Destination Wedding Activities from Giles County

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from our friends at Giles County, who are sharing great ideas for entertaining your bridal party or guests during their wedding celebration stay.


The New River Water Trail offers fishing, floating, paddling, and swimming fun for your whole wedding party & guests. Pictured here are kayakers in Pembroke with one of the cliff faces on this section.

When having a destination wedding, one of the hardest tasks is keeping your bridal party and your guests entertained. Giles County is a perfect choice for a destination wedding, not only because of the beautiful locations available, but also because of the endless outdoor activities. There’s a reason it’s called Virginia’s Mountain Playground™.

There are activities well suited for groups such as the Mountain Lake Treetop Adventures rope course, taking a day trip on the New River Water Trail by means of tubing, kayaking, or canoeing; as well as hiking one of the many trails in Giles County. Mill Creek is a great two and half mile round-trip hike that is suitable for large groups of any age as well as families. The most popular trail hike leads up to the Mill Creek Falls which has history as being the town of Narrows’ water source. Fishing is also a popular activity in Giles County, which isn’t surprising due to access to the 37 miles of the New River as well as many creeks that run through Giles. The New River Water Trail offers a multitude of float trips via our eight public boat landings. Any one of the local outfitters and guides can outfit your entire group with all equipment and make the perfect recommendation for you. Information on the different classes of rapids can often be found at the launching site or on the website.

The Palisades is a hot spot for rehearsal dinners, brunch, or bridal lunches. A must see for your guests, history, good food, and more.

In addition to Giles County’s ample outdoor activities there is a mass of historical sites that are open to the public. Some of these historical sites include the Andrew Johnston House, Sinking Creek Bridge, and The Palisades Restaurant. The Palisades Restaurant is located in the old general store in the village of Eggleston. The Palisades is a great place to accommodate large parties for fine dining while taking in a Giles County historical site. Consider them for your rehearsal dinner or bridal lunch. Giles County houses a winery, Giles Mountain Vineyard and Winery, as well as a brewery, Right Turn Clyde Brewing Company. Either of these locations would be a great place for you and your guests to rewind and possibly even host a bachelor/bachelorette party.

Your guests can find more ways to make memories in Giles County, Virginia- here’s a top five list:

  1. Taking a float or fishing trip down the New River Water Trail
  2. Hiking one of our many beautiful trails through wilderness or to a scenic overlook
  3. Enjoying live music with dinner at The Palisades
  4. Mountain Lake Lodge activities both indoor and outdoor
  5. Sharing in more moments together with a glass of local wine or beer

Right Turn, Clyde in an old bank building features small batch craft beers, friendly atmosphere and regular live musical performances.

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Giles County, Virginia is located in Southwest Virginia approximately 40 minutes south of Roanoke and just west of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. With easy access to the New River, world class dining and lodging properties, and historical attractions for the entire family, Giles offers adventure in Virginia’s Mountain Playground™. Come find your playground at our Visitors Center located at 203 N Main Street, Pearisburg, VA 24134 or find us online at gilescounty.org or by calling 540-921-2079.

On Pins & Needles (& Ribbon & Glue): Advice for DIY Brides

Guest Post by Real Bride Blogger Sandee McGlaun

I have a confession. I’m over a year into planning our wedding, and I have yet to make my first pin on Pinterest. In fact, I’ve only visited the Grand Portal of Wedding Inspiration once.

It’s not because I’m not a DIY Bride—quite the opposite. I’ve been an artsy-crafty creative type since before the founders of pinning were out of their diapers. I grew up watching my mother draw, paint, sew, knit, and take photographs, and spent many happy childhood hours making things of my own. I remember trailing down the aisles of Hancock Fabrics, admiring the colors and textures, later snipping doll clothes from scraps as my mom stitched a new dress for me. Other hot Georgia afternoons, we lingered in the cool of the ceramics shop, dwarfed by tall shelves of dusty green-ware, trying to decide what to paint next.

Sandee breaks out the spray paint for the wire cupcake stand project.

Sandee breaks out the spray paint for the wire cupcake stand project.

