The Perfect Red River Gorge Wedding Guide

Are you in the midst of planning the perfect Red River Gorge wedding? If so, you’ll know the venue is a crucial element. Think of it as the perfect backdrop for one of the most important days of your life. It is a vital part of the aesthetic and will contribute to the wedding day ambiance and atmosphere. 

Over the years, Red River Gorge has proved a popular location for destination weddings. Luxurious venues, hidden in a rustic wilderness await with picturesque views and breathtaking scenery. It’s no surprise that so many couples choose this incredible location for the first day of the rest of their lives. 

There’s a lot to consider when planning a wedding and the Red River Gorge has its own unique twists. That’s where The Perfect Red River Gorge Wedding Guide will help ensure you get all the little and major details right for your special day!

One of the biggest pieces of advice we can give you is for you to nail down your wedding date! Most of the popular wedding weekends here at Cliffview Resort get booked 2 -3 years in advance!

Establish A Budget For Your Wedding

Every bride and groom will be working with a different budget for their big day. It’s important that your wedding plans match your finances to avoid additional stress around what should be a happy time. Thankfully, if you plan a wedding at Red River Gorge there are some great ways to save. 

Do consider the season for your wedding. Be aware that weddings from June to October here in the Gorge are going to be more expensive. So, if you have your heart set on a summer or fall wedding, make sure there’s a little extra in your budget. 

You can also make your wedding more affordable by planning in advance and taking advantage of payment plans available from some venues. For example, at Cliffview, it’s possible to save a reservation with just 25% of the total cost and pay the remaining amount as late as a month before your big day. 

Do you want to cut the stress and the costs at the same time? If so, a package wedding available from certain venues could be a great choice. Everything will be coordinated for you and you’ll get great deals from different vendors that may not be accessible on the public market. 

At Cliffview, we have fantastic wedding packages to match your budget. You can find options for a simple reception or an all-inclusive package that includes lodging, flowers, entertainment, and catering. You can also mix and match these elements to plan the perfect wedding package to match your finances and your desires. 

Be Sure to Visit The Venue

While photographs and video provide a good representation of a venue, they will never offer the full picture. They can never provide you with a sense of how you’ll feel walking down the aisle at a venue or sharing your first dance as a married couple. That’s why you need to make sure that you visit any venue that you are seriously considering. 

As well as providing you a clear idea of the scene you can create, this will also ensure you know whether a venue can match your vision and unique requirements. 

Be aware that many venues in the area do have limitations that could be a concern. The venue may not be able to accommodate your number of guests or provide access for a wheelchair. Think about parking too, particularly if a large number of guests are planning to drive to your destination wedding. 

Because we know how much of an impact the venue space can make, at Cliffview Resort we offer prospective brides and grooms a free night stay in order to tour the property for their upcoming big day. We really want to make sure you love it here and it matches your wedding dreams!

In regards to weddings at Cliffview, wedding sizes are typically around 100 people, but we have the facilities to accommodate as many as 250 guests (and have done so numerous times over the years). Even if you are planning a grand wedding with almost every extended family member (long time, no see, Uncle Ted), you’ll have no issue fitting them all in comfortably here. 


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Consider the Weather if Planning an Outdoor Wedding

We have to admit that the weather here in Eastern Kentucky can be a tad unpredictable and tempestuous for some outdoor weddings. If you’re planning a summer wedding, the temperature can get up into the high 90s while in the fall you could find yourself in the midst of a cold snap.

That’s why we recommend that summer weddings here in the Gorge opt for early morning ceremonies to avoid the high heat (10 AM is a great time). Fall weddings do best in the afternoon (around 4 PM) in order to avoid the risk of chilly mornings or evenings.

It’s important to make sure that your venue does have backup options. Here at Cliffview, we’re delighted to offer you our reception hall or access to the conference center if the weather takes a turn for the worse during your outdoor wedding. 

Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

You might already have a few ideas in mind for staff and vendors that you want behind the scenes for your wedding. Be aware that some venues will want to make sure that you use their teams instead. If this doesn’t suit your plans, you may need to find a more accommodating venue. 

Not keep on about ourselves, but at Cliffview Resort, we have an “open vendor” policy. That means you’re welcome to use any vendor you want, as long as they have proper licensing and insurance. We can also coordinate any (or all) vendors you’d like for us to handle.

A big item is to make sure that a vendor you choose will travel to the Red River Gorge. Remember, part of the reason for the beauty of this area is its more remote location.

As such, you may find a seemingly local vendor unwilling to travel the distance (Lexington is a 50-minute drive from here). Instead, you may need to find a vendor closer to the destination itself. Below are some fantastic options to choose from. 

Red River Gorge Wedding Caterers

If you’re keen to tantalize the taste buds of your guests, be sure to consider Cliffview’s on-site caterer (we always get rave reviews about Becky!). They will prepare some delicious delicacies that are sure to delight your whole wedding party and all the guests at your reception. 

It may be possible to get a local restaurant like Red River Smokehouse BBQ to cater for your wedding as well. Make sure you take a look at a menu and inquire as you explore the local area. You might find that your favorite eatery will be more than happy to provide services for your wedding. 

If you are working with a tighter budget, a buffet-style catering choice is going to be more cost-friendly compared to individual plate services. This is also easier to set up and ensures that there is a wider selection of choices for your guests. 

Red River Gorge Wedding Photographers

When searching for a photographer, it’s worth considering one that has worked at your chosen venue before.

By doing this, you can ensure that they know the perfect spot for a gorgeous backdrop or areas that provide the ideal lighting. They will also be aware of the requirements of the venue in terms of photography and have a clear plan for how to capture your wedding. 

