch
Now for the clients who can hike Max Patch is certainly at the top of my list – especially after the winter shots I was lucky enough to capture in the snow. I don’t know that I have ever been somewhere as beautiful (or as cold) so thank goodness for adventurous couples willing to tough out wind chills in the single digits just for engagement photos. I myself am not exactly an “avid hiker” so the fact that I’m able to make the trek to the top with my twenty-pound camera bag means that for most couples, this is a feasible hike even dressed up (though wearing a pair of tennis shoes and carrying the fancy ones is encouraged). The snow is magical, but Max Patch has unbeatable views year round for those of you seeking out “mountain” backgrounds, this is the place.
3. Cataloochee Valley
Cataloochee is another place with Great Smoky Mountain views that’s pretty all year round and I’ve been lucky enough to shoot a wedding as well as multiple engagement shoots there, so I’ll share a few of the most recent. Palmer Chapel is one of the most quaint southern places I know of for intimate ceremonies and elopements and it is full of pretty, natural light (which is a plus when it comes to photos).
4. Boyd Mountain Tree Farm
Boyd Mountain Tree Farm is hands down my “go-to” for Christmas-themed engagement shoots in the area. Partly because their tree farm is easy to get to and lovely and partly because the owners and employees are kind and easy to work with. They do request that people call ahead and pay to shoot on the property (as do all of the other tree farms I know of from here to Buncombe County), so please don’t show up to your engagement or family shoot this holiday season without giving them a heads up.
5. Chestnut Ridge Venue
If you’re one of the lucky few to have snagged a spot at Chestnut Ridge for your wedding (one of Haywood county’s newest wedding venues and an instantly timeless venue) you can coordinate with the venue owners to do your engagement photos there. Sometimes I try to steer my couples from doing their engagement pictures at their venue, but Chestnut Ridge has so many pretty places for photo opportunities that I wasn’t a bit upset to do their engagements at the same place we will be doing their wedding in March.
Speaking of weddings at Chestnut Ridge, Jodi & Caleb’s was my first there – and it was perfect. The bridal suite is spacious and full of natural light and the room the groomsmen hung out in was an actual man cave. Getting ready pictures can be tough at some venues, but not here. I love that the bride and her bridesmaids have enough room to really enjoy prepping for the day. One of my favorite parts about this venue is how versatile the dining room is with its high ceilings and chandeliers. Plus, there’s no shortage of seating so if you’ve got a big guest count – you’re covered. A venue with views and a solid plan for inclement weather? Sold.
6. Cabin Among the Oaks Venue
While Chestnut Ridge was one of the newer venues, Cabin Among the Oaks has been a favorite of mine for several years. Recently, it hosted its last wedding but the previous owner Heidi still works for Key Events of NC and is responsible for the coordinating and planning for these weddings and can still steer you in the right direction when it comes to Haywood County wedding venues and vendors because she’s been doing this for years.
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