July 12, 2014
Seoul, South Korea
• The King's Daughters Inn - Lodging and rehearsal dinner
• West End Billiards - Post-rehearsal dinner social
• Fullsteam Brewery - Wedding party social
• Duke Chapel - Ceremony
• The Cookery - Reception
It seems like fate brought Kelly and Andrew together. After Kelly, a Florida native, and Andrew, a North Carolinian, were both assigned to one of the smallest dorms on Duke University's campus, they were destined to meet as freshmen. Throughout college Kelly and Andrew were good friends, making memories studying abroad in Italy and annually camping out in Krzyzewskiville before dating during their senior year.
After graduation and spending a few years in a long-distance relationship, the couple reunited in Michigan where they became engaged. But their hearts were set on returning to Durham to have a destination wedding in the place where they first fell in love.
We rented the King's Daughters Inn for the weekend, where our families stayed. It was a perfect venue to sit around talking during down time, and it felt like being at a friend's house. We held the rehearsal dinner there on Friday evening with the bridal party and family, and then invited everyone over afterward for cocktails and snacks. We were able to mingle and talk with our guests (which can be a challenge during the reception). Plus, it was right across the street from Epworth, the dorm where we met!
For the ceremony, there are few places more iconic at Duke than the Duke Chapel. People even camp out for reservations. We knew it was a long shot without a year-in-advance reservation, so when we found out that they only had three spots left that summer, we happily grabbed July 12 (the day after my birthday). Since the Chapel was due to be under construction for the next couple years, it felt very serendipitous. It was a gorgeous setting for our wedding, and it felt meaningful to be standing at that altar.
We had our reception at The Cookery. I knew I wanted a reception venue that would show off the unique character of Durham. We chose The Cookery, and we couldn't have been happier. It was a wonderful venue: I loved the open space and the special "Durham" touches (metal from the original water tower, pieces from tobacco warehouses). Plus, they're a commercial kitchen and had recommended food vendors.
Durham feels like a second home to us, so I really enjoyed that all our family and friends got to experience it with us. Plus, the vendors were all incredible, local small businesses. Each of them made time to meet with us (when we flew in for a whirlwind planning weekend), were extremely responsive to email (which is so important with long-distance planning), and really listened to what we wanted and made it happen. Especially since we were planning the wedding in six months from out of state, they made it so easy for us.
Durham played a role throughout our planning and the big day. We had our engagement photos in Duke Gardens and American Tobacco Campus. On Thursday evening, we hung out with wedding party at Fullsteam Brewery for beers and food trucks. After the rehearsal dinner, everyone came out to play shuffleboard and bocce at West End Billiards. After the wedding, we even went out to Shooters for drinks, and then got late-night milkshakes at Cook Out.
As for specific wedding details, we had a local artist decorate The Cookery chalkboard, incorporating a bull. As a nod to North Carolina, we gave out Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the end of night, and included Moravian cookies in the gift bags for the out-of-town guests.
Do your research, and trust your vendors! Or, find the love of your life, get married in Durham...and then go get Cook Out milkshakes.
Photos by Robyn Van Dyke Photography