At Cliffview, we have worked with some of the top talents and companies including:

  • DiamondEdge Photo (based in Winchester, KY)
  • Kevin and Anna Photography (based in Lexington, KY)
    • A husband-wife combo out of Lexington. They offer some great set wedding packages in order to help make the decision/planning process easier for you. There are also add-ons to customize the wedding package.
  • Dana Rodger Photo
    • Offers set wedding packages with interesting and fun options (Polaroids, photo albums, prints, etc..)

Make sure that when you are meeting with your photographer you have a fairly clear idea of what you want.

At least have a list of family members you want photos of (and with) at your big day. This can avoid longer photo shoots that can delay the wedding reception and put a dampener on the night’s proceedings.

A clear plan will ensure you get picture-perfect snaps without the waiting around, re-positioning or requests for retakes. 

Music Speaks Better Than Words With The Right DJ

If you want your guests to dance the night away, you need to make sure that you find the right DJ. Similar to the photographer, everything will proceed far more smoothly if they have worked at the venue before. They’ll know the setup, the equipment they need to bring and the options that the company provides. At Cliffview we have a fantastic relationship with:

  • Ethan Moore: A local DJ that does weddings on the side
  • Decades of Music-Avon Garrison: Decades of Music mobile DJ Service has been Serving central Kentucky for over 21 years, providing elegant and dramatic lighting to make your reception absolutely stunning. They provide the right mix of today’s hits, oldies, traditional fun wedding music to make your guest dance the night away.

These talented individuals will provide the perfect playlist filled with fun and romance.

Speaking of a playlist, you should definitely build one before your wedding. Even the best DJ can’t access all the songs, and by doing this you can make sure their setup matches your requirements. 

Of course, you might want to opt for a live band instead of the DJ. This will certainly provide a different atmosphere for your reception and can be a classic choice.

When selecting this option, do make sure that the venue is open to this possibility and they can accommodate with the right level of space. Noise ordinances relating to a venue could also be an issue here and you don’t want these to shorten your wedding if it starts later in the day.

Officiants

A pivotal piece of the wedding preparation is picking the individual who will officiate your wedding ceremony.

This may be a member of a religious community or a civil servant associated with the court. Check to see if there is any stay regulations or guidelines established by the venue that prevents an individual from being able to be an officiant for the wedding.

If you want to make things easier and more personal, many of the couples using our venue have chosen to use a self-ordained family member or friend. There is something incredibly beautiful about being married by someone you know and it’s easier than ever to complete this process online. 

One last thing to consider is what the officiant will say during the ceremony. What are the meaningful things that you would like to hear during your big day?

Decorations For Your Wedding

It’s the little details that ensure that a wedding is absolutely perfect for every couple and that means getting the decorations right. The ideal decorations will provide a beautiful aesthetic and ensure that your wedding looks like a dream come true. 

You can start with the flowers and while most wedding parties will bring their own flower arrangements, a wedding planner can help you set it all up in the right way.

This can ensure that flowers and centerpieces are perfectly placed.

Remember, this will be more important for an outdoor wedding where the wind can be a factor.

You need to make sure that decorations use zip ties or are weighed down. If you’re opting for a rustic theme, creative use of logs is a fantastic choice here (we recommend avoiding the use of tape to secure your decorations since tape tends to be fairly obvious in-person and in photos).

Make sure you think about the chairs too. The venue may provide a few different types for you to choose from.

Be sure to consider all the options before settling on a final choice and consider whether they match tables and linens.

At Cliffview, we offer a fantastic variety of colors for you to choose from, but you may find other venues are more limited. 

 

Choose The Right Wedding Cake

The wedding cake is a peculiar piece of planning because it is both decorative and part of the catering. While some venues may provide you with a wedding cake, in most cases, you will need to bring your own. 

If you do have a large wedding party, a sheet cake could be the best option. This can be sliced and handed out to guests. This helps you avoid the need to buy a larger cake and does cut down the budget once more. 

Think about the type of cake you want. You might want a beautiful, elegant professionally made wedding cake or you may prefer one made by a family member or friend. It’s entirely your choice but be aware that the venue may have requirements here too. It’s possible that they don’t allow personally made cakes due to standards and policies of the venue itself. 

There are even additional costs that can be a factor here. For instance, it’s possible that a caterer will charge more if you want them to cut the cake. Make sure you factor this into your budget and ask these types of questions during the planning stage. 

Most wedding parties here in the Gorge bring their own wedding cake from nearby vendors in Lexington or Louisville.

Taking Care of Your Guests

Don’t forget about your guests when planning your destination wedding at Red River Gorge. Many of your guests will be treating this as a mini-vacation and while the typical stay for a wedding is forty-eight hours, some of your party are sure to want to stay longer. When planning to lodge for your guests, be aware that you can plan a stay of up to a week. 

With a destination wedding, it’s important to think about entertainment options for you and your guests. There are plenty of fun things to do in the Red River Gorge and at Cliffview Resort.

For those who love adventures and heart-racing activities, there’s ziplining and underground kayaking.

Or, if you want to enjoy incredible views and discover unbeatable photo opportunities we recommend Susannah’s Arch Trail or perhaps Via Ferrata rock climbing. 

As well as adventure activities, there are also some fantastic local restaurants close by. So, make sure that you encourage your wedding party and the rest of your guests to head out and explore. There are also great options if you want to find some small meals or snacks for a day trekking the forest trails. 

We hope this provides you with everything you need when planning an unbeatable wedding at Red River Gorge. 

If you have any questions about having your wedding at Cliffview resort, please be sure to give us a call at 888-596-0525 or email us at weddings@cliffviewresort.com. We’d love to hear about what you’re planning and help you have the perfect day!

Don’t delay calling us since many of our most popular wedding weekends get booked up 2 – 3 years in advance!

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