Author: High Country Wedding Guide

Needless to say but we adore couples who are head-over-heels for one another. And Abby & Jake, these two sweethearts below, are definitely one of those couples where it is clearly apparent they are in L-O-V-E. The genuine smiles, the tender embraces, and how you can tell how at ease they are with one another . . . this is relationship gold, people. We can’t forget to mention our favorite part about this entire shoot, of course. The Chaco sandals, duh. Two thumbs way up to couples who aren’t afraid of a little adventure, who are true to themselves, and who go all in. Now, a little more from these smitten kittens. And shout out to Flightless Bird Photography for these breathtaking images.

High Country Wedding Guide: Alright lovebirds, tell us how you met.

Abby: We first met in 2009 at our high school’s soccer camp. I was in 8th grade preparing to start high school in the upcoming fall, and Jake was a 9th grader on the men’s soccer team. On the last day of camp, we talked for the very first time. A few months later, we realized we were in the same biology class when our teacher paired us up for a stem cell research project. We exchanged phone numbers, and haven’t stopped talking since.

HCWG: Wow! So you guys have know each other a long time. We are betting the proposal must have been good.

Abby: We were on a vacation with my family in Jackson, Wyoming, when Jake proposed. My entire life I had dreamed of visiting The Chapel of the Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park. So, on July 5th of 2016, Jake and my family took me there. We were expecting the chapel to be crowded with people during visiting hours, but we got incredibly lucky and were all alone. When posing for a picture in front of the church’s panoramic window, my little brother suddenly stepped out of the way as Jake got down on one knee. Having my family there with us was so incredibly special, and they even managed to take a few spur of the moment pictures through all of the tears.

HCWG: Aw, all the feels. Now, for those images where you dipped your feet in the creek. Was it super cold?

Abby: Yes! The creek was exceptionally cold, but it was a creek that we have explored before, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. The only difference was that these photos were taken in the fall as opposed to the summer, which is when we normally creek walk. We thought it would be fun to take photos in a place we have visited throughout the entire duration of our relationship. 

HCWG: We definitely agree. Any funny moments you’d like to share from this engagement session?

Abby: In one of the images from the creek you can see me flinch from the aftermath of Jake licking my nose in an attempt to make me smile. This is especially funny looking back now because one of my bridesmaids did the exact same thing during my wedding party photos! 

HCWG: You’ll have to share those photos with us one day. Last question, we want to hear about wardrobe choice, including the shoes.

Abby: The Chacos were a selection specifically for our photos in the creek. As soon as we finished our photos in the water, we changed into boots that were much warmer and more suitable for the chilly weather. As for our other casual attire, we wanted to make sure our engagement photos reminded us of our relationship on a daily basis. Looking back, we are actually very glad that our Chacos made a cameo. They were a perfect choice, as we spent about 3/4 of our time in Boone wearing them! 

After celebrating their one month anniversary sleeping in a hammock, roughing it on top of Grandfather Mountain, Jordan knew that Meghan was one in a million. Grandfather Mountain thus became a cornerstone in their courtship, and the backdrop of a most epic proposal (there’s a drone and a school bus of kids involved, people!). Three years almost to the exact day of their anniversary, Jordan schemed his way through work schedules and weather fiascos in order to recreate the couple’s first hike together atop their favorite spot in the High Country. “We had talked about getting married several times over the previous months and on the day of the proposal she even joked to not forget the ring, something she had said many times before,” says Jordan. After making it to the top, surviving the hike (and a swinging bridge with numerous ladders and ropes), Jordan got to capturing the “Big Ask” by setting his drone on a flight pattern that encircled the couple. For a closer look at his beloved’s reaction, a phone was strategically placed and set to record—nice move, Jordan—as he popped the monumental question. After a moment of disbelief, and a hearty thump on the chest, Meghan happily replied “Yes!” And how’s this for serendipitous timing? Once the two mountaineers made their way down the rock, a very large group of college kids met them at the bottom and explained that their bus was fifteen minutes late to the site, ensuring that the couple got their  “picture perfect” proposal, sans the rowdy coeds. Fate, I tell ya.  After such an incredible ask, it was time to create a wedding at the Linville Ridge Country Club that was just as fantastic and thrilling. Evoking whimsical garden party vibes, Meghan crafted a night of fun that included scenic mountain views, florals galore in, majestic maids in purple, and dancing the night away under an array of twinkly lights. Raise your glasses to these two cuties and to Megan Sheppard Photography for capturing the nuptials from beginning to end.

