Janeli and Daniel's Wedding at The Taylor House in Valle Crucis NC

The Taylor House holds a special place in my heart because that's where my husband and I tied the knot 10 years ago. We don't get a chance to work out there that often so it's always really nostalgic when we get the pleasure of planning a wedding there. 

Loved everything about Janeli and Daniel's fun laid back wedding. From the Tapp Trailer, to the custom corn hole boards and yard games, to the massive desert bar, live bluegrass band and all of their wedding party getting to stay on site and hang together all weekend. Yes it was as amazing as it sounds!!!

We love a good front porch!!!

We love a good front porch!!!

Vendor Love

Month of Planning by Meris Gantt of The Whole Shebang, Ceremony Venue - St. Lukes Episcopal Church, Reception Venue - The Taylor House, Catering - Gadabouts, Photography - Nicole Huffman, Deserts - Ugga Mugga and Tweetsie Railroad, Florals - Shady Grove Gardens and Bouquet Florist, Rentals - Happy Trailers Refrigerator Rentals, Parties Too, Gadabouts, Transportation - River and Earth Adventures, Beauty - Shear Shakti, Reception Band - Drayton and the Dreamboats

The Taylor House in Valle Crucis NC

The Taylor House in Valle Crucis NC

We love weddings with Nicole Huffman Photography. Click Here for another wedding we worked on together!

Meagan and William’s Whimsical Travel Themed Wedding at Westglow Resort and Spa in Blowing Rock

We had the best time planning Meg’s travel themed wedding at Westglow Spa and Resort in Blowing Rock. Both Meg and William were working over seas working with the Peace Corps for much of the wedding planning process. Through countless Skype and Facetime sessions we crafted an amazing, soulful, rocking wedding that seamlessly blended their wayfaring love story into the North Carolina Mountain backdrop. A host of our favorite local vendors pulled it all together. It was a truly magical day!!!

Fuschia Moss Floral Design

Fuschia Moss Floral Design

“I could not have been happier with Meris and her team! They made my wedding absolutely perfect. Meris went above and beyond during the whole planning process."

 "I was planning my wedding from abroad and wouldn't have trusted anyone but Meris to be my eyes and ears in North Carolina. She was responsive, creative, and an absolute blast! Need someone to get you in shape before your wedding? Meris will join you on your pre wedding workouts and runs! She's the real deal folks. Meris does a great job of reading her brides and catering to their personal style and personality. She is extremely patient and supportive. Even when I was stressing the day of she always knew when I needed a minute to myself. I will be having her plan every single event I ever have. One of the saddest parts of the wedding being over is no longer having an excuse to constantly hang out with Meris. Thanks for the best wedding I could have asked for!” – Meagan Gunning

Westglow Resort and Spa

Westglow Resort and Spa

Local Vendors

 Planning and Coordination – The Whole Shebang, Venue – Westglow Resort and Spa, Flowers – Fuschia Moss Floral Design, Photography – Jennie Andrews Photography, Music – The Emerald Empire Band, Deserts – DIY, Hair and Makeup – Westglow Spa and Resort, Hair - Sheer Shakti,  Rentals - Miss Match Rentals, A&J Rental, Papergoods – Snow in July Designs, Photobooth – Boone Photobooth, Invitations - Snow in July Designs


Katelyn and Seth’s Whimsical Christmas Tree Farm Wedding

Katelyn and Seth’s wedding was without a doubt one of the most fun weddings we had all season. The majority of our clients come from out of town so it’s always refreshing to work with local couples. Katelyn and Seth tied the knot at Katelyn’s parents magical Christmas tree farm where she grew up near Boone, North Carolina.  The couple both work at one of the area’s historic restaurants, Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock. Seth is the chef there and contributed to the wedding by smoking a whole pig and a land given to them by a local farm. Tina from Reid’s catering rounded out the spread with a wide assortment of eclectic side dishes. Not only was the food to die for but the pastoral setting, fantastic people and perfect summer weather made for an unforgettable event.

Local Vendors  

Planning and Coordination – The Whole Shebang, Photography – The Wayfaring Wanderer, Catering – Reid’s Catering Co, Cake – Deb Caine, Flowers – Park Place Florist, DJ – Split Second Sound, Rentals – Miss Match RentalsHappy Trailers Refrigerator RentalsA&J Rent All, Hair – Sheer ShaktiBoone Photo Booth

10 of the Most Forgotten Wedding Items - NC Mountain Weddings

Wedding season is upon us and it’s a good time to take note of the little things that sometimes get forgotten in the wake of the Big Day. Here’s a list of what we see couples forget most!

