We are often asked about the protocol for sending out Thank You Cards, so why not chat about that a little here…..

Here’s a good timeline for thanks for all of for all your special occasions:

  • Engagement parties and showers, within two to three weeks of the festivities
  • Gifts sent to you before the wedding date, as soon as possible, but definitely before the wedding
  • gifts given on the day itself, within three months
  • gifts received after your wedding, within two to three weeks
  • Thank You cards for vendors, day of or within two weeks. (most of the time your wedding planner will pass these out for you if you hand them over
  • card

A few other thoughts here:

The task of writing out all of these “Thank You’s” can be a daunting one…make it fun! Split the duties! Do a few every evening together! The easiest way to divvy up the responsibility is to have your groom acknowledge those gifts from his friends and family since he knows them best, and you write to those guests you are more familiar with. If the spouse doing the writing is the only one signing his or her name, remember to mention the other partner in the body of the note (“Luke and I really love the vase. with Love, Sara”).


Don’t skimp out on your loved ones…a handwritten, personal message from you and your new spouse, including a reference to the specific gift, is the least you should offer your guests for their time and expense. No pre-printed cards please!

If you have it in your budget, you can get personalized Thank you Cards, photos, stamps, labels, all kinds of goodies!


Thanking Vendors….

Each one of your vendors work very, very hard to make your special day just right. Everyone appreciates a Thank You for a job well done! Gratuity is never expected but ALWAYS appreciated. 15% of their fee is standard. Tuck a little treat in a nice hand written card and hand those to your planner on the day of, they will pass them out for you…and this is one less thing for you to have to worry with!

It is NEVER too late to say THANK YOU. 




An Alter or an Arbor is the pivotal point of the ceremony, with one quick passing of the hand, the Mother and Father’s duty to their daughter is handed over to her Love. It’s where one phase of a Bride’s life comes to an end, and where a new one begins. In this spot she succumbs to many responsibilities. She becomes the woman of the house, the caretaker of his heart, the foundation of their newly made family. This too is a place where two families become one, as their children are united at the Altar. So with this being said, wouldn’t you want your ceremony site to be one that creates a memorable moment in the lives of your guests as well as family? So do we! So here are some wonderful examples of how you can DIY all the way to the Altar! Brides are letting their personalities show this season with some out of the ordinary ceremony sites! Brides this season are proving that the traditional Arbor is not always the way you have to go!  Let us begin shall we!


altar octo

We want to begin with one of our very own weddings! This was from a wedding at the Octagon House last December. This was our Bride Blakely’s Altar, the old southern live oak stood at the edge of the water, and hung from the tree were sweet signs and candle lit lanterns, which added a rusticly romantic touch to her ceremony.

altar rustic

We  love this romantic rustic alter, if you have a carpenter in the family they just might come in handy for this one! If you are a bargain hunter this dresser could easily be found at your local flea mall or antique store, and with a little love and some paint it could be your centerpiece for your altar!


 This altar is simple and sweet, the hanging lanterns creates a glowing warmth of light, which sets the perfect ambience as well as great lighting for photographs! These lanterns are an easy find, all you need is a ladder and some luminaries. And viola! Instant romantic setting!


This little table altar is both cheerful and easy peasy lemon squeezy to do! All you need is a perfect little table find, some recycled old bottles and a few fabulous florals! Sweet and simple.

altar sat

This picture was taken last weekend from another one of our Weddings in Emerald Isle. This Bride chose to use driftwood and standing lanterns as her altar. We think this was both creative and crafty, considering that she and her Groom scooped the driftwood up from our local waters! (we apologize for the not so wonderful pic, we were working with an iPhone not a pro camera) 😉


Two words. Vintage Doors. We LOVE them! It creates a symbol of opening the door to your future as husband and wife.  


The naturalists in me is gushing over this simple rustic set up! If you have an amazing backdrop to work with, i.e. the mountains, the beach, or garden.  We would suggest creating something simple and romantic like this that will not take away from the beauty of your surroundings, but simply add to it.


Many Brides are going in the direction of utilizing Mother Nature, she’s all around us, so why not? With low-lying trees you can hang lanterns, bunting, market lights, ribbon streamers, flower balls, and crafty decorations like the folks pictured here! The possibilities are endless! So let’s embrace Mother Nature shall we?


