By Carol Viau The Biltmore Beacon

Valentine’s Day seems to get everyone thinking about love — especially the newly engaged prospective brides, as they begin wedding day planning.

Some brides-to-be have been thinking about the wedding since they were young and have firm ideas on what type of wedding they want. But many engaged couples want to explore the options for a unique wedding experience together. Whether the wedding is in a church, a destination venue or a combination of both, the mountains of Western North Carolina offer many remarkable options for a memorable celebration.

Those looking for something unique for their wedding may want to check out destination venues offered in the mountains. Here are two venues that exemplify the range of happy options.

Fabulous Farm

When bride-to-be Lindsay Curtin moved to the mountains, she and her fiancé, Brennan Regner, checked out wedding venues online and listened to recommendations from friends in Asheville. It was important to Curtin to have a wedding that would be “fresh, not stiffly structured” — and fun for all the guests.

“We wanted people to enjoy the music, have a drink in their hand, take lots of pictures and not have to wait around all night for dinner and dancing,” Curtin said. “We picked Claxton Farm in Weaverville. I just couldn’t stop visiting their Website and looking at the pictures. They were stunning.”

While some brides want the ceremony to be in a church, some brides-to-be prefer the setting of nature, which is spectacular in Western North Carolina.

“On the big day, we felt connected to God, family and the beautiful outdoors,” Curtin said. “I felt the sun on my shoulders as I walked to meet my groom and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was perfect.”

Claxton Farm is a 500-acre working farm, 14 miles north of Asheville, on a land conservancy. Its pastoral setting provides weddings an idyllic backdrop for a formal or casual wedding ceremony and reception. The farm is in its 20th year of hosting events.

From the s’mores bonfire for the children attending to the house DJ letting guests on the microphone to sing karaoke, Curtin was impressed with the farm’s offerings — including the llamas, goats and the tractor, which she said were great for photo ops.

“The bridal attendant was top notch, the food was perfect and everything else lined up perfectly,” Curtin said. “Our guests told us the food, atmosphere and overall experience was unlike anything they’d ever seen before. Many said it was hands down the best wedding they’ve ever attended.”

The Claxton Farm special event barn has a capacity of 150 for indoor events and the lawn capacity outdoors is 400. Events at the farm are managed by M7 Event Solutions & Catering, which started as a catering company before it became the management company for Claxton Farm events.

Claxton Farm is at 288 Upper Flat Creek Road, Weaverville. Call Treva Scott at 828-658-1390, email claxtonfarmtreva or visit www.claxtonfarm.com.

Mountainside Splendor

The Inn at Tranquility Farm in Waynesville is a distinctive event venue in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. With “tranquility” in its name, the inn does not disappoint. At an elevation of 3,800 feet, the property offers stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.

No detail was spared in this mountainside project of Dan and Belle Fangmeyer. The couple, owners of the 60-acre Tranquility Farm in Waynesville, renovated the inn’s house and grounds and built a dedicated outdoor space for ceremonies with a gazebo, complete with church pews.

The Fangmeyers recently completed a rustic, yet elegant pavilion, which comfortably seats 150 guests. And, the pavilion’s French doors can be opened for a panoramic view of the mountains.

“The pavilion is accented by cedar trusses, crystal chandeliers and a stone hearth fireplace,” said Sutton Angelo Katz, the inn’s marketing manager.

In addition to a well-equipped catering kitchen adjacent to the pavilion, the Inn has two guest suites, spacious private bridal quarters and an elegant bride’s room for the bridal party’s comfort dressing for the ceremony.

“The Inn is the ideal location for a destination mountain wedding,” said Belle Fangmeyer. “With more than 5,000 square feet of covered event space, our facilities maximize an incredible panoramic view of the Great Smoky Mountains. We can set the space for a charming ceremony, followed by an elegant reception.”

“The Inn provides the amenities you would expect from a luxury mountain venue — and more,” said Katz. “We want your time at the Inn to be as fabulous and unique as you are.”

The special character of the Inn at Tranquility Farm is not lost on guests.

“This magnificent property has the most gorgeous view, a giant open porch, a bridal garden flowing with beautiful flowers and koi-filled pond and a custom built gazebo, with a chandelier to boot,” said Leisa Baptiste Rice, after touring the property. “The bridal suite blew me away. The ‘barn style’ pavilion opens up to the mountain-view with French doors and is lit by romantic chandelier light and a fireplace. The staff truly understood my vision.”

“This is one of the most beautiful, breathtaking places I’ve ever seen for a wedding and reception,” said wedding guest Robin Cox-Riggenbach.

The Inn is at 1804 Camp Branch Road, a 15-minute drive from downtown Waynesville. For information, visit Sutton or call Sutton Angelo Katz at 828-564-1105.

Prospective brides and families can read reviews of these venues and more at www.weddingwire.com/vendor-reviews. Or, visit www.romanticasheville.com/weddings for ideas on the many distinctive wedding venues in the area.

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