Ashley and Andrew knew that a mountain wedding was perfect for them. They originally met at summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Andrew asked Ashley to marry him at sunrise on McAfee Knob along the Appalachian Trail while on a backpacking trip. And Andrew's family had been going to the High Hampton for their retreat for 40 years. Ashley is also a thoughtful and conscientious bride who has taken the time to write some amazing hindsight advice. Enjoy!
Ashley + Andrew
September 21, 2013
Why a Mountain Wedding?
Mountains have always been a theme in our lives, both as a couple and as individuals: we originally met at summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and Andrew asked me to marry him at sunrise on McAfee Knob along the Appalachian Trail while on a backpacking trip. We love spending time in the mountains together—Andrew is an avid fly fisherman and I love to climb and ski. We didn’t make too many considerations when choosing a wedding venue. Basically Andrew asked, “Ashley, will you marry me… at High Hampton?” His family has been having their annual retreat there for the past 40 years. We were happy to choose a place with so much personal significance that we will continue to come back to year after year.
Where did you find your inspiration?
I was a bride who struggled with the idea of having a wedding that included more than just our extended family. I was inspired once I came to the realization that our wedding didn’t have to just be about Andrew and me, but rather it was a celebration of all the people that we love and who we want to be a part of our married lives.
What were some personal details you incorporated?
My favorite detail of our ceremony was that Andrew and I each chose a reader and a reading for one another. We each told our officiates ahead of time, but in the program it just said “a reading for the bride” and “a reading for the groom.” We were both surprised and touched by one another’s choices.
Your favorite moment of the day.
Mid-reception, on the dance floor: looking around and seeing so many people I loved having a good time.
Three things you're glad you did.
- We had THE BEST band ever. No joke, Steel Toe Stiletto out of Greenville, SC—AMAZING.
- High Hampton has a SPECTACULAR mountain vista that our ceremony spot overlooked. However, two days before the wedding we were sure it was going to pour all day long. We decided that our previously decided-upon back up plan (our reception tent) wasn’t a suitable stand-in. As Andrew and I were taking a walk around downtown Cashiers we stumbled upon the Village Green, an outdoor park with a large wooden pavilion just two miles from High Hampton. We asked a grounds keeper if it were possible to rent out the pavilion that Saturday. He wasn't sure, but he gave us the park director’s phone number, we called her, she came down to meet us and we set everything up to have the Village Green be our new ceremony spot. After a year of planning, we had changed our ceremony venue in less than 30 minutes just two days before the wedding.
- Decide to marry Andrew. He was a great co-wedding planner and an even better husband. Everyday I am so thankful to have him as my partner.
Anything you wish you hadn't done?
I wish that we hadn’t limited our guest list and had just invited more people. We were limited on space because, so we were probably more conservative than we needed to be. I wish we had sent out more invitations than we did.
What was the best piece of wedding advice you got?
I had a small meltdown about two months before the wedding about a detail so minute that I’m embarrassed to say it out loud, but the very next day a copy of The Conscious Bride arrived in the mail from one of my fly girls (I despise the word bridesmaids, it’s so subservient) who had just gotten married the month before. Though much of the book is a little cheesy for my liking, I took solace in (1) the gesture of a dear friend, and (2) the book’s main premise which is that modern society has essentially done away with many traditional ways to mark rites of passage, so when women get to the point of marriage (which in many instances is marked by a decision made by their partner through proposing), they haven’t had experience in culturally-shared ways of experiencing monumental life shifts. Therefore, getting married is really the first time that we are asked to openly celebrate a major identity change. Whoa. I realized that that there was a lot that I was sorting through that I hadn’t fully acknowledged. The testimonies of women in this book helped me see that I wasn’t alone in the conflicting emotions that I was experiencing.
What piece of wedding planning advice do you wish you followed?
Everyone will tell you to relax and not get worked up about the little details, but the truth is that this is a really important day that you care about a whole awful lot. I wish I hadn’t woken up so many nights at 3 AM thinking about seating charts, dresses, room assignments, decorations…but I did. In the end all the details came together and our friends, family, and the staff at High Hampton all played an integral role it making it such a great event.
Anything you wish you hadn't worried about?
I stressed so much about money. Weddings are expense, that’s just the way it goes.
Anything you wish you had known about sooner rather than later?
We didn’t know that case law in the state of North Carolina dictates that weddings be presided over by an ordained religious figure or a justice of the peace. Early on we asked Andrew’s godfather to marry us, but about four months before our wedding we found out that this could make our marriage voidable. Having a separate civil service wasn’t our ideal scenario. Luckily we had been meeting with a minister for pre-marriage counseling and she agreed to co-officiate our ceremony.
How did you choose your vendors?
Most of our vendors were female-run independent, local businesses (except for Sid, our cake maker, but he’s awesome, too!). We were happy to support such talented women and bring business to Western Carolina! We can’t say enough good things about: Floressence (flowers), Whitney Deal (bridesmaids’ dresses), Lime and Ruby (paper), Sarah Der Photography, Professional Party Rentals, Cakes by Sid, and the folks at High Hampton Inn & Country Club.
What is your very best advice to other mountain brides?
First, wedding planning is good practice for the ways that you will have to communicate and make decisions as husband and wife. Take the time to discuss how you will make decisions, who will be involved, and what is important to you. Establishing these habits early will stay with you in marriage. Second, I highly recommend pre-marriage counseling: every couple has things that they need to work through, having someone you trust facilitate those discussions is immensely beneficial.
Cashiers North Carolina Wedding Vendors
Photographer: Sarah Der Photography // Cake Designer: Creative Pastries by Sid // Floral Designer: Floressence Flowers // Reception Venue: High Hampton Inn // Musicians: Steel Toe Stiletto // Dress Designer: Watters and Watters* // Bridesmaid Dresses:Whitney Deal //