Advice Archive

The Best Southern Cities to Tie the Knot

I may be a bit biased, but there really is nowhere better to tie the knot than the Southeastern United States. The South has everything you could ever want in a wedding location – charm, hospitality, history, fun things to do, warm weather… the list is endless. It truly is the most magical place on earth! Today I’m sharing my three favorite Southern cities to host your destination wedding!

best southern city for a destination wedding

P.S. If you want some of my top tips and tricks for planning your destination wedding, you can find that right here!

lowndes grove charleston wedding planner

Charleston: No question. Charleston is without a doubt the Southern wedding mecca. And for good reason! Some of the most beautiful wedding locations in the country can be found within the Holy City. Not only are the wedding venues breathtaking, but the city has so much to offer in regards to your experience as a whole. Charleston has everything from an award winning food scene to amazing hotels to a variety of fun activities all a short drive from the beach. There is a reason Conde Nast has named Charleston the best city in the US multiple times.

If you are looking to say I do in the most magical of Southern cities, here are some of my favorites venues:

Lowndes Grove

Middleton Place

Boone Hall Plantation

pippin hill wedding

Charlottesville: If you love history, great beer, and music, Charlottesville is the perfect spot to say I do. The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, calls Charlottesville home as did other founding fathers James Madison and James Monroe. If you are full on history but in need of a good drink, you can find a plethora of great craft- and microbreweries around town. Add in top notch street music and concerts and you have one picturesque wedding weekend.

If the home of Dave Matthews sounds like the perfect spot for your nuptials, these venues in and around Charlottesville are major eye candy:

Pippin Hill

Keswick Vineyards


old edwards inn wedding planner

Highlands + Cashiers: These two mountain resort towns is just as luxurious as they sound. A short drive from one another, they feature some of the most beautiful venues this side of the Mississippi. Also within a few hours of Asheville, Greenville, or Atlanta, Highlands and Cashiers are easy for get away weekends with big groups driving in from a nearby city. This area of the North Carolina mountains offers hiking, fishing, golf, art life, and relaxing spa services. Truly something from everyone!

If this secluded spot sounds like your speed, you *must* consider these venues for your big day:

High Hampton Inn

Old Edwards Inn

Lonesome Valley


Anna Paschal Photography

Now that you know some of my favorite Southern cities for weddings, I would love to hear yours!! And .. spoiler alert!!! .. there are so many Southern cities that the LPE team and I love that there is sure to be a 2.0 version of this post sooner than later!


Leigh Pearce is the owner and creative director of Leigh Pearce Events, a boutique planning and design company specializing in luxury weddings and highly personalized events. LPE is based in North Carolina and serves all of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and destinations beyond with impeccable and exclusive wedding experiences. Connect with Leigh today at 336-552-5645 or leigh@leighpearceevents about your special event.

Tips to Hosting the Perfect Destination Wedding

Destination weddings are SO much fun, but they can also be a lot of work and stress. Planning far away from the location you will tie the knot is a little extra work, but I have some tips below that will make life easier and the end result so worth it!

ideas for your destination wedding

1. Hire a planner: A planner will save you in so many ways. Stress, time, money, number of trips to your venue, and more. The value of a planner is a post for another day, but in regards to your destination wedding, a planner will be able to plan your entire wedding with ease allowing you to only deal with the fun decisions (like tasting cake!).

2. Plan ahead: Popular locations like Charleston are in high demand. Even if you aren’t ready to make the detail decisions (what your centerpieces will look like, what to serve for supper, etc.), go ahead and book your venue and vendors. This will get you on everyone’s calendars in advance and you can figure out the nitty gritty later.

3. Plan a trip: This isn’t always feasible especially if you are going to an international destination, but if you are able, planning a trip to your venue before the big day is a must. You can talk to the locals, host all of your appointments in a few days (think cake tasting, menu tasting, floral mock ups, planning meetings), and begin to picture how it will all come together. If you aren’t able to go in person, this is where a planner can also come in handy. For our destination brides, we have video calls, send pictures and videos of anything and everything, and fill you in on the details.

4. Create a wedding website: Every wedding can benefit from a wedding website, but with destination weddings, it is key to a great guest experience. Your guests need detailed information on hotels, transportation, flights, the weekend schedule, places to visit and more. Here at LPE, we find that our out of state or international guests will often not only visit for the wedding weekend, but also stay for an extended period of time. With the mountains and beach a short drive away, it is the perfect excuse to see all that North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and beyond has to offer!

5. Host multiple events: I know what you are thinking. But hear me out. There is so much stress, high expectations, and overwhelm surrounding the wedding day. It’s your one shot to get it right and have all of your family and friends in the same place. But if you host multiple events (think casual brunch, fun welcome party, etc.) you will have time to actually relax and enjoy your family and friends. Hosting all of these events at the same resort or in the same close vicinity to your wedding will make things easier when it comes to planning. And, of course, your planner will make all of this a breeze!