This altar sets the “stage” for the perfect ceremony! We love how the curtains draped resembles a stage set for love! This too can be an easy DIY project, all you need is some reclaimed wood, a hammer, some nails, the perfect fabric and there ya go! Instant backdrop. 🙂



Now that you have gotten some inspiration, get out there and starting building your Altar for your Sensational Ceremony Site! Let us know what you think, we love to hear opinions!

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The Crystal Coast Tourism Board teamed up with Belk and Bluewater Vacation Rentals to put together a FANTASTIC sweepstakes! Couples were asked, in 50 words or less, to tell us why they deserved to win a Dream Wedding, all expenses paid! They would receive accommodations in an Oceanfront home for a week on the Crystal Coast of NC, a full wedding planning package along with a $2000 gift card to Belk. They would also receive $12,000 to spend as they saw fit for their BIG DAY!  The response was overwhelming. We had over 1500 entries!! We read every single one of them and it was very hard to choose just one winner…but we did!

 Fallin and Cory are great! Here is a little about them!

Fallin is currently enrolled at The University of Georgia while Cory is deployed, returning home in late July. We contacted Fallin first, giving her the news of the dream wedding they had won. Fallin extend the celebratory news to Cory from thousands of miles away, via Skype. It was so touching to hear their enthusiasm and gratitude upon being awarded the wedding of their dreams, right here on the Crystal Coast! I asked for them to send me a little about “their story”… she insisted that he write it, saying “he tells it way better than I do!” Here is their story, in his words:

“Our story is amazing and kind of awkward in the beginning. I was going through a divorce and Fallin was recently out of a semi-serious relationship. A mutual friend of ours was having a Christmas party, which is where we first met. It almost didn’t happen. I was there with my sister who had a little too much to drink, so I had taken her home and came back to say my goodbyes. As I was walking out the door Fallin walked in with a few of her friends. When I looked over at her It was the sensation that seems like its only felt in the movies. I actually caught my breath. I asked my buddy who she was and normally am not the kind of guy that approaches women but I had to meet her if only to say high and introduce myself. So I did just that, she started walking in as I was walking out, I stopped her in the kitchen told her that my name was Cory and that I was leaving but I had to meet her and get her name. We shook hands and that was it, she stayed for the party and I left. For the next three weeks my friends and I practically spent every spare minute at the restaurant where Fallin worked. It was obvious she didn’t remember me so I figured my first impression wasn’t a lasting one and reverted back to the guy that doesn’t approach women. After three weeks of Fallin not saying a word to me I figured me stalking her was probably futile. In my mind if she wasn’t interested by now, me spending countless dollars on beer and not so great food wasn’t going to change her mind. So my friends and I stopped going to the bar, however, a few days later a buddy and me were going to the airport to pick up a friend and stopped for a quick bite and drink. As we were sitting there Fallin, out of nowhere comes up, sticks her hand out and says “Hi, I’m Fallin, you’re Shawn’s friend right”. I almost choked on my food. I stuttered a yes and shook her hand. She said she had saw me in there a lot and wanted to meet me. Then she went back to work without another word. My friend and I stared each other in awe. After so long of pathetically trying to meet her, she says hi on a day we stopped by for a quick sandwich. I told her it was nice meeting her and headed out the door. Later that week my friends and I invited her and her friends over for some drinks. They came over and that night started a month of awkward moments and dates. I’ve never saw two people so uncomfortable with each other; it was like neither had ever dated before. This was the first time I had dated in about a decade so to say I was nervous was a gross understatement. So after a few troubled dates and seeing the inevitable end of our short relationship, one day I dropped Fallin off at her car after a movie. As I was walking back to my truck I knew it was now or never. I stopped, turned around, and walked straight back to her. She was about to get in her car when I said her name, when she turned around I kissed her. At that moment I think we both realized that we were both exactly where we were supposed to be. It was like instant love, knowing that you found “The One” without knowing yet how perfectly you fit together. I’m about 9 years older than Fallin but I truly believe that she was made for me. She is an amazing woman. She has taken my two boys into her life as if they’re her own and loves and cares for them as such. As well, they love her…to the point that when I took her home to meet my family, while at the movies watching Magic Mike with the women of my family, Tristan, my oldest son picked out her engagement and wedding rings. He has very expensive taste but I honestly believe no other ring would look as good as that one does on her hand. She challenges me emotionally and intellectually and because of her I am the best version of me. We have our struggles; her being away at school and me still in the military and having to deploy but our love for each other hasn’t wavered the slightest bit. We are strong for each other and we are blessed. To answer your questions, Fallin is from Nashville, GA, and I am from Boonsboro, MD. She is currently attending University of Ga and I am in the Air Force and have been for 16 years. We’ve been together for a little over two years now. We have two boys, from my first marriage, Tristan and Canyon.”