As I got older, I dabbled in paper-making, polymer clay, simple jewelry. I enjoyed scrapbooking for a while and made lots of cards. I discovered the pottery wheel was not my friend. My favorite projects these days combine fabric, beads, and embroidery.

I knew from the moment Steve and I got engaged I would be hands-on with the design and décor of our wedding. Within days of saying “yes,” I’d chosen wedding colors and had a working list. I’d been hanging out in fabric stores and craft rooms for so long, my mental bulletin board of ideas—even without browsing Pinterest—was chock-full.

My mother and I have joined forces on tabletoppers, bench pillows, and paper flowers, and I’ve created a variety of cupcake stands from found objects as well as decorative columns to mark the aisle and ceremony spaces. My mom made our ring pillow, and I’m working on a clutch bag and a garter, painting some photo booth props, designing a caketopper, and mending my mother’s train so I can wear it.

I’m a lifetime DIYer working with a 16-month-long engagement, and time still feels short for our ambitious list. Based on my experience, I have a few pointers for other brides considering DIY projects.

First, inspiration can come from anywhere—and sometimes, less is more. Pinterest is almost overwhelming in its vastness. Instead, first flip through a few DIY wedding books at the library or bookstore—they’re more focused, and they’ll help you find your vision as well as minimize the intimidation factor. Limiting your sources also keeps you from being sucked in by trends that don’t suit you. Did all the brides of the last couple of years really dream their whole lives of wrapping their wedding days in burlap? I like how its rough earthiness balances tulle’s airy froth (like a leather jacket over a floral dress). But too much trendy means your wedding looks like everyone else’s.

My inspiration has come from surprising places. A duvet cover in Bed, Bath, and Beyond (perfect fabric design). A wire shoe rack at the consignment store (funky flower-like cupcake stand). I bought a few magazines and Elizabeth Demos’ book Vintage Wedding Style, which helped me refine ideas and source unique items like the antique maps we’ve incorporated into our invitations. Mostly I’ve tried to keep my eyes open for things that moved me, and let the venue itself inspire. Problem: four wide (boring) wooden benches. Solution: design and scatter colorful handmade pillows.

Some of the pillows we’ve made for venue benches.

Some of the pillows we’ve made for venue benches.

Second, consider three key elements when deciding how much DIY you want to incorporate into your wedding: your motivation, your own history as an artsy-craftsy person, and your timeline.

  1. What’s your motivation for wanting to DIY? To save money? You really love the handmade/rustic/upcycled look? You want to put a genuinely personal touch on your day?

Realistically, if your prime motivation for DIY—especially if you’re not a crafty type—is saving money, you might reconsider. You know how a “simple” one-hour home repair has a way of turning into two days + three trips to the hardware store? That’s not uncommon with DIY crafts, either. Figuring out how to do it right often means doing it not-so-right at least once (check out pinterestfail.com). Savvy crafters can accurately estimate the costs of buying 25 clear vases, glass spray-paint, and 10 yards of ribbon for wrapping and bows—and they probably already own tools like good fabric scissors and a hot glue gun. For a novice without a ready supply of quality tools—and the right tools are the key to polished projects—it might actually be cheaper to buy or rent finished vases.

It’s safe to assume most DIY projects will cost a little more than you think—especially trendy ones. People began decorating with Mason jars in part because they were inexpensive; now that they’re in demand, sellers charge a premium. Budget for mistakes: always buy enough materials (especially for complex projects) to do one or two practice runs, and save receipts so you can return any unopened supplies you don’t use.

If it’s a handmade look that matters most, consider whether it would be more cost effective (and time-saving) to purchase handmade items from a craft market or Etsy. If your primary goal is to put your personal stamp on the day, read on!

  1. What’s your history and skill level as a DIY crafter?

If you’re genuinely excited at the prospect of making your own decorations or favors, you should go for it. Obviously, the less experience you have (in general or in a specific craft), the steeper the learning curve. There is something for every skill level. You want projects to be fun, not frustrating, so the trick is to find your DIY match.

