With three nationally acclaimed universities within a 25-mile radius, Raleigh-Durham is a magical place for former Tar Heels, Blue Devils, and Wolfpackers. If your relationship began on campus, what better place is there to celebrate than at your alma mater? If you’re so inclined, your school mascot might even make an appearance on the dance floor.
Urban lofts and revitalized warehouses are plentiful in Raleigh-Durham thanks to the area’s role in tobacco production and storage, which left behind these historic structures for the taking. These venues provide a cool factor that will leave your guests raving about your wedding long after it ends.
If a natural soirée is more your style, head a few miles from the urban core to find acres of gorgeous farms, gardens, and estates. The proximity between city and country is what makes Raleigh-Durham such a unique destination that’s a perfectly suited for big events.
When Carolina-style barbecue, pimento cheese, and made-from-scratch biscuits round out the list of local faves, you know that Raleigh-Durham cuisine is as home-cooked as it comes. Dish out Krispy Kreme donuts as a late-night treat or feature chicken and waffles at your farewell brunch to send your guests off with an authentic taste of the “Old North State.”
Unless you are a model or a celebrity (and if so, well then congrats to you), the twenty-four hours surrounding your walk down the aisle might be the most photographed day of your life. With all those cameras flashing, you’ll want to be sure you’re looking mighty fine, so book an appointment or two with local hair and makeup professionals well in advance to work through the finer details of your wedding appearance. They’ll help you achieve that polished, but not too “done” affect so that you look like you...just a really, really stunning version of you. What could be better? Reward yourself for all that hard work of being gorgeous with a trip to one of Raleigh-Durham’s pampering salons, preferably with your best buds in tow, to get that relaxed, glowy vibe that comes from a killer facial and massage. Oh, and remember when we said this was the most photographed you’ll ever be? Same message applies for your hands, so get those digits in front of a nail technician while you’re there. (Trust us, “ragged cuticles” is not a hot look.)
It’s a decision that some young women dream about for years, wondering just what fate has in store for her. Looks, personality, degrees of compatibility...all these elements cycle through her imagination. Will she have to compromise? Is the right fit out there somewhere? Oh, the search for The One. Wait—did you think we were talking about soul mates? Sorry, friend. No. We’re talking about The Dress. Find your sartorial match made in heaven at one of Raleigh-Durham’s fabulous bridal shops, where your fairy godmothers of fashion are waiting to outfit you in the gown you were born to wear. (While you’re there, dress up your whole wedding party to match; you’ll see your entire wedding vision really come to life.) Then gild the whole ensemble with help from your local ring and jewelry specialists, where those eye-catching details, from wedding bands to a “something new” necklace, will secure the look you’ve been searching for. Then sit back and breathe a sigh of relief...whew. The hunt is over.
Let’s get started, shall we? The ceremony space is often the first choice couples make while planning a wedding. Whether you prefer a religious or non-denominational ceremony, there are abundant venue options in Raleigh-Durham. Many couples choose to get married under the Carolina blue skies, or to highlight the area’s Southern charms by tying the knot at a local estate. That doesn’t mean that churches, chapels, and museums are off the table, though! Once you’ve chosen the perfect place, get in touch with a local wedding officiant who can capture the tone you’d like to set for your nuptials. This person will play a big role in the flawless placement of your wedding into your personal history. Make friends and get to know your officiant a bit; it’ll show during your ceremony. Then, choose some aisle-walking tunes with Raleigh-Durham wedding musicians to make sure you strike the right chords during the official proceedings. All together, these experts will be your guides for creating the perfectly personalized ceremony.
Make your reception in The Triangle an event to remember with the help of a local wedding planner who can breathe life into your dreams. You’re in luck when it comes to reception venues: whether you prefer urban exposed brick or an expansive outdoor estate, your planner will help you navigate the sea of options to find something that’s a fit for you and your love. Once you’ve locked down the perfect venue, find a florist, caterer, and wedding band or DJ to round out your crew of specialists. Between your dynamite menu, haute décor, and serious set of dancing tunes, your reception is already well on its way to being a huge success.
You’ve practiced your best aisle walk all afternoon, so now it’s time to raise a glass to yourself (you’ve earned it!) and your loved ones at your rehearsal dinner. Raleigh and Durham both have plenty of spots where you can while away your last unmarried evening over a beautiful meal and a (few) bottles of wine. Check out Second Empire in Raleigh, a contemporary American restaurant resplendent with 19th century elegance. The Cookery mixes that modern industrial Durham vibe you’ve come to love with food that’s local to the Triangle. If you’d like to go as down-home casual as you can, there is of course The Pit Raleigh or The Pit Durham, both beloved staples in their communities: it sure is hard to beat that classic Carolina seasoning. Wherever you choose, your nearest and dearest will be happy to have another excuse to come together and celebrate your marriage.
Dry your eyes, dears: it’s not time to say goodbye just yet. Invite your loved ones to brunch in Raleigh or Durham the day after your nuptials and extend the party, at least until those hangovers clear up. Farewell brunches are a fabulous way to catch up on all the good wedding stories you might have missed the night before while getting in a little extra time with those out-of-town guests. If you want to keep brunch casual with just a few friends and family, see if there’s a food truck rodeo going on in Durham Central Park. While there might not be guaranteed seating, food trucks are one of the most fun and delicious methods of getting to know the local food scene. Alternately, rent a room at Glenwood Country Club and hire the farm-to-table experts from Irregardless Cafe to cater it for you. Check out our recommendations below for local spots with scrumptious spreads that can help you plan brunch for a crowd.
