With our dear friend (okay, enemy) Covid-19 hanging around and messing up all of our wedding plans, now is the time to start planning proactively. Weddings may not look the same for the rest of the year, and who knows what next year will entail. BUT – let’s focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. If you want to keep planning your wedding, while your guest count may have to be smaller, you can still plan the wedding of your dreams. Any bride that I’ve spoken to that ended up having an intimate wedding actually had the best day EVER. I remember one wedding I photographed back in Ohio that had 14 people total, including themselves as well as myself and the videographer. It was one of the most relaxing days I’ve ever been a part of. They were able to spend their whole day hanging out with their immediate family and best friends, without the constant pressure of making sure to mingle and spend time with every guest (especially at a 250-person wedding). If a party is what you’re looking for, that’s also still possible, but maybe consider doing an intimate wedding now, and a reception later. ANYWAY – this is a blog post about outdoor wedding venues, to help be as safe as possible while continuing to plan a wedding. Here’s a list of my top favorite outdoor wedding venues in Wilmington, North Carolina (in no particular order):

1. The Atrium by Ligon Flynn – this absolute stunner JUST opened up their availability through 2021 and beyond! This venue is completely outdoors, with an open ceiling above the ceremony space. While it’s not ideal for a rainy day, they can still accommodate and make it work under the covered space, if need be. This one is one of my favorites because of the open ceiling, the old brick walls, and the incredible amount of greenery surrounding you. It’s got such a secret garden vibe going on, and I’m here for it.

2. Bakery 105 – while they have both indoor & outdoor spaces, their outdoor patio is my favorite. Twinkle lights, brick walls, open space, greenery climbing up the walls… do I even need to say more?

3. The Barn at Rock Creek – this venue is in Leland, a very short drive from downtown Wilmington, and perfect for the more outdoorsy type. While every wedding I’ve done there has had their reception inside the barn, I’d say the outside is actually my favorite. In the fall, the surrounding trees are vivid hues of yellow and orange, and they make for the most perfect nature-filled backdrops.

4. The River Lodge at River Landing – you can have your ENTIRE wedding outdoors at River Landing in Wallace, NC. Just about a 40 minute drive outside of Wilmington. They have multiple venues on site to choose from, with the River Lodge being fully outside. With our warm weather in Wilmington, it’s probably best to schedule a spring or fall wedding here, so your guests don’t melt. And if it’s chilly, just invest in some heaters!

5. Airlie Gardens – if you’re a sucker for some souther charm, then Airlie Gardens is for you. They are incredibly exclusive in allowing photographers to shoot here, and require a fee at all times, which means you won’t be overcrowded with other people doing photo shoots all around you. And upon creeping on their website, they have an incredible deal for elopement ceremonies of groups under 10 people for $300 (or $500 for a Saturday). That’s an absolute steal for a place like this.

6. Fort Fisher State Historic Site – there’s a few different spots to choose from here. My personal favorite being the historic site underneath their stunning wind-swept live oaks. As well as an outdoor facility just down the road for receptions. Get a tent and dance the night away under the stars!!

7. Watermark Marina – located on River Road in Wilmington, they do have a great indoor area that most people end up doing their seated dinners inside of, but I prefer the outside anyway. With a dock to host your ceremony, and a huuuuuge lawn to do pretty much anything you want with, and all sitting on the water, you really can’t go wrong. My personal favorite is adding a dance floor and surrounding it with twinkle lights – and you’ve got the perfect setup for endless dancing fun.