In March Kevin and I decided to take a trip down to Oak Island to check out a few possible wedding venue locations. We went and saw Bald Head Island and the Soutport Community Center. Both were great sites but just not perfect for us. Bald Head was absolutely beautiful, but had a few aspects that wouldn't work for us. First of all it was going to be WAY more expensive than we were hoping. On top of that our guests would have to pay to park, pay to take the ferry over, and pay to take the ferry back (No Thanks!). Next up on the list was the Southport Community Center. Once we arrived we saw that it was on the water and had a wonderful view. On the negative side, the reception would have to be located in the community center. Kevin and I both knew this wouldn't work. Before beginning our search one thing we knew we wanted was for the ceremony and reception to be located outside.
A month later, in April, we packed our bags and headed back to Oak Island to look at another location and to attend a bridal open house with local vendors. This time we went and saw Orton Plantation and Gardens. As soon as we arrived we fell in love and knew we had found our dream wedding location. The wedding coordinator was not in town that weekend so we talked the woman at the front desk into letting us go look around ourselves. She wasn't too interested in allowing us to do this at first, but with a little persuasion she let us venture off. We wandered down to the South Panoramic view and decided that would be the best location for us. We wanted desperately to book that weekend because there were only two possible weekends left at Orton during the time frame in which we wanted for our wedding. Of course the woman at the front desk said we would have to wait until the coordinator came back because she was the only one who could handle booking the weddings. This just didn't work for me, and if you know me I can be a little stubborn. I was afraid someone else would get to her first and we would lose our chance of getting married at Orton. I told the woman to pencil me in and we left a check for the deposit as well as a note explaining we HAD to book at Orton. A little over a week later I got a phone call...we were reserved for our wedding on April 2, 2011 :) Kevin and I were incredibly excited to know that one of the most important pieces of our wedding planning was decided upon. We had a venue!
Or so we thought...about a month later we were at ECU attending Suzanne's graduation. We were out to lunch before Suzanne's ceremony when I got the phone call. I had called a vendor earlier in the week to inquire about tents. She was calling to tell me that Orton had been sold and was no longer holding events.WHAT???????????????? Apparently it was all over the news, but Kevin and I living in Maryland knew nothing of the deal. Needless to say I jumped up from the table and went outside and lost it. My dad followed me to try and console me but there wasn't much he could do. I immediately called Orton. Of course the wedding coordinator was not there and there was nothing anyone there could tell me. Hmm???? I continued telling them that I must speak to someone and all they would tell me was that the wedding coordinator would be calling all of the brides next week. Next week???? I could not wait that long to know if we had lost our wedding location. Not to mention we had money down. Well, they weren't going to budge and gave me no information other than what I had heard was true. I couldn't believe they wouldn't give all the booked brides a phone call before it hit the press.
Days went by without so much as a phone call from Orton. My AWESOME sister decided to call the local news station to inform them that Orton wouldn't give the brides any information. About an hour later she received an email from the news person she had contacted. He was able to get in touch with Orton and low and behold they answered his questions. He was told that all currently booked brides would be able to hold their wedding at Orton, but they wouldn't be taking any new bookings. I felt a little relief but still wanted to hear the news from someone at Orton. One of my bet friends Brittanie and her husband live in the Wilmington/Oak Island area. Her husband also happens to be an attorney. Being the wonderful friends they are, he made a personal phone call to Orton on my behalf. A few days later I was contacted by Orton via phone and email. They assured me that I would be able to hold my wedding at their location. They wanted to make sure I was "okay". They had received a phone call from a Nathan Coleman who they believed said he was an attorney making sure I would still be able to have my wedding at Orton. (Thanks Brittanie and Nathan). They've helped in many ways over the past year :)
Kevin and I were relieved to know that everything was going to continue as planned. I only wish they had taken a little less time to get the news to us.