Monthly Archives:: March 2015

Triangle NC Wedding News – From New Menus to New Venues

Spring has sprung, and along with it, wedding season! At this time of year, Team SB&G is busy not only with bridal shows, but also getting out and about to experience everything from new menus to brand new and newly-improved venues. We stay up to date on all the Triangle NC wedding news so that we can share it with our readers! Below, take a tour of the venues and menus we’ve been dropping in on lately.

Lantern Table
Chances are, you’re familiar with Lantern, a staple in the Chapel Hill restaurant scene. Lantern and Chef Andrea Reusing have earned many accolades, including a James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast (2011) for the unique experience provided at this eclectic Asian eatery. But you might not be familiar with their recent expansion and event capabilities.

Lantern welcomes private events and has many options, from booking the entire restaurant for a wedding reception to a small party in the bar. A heated outdoor patio with partial covering is available for small private events of up to 30 seated guests in a year-round garden atmosphere. The newest addition, Lantern Table, is geared specifically towards intimate private events. This indoor dining space hosts up to 50 for a seated private event (or 65 for a standing cocktail reception). The best part about this cozy and inviting room is that it includes an open kitchen for teaching workshops, which can be incorporated into a very unique event. This space is ideal for a rehearsal dinner or an interactive shower.

At a recent event Lantern Table hosted for wedding planners, Chef Reusing gave us a little taste of how the teaching kitchen works by leading us in a spring roll lesson. We also got to sample many savory dishes from the hors d’oeuvres menu. One thing we can absolutely guarantee anyone who books a special event at Lantern – they will be blown away by the food!

Below are a couple shots of the delights we got to taste – Crispy winter vegetable spring rolls with pea greens, Durham oyster mushrooms, savoy cabbage, hot chile and lemon (top right), and Salt & Pepper wild shrimp with crispy shells, fried jalapenos, coriander and sea salt (bottom right) – as well as Andrea’s cooking demo (at left).

Lantern Table Event

The Durham Hotel
Speaking of Andrea Reusing, her new project is running all food operations at the soon-to-open Durham Hotel in, you guessed it, downtown Durham.

The concept of The Durham Hotel is unique and a perfect fit for Durham – it’s an intimate boutique hotel mixed with a welcoming environment for the local community – from a beautiful restaurant that serves everything from morning coffee to evening dinner to a rooftop bar and patio, which will host morning yoga, afternoon cocktails, private parties and everything inbetween! Each of the approximately 50 guest rooms will feature oversized windows with lots of natural light and beautiful views of the downtown area. I personally can’t wait to plan a staycation there!

Team SB&G got to take a hard hat tour with our dear friends Katie and Carly of La Fete wedding planning, pictured below. The site was bustling with construction when we visited, but is set to open this June.

The-Durham-Hotel-Hard-Hat-Tour

Mims House
We were excited to attend the opening party for another new Triangle area wedding venue. The historic Leslie-Alford Mims House has long been known to Holly Springs residents, but not in the beautiful form that it has now taken! Priscilla Erwin (Orangerie Events) and Brooke Everhart (Belle’s Catering) partnered up to curate this gorgeous property and give it new life. The venue is now suited for large scale private events, both in the house or outside under a tent. Although these ladies have their own wedding businesses, they welcome other professional caterers and planners into the space.

The launch party was an Alice in Wonderland theme, which was very appropriate for the nature of the property with its layout of hallways and secret rooms. We enjoyed exploring the house, especially the upstairs bridal and groom suites. We can’t wait to see some wedding photos from this lovely venue!

Mims House Holly Springs Wedding Venue

Washington Duke Spring Menu Media Event
Last week, we had the opportunity to sample some of Executive Chef Jason Cunningham’s new seasonal menu items during The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club‘s spring media event. After embarking on a quick scavenger hunt through the beautiful hallways, outdoor patios, and luxurious hotel rooms, we enjoyed a sampling of the fresh and creative spring menu. The menus include breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert including Dinner at Dusk at the AAA Four Diamond and 2015 Forbes Travel Guide Four Star award-winning Fairview Dining Room and meals in the Bull Durham Bar.

