Say I Do

“I do.” Easier said than done, right? Countless hours of planning elapse between “She said yes” and “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The first step down the planning pathway for many couples is picking the venue. Venue selection can influence the wedding date, number of guests, time of day and, increasingly, the personality of the event. So how do you find the right location to fit your theme of “rustic elegance” or “sophisticated chic”? Read on. Photo to the left courtesy of Carolyn Scott Photography.

General Aviation Terminal
If you’ve been on cloud nine since your engagement, why not choose a wedding venue that conveys that feeling? Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s General Aviation Terminal offers a light and airy event space with fabulous views.

The terminal boasts a gorgeous two-story wall of windows looking out on RDU’s runways. The space includes an open atrium with a grand staircase descending in the center. The second story mezzanine circles the lobby from above and can be configured with tables and chairs that overlook the party below. An outdoor balcony off this level gives guests a close up view of the illuminated runways at night. “At night with the lighting and how it looks when you’re out on the runway, it’s really pretty,” said Shelley Rhodes with the General Aviation Terminal.

The General Aviation Terminal is located near the observation tower, slightly separate from the commercial terminals, and houses the facilities for charter and private planes passing through RDU.

The terminal’s architecture is contemporary, and gives brides a great canvas for modern décor. The location, among the runway lights and the private planes, gives off an atmosphere of glamour reminiscent of Pretty Woman’s destination opera date between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. The space is capped off by a beautiful sculpture called Dream of Flight, composed of stainless steel figures and a hanging mobile of 1,000 pieces of stained glass. The terminal can accommodate a seated reception of 225 to 250 people, and catering is provided by the on-site Crosswinds Café.

For more information, call (919) 840-7600 or visit and search general aviation.

North Carolina Museum of Art
Photo Courtesy of Brian Mullins Photography

If you’re like I was until recently and haven’t visited North Carolina Museum of Art’s recently renovated West building yet, go. Soon. It is beautiful and will make a stunning backdrop for a wedding, especially if you’re looking for a sophisticated, contemporary setting.

Ceremonies at the museum are usually held in one of the outdoor garden courtyards, atop a slate surface intermingled with reflecting pools, lily pads and sculptures. Receptions are held in the West building, which houses the permanent collections and the museum’s restaurant, Iris.

The interior features an abundance of white: white walls, modern white furniture and white floor to ceiling curtains. All together the space feels fresh and open and is filled with diffused natural light. As the sun goes down, the individualized lighting for the artwork comes alive, especially the video installation by Jennifer Steinkamp, which is projected on one of the walls of the reception area. Morgan Greer, special events director, recommends putting the band or DJ in front of this wall, and as the night goes on the swaying tree projection becomes more and more dramatic.

“From a special events point of view, there’s very few things architecturally about this building that they didn’t do right. The curtains and the white backdrop accentuate the artwork, and it also means for events coming in whatever color combination you come up with is going to work out fine in here,” said Greer. And the reception menu is fully customizable as well. Catering is provided by Iris and features local ingredients in a seasonal menu.

Couples can opt to open one of the museum’s galleries for guests to enjoy during the reception. The bride and groom can escape with their photographer for private portraits in the galleries and as a brief respite from the excitement of the party.

For more information contact Morgan Greer at (919) 664-6839 or visit

Snipes Farm Retreat
Photo courtesy of Cade Bowman Photography

Tucked a short 8 miles away from Chapel Hill, a charming pastoral wedding venue awaits. Snipes Farm Retreat is situated on a 40-acre property that includes a small lake, expansive lawn and rustic farmhouse. The name of the game at Snipes Farm is laid-back and down-home. “I tell people, ‘If you’re looking for crystal chandeliers, don’t bother coming out here,’” said owner Roger Snipes.

Wedding ceremonies usually take place underneath a large tree on the lawn. The reception area includes space inside the farmhouse as well as a deck, breezeway with picnic tables and the lawn. But Snipes Farm is eager to let brides customize the facility to their tastes. Facility rental includes the entire weekend, from rehearsal time on Friday through pick up at noon on Sunday. And choice of caterer, music and setup style are all left open to the bride.

The farm can accommodate 120 guests for a seated dinner or up to 200 guests for an indoor/outdoor event. And let me strongly recommend an indoor/outdoor event. The lawn can be set up with yard games, like corn hole, and the night sky provides a beautiful backdrop for cocktails on the deck. Snipes Farm provides a great platform to customize the atmosphere of the event, but dressed up or down it will never be stuffy. “Everybody wants that rustic feel without having to drive to the mountains,” said Snipes.

And if you want to give guests a true taste of North Carolina — Eastern or Western style — you’ve found the right place. “They like this atmosphere for barbecue. Everybody wants barbecue.”

For more information, contact Roger Snipes at (919) 929-3454 or visit

Photo Courtesy of Andy Midgette Photography

Longing for the feel of a destination wedding but hesitant to leave the convenience of the Triangle? Solas might be the perfect combination. The restaurant, lounge and rooftop facility offers wedding ceremony and reception packages that will suit weddings with styles ranging from resort cabana to city chic.

Start with a rooftop ceremony overlooking Glenwood South. Guests will enjoy a skyline view and a lush “South Beach Miami” atmosphere, says Lauren DeAlto, private dining coordinator. The rooftop is even weatherized with a retractable awning and temperature control lining to give you the experience of an outdoor event without the risk.

Continue your reception on the second level, complete with lounge’s famous glass dance floor, aesthetic lighting, projection screen and bar. The vibe here is sleek and metropolitan, and the lounge style is perfect for a bride who really wants to party. Solas provides the option to buy out its event spaces in multiple combinations accommodating anywhere from 10 to 800 people. Consider it for other wedding events such as engagement and bachelorette parties, showers or bridesmaids’ luncheons as well.

Catering is provided by the restaurant’s kitchen, and the contemporary American cuisine is made fresh to order. “We have a vegetable garden and herb garden out back. The quality of product here is extraordinary,” said DeAlto.

“It’s very low-maintenance to do something here,” said Staci Barfield, director of sales and marketing. “In weddings that I’m seeing lately, people are going toward simplifying the whole thing. …They are going for something that takes the stress out of it. That’s a big bonus here; it’s just done for you.”

For more information contact Lauren DeAlto at (919) 755-0755 or visit

Know of other unique wedding venues? Share your favorite in the comments. 

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