Do you have any great destination wedding tips? I would love to hear them! Share in the comments below and happy planning!


Leigh Pearce is the owner and creative director of Leigh Pearce Events, a boutique wedding planning and design company specializing in luxury weddings and highly personalized events. LPE is based in Greensboro, NC, and serves Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, Asheville, Wilmington, and the rest of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and destinations beyond with impeccable and exclusive wedding experiences. Connect with Leigh today at 336-552-5645 or [email protected] about your special event.

How to Give Your Wedding Personality | Asheville NC Wedding Planner

Personalizing your wedding can be a daunting task. There are SO many options out there (I’m looking at you, Pinterest). I’ve shared some of my top tips below to jazz up your wedding from basic to oh-so-you. You’ll see that the overarching theme in all of my tips focus on one major thing: your relationship. Showing your personality translates best when it’s done in an authentic way.

how to take betterfamily vacationpictures (4)

Family Traditions:  This is a GREAT place to start when it comes to personalizing your big day. Chat with your parents and close family members about your family traditions. Perhaps all the women in your family have worn a certain piece of jewelry. Maybe you can share your favorite recipe with the caterer to incorporate into cocktail hour. The options are endless!

Don’t Be Trendy (Unless It Makes Sense): If you have never touched a mason jar in your life, you probably shouldn’t incorporate them into your place settings. Now, if you grew up canning veggies with your grandmother, then mason jars have a special place in your heart and make total sense for your design. Think through WHY you like what you like and translate it into something that fits with your personality.

Food + Beverage:  Sit down with your betrothed and make a list of all the significant meals you have had together. Think first date, engagement, your favorite Friday night spot, etc.  For example, if you eat burgers and fries every Friday night, then you should deffffnitley have sliders and pomme frites as your late night snack.  If you toasted your engagement with a bottle of your favorite prosecco, then incorporate some bubbles into your bar menu. This list will start to guide you in the right direction and showcase your personality and relationship.

Splurge a Little: I know it is tempting but you don’t HAVE to use all of the items your venue or caterer provides just because they are complimentary. Consider investing in vintage glassware, a textured linen, an upgraded chair.. anything to make your wedding look different than the other 50+ weddings taking place at your venue on any given year.  These small touches will make a world of difference and trust me, your guests will notice.

Music: Quite possibly the easiest way to give your wedding a bit of personality! If you aren’t restricted by your venue (sorry, church ladies), you can have SO much fun with your ceremony music. Youtube is a great research tool. You can typically find instrumental versions of your favorite tunes if you do a little digging.  I also highly recommend checking out artists like Vitamin String Quartet. They cover everything from George Strait to Guns ‘N Roses and everything in between.

Any other tips you can add? How did you incorporate YOUR personality into your own wedding? Share in the comments below!


Leigh Pearce is the owner and creative director of Leigh Pearce Events, a boutique wedding planning and design company specializing in luxury weddings and highly personalized events. LPE is based in Greensboro, NC, and serves all of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and destinations beyond with impeccable and exclusive wedding experiences. Connect with Leigh today at 336-552-5645 or leigh@leighpearceevents about your special event. 


The *Perfect* Wedding Gift | North Carolina Wedding Planner

First, let me preface this post by saying…..

If you are attending a wedding as a guest, please please please get the couple something off of their registry or send them a monetary gift. You think a handmade scrapbook sounds like a great idea, but trust me. The couple would much rather have the china they registered for or some extra cash to spend on the house they just bought.

One of the most popular questions that clients or parents asks me is this:

“What should I get my significant other/parent/daughter/son as a wedding present?
I want it to be unique and special.”

Seems like a tall order but I have the *perfect* solution to this quandary.

the perfect wedding gift

The perfect wedding gift is … drum roll please … artwork!

A commissioned piece of art is truly something special and unique. It becomes an instant heirloom and holds a great deal of sentimental value. All great things when it comes to wedding presents. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite wedding artists and ideas so you can gift the special person in your life with the *perfect* wedding gift!

1. Bouquet:  Lauren Skunta is my wedding design crush. She creates the most amazing custom installations for weddings across the nation and recently has added bouquet artwork to her repertoire. She offers custom sketches and paintings of wedding bouquets that are to die for. You could gift the bride-to-be with a beautiful card to let her know that post-wedding, a commissioned painting of her blooms will be headed her way.

