Once Upon A Time in Asheville 4

Your Guide To A Fairytale Wedding In Our City

With its breathtaking natural scenery and classic Southern charm, it’s little wonder that Asheville is a dream destination for weddings. We spoke with several of the city’s wedding industry professionals to delve into what makes our city such a great fit for the special day. Along the way, we heard some inspiring business stories and even picked up a few trade secrets. Read on to learn more about weddings with an Asheville twist.

Tonya Marthaler’s Engagement Ring Advice

Tonya Marthaler knows wedding rings. As co-owner of Marthaler Jewelers, she and husband Andy walk couples through the ring selection process every day. It’s common for people to flock to the Internet to learn about jewelry, but Tonya believes it’s important for couples to find a professional to consult with in person. Luckily, she was happy to offer thoughts on what to consider when shopping for the ring.

1. Try on everything

First, try on plenty of rings. “I don’t think this is a one-trip experience,” she says. “Try on as many rings as you want to, as many times as you want to.” The extra time, she says, is worth it.

2. Consider your lifestyle

Tonya notes that lifestyle is an essential to making the right choice. “If you’re rock climbing every day, you may not want one that sits up high,” she says. “For some people, we would strongly suggest platinum; for other people, white gold will be fine.” What’s important is that it works for the way that you work

3. Get educated

Tonya advises clients to “go in with the mindset to learn as much as they can,” stating  that those who have done research online are often surprised by what they see in the store. She says that clients who order multiple diamonds typically find that although the jewel’s specifications may all be the same, only one really stands out for them in person.

4. Maximize your finances

This is key. “Do things that maximize your budget,” she says, emphasizing that the value of the ring is in the diamond. She encourages people to remember that the band and mounting can be expensive: “If your budget doesn’t allow for something that can absorb that expense,” she says, “focus on the diamond.” Indeed, many customers start with a solitaire diamond on their band, adding more as gifts over time.

Of course, this list is no substitute for speaking with a jeweler yourself. After all, as Tonya points out, “you’ll have this for the life of your marriage. You should really, really love this ring.” With this advice, you’ll be prepared to make a great choice.

Blossoms at Biltmore began with four friends from Asheville who wanted to start an exceptional business in their community. At the start, they were “a very small shop” explains co-owner Audrey Kirsch. The flower business soon expanded to include florals for events, and they frequently served weddings at some of Asheville’s biggest venues. A few years in, Blossoms at Biltmore purchased paper goods company Baggie Goose, making it a one-stop destination for wedding invitations, florals and gifts. Each of the owners has their own specialty and they work with one another to orchestrate numerous operations.

The business’s variety allows them to handle events both large and small. Casual shoppers will find plenty to love within their Biltmore Park store, and a warehouse in North Asheville helps them work on larger events. While there’s plenty to do, Audrey says it’s more than worth it. Their wide range of services allows them to make sure a wedding’s aesthetics are all well-matched: “We put a lot of effort and energy into designing events, what they look like and feel like and smell like,” she says. From the save-the-dates to the bouquet, Blossoms at Biltmore and Baggie Goose ensures wedding design is elegant and consistent.

Part 3: Wildflower Bridal: Creative Couture for Modern Brides

Margaux Schrager has always had a thing for fashion. The excitement of the industry energized the NYC native as she studied design amidst the city’s bustling fashion scene. When she moved to Asheville nine years ago, she noticed many brides traveling to other cities to find a gown. “I knew what a big destination Asheville is for weddings,” she says, “and it seemed kind of crazy that there was nothing in town that was a go-to for people.” Seeing a niche, Margaux opened Wildflower Bridal; the store has since become a destination unto itself. The by-appointment-only boutique prides itself on one-on-one service, offering clients the most intimate environment for selecting the dress. Both of Wildflower’s dressing rooms include their own private viewing area with enough room for a few extra friends.

Although gowns are Wildflower’s raison d’etre, Margaux prides herself on excellent accessories. Brides will relish in the ornate sashes, belts, and gown accoutrements they find within the store. Margaux also stocks tasteful dresses for mothers of the bride.

