Carolina Home and Garden on Highway 24 has been a go-to for gardeners for more than 20 years, but few realize that the site may also be the perfect place to go when searching for your perfect wedding venue. No, the garden center isn't for hire – but the owners' private home is.

When the market took a turn several years ago, Stephanie Watson, who owns the business with her husband Brian, brainstormed ways of keeping herself busy. The one unused asset she had at her fingertips was their beautiful soundfront home in Emerald Isle.

"The kids were growing up, the economy had slowed a bit and I was really interested in doing something different. It just made sense – it was very natural," she said recently.

With such a beautiful setting and a large amount of available space, the homesite is ideal for weddings. The seven acre property is loaded with charm. Manicured and landscaped throughout, the site includes a covered patio and outdoor fireplace, a terrace, an indoor lounge area with built in bar, a groom's lounge and three accessible restrooms, one of which is handicapped accessible. It was perfect for sharing – so that's exactly what she did, she began opening her doors to wedding parties.

Sure, there are many waterfront venues to choose for your big day. What sets the Watson House apart is Stephanie's sense of style and her impeccable eye for details. And really, when it comes to your wedding day, it's all about the details. From antique chandeliers and dressers to table settings and lanterns, each piece is placed with a level of care and attention that other venues strive to match.

The garden center has a wide variety of décor, Stephanie said, and her and Brian have always enjoyed antiquing – finding unique items for both their home and the business. There are even pews that can be placed on the lawn overlooking the water, creating an ideal outside wedding venue.

"From local antique shops to market – I go to market in Atlanta and High Point – we find a lot of candelabra, candlesticks, furniture, lots of small things that come together to create this really romantic scene."

Through the years, the couple has had so much fun gathering items that they are now offering a rental warehouse for wedding planners and other sites.

Then, of course, there are the floral arrangements and greenery. With the flexibility that comes from the immense resources at their fingertips, no area is left uncovered. Romance, as they say, is in full bloom, from the shaded expanse of lawn to the table centerpieces.

The Watson House is an exclusive venue – the couple only rents the site 14 times a year, seven in the fall and seven in the spring. But it's also an inclusive venue. Brides and grooms can dress on site, hair and makeup can be arranged on site and Stephanie and her Dream Makers team prepare brunch for the bridal party and are on hand through the entire event. Then there is the waterfront, the dock, the beautiful sunset – it's hard to imagine a more beautiful setting for a wedding.

Stephanie has enjoyed the work so much that the couple went on to buy a second location – Palo Alto Plantation in Maysville, the oldest plantation house in Onslow County. They bought the site and renovated it as an additional wedding venue.

"It's really added so much to my life," said Stephanie. "Seeing the families so happy and the connection we make with the people along the way, it's such an honor to be a part of their day. We really love what we do. We are so blessed."

To learn more about The Watson House, visit dreamweddingestates.com or call 252-422-1841.

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