1 – Reserved Signs for ceremony or dinner seating

2 – Pens for the Guest Book

3 – A box or something to put cards in

4 – Cake Cutting Set

5 – Invitation Suite to be photographed – be sure to have anything that you would like the photographer to get detailed shots of set aside for them when they arrive.

6 – Cake Flowers – If you don’t specifically order flowers to decorate your cake or desert table, there may not be any extra.

7 – Same with petals for a Flower Girl Basket

8 – Vases to put bouquets in when you’re done with them – If you’re planning on repourposing your bouquets after photos, let your florist know that you would like for them to leave some decorative vases.

9 – Sweetheart Table/Head Table/Seating Arrangements – Be sure you know where you are going to sit for dinner!

10 – Checkbook and Cash for Tips! Not all vendors can take a credit card payment the day of your wedding.

Happy Planning!!!

Claire and Taylor’s Wedding in Blowing Rock NC

Claire and Taylor shared a magical early summer wedding day in Blowing Rock NC. It was filled with sunshine, laughter and lots and lots of peonies! They held a classic ceremony at the historic Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown Blowing Rock and then hosted a laid back yet sophisticated wedding reception at The Inn at Crestwood Resortlocated between Boone and Blowing Rock, NC.

Rumple Presbyterian - Blowing Rock NC

Rumple Presbyterian - Blowing Rock NC

Local Vendors

Planning and Coordination – The Whole Shebang, Photography – Revival Photography, Flowers – Fuschia Moss Floral Design, Cake/Desert Bar – Ugga Mugga Bakery, Makeup – Sharla Bance Makeup Artistry, Hair – Haircut 101, Reception Music – The Plaids, Rehearsal Dinner – Chetola ResortTransportation – Air Haven Limo

Best Wedding Wire review ever!!!

One of the most amazing WeddingWire reviews I’ve received all season! Thanks so much Jennifer for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and thorough evaluation of our work!!!

The Inn at Crestwood - Blowing Rock NC

The Inn at Crestwood - Blowing Rock NC

“My husband and I have discussed time and time again how Meris was the best investment we made in planning our wedding."

"Many brides describe their wedding day as stressful and exhausting; ours was exactly the opposite, and that is 100% thanks to Meris’ help and involvement along the way. Meris was intricately involved in every detail of our big day – from securing the venue and dealing with related issues that arose along the way, to recommending local vendors who were professional and worked within our budget, to helping us determine the timeline of events. Day of, her team ensured that everything flowed smoothly, that wedding party/families were in the appropriate places at the right times, that my husband and I knew when it was time to cut the cake, etc. Meris is genuine, charismatic, and professional. She is type A and detailed oriented, and impressively balances it all without in any way being overwhelmed by the details. And what I appreciate most about Meris is her calming presence; not fussy or dramatic, but professional and proactive. No matter the circumstances, regardless the issues that could/did arise, Meris and her team worked tirelessly to ensure that every detail was perfect. And they did so with a smile, a calm tone, and a “don’t worry, this is all going to work out perfectly” attitude. It alleviates day-of stress to know that there is a seasoned professional on site to take care of all of the little (and big!) details, so you don’t have to worry about them and can focus on soaking in every single precious moment. Our wedding day was so special, so effortless, so joyful, so perfect. And we owe a world of thanks to Meris for making sure it flowed so smoothly and could be that way.” - Jennifer Cole Tolley

Megan + Lance–A gorgeous early fall wedding at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock

Love love love this couple. They are truly some of the most loving and kind hearted people I have ever met. planned the rehearsal dinner at Megan’s parent’s home in Boone as well as the wedding so we were able to spend the whole weekend with Lance and Megan’s friends and family and let me tell you, we had a blast! Planning Megan’s dream wedding was such a fun collaborative process. She loved the color purple and  Philosophy Flowers did a magical job as always pulling together Megan’s concept and executing it to a T. The colors were complemented by the deep green of the late September foliage and the serene back drop of Chetola Lake. Check out the pictures from Andi Gelsthorpe below!
Local Vendors – Planning and Coordinating – The Whole Shebang, Photography – Andi Gelsthorpe, Venue/Catering – Chetola Resort, Floral Design – , Officiant – , Music – , Makeup – , Hair – Absolute Style, Cake –

So you want to be a Wedding Planner…

I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts I have on what it takes to be a wedding and event planner. I have students and aspiring event planners approach me all the time either wanting to intern with us or shadow us on weddings or just pick my brain about how to break into the industry. They want to know what kind of background they need to have and if they need to get certified, take a class etc. Yes I think if you’re new to the industry a course on wedding planning is definitely helpful but that’s no match for actual hands on experience. I’ve listed a few key points to consider if you’re thinking wedding planning might be a good career choice for you.