Washington Duke Spring Salad

Cunningham’s seasonal menus are inspired by the spring offerings from the finest Carolina farmers, which he pairs with premium products from around the world. Dinner appetizers include grilled artichoke & spring morels, local chevre & baby beet salad and a spring salad with fresh vegetables drizzled with a roasted tomato vinaigrette. Cunningham’s regional and international culinary experiences are reflected in the gourmet entrees—from seafood and poultry to meat. Dishes include the pink peppercorn crusted swordfish, pan seared Verlasso salmon, pecan-crusted diver scallops, skillet-seared muscovy duck breast and sous vide marsala lamb loin. End the dining experience with seasonal fruit and chocolate desserts such as pistachio pavlova or chocolate molten cake. Wine lovers will especially appreciate that all nine of the dessert menu options offer wine pairing recommendations. The spring menus are also offered for in-room dining, banquets, meetings and special events throughout the hotel.Washington Duke Shrimp Cocktail

The Rickhouse Opening
Another fabulous event venue opened in Durham last week: The Rickhouse is a beautiful revitalized space in the warehouse district of downtown Durham. It will soon be home to Revival Spirits Distillery as well, which is part of the event space ambiance as guests are able to view the grand equipment through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall overlooking the operation. For now, in addition to the urban-chic warehouse vibe, its signature feature is that it overlooks the original Durham Bulls stadium. More to follow on this one, as we have lots of pretty photos to share later this week!

Revival Distillery

What else have we been up to lately? We’ve posted a few of our recent endeavors on the blog – check them out:

21c Durham Museum Hotel opens in Durham

The Outer Banks Wedding Showcase at The Sanderling Resort

An elegant party at Rose Hill Plantation

Pink and Orange Pops of Color Floral Inspiration

Southern Bride & Groom is excited to share some of our favorite photos, including many not seen in print, from our floral designers featured in the 2015 magazine. In this shoot, Catering Works created a bright and beautiful display featuring tall vases with flowing white orchids and bright bouquets with watermelon hues and pops of tangerine. Along with elegant floating candles and plates with complimentary floral designs, this bright and ethereal combination of sorbets really lights up the Rotunda Room at The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, NC.

Not only does Catering Works have a dedicated floral studio, they also have a culinary team and design and event planners. This catering and special event planning company in Raleigh offers everything from simple delivery drop off to elaborate full service events and everything in between! The pastry chef of Catering Works is also able to create cakes that compliment the colors and flowers used in your wedding.Tablescape at the Washington Duke InnPops of orange wedding flowersFloral inspiration with pops of colorTabletop decor for colorful weddingWedding table at the Washington Duke Inn in DurhamWedding tablescape with orchidsPink and orange bouquet from Catering WorksFLORAL DESIGN Catering Works | TABLETOP LINEN & CHAIRS Classic Party Rentals | SALAD PLATE Juliska from Southern Season | GOWN Blue Wilow by Anne Barge from Tre Bella Bridal | JEWELRY Bailey’s Fine Jewelry | HAIR & MAKEUP Bella Trio Day Spa | VENUE Rotundra Room at The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club | PHOTOGRAPHY by Walters & Walters

TASTE the Event 2015 in Durham: Q&A with Il Palio Chef Teddy Diggs

TASTE 2015, the premiere food and drink event in Durham, is fast approaching, taking place from April 23-26th. At the Grand Taste Experience participants will spend the evening savoring dishes created by 20 of the best chefs in the region. This festival, produced by our friends at Durham & Chapel Hill Magazines, is THE Triangle area must-attend food, wine and beer event of the year! Many Triangle restaurants receive national accolades and praise, which draws foodies to our area from across the country. TASTE the event is your chance to try some of the best and discover your favorites!

