NC brides don’t need to travel far to find an idyllic destination wedding setting. Bald Head Island is a world of its own, with stretches of stunning pristine beaches, well-preserved dunes and forests, and an upscale community feel, making it the perfect location for a destination wedding.
Mama Parks and I were privileged to visit our friends at Bald Head Island Ltd and their gorgeous wedding venue, the Shoals Club, a few weeks ago. Although we are lifelong North Carolinians, and have always heard rave reviews about the island, we had never ourselves been guests at the island. After just two nights on this magical island, it is safe to say that we’re IN LOVE, and I am so excited to share some photos I’ve collected of various sites on the island and tell you more about the wedding opportunities.
About an hour south of Wilmington is the town of Southport, where you must board a ferry to take your journey to Bald Head Island. This short 20 minute ride is symbolic of leaving not only your car, but your worries behind. We were lucky enough to sit on the top deck of a nearly empty ferry (midweek in January isn’t high season) and enjoy a bright orange sunset.
Bald Head Island Ltd owns dozens of properties that are available for rent. We stayed in one of the cozy Element cottages, which sits right along the marina with a fabulous view of the docks and the boats arriving and departing the island.
Life on the island is simple and sweet – most properties for rent (including our “Air” Element cottage) come with a golf cart – which is pretty crucial considering you’re on a 14-mile island with no car. This says a lot about the pace of life on Bald Head: calm and leisurely. No traffic, no horns, no gas fumes plus plenty of fresh air, quiet neighborhoods, blue skies, expansive beaches. Believe me, you’ll get used the slow pace in no time; it’s almost as if having no choice but to mosey down the road in a golf cart or on foot sends you into relaxation mode more quickly. And for us non-golfers, the carts made our stay feel like a real adventure.
One very special property that Bald Head Island Ltd has available for rent which is called Beacons Watch. It sits right across the street from Element cottage and we were lucky to get the chance to take a tour of this gracious 10-bedroom work of modern architectural beauty. Its spacious living areas are perfect for group gatherings and the kitchen is roomy enough for team cooking. The best part is every single bedroom has its own bathroom and balcony – some with views of the marina, and others with views of the wetlands and lighthouse. This is the perfect place for an extended family or entire wedding party to stay together under one roof, while having plenty of individual privacy.
During our stay, we got the chance to really get to know the island. We checked out several of the dining options – fresh seafood is available everywhere – and even paid a visit to the on-island grocery store. Bald Head has it all – even a spa where a bride and her ‘maids can enjoy onsite services.
We also see a couple of special sights of the island during our tour. Built in 1795, Old Baldy is North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse. It is the perfect place to send your wedding guests – and it’s also a beautiful photo-opp, especially if your wedding ceremony is at the adjacent chapel. The Village Chapel of Bald Head Island is built in the 19th century Carolina coastal style. There is seating for 130 in this lovely chapel with beautiful wooden ceiling beams and a view into the green thickets in which it is situated.
The highlight of our tour was definitely visiting the Shoals Club. We fell in love with this outstanding wedding venue. Couples may choose to book this site for just the reception – having their ceremony at the chapel or on the beach, but my favorite part of the Shoals Club is the breathtaking ceremony site. The presentation deck overlooks the Cape Fear Point. The view is breathtaking – your guests will watch as you are wed under an open-air arbor against a backdrop of sand dunes, Bald Head’s East Beach and Atlantic Ocean. For your reception, the dining room and outdoor covered verandah are wonderful options. Or, choose the event pavilion, which neighbors the pool terrace. Shoals Club’s staff will guide you through the process, and provide high-quality catering. The club is undergoing some renovations this winter – we’ll be sure to follow up with another photo-tour blog of the club when they are complete!
We also had the chance to tour and have lunch at the island’s other major venue – the Bald Head Island Club. For couples that want a destination wedding, but are drawn to a more traditional feel, this is the perfect venue. Unlike your hometown club, however, this one not only has a beautiful golf course view, but also a view of the beach! It has plenty of indoor and outdoor space, and a fabulous chef!
Of course, many couples plan more intimate destination weddings at Bald Head Island, in which they are wed on the beach, followed by a reception at one of the rental properties, and it’s clear to see why – there couldn’t be a lovelier beach for such a wedding.
Really, you cannot go wrong by choosing Bald Head Island as your destination wedding location – it is pure paradise, and you and your guests will have a memorable wedding event here. It’s all about what you envision for your special day, how many people you need to accommodate, and whether or not you love the idea of sand between your toes as you say your vows!
A big thanks to the Bald Head Island Ltd and Shoals Club teams. Also, thank you to Brian Mullins Photography for contributing some of the beautiful photos for this article!