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It’s a new year, and if you have “plan our wedding” on your list of goals for 2018, it’s time to get started! Lucky for you, I have a great opportunity if you are considering getting married in Wilmington, NC!

Every January in Wilmington, a group of hand-picked creatives gather together to fully style and create seven mock weddings that are then showcased to brides through a downtown walking tour called, Courtyards & Cobblestones, A Walk Through Wedding Row. This wedding planning and inspiration event allows you to see your potential venues all dolled up as if for a real wedding and experience your potential vendors’ work in person (and all on one afternoon)! Wedding planning doesn’t get much more fun or productive than that.

This year’s walking tour is on January 13, 2018 from 4:00-8:00pm. Then, the next morning, stick around for a Mix and Mingle Brunch on January 14th from 10:00am-noon to chat with the creatives! The weekend is a fun and relaxed opportunity to line up your vendors and gather beautiful inspiration for the design and details of your wedding.

Each of the seven venues you will tour was assigned a team of the best wedding professionals Southeastern North Carolina has to offer. These creatives then conceptualize, design, and produce fully-styled weddings and receptions for you to experience first-hand! The images you see in this post, by The Story Creative, are an example of the work you will see in person at the event (times seven!).

This event is a fabulous opportunity to bring your fiance, mom, future mother-in-law, grandmas, bridal party, and friends so that your loved ones can be a part of the planning process in a fun way! Everyone can enjoy experiencing the styled weddings and helping you dream up what your day will be like.

On the C&C Tour, you can take part in a wedding planning experience like none other with live music, table settings, flowers, lighting, cake tastings, savory samplings, beverages, photo booths and incredible giveaways from REEDS Jewelers, Pressed Cotton, Party Suppliers & Rentals, High Performance Lighting and Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Wilmington.

You’ll leave with some great goodies, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of our tenth-anniversary issue at the event!

This is one of our favorite wedding planning events of the year! And what wedding is complete without a montage video? Enjoy this styled wedding’s film from Blue Ribbon Vendor Life Stage Films!

Courtyards & Cobblestones 2018 from Life Stage Films on Vimeo.

To purchase your tickets for this year’s tour or for the C&C Mix & Mingle Brunch on January 14th, head to the Courtyards & Cobblestones site!

Last but not least, the giveaway! Enter via the widget below to win two tickets to the C&C venue tour on January 13th, two tickets to the C&C Mix & Mingle Brunch on January 14th, and a one-night stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown/Historic District in Wilmington, NC. Best of luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photography: The Story Creative | Design and Florals: Fiore Fine Flowers | Videography: Life Stage Films | Catering: Pine Valley Market | Cakes, Pies, and Sweets: Creative Cake Design | Bartending:Mister Bartender PC | Specialty Furniture: Pomp Event Furnishings | Rentals: Party Suppliers & Rentals | Specialty Decor: Pressed Cotton | Lighting: High Performance Lighting | Jewelry: REEDS Jewelers | Paper Products: Lyndsey’s Fine Paper | Makeup: Meraki Beauty | Hair: By Melissa Kinnamon | Dress: Coastal Knot Bridal Boutique | Styling: ADG Fashion & Wedding Stylist | Hotel & Lodging: Courtyard by Marriott | Wilmington Downtown | Historic District

This post is brought to you by Courtyards & Cobblestones. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

Written with love by Catherine
7 Comments
  1. avatar India reply

    Yay! This sounds so fun. If I were to go, I’d bring my mother!

  2. avatar Skylar reply

    Sounds great! I would love to bring my mom and my boyfriend! :)

  3. avatar Emily Els reply

    Oh, I would love to road trip with lynn Els to this!

  4. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    What a fun event! Since we are having a semi-destination wedding, my fiance and I planned a trip up to visit with our parents. It was fun getting to visit our venue and rehearsal dinner venue and got some time for everyone to spend together!

  5. avatar Melissa reply

    Can’t wait for the best wedding show of the year!

  6. avatar Amanda L reply

    I would bring my best friend. She’s looking for ideas and venues and I think this would be great for us to do together.

  7. avatar Brittany Landreth reply

    Would love to attend this show. I’ve heard that it is one of the best bridal shows in the South East and so helpful!

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With so many of us moving far and wide these days, it seems that all of the wedding invitations my husband and I get are destination for us! And we don’t mind that one bit. It’s fun to combine loved ones’ celebrations with an opportunity to see new areas of the country. Your wedding certainly does not have to involve a beachy locale to feel like a vacation. If you’re planning a wedding that most of your guests will need to travel to, you might want to consider ease of transportation, scenic beauty, uniqueness of culture, and abundance of activities when choosing a venue.

One of my absolute favorite getaways we’ve taken so far was for a three-day stay on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I’m still dreaming of that weekend! Between the peaceful country roads winding past the white fences and fields of horses, the delicious restaurants and distillery tours, the beautiful hiking and horseback riding trails, and everything there is to see in Lexington, this area of Kentucky is divine!

All this gets me dreaming of how amazing it would be to be invited to a Keeneland wedding! If you’re looking for something super fun and different for your guests, combined with a rich Southern culture, I don’t think I can recommend Keeneland enough.

