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Recap of the High South Event Professionals Members Meeting at Banner Elk Winery

By Jess Kleean

On February 27th the High South Professionals opened their doors and welcomed other fantastic professionals in the community in an effort to best serve clients coming to celebrate the biggest moments of their lives in the High Country! The High South Event Professionals or HSEP are a collection of handcrafted, handpicked wedding vendors in the Blue Ridge Mountains—brought together by their passion for giving every client an extraordinary wedding experience. They are the largest association of wedding vendors in the High Country, so of course, this A-list event, hosted by Banner Elk Winery, was a night of fun, frivolity, and fantastic company all around.

Lisa Koch and Terri McNay of Banner Elk Winery

The night began with a quick introduction and thank you to the committee that comes together to make sure that the High Country is the place to be for all special events. The Winery itself is set in the idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains, showcasing some of the most beautiful views of the High Country, and serves as the perfect backdrop for many couples’ dream ceremonies. The winery itself features sixteen different wines and sangrias throughout the year. The brides can request that something special is brought in, but in-house they make light whites to full reds, rosés, and their signature blueberry wine. Lisa, from Banner Elk Winery, stated: “The weddings become family, we know them by name, we know extended family, and they come back and back again.”

Jessica of Wayfaring Wanderer

The night continued with a presentation by Jessica from Wayfaring Wanderer Photography describing the importance of establishing relationships with local photographers and using social media to promote one’s own personal brand. She stated that working with photographers helps to save you the time and stress of creating images, and helps to represent one’s company in the best possible light with the most visual impact. She believes that above all else, companies should work to establish personal relationships with the photographers in the High South Event professional group or any other vendor you like. Reach out to them, connect on social media or in person, because most photographers are more than happy to share images with you, all you need to do is reach out to them and ask.

They can send you photos that will highlight your services that you can use on any social media channel or print advertising. She pointed out that the most important thing that a business can do is give credit to the photographers that work so hard to deliver them these images. Using an @ symbol, rather than a hashtag, allows both you and your clients to directly connect with photographers that you would work with.

She states: “One image can capture so much, so your communication with vendors is key. Brides looking at our pages and history want to see that we have made connections and forged relationships with each other because that really speaks volumes in the high country. It is important to have a better relationship with each other so we can have a better relationship with clients.”

Janna Avery  

Callista Designs

The Banquet’s floral arrangements were designed by Janna Avery. Callista Designs is a full-service floral studio located in Linville, NC. Their team is well versed in projects varying from weddings and events to small projects in homes, simple gift bouquets, and weekly church flowers. In essence, they love all things green and flowery and look forward to sharing this love with each client. They state: “Our belief is that beauty is unique to every individual. As designers, it is our job to capture the ‘unique beauty” for each client and fuse it with our creativity to produce the perfect event.”

Kevin and Rich

Blue Ridge Bites & Brews

They have only been open since last July, so they are focusing on smaller wedding parties now as they work to establish themselves and form relationships with people in the area. Rich has been working in the area for years, kitchen managing, meeting everyone he can, apparently, making the best Bloody Mary in town.

Peter and Donna

Welter Entertainment.

Peter is a DJ and a master of ceremonies. Originally from Arizona. Weddings are kind of their specialty, but they do any kind of event from small backyard parties to corporate events to graduations to anything you can think of that would call for great music and entertainment. He is also a premier DJ for Disney Cruise Lines, they are relatively new in the area and live right up around the corner. Ultimately the brides are their clients and they want to work closely with vendors in the area to build those relationships in the area to best serve them.

Eric Wright

JECO Pyrotechnics

JECO has grown exponentially in the high country, where they love stepping out and ending the night with a bang! It is more affordable than most realize and above all, something a lot of people don’t expect. Many people don’t think of fireworks and when they think of weddings, but at JECO they claim that this is one of the coolest wedding photos you can have and they work with local photographers to get “the coolest fireworks shots”. Eric jokingly said, “Even though we normally don’t dress professionally for the wedding, we can deliver a show that caps off the night pretty well.”

Every location is different depending on the types of permits issued, and they are willing to do the leg work to relieve the client of the extra work. They take care of the community, fire departments, and permitting, so there is extra work for the groom or the bride. They try and make that easy. Some places are different, with different circumstances and guidelines so they can’t promise everything, but they will work to accommodate as best as they can.

Ashley N Warren Photography

Ashley Warren 

Ashley came to the High Country about a year ago and has already gotten to work with many local vendors with whom she has made strong connections with. She is a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Boone, and she loves adventure. She takes her camera everywhere and is willing to do fun and adventurous shoots!

All of these fresh faces and more will be at the wedding expo this April 23rd. This year the expo will be a fabulous outdoor event setup behind First Citizens in Blowing Rock. This will be a freeform style event with traditional tables and booths, but will be adaptable towards more unconventional styles of presentation! If you are interested in participating, you can find more information and register here.