One of the aisle markers made from a plant stand.

One of the aisle markers made from a plant stand.

If you’re a newbie, consider simply refurbishing or dressing up a found object. I turned metal plant stands into aisle-marker columns with white spray paint and colorful ribbons (paint and ribbon are some of your best DIY friends). I’m making a purchased garter my own by adding lace from my mother’s wedding dress. You don’t have to start from scratch or make something completely original—adapt an object or an idea you saw somewhere and liked.

Don’t be afraid to enlist help from family or friends. Add snacks and beverages, and a group crafting session turns into a wedding-prep party.

  1. How much time do you have—and how much will you really need?

As with cost, so with time: most projects take more time than you expect. Be wary of advertised estimates, usually made by experienced crafters. Complete novice? Triple the given estimate. Crafty but never done craft X? Double it. Be sure to factor in supply shopping trips, or shipping time from online sources. If you finish early, bonus! Better to be done ahead of schedule than stressing out at the last minute.

Consider project complexity, the length of your engagement, and your other commitments when deciding how many projects are feasible. If you take on more than one or two, prioritize. If time runs short, you’ll have completed whatever matters most.

Finally, think about whether and where you can safely store whatever you make until your wedding day. Large or particularly fragile projects require extra planning and care.

2 cake stands made from found vintage objects

2 cake stands made from found vintage objects

Some wedding preparations, like catering, I think are best left to the experts—Ruth Reichl tells a funny and terrifying tale about her mother, who insisted on cooking despite not having adequate storage or refrigeration, and poisoned all the wedding guests. That’s not the DIY outcome anyone wants! But a big part of the fun for many brides is being hands-on with at least some of the preparations. If that’s you, find a DIY wedding project you love, and dig in.

guest post: Why Brides Need a Wedding Planner

Guest Post by Sherri Box of Events by Sherri

Sherri5Why hire a wedding planner? Think it’s a luxury… a cost you can do without or you are just sure you will “lose control” and would prefer to do it all yourself?

The money you spend on hiring a wedding coordinator will be the best investment in your wedding day that you can make AND it will end up saving you money and make the entire planning process more fun because the stress over the small details will be removed!  Sherri3

So consider this. . . . a wedding coordinator actually helps you gain MORE control over your special day because our job is to carry out your wishes down to the last little detail!  We work with you to make sure we understand your  “vision” of your  “perfect day” so we can do everything in our power to make sure that when you see it all come together it’s just as you imagined it would be.  The best feeling in the world is for one of my brides to look at me and tell me “it’s even better than I imagined it” or “it was the best day of my life.”  I have never had a client tell me that they were sorry they hired me but I have had others who chose to do it all themselves tell me that they really wished they had hired a coordinator.

WSherri4e can also save you money by sharing with you the “tricks of the trade” that only experience can provide and by looking at your budget and steering you to vendors that can stay within your price point.  We will find out what’s most important to you and show you ways to spend more on the things that are of utmost importance to you and provide you tips on how to accomplish those things that are further down on your list for less.Sherri1

Many wedding coordinators also have small décor items for your use.  This keeps you from having to purchase all the “small stuff,” sometimes in multiples and then decide what to do with all of it after your wedding weekend is over.  The beauty of that, in addition to cost savings, is that we have it in our inventory, you choose it, we deliver it, we set it up and we break it down.  So that leaves even less for you to worry about AND you’ve saved a little more money.

YSherri2ou probably can do it yourself but why not have someone who is committed to making sure your day is just perfect in every way AND someone who can save you from making costly mistakes along the way, someone who is in your corner and working for you every step of the way!  So now you can actually have more control over your special day, remain budget-conscious throughout the process and have fun planning the most important day of your life to date!

Late Summer Vineyard Wedding Inspiration Board

Inspired by the lovely vineyards in the state of Virginia, I thought a simple, outdoor wedding celebration would be fun to develop a board for.

The basis for this wedding would be to eat, socialize, and of course celebrate with wine & cheese.

