Couples are coming from all over the state to exchange vows in Sanford, North Carolina, home to some of the best (and most affordable) wedding venues in the state. And the booming industry is doing wonders for the local economy.
By Billy Liggett
Sabrina Tillman and Jordan Cox looked at a lot of potential sites for their upcoming October wedding. Farm houses. Plantation homes. Ballrooms. Scenic mountain getaways. The search was long and exhausting. But the venue that stood out the most was the first one they visited and the one closest to home.
That venue was Daniel’s Ridge at Broken Plow Farm on Avents Ferry Road just east of Sanford and northwest of Broadway.
Offering the perfect mix of farmhouse and modern style and surrounded by trees and farmland that will pop with fall colors come October, Daniel’s Ridge felt like home to the young couple that met in 2014 in a Spanish class at Lee County High School and announced their engagement five years later.
“It’s just all my style. It’s new, it’s absolutely beautiful and it’s really close to home. The venue is literally walking distance from us — maybe 10 minutes,” says Tillman, who is set to earn her dental hygiene degree from Central Carolina Community College this spring. “Everything about it is convenient. And it’s beautiful. We just fell in love with it instantly.”
Daniel’s Ridge is among a growing list of wedding venues that have popped up in Sanford and Lee County in the last five to 10 years. And these aren’t your small-time, tent pole set-ups — these venues aren’t just keeping local high school sweethearts in town for their big days. They’re attracting couples from all over the state and are making a huge impact in the local economy.
Sanford is home to nearly a dozen venues that are attracting anywhere between 20 and 40 weddings a year. And the pandemic has done little to slow the industry down — Daniel’s Ridge is on track to host roughly 30 large-scale events in 2021, most of them weddings. Five miles away at Sugarneck on Buckhorn Road, there are 40-plus big events scheduled this year.
Again, most of those will involve exchanging rings, kissing and saying “I do.”
The Farm on Cotton. Hawkins House. Oakland Farm. Luminarias. Carolina Trace. Combined, these businesses are bringing in hundreds of weddings and thousands of people who are staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants, drinking at local breweries, shopping in local stores and visiting local tourist attractions.
The domino effect doesn’t stop there. Wedding planners, interior designers, florists, photographers and videographers, DJs, caterers, officiants, tux shops and hair stylists (to name a few) … they’re all benefiting from Sanford’s newfound Wedding Central label.
“I’ve worked weddings in the mountains and on the beaches, and I’ve worked local weddings for the last eight years,” says photographer Alicia Hite of Broadway. “I think because of its central location and because of the variety of venues you can find here, people are looking at Sanford as a real wedding destination. There are just so many options for large and small ceremonies.
“I absolutely think Sanford is becoming the wedding capital of North Carolina. I’d love to see that title here. It’s deserved.”
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