Who is your ideal couple at Hidden River?
Our ideal couple loves the outdoors, wants a beautiful event but does not wish to stress about the details and wishes to keep costs in check and reasonable. Hidden River can be as simple or fancy as you make it. Our photos show examples of weddings that have been designed to look like the tent at the Biltmore Estate down to couples who choose to just have the ceremony and 20 of their closest friends, with the main decor being the flowers from our garden and the horses in the background. The venue is, in and of itself, beautiful. That saves you money from the get go as much of your ambiance is provided by nature!
We seek the couple who understands that the wedding is about GETTING MARRIED and who understands what an amazing opportunity and choice this is. We want couples who do not wish to get lost in the details or to spend time with matters that will take them apart during the months of their engagement instead of bringing them closer together. Because we have the onsite housing, most of our clients come from out of town or have a significant number of guests coming from out of town. This turns the event into an “occasion.” It becomes about two sets of family and friends coming together, not just about four hours in your life.
Are you an environmentally friendly and/or sustainable business?
That is our intention and we do our best to follow through. We donate flowers at the end of each event to Hospice, if you do not wish to keep them and we donate leftover food to the Rescue Mission if you do not take it with you. We use electric vehicles whenever possible; tru-earth detergent sheets to avoid the massive amount of plastic containers that would result and environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals; we compost as much as we can; grow most of the flowers that are used, thereby avoiding exotics and shipping costs; we rescue all of our animals (dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, goats); we grow food for giveaway to local agencies that feed the food insecure population of WNC; our caterer uses whatever we grow that can be utilized, at no cost to them.
Can we adjust (remove or add) to existing packages?
Yes. You can remove food, flowers, dessert, and/or photography. Typically, food is $20-$25/person plus tax; dessert is $4-$6/person plus tax; photographer is $1500-$1750; flowers range from $350-$1200 typically, depending upon the size of the event. With the food, if kept in the package, you have several choices of meals and within each choice, several choices as well. You can also upgrade to a custom menu. If you do so, you would just pay the difference per person between what is already included and what you would like to add. So if your included menu was $20 per person and your upgraded/custom menu is $22 per person, then you’d be responsible for an additional $2 per person. With dessert, there are several choices: cake, pie bar, cupcakes. With flowers, we use locally grown, mostly from our own farm, loosely arranged in a wildflower kind of look, with mixed colors. There will be an up-charge if you require special flowers or a certain color scheme. With the photographer, this includes 4 hours of shooting, all of your images that have been edited, with unlimited single party printing rights. It also includes an engagement photography session. Additional hours can be added for $250 per hour.
What is the back up plan in case of bad weather?
As of February, 2022, with over 950 weddings at our venue, only 58 have been affected by weather. We have two back up plans: Plan B and Plan C. Plan B: Wait 15 or so minutes and start later. Plan C: Do everything in the tent. Plan B has happened about 120times and Plan C has happened 38 times. We look you in the eye and tell you: “It could be you!” But, if it is, we do everything possible to keep you and your guests comfortable. Overall, our statistics are pretty good. There are no guarantees with outdoor events, so it’s good to have an “It’s all good” attitude with a largely outdoor wedding. In the case of the cold, we have tent heaters, patio heaters, and a full set of sidewalls. The tent can get downright toasty if we use all three of these, plus body heat. We offer winter weddings thru the third week in December and beginning the second weekend in March.
Who are your main vendors for these items?
- Photography: Jesse Kitt and Michael Oppenheim are our most frequently used photographers r.
- Food:Anne’s Custom Catering.
- Anne’s Custom Catering, Filo Bakery and Ultimate Ice Cream are our main vendors. Ultimate and Filo are frequently the ones used for up-graded or custom orders
- Flowers: Hidden River to the Heart
Tell us about your DJ and can we bring in our own?
No. The DJ is one of the items that cannot be removed from the package. Our DJs work only for us in order to abide by the sound ordinance, music must be off by 10:30 at the latest on all nights. Guests must exit the tent no later than 30 minutes after the music ends. We own our own equipment and music. The DJ has three main responsibilities: to play your music, not to be cheesy (unless you ask for it), and to make sure we abide by the Buncombe County sound ordinance which is “reasonable to the nature of your business and complete quiet at 11 p.m.) Our DJ’s are great and they also MC your event and can play in between sets for bands.