I chose natural colors of brown, moss, tan, and cream to compliment the colors of an outdoor wedding. What’s more simple than a lush green back drop, some hydrangea blooms and wine barrels? Pretty elegant, if you ask me.

Have a wine tasting and cheese plate near by, dine via long tables with patio lights for a romantic setting. But just don’t forget a place for the dance floor!

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1. Reception 2. Bridesmaid 3. Bridal Bouquet 4. Invitations 5. Boutonnieres

6. Table Setting 7. Centerpieces 8. Ceremony Arch 9. Bridal party 10. Cheese and Fruit

guest post: Weddings Today – Country Strong (Venues)

Guest Post by:
Susan Sink (Owner of Sinkland Farms)

sparks-kissingWedding vows exchanged beneath a canopy of blue sky.  Gracious nature surrounding your ceremony. The bride and groom exiting the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage.  A single fiddler serenading the wedding party as the bride walks down a grassy aisle towards a majestic arch fashioned from saplings and twigs.  These are just a few of the memorable vignettes that a farm wedding might include.  A country wedding affords couples countless opportunities to create one-of-a-kind celebrations.

Farm and country is the new destination location for weddings.  This trend began growing in popularity years ago in states like California and New York, the “trend setter” states, and has spread across the nation. Part of the allure stems from the wide range of opportunities in settings that are available.  A country wedding can be casual or elegant, family style or festive, classic or contemporary, depending on your preferences.  Add to this our nation’s growing interest in nature-based and environmentally friendly pursuits, and the appeal becomes all the more evident. sinkland-farms-wedding-134

More and more farm owners are opening their land, as well as their barns, for use as ceremony and reception venues.  There is a certain easiness of spirit about a farm, a sense of genuine welcome and warmth that makes it the perfect setting.  The idea of things growing and taking root all around creates a magical, bountiful atmosphere. It is good luck for a bride and groom to be surrounded by such a rich abundance of life and nature when beginning their new life together.

Because the location of the wedding is the first and most important decision brides and grooms must make, Susan Sink of Sinkland Farms in Christiansburg, Virginia has numerous suggestions on how to make her farm venue extraordinary.

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Keep it simple and stunning….

Look for picturesque spots for the ceremony and practical spots for the reception.  Imagine meadows dotted with wildflowers or pillars flanking the pond. Verdant fields and rolling hills all with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop.  Add to this vision a hand-hewn wood fence—perfect for garlands—and adjacent field with our farm animals contentedly grazing.

Be prepared for Mother Nature….

There are seasonal and climate considerations when planning a farm wedding.  Since most ceremonies and receptions are held at least partially outdoors, make sure there is an indoor space sufficient to accommodate guests in case of a shower or storm.  Imagine a warm barn filled with fragrant flowers and twinkling lights strung from rafters to illuminate the expanse a rustic space can offer.

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DecorCandidsWeb-94Economical inspiration…..

Ask about using props from the farm. Decorate wheelbarrows to display favors of locally canned apple butter or seed packets.  Imagine a stack of hay bales and old wooden planks as the table for the wedding cake or an old farm wagon as a perfect buffet table for treats. Gather wildflowers or seasonal plants from farmers’ markets and make centerpieces from local produce. DecorCandidsWeb-15

 

Make it memorable….

Plan fun and unique activities during the cocktail hour or reception.  How about a horseshoe throwing contest, pony rides for the kids, sunset hayrides around the property for guests while the final photographs of the wedding party are completed.  Hire a live, country-style or bluegrass band. Book the best square-dance caller in the county for at least a portion of the reception. Imagine your reception in the barn with a few long tables calling to mind family-style meals that so many of us fondly remember from grandparent backgrounds.

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The farm is a symbol of our nation’s enduring connection to the land.  There is certain easiness of spirit about a farm, a sense of genuine welcome and warmth that makes it the perfect setting for a wedding. Sinkland Farms has gained recognition in southwest Virginia for its harvest pumpkin festival and other family oriented activities.  It is now also a popular destination for wedding ceremonies, receptions, showers, parties and other events.

 All photos courtesy of Sinkland Farms.