Arguably, one of the most important decisions when planning a wedding is choosing a location. The wedding location establishes the event’s character, sets the guest’s mood and serves as an unforgettable setting for one of the most memorable moments in any couple’s life. Therefore, the place where the joining of two families in love and commitment occurs must be a place worthy of such an exceptional occasion.
Early on it was clear that we knew we wanted a beach ceremony at sunset followed by a celebration with a slightly vintage feel, using the natural colors of the local landscape, warm with candle light and overflowing with the sounds of laughter of those we love. Despite the fact that we live in Southern California where the cliff-side beaches of Malibu and it’s pastel sunsets would seem to many as an ideal setting for beach-side vows–it didn’t appeal to us–Emerald Isle, North Carolina did.
Growing up in North Carolina, both of our families often vacationed on Emerald Isle in the summers and even an occasional winter or fall. As children, we both have fond memories of swimming, boogie boarding and fishing in the warm, deep green waters off the coast that would sometimes calmly wrap around you like a warm blanket while other times rise and fall in great swells. Recollections of the soft, warm, and sandy shore scattered with colorful shells and the gently rolling dunes dotted with feathery sea oats brought us back to the east coast for our special day.
The date was set for April 12th and during the preceding summer our families decided to vacation together on the Island. We relaxed each day away sunning, reading, building sand castles and swimming while we spent our evenings together enjoying large meals and sharing stories and lots of laughter. It was the perfect setting for our families to connect and prepare for the exciting event that lay ahead. During a beach stroll one evening after dinner we spotted a large Victorian house hid partially behind the dunes but still grand in its presence and beauty. Most notably was the large setting sun that was painted on the house just under the eves of the roof. The feeling that this house was the perfect wedding location was nearly unanimous–we would get married at “The Anna Victoria”!
Once the location was chosen, everything else fell neatly into place. My dress would be made of antique lace and the groom’s suit made of linen and the wedding colors of olive, cream and brown would reflect the hues of the island’s natural landscape. We decided that our parents and our ten member wedding party would share the seven bedroom house with us for the entire week leading up to the celebration and guests would slowly trickle in throughout the week to visit and enjoy the beautiful Carolina coastal town.
Our guests from both out of state and abroad couldn’t believe their eyes–they quickly fell in love with Emerald Isle and the surrounding cozy and quaint towns of Salter Path,Pine Knoll Shores, Beaufort and New Bern. The friendly locals and fresh sea food fare at the Crab Shack introduced many of our guests to sweet tea and hushpuppies for the very first time! The rural and undeveloped landscape of the island created just the kind of escape from the bustling city streets and urban rush that we had hoped for our guests.
An old North Carolina saying goes, “If you don’t like he weather, just wait a minute”, and it couldn’t prove to be more true than it did the week of our wedding. Upon our arrival to North Carolina a week before the big day it snowed and the days to follow were not any more promising. A storm front was pushing through the state and it brought with it very cold temperatures, rain and high winds. Nevertheless, we carried on as planned and hunkered down inside of the big beach house to wait out the storm.
The day of the wedding all too quickly appeared as did something else that we had not seen all week–the sunshine! On the morning of the wedding at approximately 10:00 a.m. the clouds parted, the sun began to shine and the temperature rose into the mid-seventies. The stage was set for a perfect day and a perfect day it would be! The sunset ceremony and the celebration that followed was just as we had dreamed it would be–cozy but festive, relaxed and romantic, a little old fashioned and breathtakingly perfect.
Looking back on our wedding day, we quickly realize that it exceeded all of our expectations. A perfect memory was made from a perfect combination of family, friends, and Emerald Isle. Though our childhood memories of beach vacations never let Emerald Isle slip too far way from our minds, the memory of our wedding week will always keep Emerald Isle near and dear to our hearts. Even though we live in sunny southern California, Emerald Isle will always be a place that we return to with family and friends year after year to recreate that same perfect combination of love, laughter and memories that will last a lifetime.
– Dean & Joni Nelson