My husband & I were married in May and I'd like to share some vendor reviews with you. Every vendor we worked with were awesome but there are a few that I want to highlight and highly recommend for future couples getting married in the Wilmington, NC area.Ceremony Location - Fort Fisher State Recreational Area, Kure Beach, NC
We were married on the public beach at 6:00 in the evening. The permit process was very easy and cheap - only $30! The public beach has a huge parking lot, bathrooms, and handcapped access, The park office also rents out beach wheelchairs which was absolutely necessary for my Grandma. Because of the beach wheelchair and handicapped access, my Grandma was able to see me get married and that meant so much to me. As you'd expect, there were quite a few people around at the beach but besides the gawking, everyone was really polite and stayed out of our way. The evening time probably helped a great deal with the number of people; I don't know what it would be like in the middle of the day. We were able to have several hours to set up the chairs and signs and as far as I know, none of the park rangers had any issues. Website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/fofi/main.phpReception Location - NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach, NC
Having our reception at the aquarium was a blast! Working with the event coordinators at the aquarium was pretty straight forward. They do have a lot of rules due to the nature of the venue (no open flames, beer & wine only, etc.) but they were all rules we could easily work with. As you can imagine, the photos were gorgeous although I do recommend having your photographer spend a few hours at the aquarium before the wedding to figure out the lighting. We were able to save a LOT of money because we didn't have to decorate. The huge tanks and exhibits were all the ambiance we needed. The only problem we had was with the air conditioning. Because the aquarium is technically a part of the NC state park system, the AC controls are run out of a central location in Raleigh. By the end of the night, it was definitely warm inside and there was nothing the aquarium personnel could do. The prices to rent the aquarium are unbelievably affordable when you realize how much space and uniqueness you're getting. The price we paid was comparable to renting out the ballroom of Sheraton-type hotel but the ambiance was priceless.Website: http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher/rent-the-aquariumPhotographer - Aria Images Photograph, Wilmington, NC
Melody with Aria Images did our engagement and wedding photography. From the moment we met, the three of us got along and were immediately comfortable with each other. I think finding that photographer that you're 100% comfortable with is the key to great wedding photos. She has a great eye for details and color. Her images come out looking romantic, airy, and natural. Her prices were super competitive and she offers lots of different packages depending on what you want. She was able to spend time inside the aquarium before our entrance getting her camera setting perfect so all the photos we have are great. She's also quick to answer emails and phone calls which is always helpful. If we ever look to do formal photos again the future, she'll definitely be my first call.Website: http://www.ariaimagesphotography.com/Caterer - Middle of the Island, Wilmington, NC
Middle of the Island (MOI) is definitely the most laid-back wedding vendor we worked with. Unlike most caterers, we didn't need to give them a final headcount or menu until the Monday before the wedding. They explained that the food is made the day of the wedding so there's no need to plan any further ahead. This really did come in handy when a bunch of guests RSVPed at the last minute and our guest list changed up until almost the day-of our wedding. Now, we did have a buffet and simple cocktail hour so that made things easier on the planning side. MOI also provided a bartender for us who was wonderful. One of the things I liked the best about MOI was that the head caterer introduced herself to us right away and asked if we needed anything. They really wanted to make sure we were happy and we really appreciated that interest in us. The food is outstanding and almost all of our guests went back for seconds. They're also one of the most reasonably prices caterers I spoke with so in the end, we highly recommend them.Website: http://www.middleoftheisland.com/Day of Coordinator - Orchid Island Events, Wilmington, NC
I cannot put into words how absolutely essential and wonderful Orchid Island Events (OIE) was to our wedding. We hired them to be a day-of coordinator since we're both from Raleigh and would technically be travelling for our own wedding. From day 1, Brittany was always there with vendor recommendations, etiquette answers, and support. As part of our package with OIE, they provided us with ceremony rehearsal direction, vendor coordination for the wedding, set-up and clean-up, and generally ran the whole show. I can honestly say that we 100% enjoyed and had a blast at our wedding because of OIE. Honestly, how many couples do you know that say they never got to eat? or dance? or have a glass of wine? or talk to great Aunt Lucy? We were able to do all of that and more because of OIE. If anyone ever asks me for wedding advice, it will be to hire a good day-of coordinator. And the best part, OIE is completely affordable. I would glad have paid triple what we did knowing that our wedding would run so smoothly. Website: http://www.orchidislandevents.com/
Obviously we worked with several other vendors such as a DJ, hair & makeup, and cake baker but I really wanted to highlight the ones that really contributed the most to our wedding. Happy wedding planning!