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Love, Kentucky Style
by Paris Permenter & John Bigley, Editors of Lovetripper.com

Mountain weddings. Country music. Romantic waterfalls. A genuine country atmosphere.

No, this isn’t Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee but a market that’s quickly gaining popularity among romantic travelers who are looking for a quiet getaway without the glitz of these more populated destinations. Eastern and Southern Kentucky covers an expansive area sliced by rolling hills and etched by sprawling lakes, a place where a serene country atmosphere awaits couples.

Numerous wedding sites offer plenty of memorable locations to say your I do’s, and many romantic locations promise peace and privacy for honeymooning couples and romantic travelers looking for the perfect spot to renew and recharge their love. Here’s a look at five top Kentucky locations sure to make your destination wedding special:

Cumberland State Park


You could call them the Niagara Falls of the South. At 125 feet wide with a 65-foot drop, these mammoth falls serve as one of the region’s top wedding spots, hosting a wedding a week on average. The site is a natural for romantics; the waterfalls boast one of only two “Moonbows” found in the world. Like a nighttime rainbow, the world's only other location of this natural occurrence is Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.

You’ll have your choice of wedding locations, and there’s no charge for the use of the park for weddings. One of the top wedding sites is termed “Lovers’ Leap,” a pinnacle with an excellent view of the roaring falls and plenty of room for couples and witnesses.

Nearby, the DuPont Lodge, built in 1941, also serves as a popular wedding and reception site. The patio, with a view of the surrounding countryside, can be rented for groups of up to 125 persons and catering is available on site. In case of inclement weather, there’s also a conference room right off the lobby or, for smaller wedding parties, a lounge.

Old Mulkey Meetinghouse State Historic Site

Located near Tompkinsville, this historic site is one of the oldest churches west of the Alleghenies--so old, in fact, that no one’s quite sure just when this church was founded. The earliest records date to 1798 but word has it that the log building and pioneer cemetery, which is the final resting place of Daniel Boone’s sister, is actually much older.

Today the small, simple church is a favorite for weddings, both religious and civil ceremonies. Some couples opt to exchange vows outside with the church as a picturesque backdrop; others say their I do's in front of the simple pulpit with guests seated on split-log benches.

Williamsburg

Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Cumberlands,” this small town is an easy stop for travelers on the north-south Interstate 75. Just seconds from the highways stands a property well known among romantic travelers: the Cumberland Inn. Operated by Cumberland College and largely staffed by students, the two-story inn stands in regal colonial style. Five suites are a favorite with lovers, who often pick the inn’s expansive foyer as a wedding site. Beneath a painted dome, brides can make their entrance down the grand staircase, which has also served as the backdrop for many wedding photos. Along with foyer weddings, the inn also offers a conference center for up to 200 wedding guests.

Dale Hollow State Resort Park

If you think rustic when you think state park accommodations, think again. Like any resort, this facility offers plenty of comfortable guest rooms, activities that range from watersports to golf, and even wedding and reception facilities. Located on the edge of a 28,000-acre lake, the lodge is home to a newly built conference center that’s a favorite for wedding receptions.

Barthell Coal Mining Camp

This ghost town was originally a Stearns Mining camp, populated from 1902 to 1948 by coal miners and their families. Today the former camp can be reached by car or, for the most scenic arrival, by the Big South Fork Scenic Railway. Located adjacent to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, this historic camp has been reconstructed by the Koger family whose ancestors worked this rugged land.

The camp is open daily from April through December and visitors have the chance to stroll through the buildings formerly used as a barber shop, bath house, machine shop, and restaurant. Of special interest to couples, the one-room school house and church now serves as a wedding location.

For more on wedding sites in this region of Kentucky, contact the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association, www.tourseky.com, 877-TOUR-SEKY
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