Friday, February 5, 2016

Our photographer for the Alexander Homestead, Garret Price from Carolina Portrait Designs, has some great insight on why it is important to hire a photographer familiar with your wedding venue...

"Selecting a photographer that is familiar with the venue you have chosen for your wedding is very important for numerous reasons but in an effort not to lose your attention, I’ll just touch on a couple highlights.  First and foremost, they do not need to spend any time familiarizing themselves with the area.  Having had the luxury of working with Alexander Homestead over the past 3 years, I know where the sun will be at any time on any day of the year.  Therefore, on your wedding day, when it is time to do your formal images, we know exactly where all the best areas to photograph are so we can move quickly and efficiently to make the most of our time!  Secondly, piggy backing off the previous reason, is time management.  We cannot stress enough how important time management is on your wedding day, and let’s be honest you’ll probably get behind and that is perfectly ok.  By hiring a professional photographer that is familiar with your wedding venue, you increase your chances of being able to get a variety of imagery in a short amount of time and help decrease the amount of stress on your big day."

Monday, January 4, 2016

Great way to start off 2016, with an award from The Knot!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Operation Marry Me Military Mecklenburg

Operation Marry Me Military are groups of various wedding professionals throughout the state of North Carolina who unite for one reason.... to give a deserving military couple the wedding of their dreams. Alecia Davis-Geddings of Oak Island Photography & Weddings in Oak Island, NC, founded this program in 2011.  Since then, OMMM has married over 17 couples totaling nearly $600,000 in donated goods and services throughout North Carolina. This isn’t about exposure or advertising for a business; it is about giving back to a selfless individual who puts their lives on the line daily for our freedom. As a venue, Alexander Homestead was honored and humbled to be a part of this program for the 2015 Operation Marry Me Military wedding on November 11 for Kathleen and Brad Mecklenburg.

Kathleen and Brad’s Story

Brad and Kathleen met December 31, 2011 when they were introduced by Brad’s brother, Robert. Fast forward to August 28, 2014  and there love story led to the moment of Brad popping the question on the beautiful South Port beach.

Brad is in the ARMY Reserves and did an 18 month tour in Afghanistan as a cargo specialist and diesel mechanic. He worked on any kind of equipment that needed fixing for our troops. If it was broken down, Brad fixed it. Brad has a 3 year old daughter named Elizabeth (aka Diva), who is the cutest little girl ever and loves her daddy so much.

Kathleen works 24 hour shifts as an EMT in Connelly Springs, North Carolina and has 2 handsome sons, Austin who is 15 and Joseph who is 11 years old.

Brad and Kathleen originally planned to get married in 2016, but when Brad’s sister, Danielle, told Kathleen about Operation Marry Me Military and told her to apply, Kathleen was hesitant. She told Danielle “…but I NEVER win anything”. Danielle kept encouraging Kathleen to apply, and with the deadline rapidly approaching, Kathleen waited until the last minute to submit her application. Still not convinced that anything would come of applying, Kathleen still waited for the winners to be announced. On August 17, 2015, during a 24 hour shift the call came in from Alicia that their application had won!

Kathleen said it took 6 hours for her to get a hold of Brad to tell him the news! She said that she went through a series of emotions from excitement, to shock, to panic. They went from planning to getting married in 2016 to getting married in 3 months!!!!

Kathleen and Brad were connected with Heidi Crowder who began the process of planning their dream wedding. The venue was chosen and Kathleen said that when she pulled into the gates of Alexander Homestead she was shocked and overwhelmed at the beauty of the venue. She described it as breathtaking, like a dream.  After meeting with a team at the venue, which consisted of a venue coordinator, florist, and DJ, the day started to take shape. Since we are an all-inclusive venue, we were able to have our creative team provide their services for the wedding. Everything from hair and makeup to videography and s’mores bar was provided for the wedding. There were over 23 vendors involved in the wedding, just to name a few: Alexander Homestead Weddings, Heidi Crowder Wedding Designs, Carolina Portrait Designs, CPD Films, Remarkable Receptions, Musically Yours NC, Rev. Jim Lytle, Ordained Pastor, Erin Ashley Makeup, Pink Petunia Designs, Nona's Sweets Bakery Cafe ("Dolci alla Nona"), SugarPop's, Holiday Inn Charlotte University, Davis Designs, Smart Choice Catering, and Bill Bickers and Erica Childers, who donated over $30,000 worth of goods and services for Kathleen and Brad’s special day!

