With so many weddings taking place after the “covid pause” I thought it will be valuable to share some wedding advice from the local wedding industry experts. I got the pleasure of chatting about wedding planning with Amanda Peoples, the owner of Walnut Hill, a very popular wedding venue in Raleigh, NC. I decided to share some of the priceless advice she has for the brides and grooms starting their wedding planning journey. This advice applies to local couples getting married in the Raleigh area but also in other states and beyond! I came up with 5 questions, please check out Amanda’s responses below.
1. Where to start while choosing the perfect wedding venue?
Two of the most important things to discuss with your future spouse and family before starting the touring process are your overall guest count and budget. You need to have an idea of both of these before wasting your time and energy on something that just won’t work. At Walnut Hill we can seat up to 200 guests so if you want to have a wedding of 250 we simply wouldn’t be a good fit. Can we tent or have guests seated on the porch or lawn? Sure! But, in my honest opinion, it is in your best interest to find a venue that will comfortably hold all your guests!
2. Who to book the first planner or venue?
It is usually best to book your venue first. Many venues have a preferred planner list that couples have to stick to and some have in-house planners. The venue may be able to make an exception, but not always! It doesn’t mean the planner you chose isn’t great but they may not know the space well. New planners to a space always mean extra meetings and time for the venue so try to understand why they may have to say no or charge a fee if you want to bring in someone new.
3. How many venues to visit while wedding planning?
I think it is great to visit about 3-6 venues when making your choice. I personally only visited three when I got married. Any more than six can get overwhelming! And, before you ask, no I did not get married at Walnut Hill. But to be fair the venue you all know and love today was just a field 10 years ago when I got married!
4. What questions to ask while visiting venues?
Oh, I could write a very very long list with questions you should ask! But I will hit some of the big ones!
- Who is doing setup and breakdown and for what items? The preparation for the wedding day is a huge task so make sure to find out who is doing set up and of what items. At Walnut Hill we provide all of your tables and chairs so we do that set up for you! We don’t drop your linens or place decor though since your coordinator usually knows where they should go best. If you need to pay for outside setup teams this could get expensive so make sure you understand who is doing what.
- The WEATHER! North Carolina gets all the seasons which is why it is such a beautiful place to live and get married. But that means you need a venue that can accommodate different weather scenarios! Make sure that your venue has good heating and air conditioning. I have seen some drastic temperature changes in the spring and fall so don’t rely on the weather no matter what month you chose! Rain plans are always important to think about. Not only the logistics of the day but also your photo opportunities. I actually didn’t realize that we had such good photo spots until I was chatting with a photographer friend of mine. Our houses and main pavilion all have a porch, which gives you options to still get outdoor photos if it is raining! If you book a venue with no overhang or porch space I hate to say it but you’ll be stuck inside all day if you get a rainy day! – This will take me on to photos! This isn’t really a question, just something to think about. Your wedding is a big day and let’s be honest we all want good photos right? Do you know what isn’t fun? Taking photos right by the cocktail hour while everyone is staring at you, or trying to come up and say congratulations. It is awkward and frustrating. At Walnut Hill guests enjoy cocktail hour in the location of your choice while you explore the rest of the property for photos! Those 15 acres really help give you some privacy to take gorgeous photos without interruption!
5. Surprising costs couples may not be aware of while planning a wedding?
There are a lot of extra costs nowadays and I think a big part of that is thanks to Instagram. There is a lot of pressure on couples to make not only the wedding day but everything leading up to it a full event. I got married only 10 years ago and I can already see how it has changed and the extra strain it can cause on some couples. If an over-the-top bridal shower stresses you out, don’t do it!!! If you’ve dreamed of the big bachelorette bash then go for it! Both options are 100% fine! It is your day and your experience and everyone wants to celebrate differently. That’s OK. Do what brings you happiness! But as for the venue here are a few things I have noticed that can add up! – Chairs! What chairs are included? Does the venue include ceremony and reception chairs or just reception chairs and can they be used outside? If the venue only has one set of chairs you may have to move them (who is doing this?) Or they may not allow their chairs outside so you’ll need to rent a second set, which can quickly add up! Walnut Hill includes reception and ceremony chairs for up to 200 guests. – Security – is security included and is it required? Several venues require a security guard when alcohol is being served. Some venues include this in your rental rate and some add it on as an additional fee. At Walnut Hill this is included!
Amanda, thank you for sharing your expertise! I really enjoyed our conversation and I hope our readers who are wedding planning, will find it valuable as well! I highly recommend checking out Walnut Hill in Raleigh, NC if you are looking for a perfect venue for your wedding! From a Raleigh photographer‘s perspective, Walnut Hill is a dream to photograph with endless photo opportunities! It is always a pleasure to work there because of the professionalism of Amanda and her team, as well as other vendors from the venue’s preferred vendor list.
Here is some information about the venue from their website:
“With multiple ceremony options and our modern white barn pavilion, we are a Raleigh wedding venue unlike any other.
Our pastoral charm and inspiring landscapes offer a wonderful blend of rustic elegance in a natural setting. We offer both indoor and outdoor event spaces with breathtaking views overlooking our tree-lined lake and manicured gardens. Whether your wedding calls for grandeur or intimacy, we guarantee, with unwavering assurance, that Walnut Hill will host the wedding of your dreams.”