What time does the music have to end?
In order to abide by the sound ordinance, music must be off by 10:30 at the latest and guests must exit the tent no later than 30 minutes after the music ends.
Can we have a band?
Yes.We allow some bands but not all. We do not allow large “wedding bands.” We have not had great success with them. They are loud, they charge couples A LOT, and they are often very disrespectful to the neighborhood. We have had great success with bands playing during the cocktail hour, however. Couples can thereby have a local band with a lot of character, e.g. bluegrass, salsa, jazz, swing, etc. Sometimes these bands even play the music for the ceremony. If you want a band for dancing, these bands can play two sets and must end by 10 p.m. if they are amplified. The DJ will play in between and after sets. We have a list of preferred bands that our couples have loved. If you want someone who is not on the list, the Event Manager must approve them.
What about music at the ceremony?
Our DJ is included in your package to play your ceremony music. You simply tell the DJ what you’d like for pre-ceremony music, seating of parents/grandparents, groomsman entry and bridesmaid’s processional, bride’s processional, ceremony music, recessional music. There are two microphones: one for the officiant and one for any other people in the ceremony. There are also places for instruments to be plugged in, if needed.
What if our guests want to keep the party going?
It is not unusual for couples to have 10-25 guests who want to keep partying with them. If so, we pack up your remaining alcohol and take it to the Field House/After Party House, but only if this house is included in your package. This is the house on the property where, if one is using a reasonable voice outside, the voice does not carry and there is little danger of violating the Buncombe County sound ordinance. It is included automatically for Saturday weddings and can be added, as available, to Sunday-Wednesday weddings. We’ve had great success with people who wish to continue an event in this manner. Because of Asheville’s vibrant music scene downtown, we also have couples that rent a party shuttle and they leave the venue between 9:30 and 10:30 to head downtown for a live music performance, in which case they often do not return until 2-4 a.m. (Not that we are up waiting for you, we just usually hear you telling us about all the fun you’ve had!)
Do you sell alcohol?
No. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the packages. The couple purchases and provides their own alcohol. This is a great cost savings for you. We do have a local vendor who sells to our clients (beer, wine, champagne) at 5 and 10% discounts, and who waives the tap and keg rental fees. If you purchase form this vendor, they will deliver alcohol for you and return kegs.
Can we serve hard liquor?
Yes.You do, however, have to secure a NC ABC permit and this requires three things in addition to liquor and mixers you would provide: $50 permit; a criminal background check $25; and Hidden River Events has to approve this. In addition to this permit, you would also need to add an additional bartender and additional ice to your costs. This is typically $200 for the extra bartender and $50-$100 for ice, depending upon the size of your event.
Do we have to have an insurance policy..and if so where do we get one?
Yes. To have an event, you must secure a liability policy. These can be purchased through companies such as www.wedsafe.com or www.wedsure.com They generally cost around $175 and MUST include Hidden River Events, INC. as an “additional insured.” Sometimes, if you are a homeowner, you can get this through an addendum to your homeowner’s policy. We also HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you secure a cancellation policy. In all of our 15 years (as of February 2022), we have never canceled a wedding, thankfully. But for a reasonable rate, when you secure your event liability policy, you can bundle it with cancellation insurance and this seems to be well worth the money, as all payments for the wedding are non-refundable.
Do you have any preferred beer or wine vendors?
Yes. The Weinhaus on Patton Avenues sells such to our clients at reduced rates. They can get local and mainstream kegs, any time of wine, etc. If you purchase from them, they will deliver and return kegs for you.
What is the average cost for alcohol from Weinhaus?
Average cost for beer, wine and champagne, as of 2022, seems to be around $15 to $17 per person. If you add liquor to this, it seems to be around $25 to $32 per person. If you speak with our Event Manager, she can help you to determine if you are over purchasing or not.
Other than alcohol what are other services we will need to have a complete wedding?
Your invitations, bridal attire, honeymoon, guest table favors, gifts for your bridal party, and any photos or memorabilia you’d like to bring to the venue. Sometimes couples add appetizers for cocktail hour and more personal flowers if they have a larger wedding party. You can certainly do more, but with our packages you are as close to complete as can likely be found.
