Listen To This Article - Click Play
A couple getting married in Gatlinburg had an unexpected addition to their wedding photos: a black bear! Sarina Thompson and Cory Brewer were posing for wedding photos at an outdoor venue when the black bear stumbled into the shot. The photos of the happy couple and the bear ended up going viral, and if you haven’t seen them yet you can check them out below!
Bear Crashes Gatlinburg Wedding Photos
After their Gatlinburg wedding, bride Sarina Thompson and groom Cory Brewer were taking their wedding photos when the black bear decided he wanted to join in on the fun! The photographer, Leah McMahan, was trying to capture the perfect shot when she noticed the bear walking toward them down the aisle. Luckily, after his stroll down the aisle, the Smoky Mountain black bear left on its own. McMahan said it was one of the most adventurous photo sessions she’s ever done, and the newlyweds have some unique wedding photos they can cherish forever!
About Smoky Mountain Black Bears
About 1,500 black bears are estimated to be in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That’s about 2 bears per square mile! Sometimes, the black bears venture outside of the national park and into Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas for food. Bear sightings are becoming more common as the park gets more crowded, so it’s important to know what to do if you do see a bear! If you see a bear, the National Park Service says to:
- Remain watchful
- Don’t approach it and don’t let it approach you
- If you’re too close to the bear, slowly back away while keeping an eye on the bear
You’re required to stay at least 50 yards away from bears at all times to help keep both you and the bear safe. Willfully approaching within 150 feet of the bear is illegal in the national park, and this rule of distance should be used if you spot the bear outside of the park as well.
How to Safely View Bears
If you’re visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in hopes of spotting a black bear, they are most active during early mornings and late evening hours in spring and summer. Some of the best places to spot the bears are in Cades Cove and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Both spots allow you to view the wildlife from the comfort of your vehicle! Other places you can spot bears outside of the national park are the Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg and Three Bears General Store.
About Gatlinburg Weddings
Are you thinking about planning a Gatlinburg wedding of your own? While the chances of your wedding photos turning out like the couple’s we mentioned above are slim to none, you can still get some gorgeous shots at one of the incredible Gatlinburg wedding venues in the area! The Smoky Mountains are a top wedding destination. There are traditional wedding chapels, large cabins, outdoor venues, and more for you to choose from. There’s also a variety of local florists, bakers, salons, spas, photography, and everything else you need for your special day. If there are wedding bells in your future, check out our Gatlinburg weddings page for everything you need to know for planning a Smoky Mountain wedding.
It’s no surprise that the Gatlinburg wedding photos of the black bear went viral! People love hearing about black bear sightings around the Smoky Mountain area. If you want to learn more about how you can see black bears and other wildlife, read our blog, “Where and When to Spot Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife.”