Eloping at Helton Creek Falls

by Sydney Ryanczak

Scott and I are approaching our 1 year wedding anniversary and I thought it would be fun to do a trip back in time and share why we eloped, all the details, and of course share some of my favorite photos!

Why Elope?

Scott and I were both previously married and we had each done the bigger wedding thing the first time around.  We talked about doing a more traditional wedding and the more we brainstormed, the more stressed out we got! We wanted the day to be totally about us and stress-free (ha! more on that part later).  So we decided to elope.  It wasn’t a “let’s run off and elope” type decision…we actually wanted to plan a wedding but with just the two of us, the officiant, and the photographer.  For those of you that are curious, our families couldn’t have been more supportive (or in the kid’s case, relieved they didn’t have to go and be bored!)

Our Wedding Day Story

We were to be married Thursday so Wednesday after packing everything, dropping the dogs off at the kennel, getting the cake and flowers, we drove up to the North Georgia mountains.  It was October and HOT!  That’s Georgia in the fall people.  The trees were beautiful shades of reds, oranges, and browns.  The views were breathtaking.  I kept thinking the further we drove north, that we couldn’t have picked a better weekend.  We got to our adorable AirBnB which was managed by the cutest couple, Marlon and Raymond.  After settling in, Marlon suggested a nice little Italian place in Blairsville, so we went into town and had dinner.

The next morning we got up, had some Keurig coffee and chilled out together.   The photographer was to show up at 9 am for some “getting ready” shots.  I did my hair and makeup while we waited and then Krista showed up.   We shared our story with her and talked about kids…she has 2 girls about the ages of our kids.  We laughed a lot.  Then it was time to get down to the business of wedding stuff!  We got dressed, shot some photos, and then we were off to the ceremony site about a mile down the road.


This is where things got crazy.  We showed up to the waterfall and took a few pre-ceremony shots while we waited for the officiant, Rick.  And we waited.  And waited.  He was a no-show! Queue the stress.  Scott left the site to go find cell service.  I felt like he was gone an eternity and when he got back he reported that there was no answer!   Ugh, it was awful but we made the best of it.  Krista had to leave at noon, so we went ahead and shot the rest of the pictures while Scott and I figured out what the heck we were going to do!  Was this a sign!?  We popped the champagne and tried to enjoy our picnic while we sat there in disbelief.  At around 12:30 pm, we left the site in complete disappointment and started the drive back to the Airbnb.  Right before we turned up the road, the officiant called.  His daughter had been in a car accident and he had been at the hospital!  What the what!?!  He asked if we were still near the waterfall-that he would meet us if we were still wanted to get married.  You bet we said yes!  On a side note, his daughter was fine. Whew!

By this time, both of us were sweating in the October heat but we did it!   Rick performed a beautiful ceremony that we had customized with him prior to the wedding day.  Scott and I both exchanged custom vows, cried, laughed, and kissed.  Rick’s wife took photos so we did get all the photos we wanted even though Krista had to leave.  We were married and it ended up being perfect!  It was really special.

Our first experience as husband and wife was a test.  But we passed. ♥️

The Details

We picked a date and we had about 6 weeks to plan something memorable.  Let’s get down to the fun details!

The Ceremony Site

Scott had taken me and the kids to Helton Creek Falls near Blairsville, Ga during July the year before.  The kids swam and we had a picnic with PB&Js.  It was one of the happiest and memorable moments I had to date with the family.  In my mind’s eye, I could see that being the perfect ceremony site.  Green Wedding Shoes style.  This was the spot.


The Photographer

If there is one thing I wanted perfect it was the photos.  I can’t tell you enough how important it is to find the perfect photographer because at the end of the day this is all you’ll have to look back on to help you remember your spectacular wedding.  Don’t skimp on this one ladies!  I got lucky.  I searched (and searched and searched) the internet and stumbled upon several good photographers but there was just something about Krista Turner’s Photography.  She didn’t just capture all the typical wedding shots.  She seemed to somehow capture the emotion and the casual moments of weddings that are easily forgotten.  I literally read her entire blog and between her personality and her photos, I was hooked.  It was love at first sight!  To this day, I still read her blog and follow her on social media.  Her work just makes me happy.

The Flowers

Scott and I had a connection with sunflowers.  When we first started dating, Scott would text me photos of sunflowers from Kroger or the sunflower emoji just to let me know he was thinking about me.  So romantic! ? In terms of what I wanted for the wedding, Pinterest was my best friend for the flowers.  I saved several pins of bouquets, boutonniere, and cake toppers.  I found Wow Floral Designs through Yelp and Google reviews.  Her designs are very fresh and modern and her shop in Alpharetta has so much great foliage!  She quickly took my pins and came up with a recommendation.  Her own masterpiece was so much better than any of the Pinterest pins!  I was over the moon!  The night before the wedding I just stared at the flowers in awe of their beauty.

Our Attire:

I knew I wanted a simple dress in ivory because I just think ivory in the fall in magical.  I also didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars.  I must have found the end of the internet looking for a dress and I tried on several from various places.  I settled on a maxi from Dillards.  Yes, I said Dillards.  It was $129 and I LOVED IT!  $129!!!  It was so easy and comfortable.  It had a cool bohemian vibe to it which I thought was perfect for a hike to a waterfall ceremony.  Done.

The rest I shameless stole from Green Wedding Shoes.   I got the idea of the purple shawl from there and the hiking shoes.

For Scott, I also took inspiration from Green Wedding Shoes.  He wore simple Levi’s and a flannel shirt.  His outfit was actually more expensive than mine!

The “Reception”

After the wedding I envisioned us picnicking next to the waterfall just like we did when we came up with the kids…enjoying our cake and drinking some bubbly.  No PB&Js this time!  In reality, this actually happened BEFORE the ceremony because of the unfortunate circumstances with the officiant but it turned out beautiful.  I styled the picnic with a rustic camping blanket, burlap, and lace.  I added some woodsy candles with moss.  Very casual and easy.  Something to cap off the ceremony with a little celebration of us.

“Pretty Wedding Things”

Krista the photographer took some great photos of what she calls “Pretty Wedding Things” which is all the photos of the details: rings, shoes, the dress, heirlooms, etc.  All I can say is thank goodness for Etsy!  I got so many cute details there!  Here are a few of my favorites:


Vendor Credits

Wow just like the day, writing this post went fast!  I am so grateful to have found a wonderful husband in Scott and to get that second chance at love.  A year later, I couldn’t be happier.  And looking back on our elopement, I want to do it again!!

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