Fallin and Cory recently made a trip down to meet with me, Zena, along with some of their vendors for their wedding. They are so sweet! They were also able to meet with their photographer, Casey Futrell, for a quick engagement session! Here are a few photos from that session! We are so excited and looking forward to their small, romantic ceremony on Monday October 28th!


Downtown Swansboro NC is a wonderful coastal location for photos!


They are SO in LOVE!!


Cory has two sons, they were so cute and are very, very excited about the upcoming wedding!

Stay tuned for further updates from this very special couple!

We LOVE a tented reception! There is just something about being out under the stars, able to feel the breeze on your skin but being able to be covered if needed for weather! The ambiance outside on a nice night is just so romantic on it’s own, but add in candles and paper lanterns and it morphs into something spectacular! Here are some photos of tented receptions we found while browsing Pinterest…that we just adore!

We have several venues where a tented reception is possible! Browse through our online galleries on our website and you can see some of our own examples!  http://www.bluewaternc.com/CrystalCoast/Weddings/WeddingGallery/

…in the meantime, here are some inspirational Pinterest finds!


The tent drape, the fabric liner that covers the poles, really makes a BIG statement! Just beautiful!!


We love the twinkle lights draped like this! Isn’t it so pretty?


Really cool idea!! A double tent, with the dance floor in the middle!!


Love the flag/light combo here!


This one is different, casual and has a great color scheme! Very relaxing!


What do you think? Do you like a reception outside under a tent? Or an inside space like a banquet hall?

One of the worst things that can happen on your wedding day…,Mother Nature gets angry!! This was the case for Rachel and Andrew’s big day in June. They had a beautiful wedding planned at the oceanfront beach house, Dream Maker, but Tropical Storm Andrea forced us to come up with a plan C…fast! We were able to totally transform The Twin Palms Event Room at The Islander Suites into a beautiful and elegant space for the ceremony and reception! In the end, it all worked out great! Take a look at some of the transformation photos I snapped throughout the day!

This bride recently wrote a little testimonial for our website and it really made us smile! We love what we do!!!

“I was very upset when I learned the day before my wedding that I would not be able to have it as planned at the beautiful house we had rented for the week because of tropical storm Andrea. Zena was immediately on the phone with myself, my vendors, and different possibilities for venues. In the end we were able to move everything to the Islander. Zena and Mel were able to transform the room so it was beautiful and sophisticated. They made sure everything ran smoothly and my husband and I created amazing memories on our wedding day! Zena and Mel saved our wedding day!”



Twin Palms Event Room, before we got started!







Jessica and Jeremi are a local couple who fell in love with Dream Maker, an Oceanfront beach house in Salter Path NC. This was a beautiful setting for this bride’s vision, vintage elegance! Pale pink peonies, antique silver serving trays, mason jars and chalkboards…what is not to love? The ceremony was on the beach and was super sweet. Followed up by a fun and loving reception! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Jeremi danced with his daughter! Take a peak, these are a few of our favorite photos! Photos by Casey Futrell Photography



 These two were SO sweet!! With navy and white as the main two colors in their wedding, the coral and peach really popped! This wedding was held at The Islander Suites, in Emerald Isle NC. Take a peek! These wonderful photos were taken by Simply Sabrina Photography, we really enjoyed working with her!


Magazine Feature

Bluewater Weddings was very honored to have one of our Spring Weddings featured in Crystal Coast Bride Magazine! This was such a beautiful wedding, they picked a great one to show off!

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Amazing photos courtesy of Casey Futrell Photography, Common Dove Photography, Cynthia Rose Photography, Love by Serena, Chad Winstead Photography, Jim Colman Photography