One of the chefs taking part in this year’s Grand Taste Experience is Teddy Diggs, the executive chef at Il Palio Ristorante, the celebrated Italian restaurant at The Siena Hotel. This is Chef Diggs second year taking part in TASTE and he is looking forward to, once again, showcasing the culinary talent at Il Palio.

Read on to learn more about Chef Diggs and for more about how Il Palio is bringing exciting and creative food to the Triangle.

Chef DiggsSB&G: What is your favorite thing about the local food scene in 2015?

Chef Diggs: I love the movement towards using the wild ingredients that are native to North Carolina. I have always used locally harvested ingredients and especially now, in the spring, there are so many wild edibles to enjoy. The Triangle area is fortunate to have some dedicated foragers to work with.

SB&G: Where do you take your cooking inspiration?

Chef Diggs: It is a combination of traditional, regional Italian cooking and my own experiences and relationships with food and restaurants throughout my life. I believe that is why our food at Il Palio is so approachable. It has history, an identity, and even soul.

SB&G: What is your cooking philosophy or favorite type of food to cook?

Chef Diggs: Keep it simple! At Il Palio, we rely on the ingredients and we trust our knowledge and ability to source the ingredients responsibly. Our style allows the ingredients to shine. When you work with great products, you learn to deal with food for what it is and not try to overdo things.

SB&G: How will what you bring to TASTE this year be different from last year?

Chef Diggs: Last year, we were re-introducing Il Palio; we wanted to show that we are not an expensive and fancy restaurant, and we did so by serving delicious braised pork and veal meatballs along side our luscious house made focaccia bread (a staple). This year, the focaccia bread will, of course, be there, but we are also going to add a bit more action to the table.

SB&G: We remember from our meeting last year that you love to create custom menus for events. Have you had opportunities to prepare any special wedding menus since coming onboard at Il Palio?

Chef Diggs: We have had a great year with customizing menus for our events at The Siena Hotel. We have done grandioso seven-course tasting menus with wine pairings to simple family style dinners with comfortable roasted chicken and pastas and everything in between (including a massive Indian wedding!) Just as we had hoped when we spoke last year, the couples have a connection to their menus on their special day and their personality shines throughout the event.

SB&G: What menu item/s are you most excited to feature at TASTE?

Chef Diggs: I wish that I could feature a lot of our menu items…we are making great food at Il Palio right now. The not-so-easy goal is to choose something impressive that is as good as you would serve in your dining room – but to serve it at a pop-up table in the Durham Armory!

Be sure to stop by Il Palio’s table during Taste the Event to see what Chef Diggs and Il Palio have in store!

An Elegant Party at Rose Hill Plantation

Rose Hill Plantation is a one-of-a-kind venue and part of a country estate just outside Raleigh, NC, en route to Rocky Mount. From the long crepe myrtle-lined Rose Hill Lane, which ends in front of a beautiful lit fountain, to the front of a beautifully renovated 18th century Manor House, it truly is a grand setting. The adjacent, complementary columned Nathan Hall was built to emulate the great ballrooms of a previous era and expands the home in the same style. This historic treasure on the National Register of Historic Places is also a wedding venue, business retreat, sporting clays center and an 860-acre working Angus cattle farm.

We were recent guests for an elegant party at Rose Hill Plantation – an evening of conversation, dinner and dancing hosted by Rose Hill. As we drove to the mansion entrance, a gracious valet staff assisted us from the vehicle and whisked the car away saving us extra steps. Entering the plantation home is always like crossing the threshold to an earlier era. Tonight, we were even greeted with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and lots of friends as we mingled in the older, antique-furnished Manor House.

Before sunset, guests were invited to view the side sun porch, patios, lawn and the romantic ceremony gazebo set upon Rose Hill’s picturesque pond. At 7:00 p.m., we entered Nathan Hall to a spectacularly decorated ballroom set for dinner. Tables were juxtaposed for beauty and conversation. The floral décor cascaded from the ceiling chandeliers to the tip of each table corner, perfectly positioned to grace the tables edge – yet still allowing each guest full vision of each other around the table. This beautiful and brilliant floral design was created by Fresh Affairs.