The day we have all been waiting for finally arrives!!!!! At 9AM, Kathleen and her bridesmaids get out of the shuttle and start the process of preparing for the wedding. Flowers, cake, decorations, photographers, videographers and musicians get in place as the anticipation builds. At 2PM Brad and his groomsmen arrive dressed in their military uniforms and begin to prepare to start the ceremony for 50 guests in the beautiful gardens of our venue!

After the wedding, the reception begins with a buffet dinner and dancing. Guests were treated to a photo booth and a s’mores buffet. Brad and Kathleen were sent off with glow sticks and flags and driven off in a 57 Chevy convertible to their new life together! Thank you to all of our service men we appreciate YOU!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

         The Venue HUNT

Helpful tools to assist in this MOST IMPORTANT decision!
My husband and I recently moved into a new home. We had ONE WEEKEND to choose the home we would hopefully be spending the next decade or so of our lives in, and the stress was overwhelming. We met with our realtor and looked at so many houses I thought my head would explode. All the homes started to blend together, but there was one tool that ultimately helped us chose the home we currently live in.
Before looking at homes we sat down and created our “MUST HAVES” in a home; 12 foot ceilings, large kitchen, and a wooded lot were on the top of my list.
Knowing my MUST HAVES helped me know if I even wanted to waste time looking at particular homes, and streamlined the process.
While many of you have probably used this strategy yourselves when you’ve purchased a home, it might not have crossed your mind to do the very same thing as you look for your wedding venue.
Charlotte has unique challenges as far as venues go. Being that this is a city of finance, there are LOTS of hotels. Hotels comprise the biggest market for wedding reception locations. There is also a large contingency of country clubs. Many brides today are definitely not interested in this option. So, if you feel the unique venue options are limited in Charlotte, you are correct.
As you embark on your venue hunt, let me give you some pointers that I believe will be very beneficial to your decision process.

  1. Make your wish list
  1. Must haves (ex. must have rain contingency location)
  2. Likes (ex. would like to have a fire pit)
  3. Absolutely nots (ex. do not want a public venue)
  1. Discuss your Spending Plan. It is impossible to choose a venue before your know how much money you plan to invest into the celebration. Many parents want you to do research FIRST, but it saves the most time to know your rough budget ahead of time. The average wedding in North Carolina is 141 guests and 26K.
  2. Do your research online before setting up a tour. Make sure every place you tour meets your predetermined criteria.
  3. READ REVIEWS before you visit any venue. Do not visit a location that has less than a 4 star rating. Over 80% of couples use online reviews as part of their decision making process. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a PERFECT venue. The point is that you want to choose the location that meets most of your desires and needs.
  4. Call or email for additional information. If you have a set date, don’t waste your time (or the time of the venue) by visiting if they don’t have your date available. Pay close attention to how quickly they respond to your phone calls and emails. If they aren’t quick about responding to you before they get your money, they will be even worse after they do. Customer service is a HUGE component to enjoying the planning of your event. 

