By Natasha Anderson
Western North Carolina offers a dizzying array of choices for wedding venues. If you’ve yet to discover the perfect one for you and your partner, read on for some options.
Isa’s French Bistro, in downtown Asheville, has a variety of event spaces to accommodate from two to 150 people. The Cellar, located in the bistro’s lower level, consists of the Wine Room, the Fireplace Lounge, the Burgundy Room and the Main Cellar.
“The Cellar at Isa’s is not your traditional ballroom setting,” says Kristen Childers, sales manager for FIRC Group, the hospitality company that owns Isa’s. “We offer a warm, intimate downtown Asheville setting with a high-end, elevated menu featuring locally sourced ingredients.”
The Cellar’s flexible event space allows couples to plan a welcome reception or ceremony in the Fireplace Lounge with a seated meal in the Main Cellar or an intimate family meal in the Wine Room or Burgundy Room. Because Isa’s is a part of the FIRC Group, couples have access to a one-stop shop sales team to book multiple event venues and hotel rooms at various downtown properties. For example, a couple may plan their wedding reception at The Cellar, and book rooms for the bride’s and groom’s parties at the Cambria Downtown Asheville or the Haywood Park Hotel.
“The passion, creativity and flexibility of our entire special events team is what stands out most to our wedding couples,” says Childers. “Our team is committed to making every wedding event special and to bringing the couple’s vision to life.”
The Wilcox on Melrose, a historic bed and breakfast inn located in Tryon, offers a charming atmosphere and convenient location for access to waterfalls, vineyards, hiking trails, historic sites and other attractions.
“We often serve as a home base for couples, bridal parties and families who are having their wedding at a nearby park, vineyard or other space, such as the Tryon Fine Arts Center across the street,” says the inn’s owner Robert Lange. “We host accompanying events including bridal party luncheons or brunch the day after the wedding.”
Lange specializes in finding a way to make every stay special, whether it is by using a drone to capture photographs from above, leaving candles and champagne beside the outdoor hot tub, or arranging for musicians to perform background music at a family dinner.
“Every guest has a different set of requirements,” says Lange. “I try to pick up on what will make their stay special.”
The Orchard Inn, in Saluda, handles everything from the venue and the rehearsal dinner to the reception, floral arrangements and accommodations for couples and their guests. Exclusive use of the property, including nine rooms, five cottages, two luxury suites and all common areas, can be arranged for a two-night stay. Lush gardens and mountain views provide an idyllic setting for the ceremony and Newman’s, the inn’s farm-to-table restaurant, provides food for the rehearsal dinner, reception and other events.
“On the date of guests’ arrival, we often host a group barbecue for several hours, so individuals can join whenever they get settled in,” says Orchard Inn co-owner Marianne Blazar. “We also plan activities including kayaking, ziplining, waterfall rappelling, and winery and Biltmore tours.”
Another option is Waynesville’s Shelton House, a Charleston-style farmhouse built in 1875 and surrounded by more than four acres of gardens. An early 20th-century Pennsylvania Dutch style barn provides a venue for weddings and related gatherings. The barn accommodates up to 60 people. For larger parties, tents and outdoor seating can be arranged.
“A wedding at Shelton House is a very easy process,” says Shelton House Museum director Dannehl Strautz. “You decide what you want and how much you want to do yourself, and Shelton House will take care of the rest.”
Three options are available ranging from an inexpensive do-it-yourself package to one that includes full service from Shelton House staff. The barn features a separate buffet room and private areas for both the bride and groom.
At Mountain Brook Vineyards, in Tryon, couples can choose between renting Victoria Meadows for the ceremony and the Barrel Room Events Center for the reception or renting the Events Center for both. The vineyard provides the wine and couples provide their own wedding planner or other professionals to plan and execute their big day.
Victoria Meadows is a secluded area beneath a block of Petit Verdot grapevines and surrounded by a wall of trees at the southern edge. A custom-made arbor sits on a platform at the end of a lawn with seating space for more than 200. The Barrel Room Events Center, a working winery, covers more than 7,000 square feet on two floors. With a barrel room, loft area and outdoor terrace, the space provides many configurations to accommodate both small and large weddings and receptions.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, a 56-acre property nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains near Asheville, offers a scenic location, luxurious accommodations and authentic Native American culture. Harrah’s Cherokee indulges guests with a range of experiences from fine dining and entertainment to a luxurious 18,000-square-foot spa and challenging 18-hole golf course. An arcade and bowling alley provide family-friendly activities in addition to the gaming floor.
“Couples have remarked in the past that they love having Harrah’s Cherokee as the central hub for all of their wedding activities,” says Caesars Entertainment director of sales Michelle Patterson. “Because we are centrally located in the Great Smoky Mountains, we have access to amazing outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and fly fishing, excursions on the Great Smoky Mountains Railway and amazing cultural experiences offered by the Cherokee Historical Association.”
Harrah’s Cherokee accommodates weddings of all sizes. Intimate ceremonies with 50 or fewer guests can be held on the outdoor Creekscape patio, a location surrounded by rhododendron and overlooking Soco Creek. An indoor ballroom and exhibit space is available for weddings and receptions with up to 500 guests.
“For receptions, our ballroom space is incredibly versatile,” says Patterson. “We’ve had everything from a casual family gathering complete with BBQ and cornhole to a very traditional formal affair with grand entrances, toasts and bouquet tosses.”