Shoestring to Golden Spoon

Local Wedding Venues for the Perfect Day on any Budget


A young girl dreams her whole life of that special day, her wedding day. Reality sets in as an adult, and you realize the tremendous amount of work involved to make that dream come true. Americans spend 72 Billion dollars on weddings each year, that’s an average of about $26,000 for the typical wedding. Our local area offers some amazing wedding venues no matter what your budget may be. The scenic coastline, beaches, lush greenery and warm weather make it the perfect spot.

I sat down with Wedding Designer, Amber Lanier and we chatted about weddings, style and budgets. Today a shoestring budget would be anything under $12,000 a mid-range budget would be about $35,000 and the higher range would be $50,000 and up, skies the limit. A few of the popular local venues include The Barn at Rock Creek, The Southport Community Center, Marker 614, Brusnwick Town, The Shoals and the Chapel on Bald Head Island and of course our lovely sandy beaches are the number one spot.

KAITLIN & DONAVAN… tied the knot in the Chapel on Bald Head Island and had their reception at the Shoals Country Club. This is a perfect option for a higher end budget wedding, as these are exclusive venues, with sweeping views and elegant decor. Kaitlin grew up on Bald Head and still owns property there, as a second home; she comes as often as she can. She chose the location for sentimental reasons, and of course the beauty, romance and serenity. Even in November, the natural greenery made the perfect backdrop for the wedding, the ocean view for the reception and the breathtaking landscape offered amazing photos.

CASEY & TONY… chose the historic Brunswick Town as the wedding venue and they held their reception at Marker 614. With over 300 wedding guests they knew they needed plenty of space and ample parking. Brunswick Town offers a lovely venue on a rather small budget. It also has plenty of scenic backdrops for gorgeous photos, with a unique setting.

The chairs were arranged in the chapel remains configured in a circle. This way all of the guests got a great view, and the curved chairs reflected the stylish grand window arches. The hanging moss accents the natural southern beauty of the location. Casey just fell in love with Brunswick town and knew it was the one, as soon as she saw it for the first time.

Most of their guests came from out of town, and she loved the picturesque drive there as well. The historic setting offered a nice compliment to Casey’s design theme as well – Shabby – Chic. She had soft pinks, ivory and lots of greenery throughout the venue. The rustic brick, live oak trees, moss and of course a view of the Cape Fear River created a spectacular background for a variety of photos. Her April Spring Time wedding brought plenty of azaleas and a slew of other natural blooms all across the venue. She wasn’t worried about rain, because Brunswick Town also has a lovely covered area outside, just as a back up.

JENNIFER & KENDAL… chose the Southport Community Building for their wedding. It offers a large open space, very versatile and plenty of parking. The vast and nearby outdoor areas allow for a range of scenic views – a photographer’s dream location. This venue is on the lower end of the price scale as well if you are sticking to a tight budget. There are plenty of local Southport hotels to accommodate your out of town guests and nearby beaches, not to mention a number of fabulous local restaurants.


“We chose the community building because we fell in love with the town of Southport, built a house downtown and my husband even proposed on the marsh walk. With the waterview and large oaks trees we knew the community building was the perfect spot to continue our story.”


The Barn at Rock Creek offers an authentic farm setting and immaculate attention to detail. Lesley Padgett Taube, the owner will help you plan everything and make sure the bride has nothing to worry about on her special day. She walked Megan through the process and was always helpful when she had any questions. This venue falls in the mid-range budget and offers a lake waterfront area, wooded areas and a huge rustic barn for entertaining. It also has plenty of apace for an extensive guest list.

Megan chose a rustic – glam theme, with lots of teals, pinks, burlap, textures and flowers everywhere. Another reason she loved the venue is that if had plenty of outdoor space. As a military couple they have to travel quite a bit, but wanted to bring that Southern charm to their wedding. She wanted a relaxed atmosphere, and the Barn easily delivered. The guests even played corn hole. You can’t get much Southern than that!

The Barn can also host your rehearsal dinner. Some things to know, they offer: *Indoor/ outdoor barn overlooking a picturesque pond on 13 acres of land * 2400 square feet of indoor space for your event. This area can easily accommodate 150 guests. 720 square feet outdoor space under shelter also can be used for seating. *Indoor Tables and Chivari chairs seating up to 150 guests *Antique farm tables and doors *Handcrafted Rustic bar If you are looking for a rustic but elegant wedding location, this has got to be the one. Amber reminded me that this is one of her favorite locations. It has such a variety of indoor and outdoor space, your only imitation to design is your imagination.

Megan’s favorite design element was this gorgeous floral spray, atop the arbor by the wooded area. (above) Megan opted for a June wedding and even though it was hot that day, there were plenty of indoor spots to chill out. They even served Italian ice to cool down the guests. Lesley went out of her way to make sure everything was perfect.

DESIGNS BY AMBER LANIER So what exactly is a Wedding Event Designer? I learned a lot as we chatted about weddings! Amber takes the dreams and ideas the bride has, and implements them into the style of the decor. She sometimes has to really help the bride focus and choose the style so she can create the overall look the bride wants. Typically the bride will start a Pinterest page and start pinning the styles she likes. Amber then creates a special look that captures that style and feel.

Some popular themes Amber sees is of course the nautical theme, which may include navy and white stripes, red, anchors, boats and sails. Another softer version is the what Amber calls the Seascape theme. It includes things like driftwood, softer blues and greens, metal lanterns, sea shells, sand elements and more earthy tones. Spring and Fall weddings are the trend, with the heat of the Summer here, that’s not surprising. Although Amber has created some spectacular Winter themes for those December and January weddings as well.

Over the past few years she has seen styles come and go. Lately she has seen a trend of metals, gold, bronze and copper seem to be popular. She also styles a lot of Shabby-Chic, Vintage or Rustic Glam. Amber creates floral designs from head pieces to boutonnières to large arbor sprays. She can bring to life the ultimate wedding style and design. Her design services usually run about 25-30% of the overall wedding budget. Amber says it is definitely worth having a designer involved. It relieves the bride and the bride’s family of any hassle. The bride can spend time with her mom and friends before the wedding, having a glass of champagne instead of worrying if the centerpieces are where they are supposed to be. Who wants to worry about that? The brides I spoke to said Amber was definitely worth it because they got their dream wedding and actually enjoyed the day because they knew things were taken care of.

For more information about Amber’s services call 910-616-0001 or visit the website:


I couldn’t leave out one last shoestring budget idea. I found a local website that is perfect for the bride “without a wedding gene.” It’s a one stop shop, you pick your date, buy a dress, and show up. Everything is done for you. I talked to Alicia Davis-Geddings, owner of and she gave me scoop on her services.

For $2000, you get the Little White Chapel at South Harbour Village Marina (up to 100 guests), a few decorations, digital photos, a DVD, music, a very limited bridal party and the officiant. You can upgrade to the Beach package which will run you $2500, but you get a ocean front sand ceremony, live music and the symbolic release of two white doves.

Alicia says her clients are almost exclusively from out of town, mostly from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Now if you’d rather spend your money on an elaborate honeymoon, say a two week cruise or a trip to Paris, you could consider having a small beach wedding like this instead.

OTHER LOCAL VENUES I couldn’t mention every local wedding or reception venue in this article, but here are a few others: The Clubs at St. James, The Bald Head Island Club, The Brunswick River Walk, Oak Island Golf Club, La Vita Bruta and the Thomas Manor of Oak Island.


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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine