A Colorful Creation in the Outer BanksWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Amanda Hedgepeth Photography
Amanda is a professional wedding planner, so to say she had thought a lot about her own W-Day is an understatement. Thankfully, her and her soon-to-be hubby Ben were very much on the same page. A destination wedding was most definitely in their future. “Ben grew up on the Outer Banks, it is my favorite place on earth, it is where we met, where we fell in love and where we got engaged, so it was the only place we wanted to have our wedding,” says the bride. With so many emotional ties to the area, the couple’s loved ones were less than shocked by the couple’s decision. “Our families were not surprised at all!” says Amanda. “I had been a wedding planner on the Outer Banks for 10 years prior and it was the only place Ben had ever called home. Even though we had moved away, it was still the place we consider “home.’”
Because the bride was a wedding planner for 10 years in her chosen destination wedding location, she definitely had the inside scoop when it came to ceremony and reception options. “When The Black Stallion was being built, the management company invited local event professionals to take a tour of their newest event home,” explains the bride. “Even though zero flooring had been laid, saws were running in the background, countertops were covered and bathrooms were unfinished, I left that tour telling my boss ‘Yup, this is the one I want to use when I get married!’” Amanda wasn’t the only one to realize the future venue’s potential. “Even though construction still wasn’t done on the home, it was taking rental reservations for the next 1.5 years. MANY of the weeks were already booked, so we jumped on our favorite week in September about a week after our engagement!”
With her dream reception location on lock-down, Amanda also quickly secured her dream ceremony site – The Whalehead Club. “I had done many weddings at this historic home/museum, which is right by the Currituck Lighthouse and I loved the idea of getting married out on the peninsula surrounded by water on all three sides.” Despite securing their venues early on in the planning process, the couple did still run into a few issues. For example, the events manager at their ceremony location left mid-planning and she hadn’t kept records of which couples had paid their deposit and which hadn’t. Luckily, Amanda had kept records and copies of all the checks and contracts signed, so the question was quickly resolved with the new management.
Interestingly enough, despite the bride having been a professional wedding planner in her chosen destination for years, she still opted to hire help when it came to putting together her own wedding. “A wedding planner is always beneficial if you have space in your budget for one, even if it is just a day-of planner. Helping people with their weddings is very different than planning your own and luckily Bordeaux Events was there to help keep me on track. The calendar checklist is also a must-have. It just kept me on track and helped ease my nerves about due dates.”
Overall, the couple describes their destination wedding planning process as a positive one. “We chose to have a little bit of a longer engagement and I think that definitely made planning easier to do from afar,” explains the bride. “I could go down to the Outer Banks every few months to meet with vendors and finalize things in person instead of it all being done through emails. It was a little stressful because there were periods where I felt like I should be doing more, but I had to wait until the next time I could get down there. Luckily I worked with amazing local vendors who had everything under control and are very used to working with out-of-town couples.”
When it came time to settle on accommodations for their guests, not surprisingly, the couple had a few tricks up their sleeves. “The Black Stallion is a 25-bedroom home. We offered rooms to family and the bridal party at a nightly rate with a minimum three-night stay; this helped cover the cost of the home that went beyond the reception budget and allowed us to spend extra time with both sides of our families the week before the wedding. We also made a room block at the one hotel in that part of the Outer Banks and provided a trolley shuttle to the ceremony and from the reception.”
We asked the couple how a hometown wedding would have been different and they didn’t beat around the bush. “We would have been settling,” says Amanda. “There would have been a lot more travel involved for our guests, I don’t think as many would have been able to make it and they were our top priority. Our wedding was about celebrating with our families and friends and this destination was the best option for that. If we had the wedding where we live now, I definitely would have been more stressed out. Instead, I got five days to relax on the beach and by the pool with my best friends. I wasn’t stressed about the wedding itself because I took care of everything before I even left home and I knew my vendors had it all under control.”
When we asked Amanda the best piece of advice she could offer other couples currently planning a destination wedding, it’s no surprise she stressed the importance of a talented team. “Hire someone to oversee your actual wedding day. You do not want to be the one answering the phone every 10 minutes answering questions or worrying if a vendor is stuck in traffic or where the florist put the flowers. Have a coordinator there who knows the ins and outs of your day just as well as you do and it will allow you to relax and enjoy the day.
“Also, I was so worried about sticking to my timeline that I didn’t get any portraits of myself in my wedding gown. I have two quick ones that my photographer thankfully asked me to take, but no formal ones from portrait time when my makeup and hair were still fresh. Your guests will wait – take that time for yourself!”
Vendors: Photographer: Amanda Hedgepeth Photography, Wedding Planner: Bordeaux Events, Ceremony/Reception Site: The Whalehead Club/The Black Stallion, Videographer: Reel Love, Florist: Renee Landry Events, Cake: Just Desserts, Caterer: Red Sky Café, Makeup: All Eyes on the Bride, Gown Designer: Kenneth Winston – Private Label by G, Groom’s Clothing Designer: OBX Tuxedo, Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Morilee/OBX Tuxedo, Band: Another Level through Sam Hill Entertainment, Rentals: Ocean Atlantic Event Rentals, Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen
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