Do you have a fire pit or fire bowls?
Yes.There is an in-ground fire pit at the tent and we provide wood for this and someone to light it and tend it through the evening, at no additional cost. There are also fire bowls at several of the houses, including the home that is frequently used as an afterparty house: The Field House.
Do you conduct more than one wedding per day or weekend?
We do not conduct any other weddings on your wedding day. The only exception to this would be an 11 a.m. elopement. This must conclude by 1 p.m. If it happens, usually the couple has not even known it was happening. If you do not wish for this to happen during your event, we can exclude this option in your contract. If you wish to insure that there will not be a Friday night wedding, assuming yours is on a Saturday, you can pay an additional amount of $3000 to make sure this doesn’t happen. Typically, there’s about a 20-30% chance there’d be a Friday night wedding in most months except for October, September, May, June. You would hear their music. They would not hear you, were you to be at one of the houses, having a rehearsal dinner, for instance. Probably only about 5 people per year pay this additional $3000 and they typically do this because they also wish to offer a larger rehearsal dinner on site as well as their Saturday event.
Can you explain how rehearsals & rehearsal dinners work?
We guarantee that you can have a rehearsal on site and there is no additional charge for this. If there happens to be a wedding on the day prior to your event, we’d just work out the ceremony rehearsal time so as not to interfere with each other. Sunday weddings, for instance, tend to have their rehearsal at 11 a.m. or noon on Saturday.
The Saturday weddings include the infrastructure for up to 42 people for a rehearsal dinner on site. This occurs on the deck of the “Craggie View” house. We can move 42 people inside, were it to rain. The inclusions for the rehearsal dinner are: tables, chairs, table cloths, compostable plates and utensils, ice chest, trash and recycling containers. You can add catering to the package from one of our vendors or DIY. You can add a staff person to handle the set up and clean up for $150-$200. We see people grilling out, ordering pizzas. We also see people using one of the affordable menus from the caterer with whom we work or even upgrading to a plated/served black tie affair on Friday night, with a more casual reception on Saturday. There are many options. If you think you’d like to have more than 42 people onsite for a rehearsal dinner, then we’d require you to pay the $3000 site rental fee for Friday night and an additional amount based on the size of your event, for the necessary infrastructure, beyond 42 people, plus any additional amounts for vendors (food, flowers, music, etc.) . Clients who just book the venue for a rehearsal dinner can work with us to develop a complete event or just pay the site rental and labor fees.
Are your onsite houses more like cabins or vacation rentals?
They are fully equipped vacation rental houses, with full kitchens on site.
Do you supply sheets, towels, and paper products for the houses?
We supply sheets and towels and a starter kit of toilet paper and paper towels. Sheets and towels are left on the beds for the guests to make up. You can add housekeeping services to your contract if you would like and have the beds prepared in advance.
What are checkout responabilities?
To strip the bed sheets and place used linens by the door for removal; to take out the trash and recycling; to place quilts neatly back on beds; to turn off lights, a/c or heat; to close windows; to return any furniture or other infrastructure (utensils, irons, etc.) to their original location/house.
Can housing be removed from Saturday packages?
No. The only exception to this would be for weddings in March and December. Most people find that they need the housing and, even if they don’t, our overall pricing is more reasonable than most venues, even if the housing is not used.
Can you explain how the reimbursement for onsite housing works?
If you want us to, we can place an invoice out for all or some of your guests who are staying on site. We give you floor plans and a housing assignment sheet and a photo gallery of the housing, to remind you which room is which. You tell us who stays in what room and how much you’d like to charge them. We recommend $100-$150 per ROOM, per night (not per person). This is a very reasonable rate as the least expensive hotels in our area tend to be around $150-$200 per night. Once we know who is residing where, we place an invoice out for each guest in an envelope marked with the name. They write their checks to our escrow account and whatever we collect for you, we refund to you. Some couples charge all of their guests, some comp some of the rooms. In the latter case, we can put out a note that indicates that nothing is owed, so that everyone receives an invoice but not everyone pays. We have refunded anywhere from $800 to $8000 to our couples!
Where is parking?
