I met Dakota & Andrew on October 13, 2017, just three weeks into the couple’s engagement and my first month as a business owner. During our consultation, we were joined by the bride’s mom and dad – no pressure for a brand new wedding planner! When Dakota’s mom Carrie found me and expressed interest in hiring me to plan her daughter’s wedding, I let them know that I was just starting out in the industry, but they enjoyed our consult enough to give me a chance and booked me as a full service wedding planner. It was the first large planning package I’d booked, so I was excited, nervous, and ready to do whatever it took to impress this couple and their families.
I lived in Cary, Dakota & Drew lived in Charlotte and the wedding was set to be at The Overlook Barn in Banner Elk, so the planning process took place through millions of emails (that hardly feels like an exaggeration) and a monthly conference call with myself, Dakota, Drew and Carrie. We treated the experience as a destination wedding, and we all met in the Boone/Banner Elk area one snowy winter day to check out local caterers and bakers – but we couldn’t check out the venue together like planned because the mountain driveway was too dangerous in the snow!
The couple, who ended up being two of the sweetest humans I’ve ever met, relied on me to find many of their fantastic vendors, and they looped me in on every decision they made. By the time we met for only the third time at the wedding rehearsal, we felt like old friends.
On June 29, 2018, Dakota & Drew were married in a beautiful field on top of a mountain, with 10 bridesmaids, 6 groomsmen, and 160 of their closest family and friends to witness their union. When I first learned how many people were in their weddin party, I couldn’t imagine anyone having that many close friends and attributed the large party size to the fact that they both played basketball in college, but I quickly realized that their friend group was so big because Dakota & Drew are honestly that amazing. Both prioritize relationships and are genuine, kind and loving with everyone they meet. Their families and guests were so warm and welcoming to my team, and we felt incredibly valued and appreciated throughout the wedding day and planning process.
For their special mountaintop ceremony, longtime friend and pastor Sid Druen officiated, starting off their ceremony with a story of how they first met, and the excitement building up to their wedding day.
“Well, Andrew and Dakota, the moment is finally here! Here we are celebrating your wedding! It’s a moment that I know my wife and I and many others have prayed for. It’s a moment that started years before in Davidson, North Carolina while Andrew and Dakota were still in college; while we can all agree on where it all began, how and when the romance began is more of a mystery.
“Did Andrew’s bold and courageous Facebook poke get Dakota’s attention? Was that lunch in the Den with Andrew, Dakota, and Dakota’s friend Alex actually a date? Or was their first date the “just me and you” dinner at Brooklyn South? What made Dakota say “yes” to being in a dating relationship with Andrew? Was it a conversation Dakota and I had over coffee? Or was it the clarity achieved during a well-timed bathroom break?
“And while I’d love to take credit for you all finally dating and now getting married – I am powerfully persuasive with a cup of coffee in my hand – really, on a day like today, we can only credit Jesus with bringing you two together – what a kindness, what a good and undeserved gift he has given you both! I mean, can you believe you have finally made it here, to your wedding?! But as you’ve heard me say many, many times: today isn’t a finish line; it’s a starting line for the rest of your life: for marriage.”
After Sid’s homily, Dakota & Andrew’s siblings gathered around them and prayed over the couple, while ceremony musician Cameron Moore Music and a friend of the couple sang. This special moment, which took the place of a unity ceremony, showcased the couple’s desire to rely on the love of their family, faith and community as they walk into married life.
Once the ceremony was over, the guests made their way to a cocktail hour across the field. While the couple took family formals and photos with their wedding party, guests mingled and played lawn games, including lawn Jenga and darts. The reception followed inside the grand Overlook Barn, where farm tables were richly decorated with eucalyptus garlands, fresh blooms and candles. Photos of the couple were placed around the venue walls, and each of the renovated stalls of the barn contained an element of the reception, including a welcome table with decks of cards as favors, a photo booth by Mohr Fun Events, and the buffet table set up by Fords Fluent N Foods.
After dinner was finished, toasts were given, the cake was cut, and the donut bar was opened for guests to enjoy treats from Boone’s Local Lion. Dancing was kicked off with a fun first dance to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” followed by a father daughter dance and a mother son dance, and then the party began! LeVar with Split Second Sound kept the dance floor packed all night, and guests reluctantly headed outside for a sparkler send off, wishing the night didn’t have to end. While guests lined up, the couple shared a heartfelt last dance, and then Dakota & Andrew walked through the crowd of family and friends, off to enjoy their first night as a married couple.
Venue: The Overlook Barn, Banner Elk
Wedding Planner: Beauty & the Budget Events
Officiant: Sid Druen
Caterer: Fords Fluent N’ Food
Cutting Cake: Publix
Donut Bar: Local Lion
Stationery: Lovely Little Bee
Calligraphy: Madison Church
Florist: Eden House
Photobooth: Mohr Fun Events
Ceremony Musician: Cameron Moore Music
Photographer: Siobhan Lorraine Photography
Videographer: Good Earth Films
Bartender: Bartenders Plus
Hiar and Make Up: Blushing Hair & Makeup
Transportation: High Country Transportation
“Stephanie helped make our Boone, NC wedding of just under 200 people everything we could have imagined! She is incredibly professional and kept us right on track with monthly phone calls but always remained light-hearted and never stressful. She attended vendor meetings with us and truly listened to what we wanted. She had great suggestions on vendors that fit our budget but also knew how to shift our budget around in other areas when I didn’t want to budge on a particular vendor. On wedding day she did a fantastic job time managing and dealing with any surprise bumps in the road. She even had club soda ready for me when I spilled a red drink all over my dress – after she was done, you couldn’t see a thing! We would recommend Stephanie and her team to anyone looking for a wedding planner who is truly passionate about her job and will work her very hardest to make sure that your wedding day is EXACTLY how you want it (while still finding a way to stay in budget). She made the entire process so stress free and we could not have asked for a better day!” – Dakota & Andrew
“Stephanie was truly amazing! We worked together for about 9 months planning my daughters wedding in Banner Elk, NC. She was very professional, organized, quick to respond & had great ideas! She thought about many things that we didn’t & she worked well with the vendors we chose. She helped keep us on budget & always had my daughter’s vision in mind when suggesting anything. She helped keep us on track through the process & when it came to the “day of” she really shined! On the big day Stephanie had everyone in line & it was the most perfect wedding! Everything was right on schedule & she knew exactly what to do when any potential issue arose! I would highly recommend Stephanie as your event planner! You will not be disappointed she is fantastic!” – Carrie, mother of the bride