With its beautiful ocean views, waterways, forests and hidden gems, Eastern North Carolina is a special event just waiting to happen. From rustic country barns to royal, beachfront elegance, there’s a venue to suit every taste and style. And with stunning views from just about vantage point, you can't go wrong choosing to share your nuptials on the Crystal Coast.
For brides looking at outdoor venues, professionals suggest having a back-up plan with a secondary inside location just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. Some of the area’s venues already have a contingency plan in place, with room to move the festivities indoors in a pinch, while others do not. So make sure this important query is on your list of questions to ask while visiting sites in the area.
The abundance of beach-front summer rentals can provide the ideal location for a wedding. Not only do they often provide access to the beach and serve as a hub for planning, but they can provide lodging for the wedding party, access to restroom facilities, plenty of room to get ready and an ideal site to hold the reception that follows. Many rental agencies offer wedding and event planning services on-site, making it easier than ever for the bride to enjoy a stress-free wedding.
Whether you plan on getting married in the middle of tourist season, or during the quieter off-season months, most of the area’s favorite attractions are open year round and ready to greet your family. Here are some of the area’s most popular sites:
Beaufort Historic Site – Located on Turner Street, the grounds of the Beaufort Historical Association provide a picturesque setting for special events. Say your vows on the site’s expanse of lawn and have your portraits taken on the porches of the beautifully restored buildings. Visit www.beauforthisotircsite.org or call 252-728-5225.
Butterfly Kisses Pavilion – This rustic barn-like setting located in Newport can easily be dressed up or down depending on the feel of the wedding. A small outdoor trellis provides a great location for the nuptials. To learn more, call 252-223-2766 or www.jsnursery.com.
Celebration Cottage – This oceanfront event space in Atlantic Beach has a capacity of up to 240 guests, with room for 100 to sit and dine comfortably. Beach access and a stunning oceanfront deck provide a picturesque setting for any special event. Full coordination services available. Visit celebrationcottageab.com.
Cape Lookout National Seashore – For a true beach-front wedding, Cape Lookout National Seashore is a perfect blend of privacy and history. The 56-mile stretch of North Carolina’s Outer Banks features a lighthouse and endless stretches of private beach. The site is available only by boat, however, passenger ferries on Harkers Island and Beaufort are happy to accommodate. Call 252-728-2250 or visit www.nps.gov/calo.
Copper Ridge on the Neuse – Vintage charm on the banks of the Neuse River in New Bern, this traditional barn features modern comforts and on-site coordination to help take the stress out of your special day. Visit www.copperridgeontheneuse.com.
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center – Located at the end of Island Road, next to the National Park Service, this newly-completed facility has a large meeting space and plenty of picturesque settings for those all-important photos. Call 252-728-1500 or visit www.coresound.com.
Crystal Coast Civic Center – One of the largest venues in the area, this soundfront setting in Morehead City can accommodate groups up to 1,000 and comes with a full commercial kitchen. For more information, call 252-247-3883.
Doubletree by Hilton – This oceanfront resort offers all-inclusive packages, taking the stress out of planning your special day. Rooms, on-site dining, pier, pool and beach access. Call 252-240-1155.
Dream Maker Wedding Estates – With unique locations, these wedding specialists have a site to match just about everyone’s taste. Say your vows at the restored Palo Alto Plantation or the private soundside Watson House. To learn more, visit dreamweddingestates.com.
Emerald Isle Beach & Pool Club – On Coast Guard Road in Emerald Isle, this private club offers beach or garden weddings with ocean views as well as indoor space and private changing areas. Visit www.emeraldislebeachclub.com.
Fort Macon State Park – The park encompasses 385 acres of beach, dunes and maritime forest with the fort serving as the centerpiece. A beach access site offers a bath house and plenty of parking. For more information, call 252-726-3775.
Front Street Village – On the site of the former Beaufort Fisheries along Taylors Creek, Front Street Village is a planned community under development at the end of Lennoxville Road. The beautiful waterfront boathouse and its top deck event space are complete and ready to host the perfect event. On-site planning and catering available. Call 252-838-1524 or visit www.frontstreetvillage.com.
Harborlight Guest House – Located along Bogue Sound, this small, private guest house features a peninsula with 500 feet of waterfront, perfect for a dream wedding. Stay on-site in one of six newly-remodeled rooms. For more information, call 252-393-6868.
History Museum of Carteret County – In downtown Morehead City, this museum by the Carteret County Historical and Genealogy Society includes auditorium space for 165 people, seated. The staff assists with set up and clean up, taking the stress off the wedding party. To learn more, call 252-247-7533.
The Inn at Pine Knoll Shores – The former Clamdigger Inn features a full-service restaurant and all-waterfront rooms for guests. Space available for beach weddings as well as receptions. To learn more, call 800-338-1533.
Isaac Taylor Garden – The historic, intimate setting of the 1792 Isaac Taylor home offers a wide expanse of lawn, brick patios and walkways and beautiful wrought iron work. Tables and chairs available for up to 100 guests. To learn more, visit www.itaylorgarden.com.
The Jarvis at 220 – This New Bern bed and breakfast inn serves as a unique venue space and can accommodate up to 100 people amidst historic charm and welcoming outdoor space. Learn more by calling 252-631-1452 or visiting thejarvisat220.com.
Morehead City Train Depot – The town’s historic train depot, located at 1001 Arendell St., features a catering kitchen and tables and chairs for about 75 people, making it ideal for a small intimate wedding or reception. Call 252-808-0440.
NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores – Widely acclaimed across the state and around the country, the aquarium lets guests get up close and personal with shipwrecks without getting wet, stare down a 350-pound sand tiger shark, watch river otters play and touch a stingray. Popular for weddings and special events, the site has accommodations for groups of 130 up to 1,500. Call 252-247-4003 or visit www.ncaquariums.com.
NC Maritime Museum – The beautiful Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center on Taylor Creek allows provides a perfect rustic waterfront location for weddings, receptions and more, plus the income directly benefits the museum's ongoing efforts. Learn more at ncmaritimemuseumbeaufort.com.
Neuse Breeze – Located along the Intracoastal Waterway, this scenic home is available for a variety of special events. One guest house is located on the property, indoor and outdoor settings available. Visit www.neusebreeze.com or call 252-447-2937.
Stanly Hall – Built in 1874 and renovated in 2012, this historic New Bern ballroom features more than 3,500 square feet and comes complete with a caterer's kitchen, sound system, bridal suite and more. Learn more at stanlyhallballroom.com.
Tryon Palace – Located in New Bern, this centerpiece of the colonies was recreated in the 1950s and opened as a museum and historic site. From grand to casual, various locations on the grounds are available for special events. To learn more, visit www.tryonpalace.org.