Courtyards and Cobblestones 2016

Written by Sarah Wall

On January 16, the BAC was one of seven premiere, Port City event venues that participated in Historic Downtown Wilmington’s annual wedding show: Courtyards and Cobblestones. Jennifer Rose owner/designer of renowned Salt Harbor Design—the company that founded this event in 2009—said they created Courtyards and Cobblestones hoping to present the Wilmington wedding vendor community in a better light. “Before C&C, there were wedding shows in Wilmington that were held in a convention center and all the vendors had 10-by-10 booths,” Rose said. “There’s only so much you can do with a 10-by-10 booth, and it was very high pressure. When the brides went through the show, the rows of booths, vendors were reaching for them and pulling them into their booths. It was stressful not only for the brides but also for the vendors. We thought: there has got to be a better way to showcase what we do. So we decided we could highlight downtown’s historic venues and have each one designed and decorated by a team of vendors so it seemed like an actual wedding or reception was happening in the space.”

Rose’s vision came to life in the beautiful BAC as the space was transformed into an elegant and enchanting reception hall. As guests came into the building, they paused on the steps at the entrance to the main floor and stared up at the church chandeliers Salt Harbor had draped with greenery and at the crystal chandeliers installed by High Performance Lighting’s Rob Sobota. “Lighting makes all the difference in a venue,” Sobota said. “It can really transform an unadorned room into something absolutely gorgeous, especially when it gets a little darker.” He was spot on. As the sun set, the lights glowed warmly, casting the event in a soft romantic atmosphere.

Guest milled around the iconic church, admiring the table decorations and flowers arranged by Salt Harbor Designs and the upscale, yet comfortable lounge furniture provided by Pomp Event Furnishing. Rebecca Dawson from Pomp exclaimed her love of the event. “It’s unlike any other,” she said. “It gives us the opportunity, especially being a kind of unique wedding service, to show people what we do.”

Future brides and grooms chatted with many of the vendors, including Millie Holloman (Millie Holloman Photography), one of the founders of Courtyards and Cobblestones. High-quality photos taken by Holloman and her team were displayed for the guests to admire. Holloman, a top-tier wedding photographer, explained that her passion for wedding photography came from being able to capture the “spontaneity of weddings” and seeing “family members coming together,” both of which were shown in her photos.

Fortunately for all involved, Life Stage Films displayed their emotionally engaging, wonderfully shot and edited wedding videos. A demo they created played on a large screen in the balcony, featuring clips of weddings they had shot from all around the world. Amy Warkentien, a Life Stage videographer, said, “I love being part of a wedding day and secretly capturing the emotions and precious memories the bride and groom otherwise might not be able to relive, like their wedding vows or hugging their grandpa or watching their flower girl dance.”

Milner’s Café and Catering fed the crowd their famous spaghetti bolognese and steak and mashed potatoes and served a variety of fabulous appetizers. Owner/chef Mark Milner said that he prided himself on his amazing staff as well as his food, and true to form, the Milner’s staff proved themselves to be friendly and talented and informed as they explained the ingredients of the dishes and socialized with the guests, who kept coming back for more.

One Belle Bakery provided dessert, serving samples of rich vanilla cake and cinnamon apple pops and displaying some of the most beautiful wedding cakes the C&C crowd had ever seen. There was a traditional five-tier cake, covered with flowers, and a groom’s cake that caught everybody’s eye: a sculpture of a Bojangles box stacked on a cooler decorated with a Panther’s logo next to a miniature grill...that somehow smoked! Lauren Kelly, one of the bakers, said that people kept asking “why someone left a Bojangles box in the room,” and she had to keep telling them that it was actually made of cake. She didn’t mind, though, saying that “enjoying the reactions of people when they see their cakes for the first time” was her favorite part of the job.

On the stage, Wilmington bluegrass band extraordinaire The Midatlantic performed throughout the evening, playing a wide variety of songs, including crowd favorite, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The music floated through the magnificent, 128-year-old church, tying together everything from the lighting to the furniture to the food, creating a very special and spectacular night.