Service Industry, Service Industry, Service Industry -
If you haven’t waited tables, do that first. You will learn much of what you need to learn for wedding planning through either waiting tables, bartending or working events with a caterer. You learn how to deal with customers, think on your feet, get along with co workers and crazy owners and kitchen staff. It’s the fastest way to develop a thick skin and it teaches you diplomacy. Those are all key ingredients in wedding planning.
I truly believe that if you hate restaurant work, you will not like wedding planning. If that’s the case, that’s fine! There are so many avenues to the wedding industry that you may be well suited for but at the end of the day, wedding planning is so much like working in a restaurant you just have to try that first and see if you like it.

Marketing –
You must learn how to put yourself out there and not spend a ton of money doing it. Especially in the beginning when you have more time than money. I learned a lot about self promotion doing real estate. That was very helpful when I went to launch my own business. I think the key is blogging/writing about what you know so that potential clients can get a feel for you as a person and whether you are a good fit for them.
Getting involved in your local bridal association or group of wedding vendors is key as well. You have to get to know your sphere of local vendors face to face.

Slow and steady wins the race -  
Be patient. The first year I went into wedding planning, I did 2 weddings. Then the next year it was 5 and then 10 and then 15 and now we’re at 30 plus weddings a season. It’s definitely not a get rich quick scheme. It takes a while for local vendors to get to know you enough to throw your name out there to their brides. Reputation is key and it takes a long time to build that trust. Be patient and keep another job on the side as long as you need to so that you don’t put pressure on yourself to under sell your services or book brides that aren’t a good fit because you are desperate for work. 
Now when you’re first starting out, you’ll charge significantly less than you will once you get established and that’s ok. You’re training yourself as you go along but on that same note, once you get to where you really really know your stuff, make sure you get paid for your time and expertise. Log your hours and see how much time you are actually putting in and then divide that into what you’re actually making to see what you’re making per hour. Then think about how much money you’re putting into marketing and gas and supplies on top of that...
Most importantly, don't work with clients that don't see the value in your work. Make sure that you know how to educate your potential clients about what you do and why you charge what you do without sounding confrontational. People will ask you "why do you charge more than this other wedding planner" or "can't you just do "day of planning"" or "why does it cost more for you to plan a wedding at one venue than another". It's important to be comfortable answering these questions. Think of it as educating your clients so that they see your value or your work rather than feeling like they're trying to shake you down in price. People are willing to pay more for quality service but they want to feel justified in that decision. Write down your strengths and why you charge what you do on a piece of paper that you can pull out when you are on the phone with them so that you have the talking points right there. 
Be skeptical of clients that are making a decision based solely on price. Having a "here's what I do, take it or leave it" approach will take you a long way. There are plenty of fish in the sea and if you can afford to play the waiting game and not go for those clients who are not a good fit, you will build a solid reputation faster.

Make sure you hire enough support staff to make the job look effortless -
This is something took me forever to learn. When I think of all of the years I worked by myself or with only one assistant and just ran my tail off.….I don’t think the quality of service was lacking but it was way more stressful for me. Finally I’ve learned that you can almost never have too much staff . Now that I’ve figured that out, weddings are a walk in the park. It doesn’t cost that much to have a few extra hands on deck so that you, the planner, can focus on the important stuff and not get sidetracked with random details. 

Organization -
Obviously this is a key element. There are so so many details to keep track of. Putting your systems in place is an important thing to do when you first set up your business. Your methods and checklists etc. will evolve as you go along but you need to have a clear game plan and stick to it. Be constantly figuring out new ways to work smarter and more efficiently.
It's also important to size up your client and figure out how they fit into the picture. Some clients are very involved and want to share checklists, spreadsheets etc. Some clients are more hands off and just want you to handle everything without bothering them. Know your audience. You don't want to inundate a hands off bride with lots of details...that's why they hired you. You also don't want to seem unorganized to a Type A bride that wants to see the process. I think it's important to ask what level of involvement the clients wants and what kinds of organizational methods they find helpful.

Go with your strengths -
Know yourself and learn what comes natural to you. Let that be your focus. Wedding planners come in all different forms and offer a range of services. Don’t promote something that is not your strength. For example, I don’t promote myself as a designer because I’m not the creative type. That's why I have people on my team that are! I’m a business person, I like putting all of the details together and running the show. I can’t take 3 adjectives and 2 colors from a bride and miraculously come up with a whole design concept. I have a good eye and know what looks good and what does not. I’m a great person to bounce ideas off of. I can put together the decorations that the bride sets out for me but I don’t pretend to be a visionary and I’m very upfront about that fact. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not!