Check out Lauren’s work here.

the perfect wedding gift

2. Venue: I took my own advice on this one! For my own wedding, I commissioned a watercolor of our venue from sweet Laurie Duncan of Carolina Delight. I had two high quality prints made for my mom and Bryan’s parents and have the original on display in our home. I was so pleased with the result!

Check out Laurie’s work here.

the perfect wedding gift

3. The Couple: An art piece doesn’t have to be what is traditionally done – painting, sketch, etc. Depending on your style, a cool custom graphic design may be just what you are looking for. I love Miss Design Berry for this. They create the most amazing custom prints, guest books, you name it. I have even commissioned a custom snap chat filter from them!

Check out Miss Design Berry’s work here.

the perfect wedding gift

4. Vows: This one is on my wish list. Jessica Peddicord is the most amazing watercolor artist and can seriously do an.yyy.thinggg. In addition to offering custom invitations and work, she creates the beautiful watercolor vows you see here. These would also make the *perfect* first anniversary gift (hint, hint husband of mine: year one is paper!).

Check out Jessica’s work here.

(Photo by Callie of Nancy Ray Photography)


5. Live Artist: Hiring a live artist to paint a scene from your wedding, on site, would be SO fun. Not only do you reap the benefits of receiving a beautiful piece of art to place in your home, but you also offer something interesting and different for your guests to observe during the ceremony or reception. Southern couples, one of my favorite artists for hire is Ben with Wed On Canvas. I love his style and, bonus, he can also make your painting into beautiful note cards and prints if you want to share the love!

Check out Ben’s work here.

the perfect wedding gift

So, what do you think? Do you agree that artwork is the *perfect* wedding gift? I would love to hear some of your favorite ideas too. Share in the comments below!


Leigh Pearce is the owner and creative director of Leigh Pearce Events, a boutique planning and design company specializing in luxury weddings and highly personalized events. LPE is based in Greensboro, NC, and serves all of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and destinations beyond with impeccable and exclusive wedding experiences. Connect with Leigh today at 336-552-5645 or leigh@leighpearceevents about your special event. 

I Like Bigs Tents and I Cannot Lie | North Carolina Wedding Planner

It’s true. Tents are my jam. As we approach 2017 and wedding planning for next year is abuzz, here is some inspiration for your tented wedding. Pinterest away!!

north carolina wedding planner private property outdoor tented wedding tips

If you are planning to have your ceremony outdoors and don’t have a viable indoor back up plan, reserve a tent in advance in case of inclement weather. Also, it comes in handy to make sure all your design details will work well inside or out of a tent. I love this grand entrance we gave to Katherine and Nathan’s wedding tent – we created an outdoor church.


Whitebox Photography | See more from K+N’s farm wedding here

Hello gorgeous! Nothing will make your guests’ jaws drop like a beautiful Sperry pole tent. The signature high peaks and flags on these ionic sail cloth tents are my absolute favorite.

Kemper Fant Mills | See more from R+B’s at home wedding here

If you decide to go for a more traditional frame or structure tent, draping and chandeliers are the perfect accent to create a custom look.


Michael Moss | See more from M+E’s plantation wedding here

You may be thinking that you just need a tent in case of rain, but I recommend them rain or shine especially in the summer. They give your guests a reprieve from the sun and heat. You can install fans to help create a breeze or even side walls and an air conditioning unit. Your guests will thank you!


Alexa’s Photography | See more from C+C’s Badin Lake wedding here

Think about your floor plan. Plan out your focal points and high traffic areas like stage, dance floor, food stations, bars, and the like to ensure proper flow. Don’t forget to think about your entry and exit points and making them well defined.


Boonetown Story | See more from S+C’s travel inspired wedding here

One of my favorite ways to customize a tent design is to lay down flooring. The options are endless (hardwood, carpeting, patterns, oh my!) and your female guests will appreciate their heels not getting stuck in the grass.

Roanoke Virginia Wedding Photographer and Photography

Kemper Fant Mills | See more from R+B’s at home wedding here

If your venue comes with a tent, make sure to get a complete list of all the amenities and rentals that are included or available for upgrade. Think fans, lighting, dance floors, side walls, tables, chairs, and the list goes on. Knowing what items the venue can provide to you vs. what you will need to secure on your own will save you time and money down the road .


Perry Vaile Photography | See more from J+M’s Summerfield Farms wedding here

Nothing transforms a tent more than fabulous lighting. Chandeliers, twinkle lights, cafe lights, lanterns.. your options are endless. For this wedding, my wonderful bride, Katherine, wanted to dance under the stars but because of her large guest list and the unpredictable weather, that wasn’t feasible. Instead, I proposed a clear top tent with twinkle lights to create a starry effect. It was absolutely stunning and even more impactful in person.


