Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:
What is the back up plan in case of rain or cold?
As of June, 2015, in over 600 weddings, we have had 33 weather related events. We have two back up plans: Plan B and Plan C. We’ve used Plan B 12 times in seven years and Plan C 21 times in seven years. Eleven of those twenty times were in 2013 between March and July 20, as this was the record wet year in Asheville for the last 40 years. So, 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. Here’s a description of Plans B and C. Plan B: Wait 15-20 minutes, wipe down the seats and get started late. We either keep the guests in their cars until ceremony start time, or invite them to the tent to begin cocktails, if that is your preference. Plan C: If we know that it’s going to rain for all or most of the time of your ceremony and early reception time, we just do everything in the tent. We make a central aisle on the dance floor. The carriage is covered and can still operate in the rain. In the case of the cold, we have tent heaters, patio heaters, and full set of sidewalls. The tent can get downright toasty if we use all three of these, plus body heat.
Do we have choices in the package, both to remove certain items and to make selections within the existing package?
Yes. You can remove food, flowers, dessert, and/or photography. Typically, food is $15/person plus tax; dessert is $3.5/person plus tax; photographer is $1300; 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 $15 per person and your upgraded/custom menu is $22 per person, then you’d be responsible for an additional $7 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 may be some up charge if you require special flowers or a certain color scheme we cannot easily access at the time of your wedding. With the photography, this includes 4 hours of shooting, a CD rom with all of your images that have been edited, with single party printing rights. It also includes an engagement photography session. Additional hours can be added for $225 per hour.
Who are your main vendors for these items?
- Jesse Kitt, Michael Oppenheim, and Erica Mueller are our most frequently used photographers for weddings of 50 or more guests. Smaller sized weddings utilize the services of Erica Mueller, Meg Locke, Joe Harris, or Hannah Sommer.
- For food, we use Anne’s Custom Catering.
- For dessert: Anne’s Custom Catering, Filo Bakery and Ultimate Ice Cream are our main vendors. Ultimate and Filo are frequently the ones used for upgraded or custom orders
- For flowers: Cynthia’s Flowers and Red Ladder Rentals.
Tell us about your DJ. Can we bring in our own?
No. The DJ is one of the items that cannot be removed from the package. Our DJ works only for us. We own our own equipment and music. The DJ has two 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’s 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 on Fridays and Saturdays and 9:30 p.m. on all other nights. Guests must exit the tent no later than 30 minutes after the music ends.
Can we have a band?
Yes. Bands can play two sets and must end by 9 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 the ceremony? Is there music there? Electricity? Sound amplification/microphones?
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 partying onsite?
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. 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. We’ve had great success with people who wish to continue their 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 around 9:30 or 10 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 waiting up 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, we will pick up 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: $50; a criminal background check; 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 $175 for the extra bartender and $3 per bag for ice.
Do we have to have an insurance policy and if so where do we get those?
Yes. To have an event, you must secure a liability policy. These can be purchased through http:www.wedsafe.com or http://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.
Do you have any vendors to whom you can refer us for beer, wine, and/or champagne?
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, we will pick up and return kegs.
What is an average cost for alcohol from the Weinhaus, for say a 100 person event?
We tend to see around $500.
Other than the alcohol, what other items/services would we likely need in order to have a fully 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. 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 unground 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 is also a fire pit by the river that sometimes people use as they just “chill” after the reception. There is one fire bowl that can be used at one of the houses.
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 $2000 to make sure this doesn’t happen. Typically, there’s about a 20-30% chance there’d be a Friday night wedding. 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 $2000 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 and 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. 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, vinyl 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. 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 $2000 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.)
Are your onsite houses more like mountain cabins, or are they complete vacation rental houses?
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 our responsibilities upon check out of the houses?
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 the 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 $70-$90 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 $115-$125 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.
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 600 weddings, it just looks like an open pasture. We take really good care of it. About an hour before ceremony start time, we have greeters on duty 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! There are four fully enclosed stalls in both men’s and women’s rooms and each has a double sink. There are nice mirrors.
How far is it from the reception and ceremony sites to the bathrooms?
It is a short walk to the bathrooms. Most people walk, at least until it gets dark and they’ve had a little bit to drink. They like to be outside playing lawn games, looking at the horses, checking out the gardens. But once they are ready, our five-passenger golf cart (affectionately known as the party/potty shuttle) runs more or less quickly between the reception site and bathrooms. We’ve never had the need for additional golf carts.
