CARTERET COUNTY — The pristine beaches and unique locations on the Crystal Coast draw large crowds year-round, but some come for one specific reason: to get married.
Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Jim Browder said Carteret County has a lot to offer bridal couples.
Though there is no way to calculate how much revenue the industry brings in, Mr. Browder said it is obvious the site is a popular wedding destination for many different reasons.
“The natural beauty is one; people love to get married on the beach. There are lot of other options, too,” Mr. Browder said.
Some of the unique locations to get married around the county include The Boathouse at Front Street Village, the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.
Mr. Browder said the wedding industry in the county has grown.
Representatives from the TDA attend four wedding shows a year to spread the word about weddings along the Crystal Coast.
“We focus on destination (weddings), so we focus on folks from out of town,” Mr. Browder said.
As well as attending wedding shows, the TDA spreads the word about the Crystal Coast through digital media and other forms of media.
“We send out posts to entice people to inquire about weddings or tease them (to come) here,” Mr. Browder said. “We also have a wedding guide.”
The wedding guide can be found online at crystalcoastnc.org/group-travel/weddings, and features everything wedding parties need to get married in the county.
As well as bringing people to the county to get married, there are events in the area that inform out-of-town brides and vendors about their options.
One is the Crystal Coast Bridal Fair, held Saturday at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City.
The fair, in its 28th year, attracts vendors from near and far to share information on their products.
According to event organizer Pam Kaizer, this year’s show featured many vendors from out of the county.
Among them was Duplin Winery. Savannah Hardison, with the winery, said many people enjoy having Dulplin wine at their weddings and everyday functions.
“We like to say Duplin goes with life,” Ms. Hardison said.
Duplin Winery has a wine club, and many members are from Beaufort and Morehead City, so the Crystal Coast Bridal Fair was an opportunity for Duplin Winery to connect with its old clients and make new ones.
Ms. Hardison said the winery values its customers as if they are family, and they enjoy being a part of wedding ceremonies.
“Being a part of their special day is very near and dear to us,” she said.
Duplin Winery offers wine by the crate for weddings, and the location can also be used as a wedding venue.
Another out-of-town vendor was In Good Spirits Events, based in Wilmington.
The vendor offers wedding coordinating, mobile bartenders and photo booth services, all in vintage campers.
Stephan Stewart and Shannon Sullins, who run In Good Spirits Events, travel throughout the East Coast and can attend weddings and other events, but they enjoy coming to the county.
“We like the destination, especially with access to the islands and different venues here,” Mr. Stewart said.
The bartending service offers cocktails, keg beers, craft sodas and non-alcoholic beverages.
Mr. Stewart said the fact they serve non-alcoholic drinks allows their service to be used on sites, such as churches, that do not allow alcohol.
Out-of-town participants took advantage of the fair to see what the county had to offer.
Caroline Wells of Rocky Mount said she is getting married in December and hadn’t thought much about wedding planning. She decided to come to the bridal fair to “get her feet wet.”
“I am here to get some ideas. We haven’t fully figured out a vendor in Rocky Mount,” she said.
She brought along her friend, April Finch, also of Rocky Mount, who has a second home in Indian Beach.
“I follow the news here and knew she was getting married so we decided to make a day of it,” Ms. Finch said.
Locals benefited from the event, as well.
Lela Sharp of Newport received information on Ibar Cryoskin, based in Emerald Isle.
According to the information provided by the organization, Cryoskin offers permanent fat loss treatment in 30 minutes. It also erases cellulite.
Owner Jill Hauser was offering brides two sessions for $600 with the third session free. Ms. Hauser said brides could come to her or she could travel to the brides.
Though Ms. Sharp was looking into Ibar Cryoskin, she attended the fair for other vendor information for her wedding.
“I am looking for a venue, a good interactive DJ and a good photographer with amazing editing skills and good food,” she said.
Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 228; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @meganCCNT.