That envelope, standing out like a diamond amidst the bills and junk mail, is the first piece of information your guests will receive regarding your wedding. The invitation is an insight into your affair’s personality, offering clues about such fundamentals as formality, mood, size, and setting. It’s a gift, really, and can be as pretty as any present—if done well. Don’t waste the opportunity to make a first impression with your invites; enlist the design expertise of a local invitation and paper goods boutique to help craft an original, considered, and cohesive paper suite that truly plants the style seeds for your complete wedding vision. Of course, if your budget allows, going the extra mile to have your stationery hand-calligraphed will pack a majorly sophisticated, not to mention personalized, punch. Raleigh-Durham’s talented calligraphers can do just about anything with a pen and ink, so whether your vibe is clean and modern or elegantly casual, consider adding an extra touch of artistry to your wedding stationery. That envelope will shine all the brighter for it.
Get your out-of-town guests excited about their time in the Triangle with a thoughtful wedding welcome bag full of the area’s best treats and tips for getting around. After a long journey, it’s hard to turn down an ice-cold bottle of North Carolina’s favorite soft drink, Cheerwine. Consider including a savory snack, like a jar of nut butter from Big Spoon Roasters, or a fun souvenir like a pair of Tar Heels sunglasses or Durham Bulls shirt. Add a map of the area, a copy of your wedding itinerary, and you’ll be good to go. Of course, we’re thorough: we’ve also compiled a whole list of suggestions for how to build a top-notch welcome bag below.
It’s time to end the trend of favors that get abandoned at the reception. The Raleigh-Durham area has so many tempting treats that it’ll be hard for guests to pass them up, such as fresh doughnuts served up “hot now” from Carolina native Krispy Kreme. Gift guests a something delicious from Edible Art Desserts or some fragrant, delicious beans from Raleigh Coffee Company. Get your locally inspired wheels turning by checking out more suggestions in our post below.
The Raleigh-Durham area is rife with activities for your guests to jump into during their stay. From nature to museums to shopping to sports, there really are options for all sorts of people. For some serious inspiration, peruse Triangle Tourism, but be forewarned: with so much to do, you may have a hard time prying them away to actually attend your wedding. Here are some suggestions to give those out-of-town guests that are looking to get to know the area.
Sure: Southern cuisine in Raleigh-Durham is first rate, but what you might not know is that cuisine in the Triangle defies the region’s geographic boundaries. Whether you’re in the mood for Thai or a tried-and-true burger and fries, this destination’s got it. In fact, Southern Living recently named Durham the South’s Tastiest Town (no offense, Raleigh). Check out the News & Observer’s list of Best Triangle Restaurants of 2015 for more culinary inspiration. And, as you might have suspected, we’ve also got our own suggestions in spades below.
We’re certain your guests will feel right at home in any of Raleigh-Durham’s top notch local accommodations. Pro tip: when booking blocks of hotel rooms, choose a few different locations and price points to make sure your guests have comfortable options. Your loved ones will be grateful for the flexibility in their trip planning. Here are some prime hotel options for you to consider.
Your engagement photoshoot is a fun way to showcase your love and practice your best Blue Steel before your wedding. Local photographers usually have a list of go-to engagement shoot locations. Alternately, you can personalize your shoot by choosing a location that means something to you and your partner. If you’re looking for some high-quality natural landscapes with a side of art, try the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden. Achieve a more industrial vibe at American Tobacco Campus, one of the most popular engagement sites in the Triangle. For more suggestions, check out our list of 9 Triangle Locations for Gorgeous Engagement Photos!
Get ready to get down in Raleigh-Durham, Carolina girls! Whether your idea of the perfect weekend consists of pure relaxation or partying, the Triangle has something to suit every bride. Head to Mosaic Wine Lounge on Glennwood Avenue for hookah, drinks, and dancing. We love The Big Easy for a Cajun food experience that turns into an awesome dance party as the night goes on. Round out your night with a sweet treat from The Parlour, which has the best handmade ice cream in downtown Durham. In case you’re curious, we broke down our ideal bachelorette weekend in the Triangle for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
Gentlemen, start your engines: your bachelor party in Raleigh-Durham is about to peel out. There are plenty of different activities for all sorts of man-groups in the Triangle area. If you’ve got sports fans on your hands, catch a Carolina Hurricanes game in the winter or a Durham Bulls game in the summer. Each city has its own great nightlife; check out The Federal in Durham for late night drinks and snacks or Raleigh’s Solas if you’d like a bit of unhz-unhz with your booze. We’ve got so many suggestions for where to stay, where to play, and what to eat that we made a whole list of our favorite bachelor party ideas—check it out.
Congratulations on choosing the Triangle for your wedding location! Raleigh-Durham is a seriously scenic, hip, and happening locale, so we already know you aren’t alone in planning a big event here. In order to get ahead of the curve, have some of these annual events on your radar when choosing your wedding date. You wouldn’t want to cramp your party’s style, after all, or let game day traffic make them late to your ceremony. We’ve compiled a list of annual activities that draw a crowd to lighten your planning load.
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all-things Raleigh-Durham, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry: