Picking a Wedding Venue

Everyone has different priorities when it comes to picking their wedding venue. Maybe you want something inside with lots of exposed brick, or maybe you’re looking to get married outside at a farm or at an old plantation. Maybe you have no idea where to start looking!

At the beginning of our wedding planning process, I fell into the latter of those categories. I have been wedding-obsessed for years, so I felt like I was super familiar with all the venues located within a twenty-mile radius of my house, and I just really didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of them because they were just too familiar. I had seen so many weddings at all of these venues that I wouldn’t feel original or unique at all if I went with one of them, and those were two things I definitely wanted my wedding to be: original and unique.

Of course, something else that played a huge part in our decision was the budget. I’ve mentioned before that we are paying for this wedding ourselves, so we definitely couldn’t just pick anywhere! I started poring over websites like The Knot and Wedding Wire, looking on the ‘Affordable’ section for something that caught my eye. After many unsuccessful hours of looking, I decided I had to chat with Stephen and prioritize.

What were things we really wanted in a wedding venue? I knew I wanted an outdoor wedding and I knew I wanted to do our sparkler send-off in a boat, so waterfront was important! Stephen knew he wanted a nice view from our venue, so that supported the waterfront idea. When we put these priorities together and searched for a venue with these characteristics, a name immediately popped up that we hadn’t seen before: Bella Collina Mansion. We clicked on the link and immediately knew we were hooked.

The Bella Collina Mansion is a Tuscan style mansion that sits right on Belews Creek in Stokesdale, North Carolina. Right away we were drawn to their all-in-one pricing: you pay them one price and tell them which of their preferred caterers, florists, DJs, photographers, etc. you’d like to help assist you on your wedding day, and they handle the rest!

Between the breathtaking water views and the affordable price (plus the fact that it is super unique!), Stephen and I had to go check it out.  Incorporating my grandparents into as much wedding planning as possible is super important to me (especially since my Granddaddy is the one marrying us!), so I texted my Mimi to see if they were available and we worked out a time to meet at Bella Collina.

The drive to Stokesdale in itself is such a pleasant experience — many miles are driven through tree-lined back roads and Stokesdale is just covered in small-town charm. When you pull onto the gravel drive that takes you to Bella Collina, you catch a view of rolling hills in the distance, and eventually the trees open up to reveal a breathtaking view of the mansion and Belews Creek! I am still stunned by the beauty of that view every time I drive around that bend! I can’t wait for my guests to see it next year!

This is the deck where the reception takes place! Stephen and I are actually standing in the exact spot where the sweetheart table will be located 🙂


This sweet balcony is right off the bridal suite – perfect photo op for the bridesmaids 🙂

I am sooo glad I put so much time and effort into finding the right venue. It can be so easy to just go with whatever you’ve heard the most about or have seen the most pictures of, but if you are looking for something unique, I highly recommend discussing your priorities with your fiancé and putting in the work to find a venue that is unique to you — I promise it will be worth the effort!


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