Though her selections display a big-city outlook, Margaux’s a natural fit in Asheville. “I’m a bohemian spirit at heart,” she says. This creativity suits current wedding industry trends, which have seen couples opting for artistic details to make the day unique. However, Margaux knows that even when the trends shift, Asheville brides will still look for gowns that are free-spirited. She explains that because outdoor weddings are popular here, “comfort level is a big part of [clients] decision making. They want dresses that are lightweight and not cumbersome feeling.”

And that moment when a bride decides on the dress is often a magic one. “She just lights up, and you can see she’s envisioning herself walking down the aisle,” Margaux says. “Lots of times happy tears are shed.” Tears or not, Margaux’s taste is undeniably a cut above. Asheville-loving brides are lucky that this NYC girl now calls North Carolina home.

Part 4: The Grand Bohemian Asheville: Distinction in the Details

In the Asheville hotel world, there’s nothing quite like the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Nobody knows this better than Haley Batsel. The hotel’s Director of Sales and Catering has been with them since they opened seven years ago. “It’s a good place to be,” she says. That may be an understatement. Their Tudor-style building houses exquisite décor and furnishings, all of which evoke a seventeenth-century European hunting lodge. Works of art are displayed in their gallery and throughout each floor, adding to the its unique charm.

Weddings at The Grand Bohemian feature meals from their kitchen, which expertly accommodates multiple tastes. Staff create custom menus for each party, working with couples to produce a dinner that’s just right for them and their guests. They offer plated meals and serving stations as options; Haley notes that the latter is excellent for those who want to make sure they spend as lots of time dancing. Indeed, their ballroom, which is 2,200 square feet and features crystal chandeliers, marble pedestals and a one-of-a-kind Bösendorfer piano, is hard to resist. With an outdoor terrace ideal for ceremonies, a salon perfect for a reception and, of course, the ballroom, the Grand Bohemian provides exquisite surroundings from I-dos to the last dance.

Hotel staff take pride in making sure their guests’ experience are as exceptional as the building. Haley tells of a bride from out-of-state who decided on the venue after only viewing it online. When she saw it in person for the first time, “She burst into tears, because it was exactly what she had dreamed of,” Haley says. “Those moments make me very happy.” With every detail accounted for, weddings at the Grand Bohemian Asheville make for plenty of joyful moments.

Part 5: The Farm: Rustic Charm, World-Class Accommodations

Since Bev and Myron Gottfried built the event barn at The Farm thirteen years ago, they’ve wasted no time in transforming their property into a world-class wedding destination. It’s easy to see why people travel from all corners of the globe to host their wedding at The Farm: the venue exemplifies rustic charm while offering carefully attended-to accommodations from its cabin lodges to dance floor. The event barn features a stone fireplace and wraparound porch that looks west to the mountains; outdoors, a gazebo nestled among the trees offers couples a fairytale-like setting in which to exchange vows. And although it feels worlds away from the madness of a city, The Farm is conveniently located minutes from downtown Asheville.
While it is striking at first glance, The Farm truly outdoes itself when it comes to small details. They offer their own table setting and décor package with tems for every taste, a feature that not only eases the burden of finding rentals to complement their surroundings, but allows couples savings on vendor surcharges. Bev particularly enjoys seeing how each party transforms the space and items to stage a unique event: “Every time it’s different, and they bring something very special to The Farm,” she says.
The Farm also offers catering by executive chef Mike Ferrari. Mike joined the team after years of experience in country clubs across the USA; among his most recent honors is a silver medal at an ACF-sanctioned competition in Myrtle Beach. With The Farm’s bountiful garden mere yards away, Mike’s crew work with the freshest ingredients to prepare applause-worthy dinners. Standing ovations are standard at The Farm’s wedding meals, in fact, and their best testimony: “when you have people standing up and clapping when the chef walks in, that speaks volumes,” Bev says.