Whitebox Photography | See more from K+N’s farm wedding here

If your wedding is completely off the grid (no main buildings around to support your needs), don’t forget about additional tents you may need. This could be everything from ceremony to cocktail hour to dinner to dancing to kitchen to restrooms to storage to marquees.


Whitebox Photography | See more from K+N’s farm wedding here

Still feeling a little overwhelmed? I would love to chat with you about making your tented wedidng stress free and beautiful. You can send a note through our handy contact form, call (336-552-5645) or, because I like to make things as easy peezy as possible, you can send an email or connect via social media with the icons under my photo on this page. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Gifts Ideas for Your Engaged Friends | Raleigh NC Wedding Planner

The holidays are my favorite time of year (other than summertime at the beach, of course). I love the fellowship, the hospitality, and the cheerful decorations the holidays bring. But most of all, I love giving gifts. If you have any newly engaged friends and family in your life, these are my go to gifts ..  you truly can’t go wrong with one of these (or all if you are feeling extra generous!).


Mrs. Box: Fact – every gal with an Instagram account has swooned over one of these boxes at one time or another. I love that you can choose the perfect color and monogram accent to personalize this gift. The other wonderful thing about these beautiful boxes are that you are truly giving an heirloom. It will be photographed on wedding day, hold her ring for years to come, and possibly handed down to future generations.

Veuve Clicquot Brut: When in doubt, give champagne. Christmas, birthdays, job promotion, engagement, or just because it’s Tuesday, it is always time for a glass of bubbles. Help your friends celebrate their new life milestone in style with this luxurious bottle of bubbly.


Southern Weddings Ultimate Bride Bundle: This bundle of joy .. well not that kind of bundle .. is sure to start the bride in your life with all the things she’ll need to plan and celebrate a meaningful engagement, wedding day, and marriage. This bride bundle includes some of my favorite SW items like the Southern Weddings Planner and Marriage Certificate (in the most beautiful gold foil). P.S. This is on sale right now until 11/28!!

Rewined Candle: These candles are my addiction. These Charleston made candles are the perfect gift for any guy or gal. My favorite scent is Champagne .. are you surprised? I also love the new Blanc collection. The Rosé and Chenin Blanc smell like heaven!


BHLDN Champagne Flutes:  Yay for these festive flutes! They are the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of of bubbles or simply wrapped with a bow on their own. I love that these flutes don’t feel overly feminine and would be the perfect gift for any couple.

Kate Spade Silk Square: A modern day Audrey Hepburn would, without a doubt, have this silk square tied around her handbag or knotted in her hair while cruising down the highway. I love the chic black and white touch and I’m confident your newly engaged gal pal would too.

Tips for Your At Home Wedding | Chapel Hill NC Wedding Planner

Admittedly, at home and private property weddings are my favorite. They are always deeply personal because the location has a special meaning to you, but they also require extremely detailed logistics like tenting, parking, and more.  Those details can be overwhelming without an experienced event team. Here are my top five tips for your at home wedding:

1. Hire an experienced wedding planner. Not all wedding planners are created equal. At home weddings require a lot of expertise, experience, and hard work. This type of event is not for the faint of heart so your average novice planner may not be able to hand the details as well as an experienced planner. When interviewing planners for your at home wedding, make sure to ask about their experience with this type of event. Ask for examples and photos.


Alexa’s Photography | Caroline + Chris’ Lakeside Wedding

2.  Budget, budget, budget: The temptation of no venue rental fee sounds like you are saving a ton of money, right? Often in my experience, at home and private property weddings end up being far more than a wedding hosted in a traditional event venue. Every element of the wedding needs to be brought in and this can add a significant amount to your overall budget. Make sure you are prepared for unforeseen costs (although a planner can help with this!).

3. Power and Restrooms: You think you don’t need either, but trust me. 9 times out of 10 you will need to bring in additional restrooms and power. Your average home cannot handle the power needed for your lighting, catering, entertainment, and restrooms. Power is KEY and must be planned for properly by a professional. Also, your two restrooms in your home are not substantial enough for 150+ guests. You do NOT want to deal with plumbing issues on your wedding day.


Whitebox Photography | Katherine + Nathan’s Farm Wedding

4. Experienced Caterer: Like your planner, you want to work with a caterer that has experience in off-site events. Your property is likely further away from their catering kitchen, food needs to be kept warm longer, they need to know how to possibly cook on site, and the like. Often with at home weddings, the caterer and I work together to build a pop up kitchen in a tent with power, stove tops, etc.

5. Guest Experience: Think about your guests at every turn. Make sure that you provide transportation if parking is tricky. Hire someone to help direct traffic or drive golf carts. Ensure that every area is well lit so no one falls. Remind your guests to dress appropriately for the weather or terrain. Remember you are hosting them in your home so make them feel that way!