  5. Only bring essential “decision makers” to the tour. If you have children, get a sitter so they don’t distract you from the full experience. Don’t bring bridesmaids! The decision is YOURS and their opinions will only cloud your mind. As a couple, only YOU know what fits your personality and dreams.
  6. Ask LOTS of questions during site visit. Go prepared with a list of questions and pay close attention to how your questions are answered. Remember that if coordinator doesn’t respect you BEFORE you book the venue, she won’t respect you AFTER. The chemistry between the couple and venue is a very important component to enjoying the planning process.
  7. Ask for the venue’s “Polices and Guidelines” BEFORE you sign the contract. Ask about any fees that might not have been included in quote. Gratuities and taxes are often less than clear on contracts and can add a substantial amount to the bottom line.
  8. Be gracious. When you meet with venues, know that they do not respond well to arrogance, rudeness, and the whole “bridezilla” attitude. Your kindness will most always be returned with kindness. Venues are much more likely to go the extra mile for someone that they know appreciates their hard work.
And finally…
  1. Listen to your HEART. Ultimately, choosing your venue is an emotional decision. This does not mean you are being unwise in your decision making, but you must LOVE the place you choose. For some of you this may be the first location you look at and for others the 10th. Don’t choose a venue until your heart connects with it and you can SEE YOURSELF at that location.

Enjoy the HUNT and feel free to post any questions you may have about choosing your venue!

Renee Caffee
Executive Director of Sales and Marketing

Alexander Homestead Weddings

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bride V.S. Engagement Process

We always enjoy getting to follow up with our brides after the hype of the engagement, the intense planning, and the excitement of the wedding day. In this post, we talk with one of our brides about how she enjoyed her engagement process amidst stress that can be overwhelming. 

1. How did you enjoy the engagement and planning process amidst the chaos?
Our engagement and planning process was as stress-free as they get because my Groom and I were very simple and knew exactly what we wanted with little changes from beginning to end. Even our friends commented on how I seemed like the most relaxed and calm bride they had ever seen! LOL! I just knew that this was such a special and exciting time in our lives that I wanted to be able to enjoy it with no distractions and little to no stress.  

2. Did you feel a lot of stress or chaos? If so, what helped you deal with it?
I felt next to no stress or chaos and one of the factors that probably aided in our relaxation and peace of mind is that we didn't have a bridal party! I think friends and family were a bit concerned at first when they first learned that we didn't plan to have bridesmaids and groomsmen but the ceremony turned out to be one that fairy tales are made of and it all made sense and came together flawlessly on our big day.

3. What helped make your engagement time special?
Our engagement time was most special because during that time we had a lot of family events to attend (other weddings, family reunions, and vacations) that helped our mothers and other family members have a chance to get to know one another even better and get even closer before we officially became one family. It made us both even more excited not only for the wedding festivities but also to come together for more holidays and events in the future to make memories. 

4. What would be your advice to other brides-to-be to really enjoy their engagement time and be in the moment? 
I think brides-to-be can best ensure that they enjoy their engagement time and be in the moment by not focusing on the DAY as much as they focus on the exciting time of their lives that they are about to embark on and that is their marriage.  I was more focused on daydreams of life after the wedding that even though the wedding day itself went by in a flash, I didn't feel sad or withdrawn because the real exciting part of the story for me was only just beginning! Being married has definitely been the best part of the planning process more than anything such that a fun party (which is all the wedding is) was just the icing on the cake! 

Here is a look at how Karen's wedding day turned out...

Thank you Karen for taking the time to share you experience and wisdom with us!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Meet our Creative Team Pt. 2!

We get the privilege of working with some pretty phenomenal people here at the Alexander Homestead, some of which are our vendors! We like to call this special group of people our Creative Team. Last week we introduced you to half our team and this week we would like to introduce you to the other half!! We asked them some questions about their business and what AH brides can expect from their services and here is what they had to say...

Carolina Portrait Design
(Photography Vendor)

How long have you been in business?  

I have had Carolina Portrait Designs open for coming up on 5 years but prior to that I managed a Photography Studio in downtown Charlotte for 1 1/2 years before branching out on my own and opening Carolina Portrait Designs.

Tell me a little about the services you provide (As it pertains to an AH bride)

We are a full service Photography studio located in downtown Concord specializing in Wedding Photography

What do you strive towards the most when you work with brides?

