UNUSUAL OR OFF THE BEATEN PATH VENUES
By Sioux Watson
Dutch entrepreneur Chris Verwoerdt and wife Lisa lived on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill in the late nineties when Chris got it in his head to move to the country. They bought a 62-acre farm with a rundown farmhouse and started renovating. Over the next decade the renovations continued on and off, the farmyard filling up with pet cats, dogs, miniature horses, an Arabian horse, goats and even a rescue donkey. Two family members got married at the farm, and then one day a stranger drove down the driveway and asked if she could have her wedding there. Lisa was intrigued enough to attend a local monthly International Special Events Society meeting, where a wedding planner took her under her wing when she showed her a photo of her farm with its large, impressive barn. So smitten was the wedding planner, who was about to retire, she offered to help organize a “Grand Opening” event as her last hurrah before retiring for good. The Het Landhuis Grand Opening was held in August of 2010 and this past year, their fourth full season, they hosted 26 weddings. Lisa runs the farm and wedding venue business, while Chris continues with his business Starpoint Storage, a document and records management and storage company in Chapel Hill.
1898 Henderson Tanyard Rd, Pittsboro, NC 27312
THE OAKS AT SALEM
April Maness purchased a five-acre country farmhouse in Apex and built this mansion after spending time as a freelance photographer for Midtown Magazine. Freelance work at weddings led her to start her own wedding venue business, and since 2011 she has been holding weddings and other events in the magnificent setting of The Oaks at Salem, just 20 minutes from Raleigh. Corporate events, proms, retirement parties and birthday parties are also held there during the week, but most weekends from March to the end of November are prime wedding times, and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in September and October were solidly booked with weddings this past year, adding up to 70 weddings in 2015. What sets The Oaks apart from many venues is that it is a full-service venue with two full-time coordinators on site, who handle everything except the catering. Additional perks include an eight-passenger golf cart to transport guests from the parking area, a bridal suite and groom’s retreat on separate floors for changing and photography, chair and table setup and breakdown, and a large tent with fans and heating options for all kinds of weather; the tent extends capacity for parties up to 299 people.
6304 Old Jenks Rd, Apex, NC 27523
LOCAL FIRE HALL
When Raleigh firefighter Timothy proposed to his Wake County public school teacher girlfriend Keisha last fall, they went into overdrive and decided to get married a week later. After a brainstorm session, a brilliant idea emerged – why not get married at a fire station? The creative couple generally thinks outside the box, and couldn’t fathom the idea of getting married in a plain old courtroom, so they got busy on the phone. Timothy works at Station 1 in Downtown Raleigh, which gets pretty hectic. After a few calls they hit the jackpot with the Cary Fire Department. With both officiant and location booked, all that remained was to invite their immediate family members. Keisha recalls the November day as PERFECT, and “one of the BEST days of our lives! It turned out beautifully! No decorations, no chairs, no white dress; just beautiful fire trucks in the background, a crew of firemen dressed up in their uniforms, a surrounding full of love and close family, and at the center two love birds excited to spend the rest of their lives together.”
Various locations in Wake County
Seven started out as a dance studio when Catrina Godwin and a business partner bought the house over a decade ago. Today the two-story house is available for weddings and receptions, and is for the couple that wants something out of the ordinary and a little edgy; a party that is dramatic, mysterious and a bit of a theatrical event. “All of the rooms are presented as themed salons, including a 2,000-foot ballroom,” says Godwin. “It is on two levels, and we can accommodate 250 guests.” Local Welsh artist Keith White designed an outdoor courtyard that at least one bride has insisted on getting married in despite of a November wedding date. “Keith hand carved concrete stucco elements, installed two small pools and used wrought iron fencing to great effect,” she continues. Indoors, five local artists worked on rooms which are highly decorated in themes such as the “Crystal Moon Salon” and “C of Dreams Salon” based on icon Cleopatra; the rooms include original faux finishes, murals and painted columns. Although the grounds are not extensive, one Indian ceremony’s groom entered on a white horse, as is the tradition to join his bride. Why Seven, you ask? Well, seven is Godwin’s favorite number, as she was born on 7/7.
501 Washington St, Raleigh, NC 27605