Hitching a Ride

A North Carolina Winter Wedding


July 13, 2018
Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of VUE Photography

In our opinion, there are few things more romantic than a winter wedding in the mountains surrounded by your loved ones. Jake and Hannah experienced just that with their Highlands, North Carolina destination wedding. We interviewed the couple about their stunning, special day and Hannah had so much insight and was so well spoken, we thought it best to share her responses in full, rather than summarizing and adding our own interpretation. So, read on to learn more about how the couple executed a beautiful wedding, while capturing the family feeling they envisioned.

Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?

A: Having grown up in separate states, we knew a lot of our guests would be traveling to attend our wedding. With that said, it was important for us to begin our journey and get married in a place that held special meaning. Growing up, my family spent the holidays in my parents’ second home in Highlands, NC. I remember many Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas breaks and New Years celebrations in the mountains; there is nothing more charming or cozy than spending the holidays in a quaint little town, surrounded by the people you love. When we began considering a December wedding, I couldn’t imagine any place that made sense other than Highlands!

Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it?

A: We had many guests who were visiting from the North. I hate to say it, but I think they were looking forward to the Southern weather…little did they know we would get 15” of snow the day before the wedding! At the end of the day, I’m sure many guests found the location to be an inconvenience, but we are lucky and grateful that guests kept those thoughts to themselves! 

Q: How did you choose your venue? Did you run into any issues specific to this venue and how did you resolve them?

A: Based on the size of our wedding (approximately 150 guests) and the fact that we required indoor space (given the wedding was in December), we selected The Farm at Old Edwards Inn, a space big enough to accommodate all of our guests, and has an on-site kitchen to make dinner/catering easy. Luckily, the venue was available on December 9, which was the ideal December date for us, being halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends!

Q: How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding?

A: We live in NYC, so ultimately it was difficult to have minimal access to our venue throughout the planning process. However, by the grace of my mother’s selflessness and amazing ability to make wedding dreams come to life, it was also such an incredible experience to show up in Highlands four days before the wedding and see this place I’d been dreaming about for 10 months simply come to life! That’s the magic in having a destination wedding!

Q: Did you use any resources when planning your destination wedding that you feel would be helpful to other couples?

A: We had a day-of coordinator that I believe is necessary in order to ensure family members are able to enjoy the day and not be burdened by details, logistics and correspondence with vendors. [Also], we kept a Google Spreadsheet that was helpful to consolidate all of our guest lists, addresses, RSVP counts, seating assignments, gift tracker and “thank you” card checklist. Keeping all of your information in one spot is the only way to stay organized and ensure details do not slip past you!

Q: Did you include any do-it-yourself projects in your wedding/reception? If so, please describe them.

A: Especially since our wedding was at Christmas-time, we wanted our guests to feel the wedding was personal, intimate and captured aspects of our relationship well. At the reception, next to each of the roaring fireplaces, was a display of the homemade Christmas cookies that Jake and I grew up with. We thought this would be a personal touch and make everyone feel a little more at home!

Q: What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did they run into any issues and how did you resolve them?

A: Did I mention it snowed 15” the day before our wedding? To say this was unexpected is an understatement. I guess it was the perfect storm, because we had more snow that day than I’d ever even seen in Highlands in my life! With that said, guests and vendors had issues getting there. Everyone had a wild story in how they made it up the mountain in the snow storm.

Many guests were stranded on the side of the road and ended up hitching rides with strangers who were  in 4-wheel drives. Others ended up staying Friday night at the bottom of the mountain in random motels because they weren’t able to make the drive. It was gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking and terrifying, to think about our day being ruined because of the snow storm. With all of the chaos and changes in plans due to the snow, I’m amazed that all but eight of our wedding guests made it to the wedding and all but one vendor. We have extremely loyal and loving guests to have dealt with the extreme weather and challenges associated with traveling to our wedding. We are forever thankful for the support and love we felt that day and every day from the people we love the most!

Q: Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to host a destination wedding?

A: I believe we were able to find a balance in costs by having a destination wedding. While you pay a premium for vendors to travel and a premium for vendor services due to exclusivity of the location, a destination wedding typically means you narrow down the guest list. When you factor in fewer “per-head” costs, you’re able to reduce the bottom line and overall expense. [Plus], it made sense to get married in a place where my heart was. My family will always have ties to Highlands and it will continue to be a place where our growing family congregates during the holidays, a time when we all travel home and surround ourselves with loved ones.

Q: Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?

A: Make sure your wedding is reflective of who you are as a couple to ensure your day feels the most special! Especially with destination weddings, it would be easy to have a planner make all of the decisions and create a beautiful, but cookie-cutter wedding! I would encourage couples to find ways to insert symbols of their relationship into their wedding; get to know your officiant so that you have a personalized and intimate ceremony, use family photos, incorporate details of how you met, your favorite places/things to do as a couple. [Also], invite only the number of guests you can greet, so they feel welcome and wanted. Bottom line, my advice is don’t over-do your wedding. Make it special and don’t let the “idea” of getting married ever become more important than that wonderful man [or woman] that you get to love forever!

Vendors: Photographer: VUE Photography, Day-Of Coordinator: Donna Woods, Ceremony/Reception Site: The Farm at Old Edwards Inn, Florist: Floressence Flowers, Stationery: The Pine Needle, Calligraphy: Loco Calligraphy a.k.a. The Pressed Letter, Cake: Cakes by Sid, Hair & Makeup: Kendra Alexander (Old Edwards Inn and Spa), Gown Designer: Mikaella Bridal (Style #2105), Groom’s Clothing Designer: The Trunk Club, Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: The Black Tux

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