Our goal is make every bride feel amazing, we work very closely with every bride & groom to make sure we deliver nothing but amazing art from your wedding.  We don’t want to be just your photographer, we want to grow with you through this journey and become your friend, so come wedding day you have someone you can truly trust to capture the day.

What makes your service an important part of their wedding day?

After the last dance, the last piece of cake and the last hug good bye, our images are the only thing you’ll have to look back on to relive one of the happiest days for your life, forever.  

How can you bring value to their wedding day with your services?

A number of ways, not only do we capture those amazing emotional moments all day but since we literally do this every weekend, we can help plan the day, building a timeline to make sure everyone stays on schedule so you don’t have to rush through your day. We make sure that every bride gets to slow down, relax and enjoy one of the best days of her life.

What is your favorite part about working with brides?

Learning about everyone's unique story and becoming friends with the couples.

I’m awesome, so hire me :) 
If I’m booked, Michael is awesome, so hire him

Phone number: (704) 692-6549 

Pink Petunia
(Flower Vendor)

How long have you been in business?  

My parents were retail florist. We had greenhouses where we cut a good part of our product. We had plants and a retail store as well as providing flowers for events. Greg has been a wholesale florist in Charlotte for over 25 years. We currently provide flowers and décor exclusively for events.

Tell me a little about the services you provide (As it pertains to an AH bride)

The Alexander Homestead package provides for all phases of the wedding day experience. In that cooperative experience we provide bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, flower girl baskets, hairpieces, flowers for the aisle, gazebo, guest tables, cake and other enhancements of the day as brides feel needed. For example….petals on the aisle, arrangements for gift tables or the guest card table.

What do you strive towards the most when you work with brides?

We strive to see each bride’s vision and bring it to life in flowers; always remembering that it’s not “my” wedding. We try very hard to determine what the bride likes…colors, style, elements etc, so that it becomes, the bride’s personal look.

What makes your service an important part of their wedding day?

My father, the florist, was always diligent about the flowers being the clients and “finishing” the look. My dad & I loved dessert. So his analogy to me was this….it doesn’t leave the shop until the cherry is on the top. So when we provide flowers for your wedding we always always want to make sure your bouquet or boutonniere or whatever is “complete” the look is as much as possible what we think you want and that are the elements are in place.

How can you bring value to their wedding day with your services?

We put so much care into the design and implementation of the design for each bride; the quality of our blooms is always a priority for us (my husband wholesaler is always sourcing the very best product) and we take care in processing the flowers; we carry our boutonnieres in water and present boutonnieres and corsages on silver trays. We want each little feature to let you know that we care about you and your wedding.

What is your favorite part about working with brides?

Every bride has a story, and although we are only briefly together it’s fascinating to learn a little about each couple. 

We hear so many brides tell us how happy they are they have chosen Alexander Homestead. How great Christi is to work with and how the entire process is so easy for them. We always want to contribute to making that a stress free and beautiful wedding day for every bride.

Phone:    704-813-4718 (Penny)
              Or 704-616-8357 (Greg) 

Carlisle Videography
(Videographer Vendor)

How long have you been in business? 

We have been filming weddings since 2009. Carlisle Videography averages 40 weddings per year and is currently the most well-reviewed wedding cinematography team in the Southeast United States. 

Tell me a little about the services you provide (As it pertains to an AH bride)

We provide a handful of different packages. All packages include a highlights trailer to share online and a 1 to 2hr movie. Extras include rehearsal dinner coverage, love stories, slow motion video booths and so on. Packages differ based on the hours of coverage, number of videographers, amount of cameras and whether or not we schedule pre-ceremony commentaries/interviews with the bride and groom. I believe in being thorough and creative. If weather permits, we fly our aerial drone before guests arrive. On the ground we use our motorized 3-axis gimbal stabilizer to provide steady, "floating" moving shots. Video cameras today look remarkably similar to the cameras the photographers use. They're small and unobtrusive.