General Manager Walter Marrotta is a former fine-dining chef. His love of great food and Rose Hill was evident in the service and menu that evening. The starter was a deconstructed Greek salad of spinach panna cotta, grilled crostini, feta, kalamata olive and roasted tomato. Simply delicious! Walter had told me that Rose Hill is known for their Angus beef, thus the filet was the popular main course choice on the evening’s menu. The mushroom-crusted filet mignon received compliments all around as did the brie and asparagus stuffed chicken breast. I couldn’t resist choosing the roasted vegetable and crepe Napoleon with ricotta and wild mushroom truffle sauce and was more than happy with this layered vegetarian delight. For dessert, there was a marvelous cinnamon spiced chocolate mouse, created by Walter himself.

Before we carry you away and make you hungry with these images from photographer, James Walters, I’d like to invite you to take a moment to view a few blog posts from Southern Bride & Groom in which we chose Rose Hill Plantation for one of the most beautiful flower photo shoots ever to appear in our magazine. We set our talented florist’s tabletop designs in each area of the estate from the patios to the Great Room to the Smokehouse and the ballroom. These floral displays will inspire you and help you envision the many possibilities at Rose Hill.

Floral Inspiration at Rose Hill:

Elegant White and Black Tabletop and Bouquet

Rustic Chic Tabletop Display at the Smokehouse

Bright Summer Tabletop and Succulent Bouquet

Classic Blue and White Tabletop and Bouquet
Beautiful lit fountain at Rose Hill PlantationPlace cards for event or weddingHors d'oeuvres at Rose Hill PlantationEvents at Rose Hill PlantationPassed appetizers at Rose Hill PlantationBeautiful flower arrangements by Fresh Affairs.Catering at Rose Hill Plantation in North CarolinaAn elegant catered meal at Rose Hill in North CarolinaAngus filet and dessert at Rose Hill Plantation.The stately Rose Hill Plantation in North CarolinaVENUE Rose Hill | FLORIST Fresh Affairs | PHOTOGRAPHER Walters & Walters | LINENS/RENTALS Party Reflections | INVITATIONS/MENUS/PLACECARDS Cute Buttons | LIGHTING by Total Productions Services, Inc. | MUSIC Bunn DJ Company | PHOTO BOOTH f8 Photo Booth

Spirited NC State Themed Wedding

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today, we’re excited to share Cara and Dan’s spirited NC State themed wedding that is just as fun as it is beautiful.

Cara and Dan met through mutual friends while attending NC State University, hence their enthusiasm for the NC State Wolfpack! During the last home football game of the season, the couple was tailgating with family and close friends when Dan popped the question in front of the scoreboard. Cara and Dan’s families, who were in on the surprise, were back at the RV ready with champagne, gifts and a “She Said Yes!” cake. It meant a lot to the couple to get engaged at Carter-Finley stadium – one of their favorite places to be. They carried the Wolfpack theme through to their fall wedding as well.

For Cara, the venue (The State Club, also the NCSU Alumni center) was an easy choice. She had visited as a teenager with her grandparents to reveal the hand-painted portrait of the bell tower than hangs over the fireplace in the ballroom (a gift from her grandfather’s class of 1959). “The second I stepped into that building, I knew I would one day get married there,” said Cara.

Cara wore her grandmother’s wedding dress from 1958 with help from Elizabeth’s Alterations. It was truly an honor for Cara, as both her grandmother and grandfather were able to attend the wedding and see her marry in the wedding dress that blessed their special day over 50 years ago. Pictures of Cara’s grandmother in the dress were set out at the wedding beside her bridal portraits so that guests could see the amazing, one-of-a-kind transformation.