Smile!!! -
You should never ever look stressed out. Your face should be locked in a pleasant expression…always. Pretend you’re a flight attendant. They can’t look worried or flustered or everyone starts to panic. Same thing with weddings.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have to say on starting a career in wedding planning.  I’m considering writing a book called “So you want to be a wedding planner”. I don’t pretend to know everything  but I do think I have come at it from a unique angle since wedding planning is never something I ever imagined myself doing.  I was actually a Music Theatre major in college but finally realized that wasn’t the life I wanted so I mainly worked in the service industry after college until I fell into this. I think it’s actually a pretty ideal background. Running restaurants with a side of directing musicals is about what wedding planning is at the end of the day!

Megan and Patrick’s Wedding at St. Bernadette’s in Linville With a Reception at Crestwood in Blowing Rock

Megan and Patrick were absolutely adorable and a dream to work with. Megan’s brother is the priest at St. Bernadette’s Catholic church in Linville. They said their vows there and then headed over to The Inn at Crestwood for a lively reception. captured some priceless moments. Check out his work below!

Megan was kind enough to say a few words about our services on Wedding Wire. Thanks so much Megan!!!

"Meris was the absolute best to work with! I can't imagine the day running as smoothly as it did without her. Meris hemped me plan my wedding while I lived out of state. Planning a wedding in general is stressful, not to mention the added stress of being hundreds of miles away. However, Meris was always a phone call or email away. She was on top of every detail and called to check in to make sure I had everything taken care of - including making sure I was just taking care of myself. On the day of the wedding she made sure everything was perfect. I would recommend her to anyone and everyone!!"

Local Vendors – Planning/Coordination – , Ceremony – St. Bernadette’s, Reception – , Photography - , Flowers – Bouquet Florist, Transportation – Air Haven Limo, DJ – Michael Branstrom, Hair and Makeup – , Cake –

How do you deal with Bridezillas?

Let me start by saying that we absolutely love our brides. People always say “Wow you’re a wedding planner, that must be really stressful. What do you do with those bridezillas???”
First I say: “Well my job before this was Real Estate and wedding planning is a walk in the park compared to that”. Then I explain that we’ve never had a bridezilla! I say that with all honesty. I have never had a nightmare bride. While there are varying degrees of niceness, literally every bride I have ever worked with has been a genuinely wonderful person.

I’ve come up with a few theories to explain this phenomenon.

1 - People who come to the NC Mountains to get married are generally more laid back, outdoorsy, fun loving people. I’m stereotyping here but it’s kind of true. I actually believe that if I lived in a big city or even at the beach I would not even want to be in this industry.

2. It's possible that I am oblivious to other people’s negativity…I’m not going to say that I’ve never had a mother of the bride, or aunt or maid of honor or even the bride herself get a little snippy with me but...here’s what I tell myself and my staff. “It is a big day for these people, there is a lot of drama and emotions and great expectations at play...and possibly a little alcohol. It’s possible that they may not be their best self right now but it is our job to stay smiling, neutral and most importantly to not get defensive if a negative word or tone is tossed our way. They hired us to stay calm and make sure the day goes smoothly no matter what… not to add to the drama. If a lemon is tossed our way, we had better make the best dang lemonade they have ever tasted! I’m rambling a little but the point is that maybe what other people see as a “bridezilla” I just see as a stressed out girl.

3. Marketing - I think that brides who look at our website, blog and facebook see that we’re a happy smiley company who loves happy smiley brides. Something subconscious must steer the bridezillas in another direction. I think we send a pretty strong “no bridezillas allowed” message through all of our online channels.

4. Making sure it’s a good fit - It sounds silly and presumptuous of me but I can tell 95% of the time if a bride is a good fit from her first email or phone call. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten off of the phone with a prospective client and thought to myself “Man, she’s very nice but it just doesn’t seem like we really jive together. I really hope she finds someone more suited to her”. 9 times out of 10 in this scenario, the bride is feeling the same way and when/if she tells me she has chosen someone else as her planner,  I am genuinely relieved and happy for her.
Look, a wedding planner is a really really big decision. It is so important that you have a great connection. I’m very close friends with 2 other wedding planners here in the High Country. We work together, compare notes, send referrals back and fourth, share staff and even work on each others weddings sometimes. People think it’s amazing that three different business owners who are technically “competitors” can work so closely together with no animosity but it’s really quite simple. We strongly feel that brides do - and should - pick a wedding planner based on personality/compatibility. End of story. Picking your wedding planner should be a gut decision not a haggle fest to see who you can get the most out of for less. We all 3 offer the same quality of service and finished product we just all go about it in a slightly different way. Now I’m sure that there are some truly awful people out there set out to make their wedding vendor’s lives miserable, but more often than not, it could just be a bad fit.
So there’s my thesis on the Bridezilla stereotype. If you think you may be one, please do not call us. We hope your big day goes great but life is short and we only allow happy, smiley fun loving brides here at The Whole Shebang!