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Turn Our State into a Wedding Destination

Why You Should Plan a Destination Wedding in NC

The “go big or go home” rule doesn’t always apply to weddings. For example, swapping a destination abroad for a destination wedding in our home state, North Carolina, makes “go home” look like a dazzling option. North Carolina is home to quality and comfortable venues in diverse regions, with an added bonus of in-state wedding planning and minimal travel costs. Long-distance travel is often expensive, and with the presence of a pandemic, travel can be unreliable and stressful – an ordeal you’ll want to bypass for all of your wedding guests. 

Tips for Planning a NC Coastal Destination Wedding

The Outer Banks is one of the most beautiful places in the South. This unique strip of islands off of the coast of North Carolina has pristine beaches, a romantic sound, fresh seafood and even wild horses! Imagine walking down a sandy aisle toward your soul mate during the golden hour with the Atlantic Ocean as your backdrop.

Let the Outer Banks Wedding Association (OBXWA) be your local wedding planning guide. OBXWA offers a website and magazine that features top Outer Banks venues, planners, florists, caterers, hotels and more.

Nate Roberts of the OBXWA offers his best advice for a beach wedding. “Depending on what you are comfortable with, every season is perfect for a beach wedding! People automatically assume that summer would be the best time for a beach wedding because that’s when most people take vacations. However, unless you are getting married in a swimsuit, it can be quite uncomfortable for the wedding party and guests to be in the blazing North Carolina heat while in formal attire, with makeup and everything else going on. Once you get into late September and October, the weather mellows out so that you have a beautiful beach wedding without sweating through your clothes.”

One of the most beautiful beaches in North Carolina is Emerald Isle. It was even voted the “Best North Carolina Beach” by USA Today readers. Located on the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle is a romantic destination. It has a relaxed vibe and natural beauty that are ideal for NC destination weddings, honeymoons and vacations. Emerald Isle Realty manages several venues and vacation properties that can be used for these purposes.

More Key NC Coastal Wedding Planning Info

Summertime at the beach is also peak tourist season. If you plan a wedding at the peak of summer, be prepared for surge prices, increased traffic and intense heat. Also, be aware that hurricane season runs from June through the end of November. Don’t let this deter your plans for a coastal wedding in that time frame. However, you’ll need a backup plan with an indoor event space where you can smoothly move your ceremony or reception in case of rain.

Most beach access points on the Outer Banks are public and not available for rent or private use. One way to secure a spot is to set up early. If someone is a bit close for comfort, politely ask if they would mind moving farther away. If you’re having a seated ceremony, you can set up chairs and decor early. Also, there is no minimum or maximum number of people who can attend your ceremony on a public beach! This is a great option if you don’t want to pare down your guest list or police every plus-one. However, we encourage booking a venue with private beach access to ensure you’ll have a private and romantic beach wedding. Remember, you are competing with both local and out-of-state couples who view the NC coast as a destination. Book your venue and priority venues ASAP.

Coastal Wedding Tip from Travel Expert Cara Cartee

Cara Cartee of CMC Events & Travel was awarded Top Travel Specialist 2021 by Conde Nast Traveler. “Think of having a shoe valet or shoe station and/or a de-sanding station (you could even do personalized flip-flops that people can wear for the beach portion!) Check to see if you need a beach permit and also consider the number of people and noise levels,” Cara says.

Destination New Bern

Melissa Riggle says that “Visit New Bern‘s team has the ability to work with local venues, hotels and bed and breakfasts as well as caterers to streamline the wedding planning process. This service ensures that your special day is one that both you and your guests will remember. New Bern’s spring and fall seasons are ideal for couples who desire an outdoor wedding. One of New Bern’s strengths is its variety of venues, which enable couples to tie the knot throughout the year.” Stunning wedding venues in New Bern include Tryon Palace and The Jarvis at 220, pictured below.

Enjoy the View of a Mountain NC Destination Wedding 

It’s no secret that the North Carolina mountains offer breathtaking views, too. The beautiful Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains are a dreamy setting for couples looking to have a destination wedding. With an amazing climate, jaw-dropping views and unique local vendors, the mountains provide endless event options. To make planning a mountain wedding a breeze, read our tips below.