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 gentleman 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 the day of our event to help with the set up and the execution of our event?
The venue is set up and ready by noon for vendors to arrive or additional decorating you’d like to do. Our host arrives at noon and stays throughout the day. 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 are the responsibilities of the Event Manager and do I need a wedding planner?
Once a couple books with us, the Event Manager, takes over to handle all the details related to your package. She handles everything related to any vendor that is associated with our packages. If you select your own vendor in a certain area (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 Manager handles everything for you. She communicates with you through your planning process to help you make the necessary decisions for all packages: food choices, ceremony start times, reception timelines, etc. She sets up meetings, as necessary, with our vendors (this includes tastings with our caters, if needed). If you wish to add or upgrade, she handles this and modifies your payment schedule/spreadsheet accordingly. She pays all vendors on your behalf out of our escrow account. Your payments even include gratuities that are prepared by the Event Manager and distributed by her to your vendors on your behalf. As you go through the planning process, she keeps meticulous notes and constantly updates your spreadsheet, if necessary. (This is only necessary if you add or upgrade anything, as our contractual agreement for pricing is firm and cannot change.) Unless you have an elaborate decor scheme or many vendors that are not ours, or if you have a lot of activities that need to be coordinated behind the scenes (off-site rehearsal dinners, someone to schedule pick ups at airports, accompany you to numerous vendor meetings, tastings, etc.), then you do not likely need a wedding planner. We find that wedding planners in our area typically charge $3000+ 15& on top of gross expenditures and you just don’t need this with us, typically. If you had to have someone to secure all the infrastructure for you and insure that it is set up, this would probably be a good idea. But since we own our own infrastructure and do all the set up, as part of your contractual agreement, there’s no need for this.
Can you tell us a bit about how working with the Event Manager flows during the time of our engagement, once we book with you?
Once your contract is submitted, our Event Manager gives you a code to an electronic book, on our website, sends that outlines the planning process and contains all the information you need for the planning period.. 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. 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. Then, during the off season of January-March, our Event Manager does most of the work related to finalizing details for your event, if you booked in the season/year prior, and, if you book in January-August of the year in which you choose to wed, she begins to work immediately on your wedding and can have the details finalized in a manner of days or weeks, depending upon how late you book in the season.
What is the function of the carriage and golf carts?
Typically, the carriage picks up the bride (or the bride and her escort, bride and flower girl, etc.) at the bridal changing studio. The golf cart 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 form 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 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 the golf cart, 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. The golf cart 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. The golf cart remains with the event throughout the night as a shuttle to the parking and bathroom areas.
Do we have to use the carriage and, if not, what are some of our 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 bride does not fancy herself to be very formal, 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 ride the golf cart; 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 have larger stalls with wall bars for gripping. One house onsite has a handicap ramp. One 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 car or the golf cart. We had a bride with spina bifida, confined to a wheel chair 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 or not?
There is no extra charge if you use our onsite officiant/minister, Rev. Dr. Jeanne Sommer, the owner of Hidden River Events. 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 you have your own minister, we can provide someone to direct your ceremony for a $150 fee typically if they do not feel comfortable doing this. If Dr. Sommer is your officiant, she directs her own ceremonies at no additional charge.
Can you tell us about your "house officiant" (Dr. Jeanne Sommer)?
Will she 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 your services to people who are GLBT and/or members of faiths such as Hindu, Buddhist, Islam, Judaism, Wicca, etc.?
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 provide everything 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 a 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, down to gratuities and taxes 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.
What is your ideal client at Hidden River?
Our ideal client is a person who loves the outdoors, who wants a beautiful event but who does not wish to stress about the details and who 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.
With so many beautiful wedding venues in Asheville and western North Carolina, why pick Hidden River Events?
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. In 2013 it was to CureSearch, children’s cancer research. In 2014 it was primarily to Manna Food Bank. We also donate on your behalf to the charity of your choice if you request it and we encourage you to ask your guests to make donations on your behalf and/or to consider giving to a local non-profit yourselves in honor of each guest and in-lieu of giving a “table favor.” We can assist you with this by helping you to print beautiful Hidden River charitable gift cards and placing them at each seat. 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.
In short, we care AND we are FUN with you.