The couple built their wedding around their love for NC State and the gorgeous fall colors of North Carolina. Since they were getting married in the fall, they picked a Friday night wedding so as not to interfere with football season on Saturdays (Wolfpack fans through and through). They chose colors that incorporated red, orange, yellow, and touches of purple and green, mimicking the fall North Carolinian leaves. They even added personal touches that showcased their fan pride: bridesmaids wore various shades of red dresses (NC State’s color), Cara wore an NCSU garter, and the groomsmen wore NC State argyle socks and cufflinks. They even had Mr. Wuf (NC State’s mascot) show up at the reception!

As you can see from the lively photos captured by Jagg Photography, Cara and Dan’s wedding was a perfect blend of their interests, their love, and their school spirit!Bridesmaids and bridal bouquets in NCRaleigh bride wears grandmothers wedding dressGarter from alma materFirst look in the State ClubWedding at the State Club at NCSUState pride weddingBeautiful wedding at The State Club in RaleighFamily wedding gownElegant wedding at The State Club NCSURainy day wedding photography in NCWedding in Raleigh at NC StateRaleigh NC groomsmenShades of red bridesmaids dressesFall wedding with a trolleyRainy day wedding photographyUpcycled window seating chartNorth Carolina fall wedding receptionFall wedding table settingNCSU mascot appearance at weddingOld car at wedding by Jagg PhotographyAlma Mater themed wedding in RaleighVENUE The State Club | PHOTOGRAPHY Jagg Photography | PLANNER Stephanie Cisko, Viva L’Event | ALTERATIONS Elizabeth’s Alterations | SHOES Betsey Johnson | JEWELRY Kate Spade | FORMALWEAR VIP Formal Wear | HAIR & MAKEUP The Hair and Face Lounge | FLORIST Viva L’Event | CAKE The Cake Parlour | MINISTER Shadra Shoffner | CEREMONY MUSIC Marc Hoffman | RECEPTION MUSIC The Perfect Beat DJ Company | PARTY RENTALS Party Reflections | TRANSPORTATION Raleigh Car Club

Outer Banks Beach Wedding Destination

Spring is officially here, although certainly with a tease of warm sunny days alternating with hasty cold retreats. Those coveted warm days make everyone think of North Carolina’s nearby beaches, and for newly engaged couples, thoughts of a coastal wedding come to mind…and what better place than the Outer Banks for a beach wedding destination?

On March 14, 2015, The Sanderling Resort on the Outer Banks hosted its annual Wedding Showcase. This wasn’t my first visit to The Sanderling; last year, I attended the show and fell in love with the resort and its amenities. I was inspired by the stunning table displays designed by several regional florists and planners. This year, I was surprised to find the main hotel lodging and one other guest room house under renovation, but was equally delighted with our room in the South Inn facing the ocean. Now, I’m looking forward to a return trip to see the main house fully finished!

Brides who book their wedding events in mid-May and later will be thrilled with new updates to the already beautiful resort when renovations are complete! Even before then, the Sanderling’s 16-acre resort offers complete ceremony set-ups on its pristine beach or observation deck. Two wedding event spaces, along with renowned restaurants, are perfect for your oceanside or sound-side rehearsal or reception.

On the oceanside of the resort, the cozy Event House and Deck is large enough for a band and for wedding guests indoors and out. The enormous fire pit with seating is a favorite gathering place after dark. During a nighttime reception it’s the perfect place to cozy up with friends and family and enjoy delicous s’mores.

Located on the Currituck Sound is the larger 4,200 square foot climate-controlled Pavilion with its own private dock and gazebo – the perfect spot to enjoy spectacular Outer Banks sunsets. The Sanderling’s wedding specialists custom cater to every size wedding from an elopement package to a soiree for 180 guests. In addition to the hotel rooms, the resort has several vacation homes on the property that sleep 8 to 16 persons for family and friend groups.