By far, the most popular season to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains is fall, when leaf colors are peak. However, we’re here to tell you that spring and summer are equally gorgeous times of the year to plan a mountain wedding. Unlike the piedmont or coastal regions of North Carolina, the mountains remain cooler and tranquil during these seasons.  

Hidden gem small towns make ideal wedding weekend destinations. Highlands, Cashiers, Sylva, Banner Elk and Blowing Rock have small-town charm and sweeping views of the scenery. Couples looking for a bigger city or industrial-style venue might enjoy Asheville’s downtown which offers bars, restaurants and shopping galore.

Rumbling Bald on Blue Ridge Mountain offers a sweeping view of a 3,200-foot mountain perched above Lake Lure. Mountain venues are particularly well suited for rustic-themed weddings, and Overlook Barn – a historic barn with exposed wood beams in Beech Mountain – is the perfect destination for a barn ceremony.

Would you say “I do” one mile high in the air? For the adventurous couple, an elopement above the mountains is the perfect adrenaline rush. Downtown Asheville’s chic new property, The Foundry Hotel teams up with Asheville Hot Air Balloons to deliver this experience. You and your partner, along with up to 14 of your nearest and dearest guests, can elope amid the clouds – if you dare. After the vows, enjoy a reception at the hotel with the intimate group or a larger one.

Planning a Destination Wedding in the NC Piedmont

The Piedmont region has plenty of diverse venues and vendors to offer and is a great location to say “I do.” Whether you are choosing to tie the knot in central North Carolina because it’s home or because you recently moved to town, keep reading for some insider knowledge.

Piedmont weddings typically cost between $25,000 and $50,000. Venue styles range from farm and barn to industrial-chic to clean and contemporary in this region of the state. It would not be unusual for a couple to host an outdoor ceremony in the countryside followed by an indoor reception in a skyscraper downtown. Both locations might be just a 10 or 15 minute drive away from one another.

With tons to do in the Piedmont region, your guests could have an agenda full of local activities to keep them occupied in between wedding festivities. Whether it’s the museum, farmers market or beloved minor league baseball stadium, give guests a list of your favorite local spots.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is located at the center of the Piedmont, providing easy, affordable travel for out-of-state guests. Give them a taste of the Piedmont area with welcome bags filled with mouthwatering Chapel Hill Toffee, barbecue sauce or hot sauce from Cackalacky or a bag of fresh Counter Culture Coffee.

With N.C. State University in Raleigh, Duke University in Durham and UNC in Chapel Hill, there are a lot of college sports fans in the Piedmont region. Try to choose a wedding date that doesn’t coincide with any team’s major games to avoid increased hotel rates and traffic. 

Even though all seasons are beautiful, North Carolina weather can be unpredictable. In general, summer is hot and humid while winter is short and cold. Spring months offer perfect temps, but beware of heavy pollen and bugs that bite! No matter the season, be sure to have a backup indoor event space for an outdoor wedding.

Plan Your Destination Wedding or Honeymoon with Cara Cartee of CMC Events & Travel

Cara Cartee of CMC Events & Travel was awarded Top Travel Specialist 2021 by Conde Nast Traveler. The luxury and lifestyle travel magazine recognized Cara and CMC Events & Travel for the ability to always pull off the impossible and spare her clients on the logistics. Cara is known for being all about details in the experiences she cultivates. That includes leisure vacations, action-packed honeymoons, bachelorette parties and more! 

Cara is passionate about creating uniquely personalized memories for others. She is a true expert and has been planning travel and event experiences for 20 years. We are so proud of her for this well-deserved recognition from such an esteemed publication as Conde Nast Traveler.

What to Know About Planning a NC Destination Wedding

Etiquette – Give yourself and your guests a two- to four-day weekend full of local activities. It is a generous gesture to host a welcome party when your guests arrive. We highly recommend inviting everyone to the rehearsal dinner for a destination wedding. Help your guests plan their free time by putting local brochures and maps of nearby attractions or towns in your welcome bags. 

Remote Location Considerations – Check in with any vendors who need to travel to get to your venue. Many vendors are happy to go the extra mile for their clients with accommodations and food included. Others might charge an additional travel fee. Selected a venue off the beaten path? Check with your venue for transportation recommendations.

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