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2023 Winter Wedding Guide: Finding the WNC Wedding Venue That’s Right for You

Momentum Gallery. Photo by David Dietrich

By Emma Castleberry

The venue is the most central and primary component of any wedding vision. The Western North Carolina region abounds with beautiful places to hold a wedding—from historic bed-and-breakfasts to romantic restaurants to luxurious ballrooms, there is something for every kind of couple and every kind of event. Most couples will need more than just a place to hold their ceremony—rehearsal dinners, post-wedding breakfasts and receptions will all require space, too. Choose a one-stop-shop for all your wedding needs, or customize your weekend with a variety of locations—it’s your celebration!

For a Modern Downtown Wedding
Downtown Asheville is a lively venue for a wedding, with restaurants, bars and beautiful venues galore for the modern couple seeking a walkable destination.
Isa’s French Bistro is a modern, downtown choice that falls into the “one-stop-shop” category, with a variety of spaces to hold various events on your wedding itinerary.

Isa’s French Bistro. Photo by Victoria Photography

The Cellar, located on the lower level of the downtown restaurant, underwent a full renovation in 2020 that created four flexible spaces that can accommodate up to 150 guests. “The Cellar at Isa’s is not your traditional ballroom setting,” said Ryan Tarrant, director of market sales for the FIRC Group. “We offer a warm, intimate downtown Asheville setting with a high-end, elevated menu from award-winning Isa’s French Bistro featuring locally sourced ingredients. Our flexible event spaces allow couples to plan a welcome reception or ceremony in the Fireplace Lounge with a seated meal in the Main Cellar or a small intimate family meal in our Wine Room or Burgundy Room.” Because Isa’s French Bistro is a part of the FIRC Group, couples can work with the sales team to book multiple event venues and hotel rooms at the company’s various downtown properties, which include Hemingway’s Cuba, the Cambria Downtown Asheville and the Haywood Park Hotel, among others.

Elevation Lofts Hotel. Photo by John Warner

Elevation Lofts and Momentum Gallery offer a modern location with a touch of history. The building that houses the lofts at 52 Broadway Street is more than 100 years old and has been lovingly restored into a high-end, boutique style hotel with six uniquely styled apartments. The establishment’s name, The Lofts, references the lofted, exposed-timber ceiling, an integral part of the award-winning historic renovation. In partnership with Momentum Gallery, the 15,000-square-foot gallery space below Elevation Lofts, the exterior of the building has been enhanced with public artwork commissioned with Momentum Gallery artists, including a sculpture by Hoss Haley on the Broadway Street façade and murals on the alley side by Samantha Bates. Additionally, every unit has been adorned with art carefully curated from Momentum Gallery. “It was also very important to keep the synergy between the hotel and Momentum Gallery,” says John Zellers, general manager of Elevation Lofts Hotel. “The result is a meticulously updated historic shell with a completely modern and extremely comfortable living space.”

Since both businesses are housed in the same building, couples and their wedding guests can move seamlessly between the event space and their accommodation. “From the beginning, we challenged our design team to enable a hotel travel experience that was off-the-charts amazing—one that would blend the historic structure with a thoroughly modern and luxurious interior,” says Zellers. “Once inside, we wanted the vibrant city outside to fade away and the peace and serenity of the hotel to wrap around our guests like a warm blanket.”

The Cherokee Ballroom. Photo courtesy of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

For a Big and Bold Celebration
If big and bold is the theme for your wedding celebration, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee offers a venue just west of Asheville that boasts 132,000 square feet of flexible event space and 1,833 guestrooms. “We also have the ability to connect couples with the various vendors they may need—from florals, DJ services, officiants, transportation for offsite activities and more,” says convention services manager Deiah Vambe. “Couples have commented in the past that they love having Harrah’s Cherokee as the hub for all of their wedding activities as there is something here for everyone. We have the ability to accommodate weddings of all sizes, from an intimate elopement on our outdoor Creekscape or Terrace, to a 500+ guest wedding reception in our ballroom and/or exhibit space.”

For a Historic or Pastoral Wedding
Some couples might envision their ceremony in grassy, rolling fields with a reception in a charming, historic barn or inn. Luckily, this vision can be realized conveniently in our region, as well.

(Above and below) Historic Shelton House

The Nationally Registered Historic Shelton House features a 1905 dairy barn that provides indoor and outdoor space, as well as linens, tables, chairs, crystal, plates, silverware and limited décor for gatherings of up to 60 people. The space can host up to 100 people if using the additional outdoor space, but larger events require support from additional vendors. Catering and flowers are provided by the couple. “Because we are a smaller venue, we are often able to book your wedding with less time,” says events coordinator Dannehl Strautz. “We have been able to work with people with only a few weeks’ notice.”

Albemarle Inn. (Main) Keegan and Tristan Sneaks. Photo by Tracy Waldrop Photography. (Inset) Alyssa and Christopher. Photo by Victoria Photography

The Albemarle Inn is a large, Neoclassical Revival-style house nestled near the foot of Sunset Mountain in north Asheville. Built in 1909, the house was a private residence and school before becoming a boarding house and, now, a bed-and-breakfast that hosts intimate weddings. “Our venue offers all-inclusive packages with an officiant, photographers, floral arrangements, cake and champagne,” says innkeeper Kelly Thornton. “Our package also includes a two-night stay for the wedding couple, no matter how large the wedding.” As an operating bed-and-breakfast, advance planning is strongly recommended. “The booking process entails a consultation with the innkeeper, discussion of wants and needs, and a contract,” says Thornton. “Our wedding packages encourage a seamless, low-stress planning, simple wedding option—the ultimate DIY wedding venue since we tailor packages to suit couples’ needs. Our inn boasts excellent southern hospitality and timeless appeal to all.”

A Unique Addition to Any Wedding

Pillar Rooftop Bar. Photo courtesy of Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours

For a unique take on pre-wedding festivities—bachelorette and bachelor parties, welcome gatherings, or just an opportunity to familiarize your wedding guests with the city—consider a jaunt with Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours. “We provide an elevated Asheville experience both in spectacular views and in award-winning locations that let friends and loved ones relax and enjoy this significant event in their lives,” says founder Kaye Bentley.

The tour provides comfortable transportation between rooftops for groups of up to 23 people. “We have become quite popular as an activity for wedding parties who want to have a fun event pre-planned for them when they get into town,” says Bentley. “Many brides and grooms send their guests our way the night before or day after their Asheville weddings so their wedding guests and families can get a true sense of Asheville while having a great time.” Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours can also work to organize intimate elopement receptions and—for those in the very earliest stages of planning—beautiful rooftop proposals.

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