The weekend I visited, I caught a magnificent sunset while dining at the Sanderling’s Lifesaving Station restaurant and enjoying delicious roasted red-pepper soup and seared scallops. Since it was still officially winter, the elegant Kimball’s Kitchen with wrap-around windows was not yet open, but the fresh seasonal food, careful attention from waitstaff, and atmosphere in this restored historic buidling constructed in 1874, couldn’t have been better. We headed back to the Lifesaving Station the next morning for one of the best homemade biscuits and omelet breakfasts I’ve ever had. To top it off, it was a beautiful clear day and and we enjoyed a long walk on the beach.

The Sanderling truly ranks as a destination wedding location to me because of the exciting activities that abound within the nearby area. The beaches are wide and pristine with clear ocean (this area of the Atlantic seems to have the most beautiful turquoise colors). Corolla, just a very few miles north of Duck, where the Sanderling is located, is well-known for the wild ponies that roam the beach and nearby forest trails. There’s biking, a bird sanctuary, the opportunity to visit the Wrights Brother’s museum and monument and the dunes of Kill Devil Hills. There is also golf, and at the resort, two pools, a large adult hot tub, all types of water activity rentals, outdoor bars, and of course, the beach.

We will let the images from the Weddings Showcase, captured by Brooke Mayo Photographers, convey the rest of the story about these talented vendors and the Sanderling Resort’s romantic and gorgeous property. Due to light rain during this year’s bridal showcase, the decor, food and tables were all housed in the event spaces and inside the main house. Be assured, rain or shine, The Sanderling Resort can make a bride’s wedding dream complete!
Wedding showcase at the Sanderling Resort in Duck NCWedding showcase at the Sanderling Resort on NC coastNautical themed beach weddingDessert table for weddingBridal decor at OBX wedding showcaseAdore napking rings for weddingSoft pink wedding table inspirationWedding chocolates and trufflesBrightly colored cupcakes and wedding favorsRustic outdoor wedding table settingBright and colorful table settingBride and Groom themed wedding gamesImages provided by Outer Banks-based Brooke Mayo Photographers

Artful Event Space in the New 21c Museum Hotel Durham

On Monday, March 16, doors opened and the public was welcomed inside one of the most uniquly renovated buildings in downtown Durham. 21c Museum Hotel Durham and it’s onsite restaurant, Counting House, are now fully functioning and open for overnight guests as well as to the public for dinner and tours.

Perhaps one of the coolest things about this new boutique hotel is that it’s actually a very old space transformed. The building itself has a lot of history – the old Hill Building was built in 1937 and served as a bank for many years. The space still retains elements of its former life, including an old vault on the lower level (now a one-of-a-kind lounge), original terrazzo floors, and wood paneling in the former bank lobby (now a ballroom). The rooms and galleries, however, are thoroughly modernized with all the latest amenities, contemporary artwork everywhere you turn, and other art deco elements. Free guided docent tours are offered every Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m.

There is plenty of artful event space in the new 21c Museum Hotel Durham – perfect for small gatherings of 20 or for receptions of over 300 people. From the grand ballroom on the ground floor to the large open galleries upstairs, where tables can be set up among the art, to the small private and semi-private spaces in the restaurant, there are many unique and flexible spaces that would be perfect for a wedding, rehearsal dinner, reception or cocktail party. The hotel has 125 guest rooms total, and offers luxury room blocks for out-of-town guests. Convenient valet parking is available for $15 a day. The best part is, you’re right in the middle of all the action in downtown Durham.

For those who want to show out-of-town (or even local) guests a good time in Durham, this location is ideal. Situated just up the road from DPAC, American Tobacco Campus, and plenty of great restaurants and bars, 21c Museum Hotel couldn’t be in a better spot. The views from the guest rooms are amazing – overlooking the city and well-known landmarks from all different angles.

Of course, there is also plenty to keep guests entertained inside the hotel itself, including an in-house spa, over 10,500 square feet of art-filled event space, and a beautiful restaurant to lounge and dine. Chef Josh Munchel and the culinary team at Counting House oversee event catering at 21c. They work to showcase the rich heritage of North Carolina’s seafood, delivering dishes that celebrate artisanal products and sustainable farming. The restaurant can seat up to 160 people.