The Farm itself is no stranger to praise. In the last year alone, they earned:

  • WeddingWire Editor’s Choice Top 20 in the nation of farm wedding venues
  • The only wedding venue selected for North Carolina featured in Southern Living’s “2016 Best of the South” Wedding Venue,
  • 2016 Couples Choice award from WeddingWire (for the fourth consecutive year!)
  • The Knot’s Best of Wedding Venues 2106 Award
  • Borrowed and Blue’s award for Best Farm Wedding Venue in Asheville.

Of course, a true taste of The Farm’s magic requires a visit in person. Luckily, they offer plenty for those who aren’t planning a wedding. Throughout the year, they offers themed dinners and events that showcase their kitchen’s versatility and finesse, and a stay in their cabins makes for the perfect getaway.

Though their award list is pride-worthy, what brings The Farm the most joy is giving visitors the best possible experience every time. No matter the reason for your visit, their goal is to help you have an extraordinary day.

Part 6: Turner & Scott Makes Brides Glow

Every woman knows how she wants to feel on her wedding day, and the professionals at Turner & Scott know how to make that happen. The full service salon and boutique features hair stylists, manicurists, skin care experts and more to ensure clients leave glowing. The business was founded by Katina Turner, a New York native who got her start producing the beauty segment of TV show House of Style. After years in New York, she and her husband relocated to Asheville. Katina opened up her first shop here in 2005, and in 2012, Turner & Scott was born.

Well-versed in every aspect of aesthetic services, Katina is an advocate for excellent skin care as the basis of any beauty regimen. Her energetic team of hair professionals keep on top of the latest styles and techniques, working with clients to create exactly what they want. “We want to make you look how you want to look,” she says. Indeed, a visit to Turner & Scott helps brides look and feel incredible.
Part 7: Gabrielle von Heyking Offers Romantic Memories

Gabrielle Von Heyking started her photography business right after she and her husband got married. Over the years, she discovered that shooting weddings was her passion. “It’s a joyous day to be a part of,” she says. “I love everything that a wedding encompasses.” A true girly-girl at heart, she brings her appreciation of old-fashioned romance to each wedding.

The North Carolina native also loves her job for its diversity: since so many of her clients travel to Asheville from afar for the day, Gabrielle gets to know couples from all over the world. Perhaps more importantly, her work allows her to memorialize the most important moments in a newlywed’s life. Gabrielle’s photography reveals that she cares just as much about creating exquisite memories as her clients do.

Part 8: East West Vintage: Rentals For The Nostalgic At Heart

Nikki Whited’s quirky, nostalgic style is oh-so-Asheville. That may be because she’s lived here for twenty years, but it also runs in the family. “I come from a long line of collectors,” she says. After discovering businesses that provided vintage event rentals in other cities, she and sister Katie Witherspoon founded East West Vintage Rentals. Katie has since renovated; Nikki now co-owns the store with husband Steve. Together they provide Asheville events with unique items in line with Asheville’s quirky appeal.

East-West does everything from flatware and glasses to furniture and assorted props; couples can visit their website to view their catalogue online. East-West Vintage also rents out their 3,000 square foot building in West Asheville for events. Whether you’re looking to host a party in the space or furnish an event, East-West Vintage offers plenty of for those who love all things impossible to replicate.

Part 9: Ruth and Ranshaw Bakery Outside The Cake Box

Clair Baxter of Ruth and Ranshaw Bakery has no doubt about their head baker’s love of sweets — she’s her older sister! Clair joined sibling Colleen Baxter-Jackson as co-owner after she realized just how popular Colleen’s creations were with all who tried them. Clair’s media savvy has super-powered the business, where individuality guides the way. In fact, when it comes to weddings, she encourages customers to “think outside the cake box.”

Though their classic cakes are tempting, Ruth and Ranshaw’s wedding specialty is dessert tables with multiple different offerings. Their  selection of pastries and sweets includes custom-iced sugar cookies, cake pops, cheesecakes, brownies, and even Rice Krispie Treats. Noting a trend towards customization across the wedding industry, Clair says that they want to help couples express their individuality. Tastings are by appointment only, but customers can stop by the store to pick up a treat from their rotating selection. One taste makes it easy to see why Ruth and Ranshaw leaves wedding parties feeling sweet.