What do you strive towards the most when you work with brides?

When we work a wedding at Alexander Homestead we do our best to be thorough. At a wedding we are rolling natural sound continuously so we do not talk or pose. We capture the day as it happens and look for natural laughter etc. We want the bride and groom to enjoy being with each other, plus their family and friends. We do not want them to feel like they spent their wedding day with the videographers. We are fast, efficient and know Alexander Homestead inside and out. We also do our best to deliver a consistent product in a timely manner.

What makes your service an important part of their wedding day?

I feel strongly that the best way to remember a wedding day is through video. You see and hear the day from multiple angles/perspectives. Years later, a wedding movie can place you back within the atmosphere of what it felt like on a very happy day. Time is frozen. You get to hear from grandparents and flower girls/ring bearers who have begun to grow up. Because a wedding can be a whirlwind, a wedding movie is an excellent backup for one's memory. 

How can you bring value to their wedding day with your services?

We bring value by preserving a record of the day. The people that came, the food they ate, the weather, the expression of love on faces, the vows spoken etc. Additionally our trailers are very shareable online. For family & friends that are unable to attend, a trailer is the best way to share the very best moments of the day.

What is your favorite part about working with brides?

Our favorite part of working with brides is when we mail them their movies on USB flash drive, Blu-Ray or DVDs. When I finish editing a movie, I usually cannot wait for the bride and groom to watch it. That is definitely the most exciting point.

We really like making wedding movies. My job is very, very fun. Editing is probably my favorite part of the job, but attending and working the weddings is also a treat. Everyone gets married. I appreciate and enjoy the window into the lives of the different families that we see every Saturday. Alexander Homestead is where we work about 1/6th of the year. It's a fun challenge to continue making wedding videos in the same location that are unique and fresh. I like the space a lot. Our videos are often better at AH than other venues because there's no pack-up/set-up and travel time spent going from the ceremony location to the reception. The additional time allows us to collect more footage and often get more creative. Please let me know if you have any questions about our services or videography in general. 

Phone:    704-412-1946

Officiant Jim Lytle
(Officiant Vendor)

 How long have you been in business?  

I have been a pastor since 1990! Exclusively, as a full time wedding officiant since 2009. I was a family pastor for many years and started to perform weddings on the side for a little extra income. It grew so much that I left the church ministry position and now do this full time!

Tell me a little about the services you provide (As it pertains to an AH bride)

Since I do this full time and am the house pastor at the Homestead, I really enjoy crafting a ceremony that isn't scripted. Something that flows, is conversational but contains ceremonial moments that represents you as a couple. These ceremonies are engaging, refreshing and provide your guests with a picture of how you are going to be a family!

What do you strive towards the most when you work with brides?

Making each ceremony "one of a kind" that is so personable that it actually becomes a foundation for celebration the day of your wedding! SO getting to know couples is key. 

What makes your service an important part of their wedding day?

The ceremony is so important but sometimes can get lost in the planning of the whole day. I will take this aspect of the day and make it set apart and unique. Many pastors on staff at churches have so much on their plate. Sermons to write, hospital visits, elder board meetings consume them (I've been there!) that wedding ceremonies and couples get lost. The result is a standard order of worship for weddings where its the classic "insert name here" format. My AH couples will not experience that!

How can you bring value to their wedding day with your services?

The time we spend together will allow me to represent you most authentically and will allow you to feel most comfortable with me. Plus I'm full of ideas having performed hundreds of weddings!

What is your favorite part about working with brides?

Hearing their hearts and listening to their desires for a wedding ceremony and coming up with creative ways to execute these!

I love getting to know people! I am energized by them. I could be exhausted, but put me in a room full of people and I come alive. 

Phone:   704-654-8062

Thank you once again to our Creative Team who took time to answer our questions and help our brides get to know them better!