Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wedding at Balsam Mountain Inn

I love traveling around our beautiful state. And travel I do! Saturday was no exception. I left home around 8:30 am for a noon wedding in Balsam. Even if you're familiar with North Carolina you've probably never heard of the town of Balsam.
 Balsam was a tourist stop on the Murphy Branch of the Western North Carolina Railroad, later the Southern Railway. In the early 20th century, tourists would travel from Asheville to the train depot at Balsam and stay ‘just up the hill’ at the Balsam Mountain Inn.
Today, the depot no longer stands at the original site but was moved up the ridge, in the 1960s, to a private location. Balsam Mountain Inn was renovated in 1990 and refurbished in 2004 is still in operation, serves as a nostalgic reminder of a by-gone era with a great restaurant and wine list.

This sign was on display with some other memorabilia. Although there have been changes, one thing remains the same, 'air conditioned by nature'. Sounds crazy with the heat wave but the guests said the temperature had been perfect!  

The inn, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, provides 50 rooms and suites, each with its own unique decor and vintage furniture just the way it was at the turn of the century and still phone and TV free. (Wouldn't it be nice to get away from TV, phones and internet for a few days?)

The wedding planning started many months ago. Darren and Kelley were traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway when they decided it was time to eat,. They happened upon the Balsam Mountain Inn and it was love at first sight. They knew this was 'the' place. And I must say, I agree.

To be honest, not everyone would appreciate the rich history contained within the walls of the Balsam Inn. I love the character of old buildings and was so happy to just sit and visit before the wedding began.
Let me ask you, when's the last time you saw something like this?

Now, I certainly don't want you to get the wrong idea. Balsam Inn has style. And the staff... well, they couldn't have been more accommodating. I couldn't help but overhear some conversations and they went out of their way to make this a wonderful wedding experience for Kelley and Darren, even preparing a special desert for Darren's daughter. 

One thing that makes this inn so perfect is there's plenty of room for people to move around. There are several sitting areas in the lobby.

And a huge front porch, lined with rocking chairs.

But... the best is yet to come. There's a lovely site for the ceremony. And I have to say, someone was very thoughtful on Saturday.

Daytime temperatures were very warm and everyone was sitting in the sun. Except... the parents and other honored guests. Someone had planned ahead  and there was a white tent over this section of chairs.

I was talking with Kelley and Darren before the ceremony. Yes, they saw each other before the ceremony. In fact, Kelley was out greeting the guests as they arrived. Some might find this a bit unusual but I think it speaks of their personalities. Kelley and Darren decided to have their 'first look' photos taken privately before the ceremony began.

Anyway, I mentioned that the Balsam Inn was a great choice. Kelley said the terrace was what 'did it'. This room was almost breath taking. 

Simple, but oh so elegant!

I did manage to get a photo of the newlyweds. Hope more are coming.

Balsam Inn will always have a special place in the hearts of Kelley and Darren,.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Small Intimate Weddings in North Carolina

Are you tired of everyone telling you ‘what you should do’ for YOUR wedding? You might be interested in reading about two couples who chose a stress-free wedding day.

I really do try to keep things easy and it seems that I am successful. Brook asked me last week if I had an Easy button, like Staples.

Small intimate weddings can be planned well in advance or ‘let’s get married’ spur of the moment. Unless it’s like this past Saturday night at 10:30 pm when someone called and wanted to elope. They changed their mind once I told them they needed a marriage license.

Sara and Jeremy planned their wedding well in advance. This is evident from her creative button bouquet. Many, many hours went into creating the lovely piece of art. She used antique buttons from various family members and crocheted circles made by her grandmother.
 But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning. Sara arrived wearing a 'Soon to be Mrs....t- shirt. I told you this couple planned ahead.
While Sara and Jeremy changed clothes we got the ceremony site ready. It had been really hot (103 degrees) and I wanted to make sure they were still planning on getting married outside.
The personalized dish, purchased at Etsy held their wedding rings.

 Just a few more minutes

A short blessing and the rings were exchanged.

Nice cold water. A perfect wedding toast on an August day.

No more 'soon to be'. Sara looks pretty happy to be Mrs.

A few days later, I met Brook and Jason and became a part of their wedding memories.

Brook's bouquet was also very personal, decorated with ladybugs, which has special meaning, Lady bugs are a sign of good luck and also that your wish has been granted. What perfect symbolism for Brook and Jason's wedding day.

Brook dressed upstairs and didn't want Jason to see her ahead of time. As she walked to meet him one of their favorite songs was playing on my iPod. And look at his face. It says it all...

 Brook had requested a unity sand ritual as part of their wedding ceremony. I keep supplies on hand but she found a personalized set on the internet. It used to take weeks to order something personalized. This set arrived in three days!

 Promises had been made, rings exchanged. Now, time for the BIG kiss.
 Another happy couple...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway Wedding

Are you sweltering in the summer heat? Well, let me just make you jealous. I’m sitting by a KOA cabin in Boone under a shade tree with a nice cool breeze. No air conditioning, slept with the windows open last night. I talked to my husband and the temperature at our retreat center was 105 about an hour ago.

Although it is hotter than usual here, I’m lovin’ this mountain weather!

 The wedding I officiated yesterday turned into a bit of an adventure. I knew the location was Lump Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and I expected a ‘lump’. I hadn’t given much thought to getting to the top of the ‘lump’.

It was not a bad walk at all. Luckily, I had walking shoes (actually sandals) and changed into my dress shoes after reaching the top. Definitely worth the walk. Beautiful views! I'm sure the photographer got some great shots and hope to have some to post soon.
Here's a photo from the top of the summit to the parking lot

When I arrived family and friends were busy carrying chairs and coolers to the top.

Rachel and Al were well prepared and I'm sure their guests appreciated their thoughtfulness.
There were hiking sticks, parasols and hand held fans. And best of all…. plenty of ice cold water.

Al and I discussed some last minute details and I took possession of the marriage license. (a must before the wedding). After meeting with Rachel I headed up the hill to check out the actual location.

A permit was required and the park limited the number of guests. However, additional guests were waiting at the reception site to welcome the newlyweds.

Here’s Rachel’s niece getting ready. Cutest flower girl! She and Eli (Rachel and Al’s son) were pulled in a wagon decorated with flowers.

It’s not everyday you see the groom and best man with hiking sticks!

Thanks to today's technology, we had lovely music playing while we waited for the bride to arrive.

The work and planning was over. It was their day, it was their time. Rachel and Al made promises to each other, promises to last a lifetime. 

We passed their wedding rings among the guests so each person could offer their personal blessings and prayers.

And here's the happy family! 

After some photos Rachel and Al headed to the La Quinta Inn for their reception. At the Inn they met a lovely couple celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary. This happy couple offered some advice on marriage and challenged Rachel and Al to beat their record. 

Since they did not have a first dance at their wedding forty-one years ago, Rachel and Al invited their new friends to join them on the dance floor. After which they shared wedding cake and toasted to many, many years of happiness. A chance meeting, now a wonderful wedding memory!

And from their wedding ceremony:

Marriage is a foundation…a seed of love that grows deeper each day. Because of your love, you will change most remarkably. Allow the changes to flower in you and know that they are leading you to a place where, separately and together, you are becoming more than you were before. For it is love, true love, that is the true gift of marriage.

Best wishes to the happy couple!