Parking is in the main field just after you enter the farm. It doesn’t look like parking because it’s beautiful and green. Even with over 950 weddings, it just looks like an open pasture. We take really good care of it. About an hour before the ceremony start time, we have greeters on duty, along with an electric vehicle for people with special needs, and they direct people to the parking area.
Do you have bathrooms onsite or do we need to rent them?
It is often said that we have the nicest bathrooms in town at the tent and at the ceremony sites. Nice mirrors and information on how to get Uber rides, etc. are posted throughout the bathrooms.
How far away are the bathrooms from the reception & ceremony areas?
Bathrooms are adjacent to the tent and also to the river ceremony sites.
Is there a place for the bride to get ready onsite?
Yes. We have a very nice Bridal Studio on the first floor of the building known as Overlook. It has a full bathroom, lots of mirrors, tables, couches, and a refrigerator. It’s quite comfortable. Many people do their hair and makeup on site. Photos are typically taken of the bridal party getting ready in that studio. It’s quite attractive and comfortable and plenty big for larger wedding party sizes too.
Where does the groom get ready?
If the couple has onsite housing, he usually gets ready in one of the houses. More often than not, it’s the Field House, affectionately known as the “after party house.” It has a pool table and is decorated in a slightly more “masculine” decor. It’s also the closest to the ceremony sites. If the package does not include onsite housing, the gentlemen tend to put their jackets on in the bathrooms and hang out there, or under a tin roofed shed, near the pond and river ceremony sites.
Who is present day of to make sure our event is properly executed?
The venue is set up and ready by noon for vendors to arrive or additional decorating you’d like to do. Our Day Of coordinator arrives at noon and stays throughout the day through the evening, managing staff, greeting vendors, and closing up the venue. Additional staff begins to arrive around 2 p.m. typically: DJ, golf cart driver, carriage driver, bussers/servers, bartender(s). We are fully staffed and able to provide a smooth and stress free event the day off.
What does the Event Manager handle and do I need a wedding planner?
Once a couple books with us, the Event Manager and her assistant take over to handle all the details related to your package. They handle everything related to any vendor that is associated with our packages and everything we provide ourselves. If you select your own vendors in certain areas (your own florist or caterer, for instance) you are responsible for communicating with them and handling all details related to their services/products. If they are our vendors, the Event Management team handles everything for you. They communicate with you through your planning process to help you make the necessary decisions for all packages: food choices, ceremony start times, reception timelines, etc. They set up meetings, as necessary, with our vendors (this includes tastings with our caters, if needed). If you wish to add or upgrade, they handle this and modify your payment schedule/spreadsheet accordingly. They manage the contracts with your vendors and pay all vendors on your behalf out of an escrow account. As you go through the planning process, they keep meticulous notes and constantly update your spreadsheets, if necessary. (This is only necessary if you add or upgrade anything, as our contractual agreement for pricing is firm and cannot change.) We do not need or allow outside wedding planners for anything related to our packages. You are free to secure them for things unrelated to what we offer (such as managing out of town guest itineraries, off-side rehearsal dinners, etc). Since we own our own infrastructure and do all the set up, as part of your contractual agreement, there’s no need for a wedding planner for anything related to our packages.
Can you tell us what it will be like to work with your Event Manager?
Once your contract is submitted, our Event Manager gives you a password for a wholly separate website that is accessible for our contracted couples only. Once you read through this website, It can be as simple as a few in person meetings and emails. Some couples book us site unseen and handle everything electronically or by phone and arrive for the first time for their event! We prefer that you can come to see the site yourself before you book, but that is not possible for everyone. Some couples start planning right away and get it done, others wait until they finish a busy season in their lives (graduating, buying a home, etc.). The couple sets the rhythm of how quickly they work. Because our vendors work with us so regularly, there is no danger that they would not be available to work your wedding. Because of this, once you book, we find out generally what interests you most with our vendors, and then we make notifications to our vendors that your date is booked.
What is the function of the carriage and golf carts?