For modern brides seeking a truly unique day, 21c is a venue worth considering. It’s a fantastic one-stop shop, offering an all-inclusive, full-service venue in the heart of downtown Durham.21c Museum Hotel check in desk in Durham NC21c Museum Hotel Durham as event space21c Museum hotel guest room21c Museum Hotel Guest BathWedding at 21c Museum Hotel Durham21c Museum Hotel and art gallery in DurhamPhotos courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel

Celebrating Marriage Equality in NC

Today, we’re sharing an upcoming wedding that celebrates a historic moment for many couples across the state. North Carolinians were privileged to have experienced the making of history last October, with the new legislation making same-sex marriage legal in our state. It’s an important milestone and SB&G celebrated marriage equality in NC by featuring couples who were engaged or married around the time of the legislation in our 2015 magazine.

Chad Biggs and Chris Creech were the first to make history in North Carolina. You saw them all over the news when the legislation passed – they were the first gay couple to legally wed in the state! But their story did not begin or end that day.

Chad and Chris live in Raleigh and are both Wake County Deputies, as well as own Chad Biggs Event Planning & Design. Chad is also the exclusive planner at Babylon in Raleigh.

Friends introduced the two in 2006. On their very first date, laughing with one another and relishing in Chad’s daughter playing with Chris’s two new foster sons, they knew were meant to be a family. The men became a couple sharing home and child-rearing duties. They soon welcomed their foster children’s three additional siblings into the bunch, making a six-child household! Eventually, the foster children were returned to their parents, but Chad and Chris’ lives have been forever impacted, and they have stayed in touch with the children they helped raise. They still have a full house today with their daughter, Sabre, and two dogs.

When October 10, 2014, arrived, Chad and Chris stood together among dozens of couples and supporters outside of the Wake County Register of Deeds office where upon learning legalization had passed, Chad surprised Chris and asked him to marry him at the courthouse that day. Shortly after, they rushed inside and purchased their marriage license – the first in the state – and were married by Chief Magistrate Judge Dexter Williams, a long time friend.

Following the legislation, Rochelle Johnson, co-owner of The Cookery, an event venue and culinary incubator in downtown Durham, reached out to Chad and Chris and offered to donate their venue for a formal reception event.

“The Cookery is in the business of hosting ALL weddings,” said Rochelle Johnson, owner of The Cookery. “We are so happy to have Chad and Chris here to celebrate such a special and historic day.”

This September, Chad and Chris will have the wedding they have been waiting for – with a ceremony in Duke Gardens followed by a wedding reception at The Cookery’s Front Room. In addition, The Cookery has secured donated services from a variety of wedding vendors. All vendors listed below have offered generous discounts to help this couple have a very special day. Some went above and beyond to fully donate their services, including  Donovan’s Dish, American Party Rentals, Union Press and Paper, Focus Media, Spin, Harpist Laura Byrne, Calligraphy by Carrie, Simply Cakes, and Babylon.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity that The Cookery and other vendors have shown us. This is not only a huge day for us, but also a huge day for the state of North Carolina,” said Biggs.

Enjoy these beautiful engagement photos that were taken at American Tobacco Campus and Duke Gardens, photographed by SB&G Preferred Photographer, Southern Love Studios. We can’t wait to see the images he captures on their upcoming wedding day. Congratulations, Chad & Chris, and happy planning!