Venue, catering: Linville Ridge Country Club

Images: Megan Sheppard Photography

Florals: Millefleurs

Stationery: The bride’s sister

Cake: Ugga Mugga Bakery

Bride’s attire: LaceBridal (Etsy)

Jewelry: The Stone Jewelers

Bridesmaid attire: Weddingdec (Etsy)

Beauty: Shear Shakti (hair); Shauna Godwin (makeup)

Men’s attire: Men’s Wearhouse

Music: DJ Dave Blanks 

Officiant: High Country Ministers

The High Country is beautiful at all times, this we know for sure, but the High Country during the autumn season takes it to a whole ‘nother level. The swirling leaves, the nip in the air, the misty mountain views—all aspects that make it the ideal setting for an engagement session. As dreamy as one could ever imagine. On that note, let’s take a peek at Sophie and Jame’s engagement session on Rough Ridge Lookout. Erika El Photography captured this adventure-loving couple to a T and her images makes us giddy about the upcoming season. I mean, come on, just take a look at this setting (and this cutie couple). More from Sophie below.

High Country Wedding Guide: How and when did you meet James?

Sophie: We met through mutual friends at a party and instantly hit it off. The funny bit about it was that is was definitely one of those “chance encounters.” I originally wasn’t going to go to the party but my friend forced me into it. We didn’t run in the same circles so if I had decided to stay in that night we probably would have never met.

HCWG: Serendipitous, for sure. Now, on to the proposal. Yours is quite unique, we hear.

Sophie: Our decision to get married was a conversation that ended with a “hey,  let’s get married at the end of the year,” kinda thing.  Not a very over-the-top romantic proposal. His mother helped in designing and making the ring so the first few months of wedding planning I was ringless. And here’s a chuckle for you. Our engagement session was actually supposed to be James “official” proposal with the engagement ring. He spent weeks planning it and rented a cabin in Boone but the week before disaster struck and he found out the ring would not be ready in time. He didn’t want to reschedule so we proceeded with our romantic mountain getaway and the engagement session. Even though it wasn’t the weekend he had planned, it turned out to be one of our best trips ever. Two weeks later, he finally had the ring and planned a day trip for us to Asheville. With all the anticipation we had built up around the actual proposal, it only lasted about five seconds. He was so nervous and I was excited. So, in summation, the mountains have played a huge part in every step of our journey. 

HCWG: A story to share with the kiddos one day. So, is this why you chose the High Country for your e-session?

Sophie: Our first trip we ever took was to Boone, North Carolina, and it was definitely one of the most memorable getaways in our four year relationship. It made sense to have our engagement pictures shot somewhere near Boone. Plus, the scenery made for some gorgeous pictures.

HCWG: You all look so precious canoodling in front of the camera. Assuming you aren’t camera shy?

Sophie: No, definitely camera shy! Your’e looking at two of the most awkward people in front of a camera. In fact, James is so camera shy we didn’t have a picture together until after we’d been dating almost a year! We were terrified going into but we were incredibly lucky to have a photographer who made us feel (and look) like natural models. Erika did such a great job of making the engagement session feel like a celebration of love. No joke, I swear I fell in love with James all over again.

HCWG: All the feels. Any especially memorable moments from this day?

Sophie: There were many a silly accent made by James in order to get those laughing pictures to look believable. What you also don’t see are the sneakers required to walk up to the mountaintop location. I’d love to be able to say I have enough skills to hike in heels, but alas, not so much.

Images by Erika El Photography

For Rob and Frances, a meet-cute abroad was the way to go. The Raleigh natives built their
connection while working overseas and spending time together bonding over their American
roots. It also didn’t hurt that Rob was a total gentleman—cleaning Frances’ kitchen after a movie night and sending her flowers at work . . . sigh.  Just weeks after they started dating, Rob and Frances knew that they had found “the one” in each other but distance threatened to get in the way. After an entire year of being apart, Rob (in the U.S.) and Frances (in Belgium), their connection was stronger than ever and they decided not long after that it was time to make it official. The outdoorsy couple wanted a natural setting in the mountains for their nuptials so Blowing Rock was the idea location for their guests to relax and rent cabins to enjoy the wedding weekend. They envisioned a sophisticated wedding with a rustic, casual touch and with an already breathtaking background, all Frances and her florist had to do were incorporate a few purple accents in the décor. The couple wanted their Big Day to feel oh-so them so they sprinkled in personal touches wherever they could—from a scrapbook corner (so cute), to Frances wearing her mother’s veil and pearl necklace, to a dessert bar comprised of their favorites. But perhaps our favorite part, you ask? The bride’s sister, who just happens to be an interior designer and artist, presented the couple with a stunning hand drawn image of the views that the High Country offers. A keepsake with meaning, yes and yes. Congrats to these cuties!

