High South Event Professionals Announce Merge with Wilkes Bridal Association

Published Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 12:52 pm

By Jessica Isaacs | jessica@highcountrypress.com

In many ways, 2016 will be a year of innovation for the local wedding industry and it’s primary network of vendors, High South Event Professionals.

In the wake of a name change, a new marketing strategy and a total branding overhaul, the organization recently announced it will welcome a group of professionals from the Wilkes County area to its family.

High South Events

High South Event Professionals

High South Event Professionals

To better align with its core values and vision, the group formerly known as A.C.E.S., or Association of Consultants and Event Services, made the switch to its new name, High South Event Professionals, back in October. Fresh, sophisticated design elements and a brand new, user-friendly website complete with an online directory are among the changes that are also underway for the group.

What remains unchanged, however, is HSEP’s determination to promote the Blue Ridge Mountains as the premier wedding and special events destination in the southeastern United States.

After discussion and careful planning, HSEP announced this week its merger with a group of like-minded professionals in Wilkes County known as the Wilkes Bridal Association.

As many members of the WBA have already been a part of HSEP for several years, the joining of the two associations is a logical step in creating a united front to more effectively promote the region of western North Carolina.

“It’s most effective to join the two groups together so that we can accomplish a lot more as a team working together as one unit than we can as two separate groups, especially since so many destination weddings are planned in this area,” said Pixels on Paper Photography‘s Misty Case, who served as president of the WBA. “We really wanted to be able to support our Wilkes members by giving them the most opportunities possible, and we felt it could be more effective if we joined as one with the High Country, since it’s really seen as one location.”

Those vendors who had not yet joined the High South group will now become members, and the WBA will dissolve as its membership joins with HSEP.

“The most exciting part is that we’re no longer duplicating our efforts. We’re not doing the same thing in two different places with twice the amount of work, and it’s now a collective effort for everybody,” said Case. “I’m really excited for what’s ahead — to see what we can accomplish together by bringing all of the members into one group.”

Expanding “The High South”

Elizabeth Hempfling, owner and lead planner at Events by Elizabeth Ashley and president of HSEP, said that incorporating many of the Wilkes region’s top vendors into the network will be beneficial for both the organization and each of its individual members.

“As we continue to see growth in our branding, we are making more of a statement than they would be able to do on their own,” Hempfling said. “We approached them with the idea, offered the option to them to see if they would be interested in doing this to expand our territory and to help them promote their businesses on a greater level.”

As events and marketing director for Leatherwood Mountains Resort, an equestrian-inclusive venue that’s located in Wilkes County, Abbie Hanchey knows firsthand the advantage of officially pulling professionals from the Wilkes area into the High South territory.

“I think that the amazing elements that the Wilkes vendors can bring to the High Country just enhance High South Event Professionals,” said Hanchey. “A lot of those members are already doing work in the High Country, so it just makes sense and it broadens the reach for prospective couples who are looking to network with vendors.

“It’s a win-win for both regions. Wilkes County vendors will benefit from the additional exposure that the HSEP networking capabilities will bring to their businesses.”

Hempfling said the merger will simultaneously strengthen HSEP and highlight the charming mountain communities that may otherwise be hard for out-of-town clients to discover.

“What the Wilkes area has to offer is different and unique from what we have in the High Country, so it kind of taps into a whole new market,” Hempfling said. “It’s more of an incentive for a bride to come here when she has all of these options and she’s looking to see that strong network of all of us working together for our community and our vendors.”

“When you go off the mountain to places like Charlotte, that’s a whole new market. But Wilkes County, Ashe County, Spruce Pine and other places that are nestled around in our area don’t necessarily get the kind of exposure they deserve. This is going to give us a stronger presence, and we’re hoping it will help the region, too.”

More About HSEP

High South Event Professionals is an expansive network of preferred wedding and special event vendors, venues and consultants that serve as authoritative industry leaders in the High Country.

Its membership serves the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee covering communities including Boone, Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain, Banner Elk, Valle Crucis and now Wilkes.

HSEP’s new website is currently under construction. For more information or to access its full directory of participating vendors, visit acesnc.com.

Looking to stay up-to-date on the High Country’s wedding industry? Stay tuned for more information about HSEP’s annual expo coming up on March 20 in Boone.

Check out some of the beautiful weddings created by HSEP members in the digital copy of our 2016 High South Weddings magazine.

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