Silver mens engagement ringsEngagement session at Duke Gardens in Durham NCSame-sex North Carolina engagement by Southern Love StudiosSame-sex wedding photography by Southern Love StudiosEngagement shoot at American Tobacco Campus in Durham NCCAKE Simply Cakes | CATERER Donavan’s Dish | STATIONERY  Union Press & Paper | CEREMONY VENUE Sarah P. Duke Gardens | PHOTOGRAPHY Southern Love Studios | RECEPTION VENUE The Cookery | REHERSAL DINNER VENUE & FOOD Babylon | FLOWERS Expressions of Love Florist | VIDEOGRAPHER Focus Media / Zach Stamey | TENT and LINENS American Party Rentals | TRANSPORTATION Classy Transportation | DJ Spin | MUSIC Laura Byrne Professional Harpist | CALLIGRAPHY Calligraphy by Carrie | HAIR Manuel Eason at 6 Salon | MAKE UP Maria Arellano

Contemporary White Wedding Floral Inspirations

Southern Bride & Groom is excited to share some of our favorite photos, including many not seen in print, from our floral designers featured in the 2015 magazine. In this shoot, modern accents mix with scented gardenias, streams of orchids, and the tall reach of calla lilies for glorious soft yet contemporary white wedding floral inspirations created by Fresh Affairs. This stunning bridal party table is set in front of the fully embellished outdoor stone fireplace at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club in Durham, NC.

Fresh Affairs specializes in floral and event design for weddings and special events in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina and beyond. The shop’s enthusiasm and passion for event design, floral design and wedding flowers has endured for more than 20 years. This strength has enabled a dedicated and accomplished design team to continue an imaginative approach to fresh flowers that turns a bride’s dream into a reality. From classic to creative, from simple to stunning, Fresh Affairs combine experience with imagination to make your event what it should be: amazing, unforgettable and a memory to cherish forever.

Mark your calendars for Fresh Affairs next open house, “Tabletop Extravaganza,” set for Sunday, July 12, 2015 from 2-5 pm.White wedding flowers at the Washington Duke Inn Durham NCMantle decor for white wedding at Washington Duke InnWedding table set with white orchids and gardeniasSilver table setting for Raleigh weddingFully embellished outdoor stone fireplace at the Washington Duke InnWhite gardenias for wedding tableBridal party table setting ideas with white flowersFLORAL DESIGN Fresh Affairs | TABLETOP LINEN & CHAIRS Party Reflections | GOWN Harriett by Amy Kuschel | JEWELRY Bailey’s Fine Jewelry | HAIR & MAKEUP Bella Trio Day Spa | VENUE The President’s Terrace at The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club | PHOTOGRAPHY Waters & Walters

2015 Bull City Food and Beer Experience

Durham, NC, is becoming known for its flourishing food scene; in fact, CNN recently listed the Bull City as one of the top seven “up and coming foodie destinations.”

The 3rd Annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience, which took place last week at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), aims to stimulate and educate one’s palate and mind through pairing of local food that showcases 30 Durham restaurants and over 30 premier craft/import breweries. The event, founded by DPAC, Sam’s Quik Shop, and Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom, allows the rare opportunity to sample a wide variety of food and drink from local vendors and to meet the people behind it.

Southern Bride & Groom tried many delicious bites throughout the evening and caught up with some of our Preferred vendors, including The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club, which was serving up flavorful lamb and pork meatballs with jalapeño cornbread, and our friends from Angus Barn and Bay 7 who were dishing out tender BBQ ribs! Each bite we had at the event was unique, showing off the creativity and talent of all the local chefs and vendors.

Many restaurants at the event offer private dining space perfect for rehearsal dinners or bridal showers and several offer catering options for weddings. The sheer variety of food and drink served shows how many options there are when it comes to creative finger-food: from ceviche to smoked salmon to beef tartare and chocolate peanut butter pie – all of which would make appetizing hors d’oeuvres for a rehearsal dinner or cocktail hour.

Below are some mouth-watering photos from our 2015 Bull City Food & Beer Experience.

Washington Duke Inn and Bar VirgileCeviche from Juju in DurhamAngus Barn and GocciolinaPotato skins from Pizzeria ToroSaltbox DurhamBull City Food and Beer ExperiencePhotos by Tommie Watson Photography