Typically, the carriage picks up the bride or partner (or the bride and her escort, bride and flower girl, etc.) at the bridal changing studio. One of our vehicles typically picks up bridesmaids and moms/grandmas who are present in the studio and takes them to the ceremony site about 15 minutes prior to ceremony start time. Once we know all are ready, the carriage leaves. The carriage tends to wait until the driver sees the last person walking to the ceremony site from the bridal party. That way the bride gets a nice entrance. During the ceremony, the driver of the carriage waits and then takes the couple away from the site for what we affectionately call the “victory lap” (a 5-10 minute ride around the property to catch your breath and snuggle as a married couple). Occasionally, people do not use the carriage at all and just use one of our vehicles, or they have the carriage to give rides to the guests. We also have another carriage (a surrey) that will bring bridesmaids to the ceremony site as well. There is an additional fee to add the second carriage. One of our vehicles, typically a 5 passenger electric vehicle, is waiting in the parking area, on the lookout for guests who need help getting to the ceremony site and then the driver waits near the ceremony site, ready to carry folks who need it to the reception tent. A vehicle remains with the event throughout the night as a shuttle to the parking areas.
Do we have to use the carriage and are there other options?
No.It is there if you need it/want it. There is no reduction in price, however, if you do not use it. Most people use it, as it is functional. Even if a partner/bride is not a very formal person, most end up using it because it just works. That being said, a few people each year do not use it. What do they do instead? They walk; they come in a personal vehicle or classic car; etc. Sometimes, if the couple doesn’t use the carriage, they let mothers or grandmothers come to the ceremony in it or use it to give rides to guests after the ceremony.
Are you handicap accessible?
Yes.Our bathrooms by the river have larger stalls with wall bars for gripping and are on floor level. The ones by the tent have a large ramp leading to one of the bathrooms. Two houses onsite have handicap ramps. One additional house has a step in shower and only two steps up to the house itself. The ceremony sites can all be reached by driving directly to them in a vehicle. We had a bride with spina bifida, confined to a wheelchair for life, and she loved having her wedding with us! If people are in non-motorized wheelchairs, just tell us to be on the lookout and we will help to convey them to the ceremony site, as we are available and able.
Is an officiant/minister included and do we have to use him/her?
There is no extra charge if you use our onsite officiant/minister, Rev. Dr. Jeanne Sommer, the owner of Hidden River Events ,if she is available. If she is not available or a substitute has to occur in case of emergency, there is a $100-$200 fee for the substitute, who also shares her style and philosophy. You can read more fully about her on the officiant page of the website. You are free to use your own minister/officiant or we can refer you to someone else if you do not have your own and Dr. Sommer’s services are not a fit for you. This is the key of your whole event, so you need to have what is appropriate for you! If Dr. Sommer is your officiant, she or her assistant will direct the ceremony. If you have your own officiant, a Hidden River Staff person is present for any questions they might have, but they are not in charge of directing the ceremony rehearsal, etc. unless you hire a staff person for this purpose.
Can you tell us about your "house officiant" (Dr. Jeanne Sommer)?
Will she, or her proxy, do a ceremony that is particular to our relationship and needs or does she require that we have a certain religious or philosophical viewpoint?
Dr. Sommer is a former college professor (Ph.D. Religious Studies) who is familiar with many of the world’s religious and philosophical traditions. She is an open-minded, loving, and light-hearted person who offers her couples a joyful and meaningful ceremony that reflects their values and their particular relationship story. She meets with each couple she weds to get to know them and then she crafts a ceremony that is just for them. This can be as secular or religious as you wish. It’s your wedding. Couples who use her services rave about how it went. You can read numerous reviews on google about their experiences. Sometimes people have a friend or family to get ordained online. This is quite acceptable but, unless the person has done this before, it usually doesn’t go as smoothly as it does with a professional. If you have worries that the house officiant cannot adequately reflect your story and values as a close friend or family member might, it’s worth talking to Dr. Sommer to see if you feel comfortable with her services, because she is known as one of the best wedding officiants around, due to her breadth of knowledge, and her genuine, caring personality.
Do you offer services to people who are LGBTQ and people of all faiths?
Absolutely. We do not discriminate against good loving; and good loving takes many forms. We are here to serve you. Because we are consciously open and inclusive, we have a reputation for providing some of the best services in town. We understand multiplicity in culture and tradition; and our respect and our commitment to loving-kindness shines through in what we do.
Can we just rent your venue and nothing else?
