Chaning and Austin are more like family to me than friends. I have had the pleasure of knowing Chaning through my husband's boss, Brian who happens to be her father. We first met on the Spirit of Bermuda, a tall ship that was visiting Yorktown a few years back. Luckily, with the perks of James (husband) and Brian, we get to enjoy some perks of their jobs, this was one of them! I do not know too many people who can say they have sailed on the tall ship of Bermuda!
Once I found out that Austin finally proposed, I sent her a message and told her to let me know how I could help if there was anything she wanted help with. She sent me some contracts to review and one clause stated that a planner or coordinator was required. I sent back the additional questions to ask and said "p.s. I'll be your coordinator, save the money", and the rest is history.
For those who are close to me, they know North Carolina has a special place in my heart. I have always felt "home" as soon as I cross that state line. No one will convince me there is better BBQ, or beaches, and let's be honest, some of the best college basketball (GO HEELS!). Yes, Virginia is where I call home on paper, but in my heart, I'll always be a Carolina girl!
After the rehearsal, my husband and kids and I packed up and headed to Raleigh. One of my favorite childhood memories has always been the North Carolina State Fair. I have yet to go to a state fair that tops North Carolina's. It's funny, after so many years of going, you'd think I'd venture out and try something new, but I always walk the same path, I always stop at the same vendors, we always B-line for the livestock first, so I can get some fresh milk. It's always the same. It never disappoints, and it's always perfect. I remember how excited I was as a kid to go to the fair, and now that we have kids of our own, I get so excited watching them enjoy the same things I found equally amazing at their age. Cotton candy helps make it a cooler experience for them! ;) After filling our bellies with all kinds of unhealthy, but delicious foods, we headed back to Lake Gaston to a family lake house and crashed for the night.
One thing I love so much about North Carolina is how perfect fall is. We woke up to the most perfect fall day. Honestly, it was perfect. The perfect breeze, cool crisp air in the morning and a perfect day time temperature that makes everyone wish they could drop everything and go camping.
The backdrop for their 10.22.16 wedding couldn't have been more beautiful! If you haven't been to the Portofino in Clayton, North Carolina, you need to. ESPECIALLY, if you are a horse lover. I arrived SIX hours earlier than I normally would have, just to walk around this world class equine center. State of the art everything. Sweet horse noses everywhere! My husband thinks I am crazy, but I tell him if I could bottle that sweet smell into a perfume I would. My horse loving girls will get it. This venue is an incredible hidden gem. The owners are amazing, and some of the nicest people you will meet, and they work their business from the heart. Their personal home is where ceremonies take place, and to them, it's yours while you are there, another reason why I love the South so much. Genuine kindness and hospitality.
The Piazza at Portofino is where Chaning and Austin's reception was held. A quaint little building in the same community as the ceremony was held. It has a beautiful outdoor patio with fire places, a gazebo and a made a perfect place to dance the night away under the stars!
Most of the time, my family does not travel with me events. Since James and I were technically guests too, we did get a little kid free evening away. I think James realized why I come home so tired from events. At one point in the evening he asked if I ever sat down. I responded by saying "Of course, in the car on the way home".
On the way home from the lake, we stopped at our favorite pumpkin place. Allen's Pumpkin Farm is another hidden gem that we keep to ourselves mostly. We don't want everyone knowing where we get all of our amazing pumpkins each year! Well, the secret is out. If you happen to be in this neck of the woods, be sure to stop in and say hi to Mrs. Allen. She doesn't do much of the farming anymore, but she still comes out and personally talks to each family and their kiddos. More southern hospitality at its finest. She's got some turkeys and a couple goats and a donkey there too!
It's nice to be able to share these memories with my family, even though it was a "business" trip.
Check out images of this gorgeous wedding here: 10.22.16 - Chaning and Austin
Coordination: Two River Events, LLC
Hair and Makeup: Hair and Makeup by Mattie Jordan
Photography: Aimee Sue Photography