Keeneland certainly hits all the cultural marks, and it’s a fantastic location for guests to be totally immersed in horse country. At Keeneland, guests can watch horses during their morning track workouts or tour the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, the largest stage in the world when it comes to Thoroughbred racehorse auctions. You can even work with the Keeneland staff to organize tours of nearby horse farms for your guests. These experiences will give your guests an unforgettable behind-the-scenes peek of the horse industry.

Not only is Keeneland located in the heart of horse country, it’s also in the heart of the Birthplace of Bourbon! You can work with Keeneland to bring in Master Distillers from nearby distilleries for tastings, cocktail hours, or receptions to add a uniquely “Kentucky” bourbon experience to your wedding.

Keeneland boasts 1,200 acres of property and is home to a variety of venues to match your personality and style. One of these is Keene Place, the original home of the Keene family, built in 1805. Or you can hold a reception in the Keeneland Clubhouse and have the breathtaking views of the Keeneland racetrack serve as the backdrop for your wedding.

You can also share this rich Kentucky culture with your guests through thoughtful welcome gifts! The staff at the Keeneland Shop can fill your welcome baskets with bourbon balls, bowties, mint julep candles and more so your guests can take home a piece of Kentucky.

To top it all off, Keeneland is located right across the street from the Bluegrass Airport, providing easy accessibility from all over the world. And I haven’t even mentioned Lexington’s sweet Southern charm yet! I can’t think of a better location to show off your Southern hospitality than a wedding at Keeneland!

The wedding photos in this post are by Chris Cornwell Photography, Bobbi and Mike Photography, Nina and Wes Photography, and Rebecca Shehorn Photography. This post is brought to you by Keeneland, a quintessentially Southern venue we know and love. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

Written with love by Catherine
1 Comment
  1. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    So neat! We are doing a semi-destination wedding in Folkston, Georgia. It’s only 2 hours from our hometown of Gainesville, FL. It’s right near the South Georgia Coast- so our guests can stay in town and see the trains that the town is known for or visit St. Simon’s Island if they want!

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One thing I knew from the start of my engagement? We wanted to dance to the tunes of a swing band at our reception. I’m an old soul, and I just knew we’d never be able to create our desired vibe without a horn section!

However, as certain as I was about wanting a band, I was entirely uncertain about which band I wanted. Few things affect your reception’s mood more than the band or DJ, and a band is such an unknown! Will they sound good? Will they play the right songs? Will they be cheesy? Will they be able to read and adjust to the crowd? Ahh!

If you’ve struggled with the same questions, you’re in the right place. To help set your fears at ease, we invited our friends Sol Fusion, winners of the inaugural Best of the South Wedding Awards’ Best Band (!!), to offer some advice on booking a band for your wedding.

Hopefully, your story will turn out much like mine: with a rocking band that’s the highlight of your reception :)

From Sol Fusion: Booking your wedding band can be a lot like online dating. You search through endless websites and profiles hoping to find a match that catches your eye. At the same time, you hope your new prospect is actually available, will fit in with your group of friends, and will be pleasing to your parents and grandparents. Here are four tips to help you find true love! :)

1. Identify your parameters. Ask yourself a few questions as you get started: What sort of vibe do you envision for your reception? Does your venue have space constraints that would limit the size of the band it can accommodate? What is your wedding date? Your entertainment budget?

2. Make it personal. How can your potential entertainment options add to the personalization of your wedding day? If there’s a must-have first dance song for sentimental reasons, do they know it or can they learn it? Same goes for mother/son and father/daughter dances!

3. Ask questions. A good band should be ready and willing to answer them! Don’t hesitate to ask them:

— How long will they play?
— Will they take breaks, and if so, how are they handled?
— How is the set list put together and can you veto or add in songs?
— Have they performed in your venue before and are they familiar with its acoustic, power, and amplification requirements?
— Do they offer ceremony and cocktail hour packages or upgrades?
— Are certain band members guaranteed? What happens if a band member falls ill on the day of the event? If the band dissolves prior to your event date?

4. Use an agency. Using a reputable agency can streamline your search for finding fitting entertainment (and when wedding planning, streamlining is always a good thing!). Because agencies represent multiple artists, they have the resources to connect you with artists who fit your criteria regardless of your budget or how eclectic your tastes might be. There are also fewer hurt feelings or cringe-worthy moments along the way — if you just don’t think a certain band will be a good fit, the agency will simply provide additional options!

An agency also acts as an insurance policy, ensuring that the band you book is reputable and will show up as contracted. If something unforeseen should happen, the agency has the resources to pull equitable or better talent to fill in – whew!

I’d love to hear: Will you have a band at your wedding? Or is your vibe more DJ? :)

Voted Best Band in the 2017 Best of the South awards by Southern Weddings, Sol Fusion is one of the nation’s premiere private events bands. Based in Charlotte, NC, the 11-piece musical powerhouse has performed at high-profile wedding and corporate functions throughout the United States and beyond.

Sol Fusion is exclusively represented by ECE (formally East Coast Entertainment), a long-time Blue Ribbon Vendor and the largest full-service entertainment agency in the country arranging unforgettable entertainment and producing custom events from coast-to-coast and around the world.

All wedding photos by Caroline Lima. This post is brought to you by ECE and Sol Fusion, two vendors we know and love. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar CJOHN reply

    Very helpful…Thank you!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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