No. We used to do that and here’s what happened:
First, we saw a lot of vendors that were substandard and, because of this, some very unhappy clients; and we couldn’t do anything about it except to watch. When this happens, you may know that the food vendor, for instance, is not our preferred vendor, but potentially 100+ of your guests will associate that vendor with our business. So, we have a vested interest in making sure that all the vendors are not just good, but great. Word of mouth advertising, not just from our couple, but also from their guests, is the best advertising.
Secondly, we specialize in what we do. When we do this, everything runs smoothly. We’ve learned that it’s just best to work from our strengths.
Third, we feel confident that, when all is said and done, you will have saved a good percentage of money in comparison to other venues. You might save some if you were to find a venue that allows you to completely do everything DIY, but we have watched this many times in the past and it’s not a pretty sight, usually, to see the stress that has arisen as a result of this choice by the client. You pay a little more to have us do it, in comparison to a DIY event, but less in comparison to what you would pay at other venues and/or with a wedding planner to help you. We are confident that we are giving our clients both amazing service and top value for their money.
Finally, there is the issue of safety and care for our facility, land, and infrastructure. Were we to leave you on your own, there are a lot of things of ours that go missing or get broken and there are many ways for you to struggle or get hurt on the land. Our golf cart, for instance, cannot be driven by a guest or client and it’s helpful for those who don’t see well at night or are elderly or handicapped, or who are just tired or a little tipsy. We do what we do the way we do it for very good reasons and based on years of experience at Hidden River and with other venues.
What do we need to do to reserve our date?
We will hold a date for one to two weeks from the time you tell us you wish to wed with us. If we are running short on dates or getting close to your date, we usually only hold it for a week or so. If you are booking farther in advance, we will hold it for two weeks. You will receive a contract at the beginning of that official “hold” period. At the end of your hold period a first payment of $2500-$1750 is due to hold your date (or half of the amount in the case of elopements). The rest of your payments are divided up over the months preceding your date. We propose a payment schedule in the contract. If you want something different we can usually work with you. Your payments include everything except for gratuities, with NO CHANCE of the amount changing unless you add or upgrade something. If you add or upgrade, this is typically reflected in the last payment that is due two weeks prior to your event. To make the contract, we need to know the following: your least and highest # of possible guests; what, if anything, you’d like to delete (at least for now) from the following: food, flowers, dessert, photography; if you’d like to add the White House as additional housing to a Saturday wedding and, if so, for how many nights; in the case of a Sunday or weekday wedding we need to know if you need any or all of the housing; in the case of an elopement, we just need basic details about what your would like and these options are listed in our “elopements and small wedding pricing” pages. We ask for your least and highest numbers and for what, if anything, you wish to remove from the contract from the items that are eligible for removal, because you can always go UP in your guest list, not down and you can always add to your vendor inclusions, but you can’t remove, once the contract is signed. In the case of your estimated numbers, we indicate in the contract what the cost would be were you actually to go to your highest guest count, based on 25 person increments, so your pricing is guaranteed all along this scale and so you will know how to budget should you have the “good problem” of most everyone you invite actually attending your event. Once the contract and the initial payment are both received, your date is officially booked. We are proud to say that we absolutely honor the one to two week hold period and would not give your date to someone else, even if they came with a check for the full amount of their wedding, asking for that particular date.
Why should we pick Hidden River?
Great question. You cannot go wrong with a wedding in Asheville or a wedding in western North Carolina generally. You have the “curse of possibilities” (too many wonderful choices of beautiful venues). What makes us unique is our truly full service packages; the value on the dollar; the amazing beauty of the Swannanoa Valley; and our emphasis on good loving. Our motto is “love multiplies.”
We believe that the love that two people have between themselves should create more love in the world. Because of this belief, a portion of the cost of each event is donated to charity. We donate regularly to Manna Food Bank, Brother Wolf, CureSearch for children’s cancer, and organizations you request of us. This combination of qualities is what distinguishes us as a venue and we are most proud of our honesty and our loving hearts. The only thing that exceeds this is YOU. We have met so many amazing couples over these last eight seasons. Please, won’t you consider becoming another one of those great couples? We’d love to see you back on the property with your baby, or for an anniversary. We love keeping up with you through Facebook and Instagram