Photographer: Jean Moree Photography

Venue: The Blowing Rock

Caterer: Gamekeeper Restaurant

Baker: Ugga Mugga Bakery

Florist: Shady Grove Gardens & Nursery

Linens: Boone Rent-All

Music: Summit Strings

Beauty: Haircut 101 (hair); the bride (beauty)

OK, we will admit it—we are completely and utterly starstruck with this couple, Bekah and Morrison. As she is the writer and producer of NBC’s “This Is Us” (the best show out there!) and her hubby, Morrison, is an actor, we can say with quite certainty that this is a match made in Hollywood heaven. After being set up by a friend in 2013, Bekah found her Romeo—a la the DeCaprio kind—in California native Morrison. Two years of courtship and many laughs and theater dates later (the duo entered the TV biz through theatrical beginnings), a proposal was bound to make its rounds. On a Thanksgiving rendezvous to visit Morrison’s extended fam, the anticipated question finally made its debut. “He made me breakfast, as he oftentimes does, and I shoved it into my face while reading work emails,” say Bekah. “Before I knew it, he was down on one knee, with a 135 year old ring that’s been his family for four generations.” With full stomachs and even fuller hearts, the two set their sights on Bekah’s old neck of the woods, North Carolina, and selected Leatherwood Mountains Resort for its rustic charm and for the fact that the bride-to-be desperately wanted an autumn wedding with crisp weather and swirling leaves. And boy, did this venue and this couple deliver . . . as you can so totally see by these snapshots below by Revival Photography. Our fave parts, you ask? Most definitely the cheeky decorative signs, the mini peach and blackberry cobblers made by a high school friend, the double rainbow that greeted Bekah the morning of, their radiating love, and for the fact that Bekah dubbed the dress code “moonshine romance.” We could go on and on but we’ll let the images do the talking. Sigh, we just can’t get enough of this pair!

Venue, catering: Leatherwood Mountains Resort

Images: Revival Photography

Planner: Abbie Hanchey, Leatherwood Mountains Resort

Florals: Millefleurs

Cakes, sweets: Homeslice

Signage: The groom’s brother and his wife

Beauty: Primp NC (bride); Beautiful Bride on Location (bridesmaids)

Music: Sam McCarson (ceremony); On Target DJ (reception music, photo booth)

Videographer: HoneyDew Films

It seems that East Carolina University is a place that creates chemistry–or at least helps future love birds meet through the major! When Ross and Morgan locked eyes in a required pre-calculus class, it was the start of some serious feels and eventually led them to become best friends (cue the aww’s!). This darling duo remained in the friend zone throughout college until Ross decided to take a chance by inviting Morgan to be his plus-one to a wedding in the gorgeous West Virginia mountains. “We haven’t been apart a day since.” says Morgan. After a year of dating (ooh this is my favorite part!), the now alumnae found themselves leading an impromptu campus tour for their closest friends and family after the East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech game, where Ross led the way to the idyllic fountain at the center of ECU’s campus and dropped to one knee to propose to his beloved, officially stamping East Carolina in their hearts forever. That fateful weekend in West Virginia, plus a childhood of visiting the High Country, helped spark an inspiration for their own Blue Ridge Mountain Club wedding, featuring a blissful view, touches of rustic accents and pops of different shades of purple (the bride’s favorite). After the “I do’s” were shared, the couple led their loved ones to a reception filled with food nirvana, including–get this–a donut bar, creamy lobster firecracker rolls and a buffet loaded with a mouthwatering beef tenderloin and herb & dijon roasted chicken. While I’m over here drooling at these details and this menu, everyone wish this couple a lifetime of love, laughter, and winning East Carolina football games! Oh, and how freakin’ awesome was they firework exit by JECO Pyrotechnics Inc.

Photography: Fletcher & Fletcher Photography

Venue: Blue Ridge Mountain Club

Planner: The bride

Florals, Catering: Grouse Moor Catering

Cake: Appalachian State University Bakery

Music: Anything Music DJs

Beauty: Mandy Scardina

Bride’s Attire: Poffie Girls

Men’s Attire: Did Someone Say Party?

Fireworks: JECO Pyrotechnics Inc.