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Unique Spots to Tie the Knot

Barns, Breweries, and Battleships

Spring is in the air, and wedding season is around the corner. But, before brides and grooms say “I do,” there can be much to do. From deciding “yes” to which dress, to booking caterers, cake bakers, and more, one of the first wedding-planning tasks to tackle is location.

To that end, more and more couples are choosing to step outside of the traditional venue box, tying the knot at breweries, bucolic barns, and at other unique spots. Locally, the latter even includes a World War II battleship.

“Nontraditional venues speak for themselves, offering a unique ambiance that would have to otherwise be created with decor in venues like a banquet hall or ballroom,” says RACHEL FLECKE, Ironclad Brewery’s event operations manager. “Every couple wants their wedding to be a memorable experience that reflects their personalities and choosing a nontraditional venue is a great starting point to do just that.”



The Barn at Rock Creek,
5900 Rock Creek Road, Leland
photos by Leslie Koehn Photographic

The family-owned property housed Ward Farms after Robert Ward bought the land in the ’70s and grew soybeans and corn. (Before that, the Henry family ran the Dixie Evans Farm there.)

The idea to use the Brunswick County land as a scenic wedding backdrop came about when Ward’s granddaughter wanted to create a dream wedding at the site. They cleared land, built a 3,800-square-foot barn, added landscaping, and erected a ceremony arbor.

Leslie Padgett and Sten Taube married in May 2014, and post-nuptials, the family’s wedding project turned into a pastoral option for brides around the region when the barn opened publicly in 2014.

Info: Lesley Taube, events coordinator 253-4012, info@thebarnatrockcreek.com

What’s the style of The Barn at Rock Creek?

Lesley Taube:  “First and foremost, it is a barn, so it has that country charm and aesthetic. However, I have seen it transform into many different versions of that with each bride’s vision. It has been as simple as one bride choosing to decorate the tables with various geodes, crystals, and wooden planks. It had a very earthy and beautifully simplistic vibe that day. Then, I have had other brides use our china rentals, abundant floral, ambient lighting, and luxurious fabrics to give the barn a very elegant feel.”

Where do couples marry?

Taube:  “We have an arbor located in the tree line of our property, which provides a lot of shade for those sunny days. We also have an arbor by our pond that has increased in popularity and is quite serene.

Possibly one of my new favorites is our outdoor pavilion. It works perfectly even on rainy days, and the stone fireplace makes a gorgeous background. (Also), I can’t forget in front of the barn. It truly is a stunning area that has endless possibilities for a bride to create their own look. Our entire grounds are open for our brides to choose from.”

Wedding photo hotspots?

Taube:  “We actually have several of these … beginning with the bridal suite and groom’s quarters. The lighting, mirrors, and furniture in these rooms really set a beautiful backdrop.

The double barn doors on the second floor is always a great picture. We have a tree swing, pond, arbor, and an abundance of natural beauty to serve as settings for truly amazing photos.”



Ironclad Brewery,
115 North Second Street 

The downtown Wilmington brewery, which has 9,600 square feet of meeting space, reflects a national trend of breweries playing host to more weddings. Wineries have been doing it for years, so it makes sense that craft breweries would get in the mix too as their numbers continue to multiply. Since opening in early 2015, Ironclad Brewery has already hosted more than 200 wedding-related events.

Info: Rachel Flecke, event operations manager 769-0290, Rachel. Flecke@ironcladbrewery.com

How would you describe Ironclad’s vibe?

Rachel Flecke: “A blend of industrial and rustic elements, which balance the feminine and masculine features of the space. The building is nearly one hundred years old – a former auto parts shop, Buick dealership, livery, and more. The exposed brick is original, whitewashed in some areas, framed by steel beams and a vaulted wood ceiling– all of which have been in place since 1925.”

What sets it apart?

Flecke: “Aesthetically, Ironclad stands out from other venues because it is a brewery, with our brewhouse and fermentation tanks on display, but also because of the architecture and amenities that we offer. The building is two stories tall, with large bars on each floor, Edison light bulbs, industrial chandeliers, and salvaged pine incorporated throughout. We provide the bar staff, clean up, tables, chairs, etc. in an effort to try and cross off some items on the couples’ to-do lists.”

Wedding photo hotspots?

Flecke: “There is one photo that every couple takes and incorporates all the gorgeous elements of the building that we love so much. The couple stands on the landing of the north staircase, bride’s train draped over the stairs, with the photographer on the first floor. Absolutely stunning.”



Battleship North Carolina,
1 Battleship Rpad
photos by Indigosilver Studio 

The ship, a decades-long historic attraction on the Cape Fear River that has served as a setting for TV shows, theater productions, and special events when not being toured by visitors, can also be turned into a memorable spot on the fantail for exchanging vows and holding receptions – or some couples opt to move the post-ceremony party to the adjacent Battleship Park.

Civilian couples can rent the space; military service is not required.

Info: Danielle Wallace, programs director, 399-9111, Danielle.Wallace@ncdcr.gov

What attracts couples to the Battleship?

Danielle Wallace: “Each couple is different for their reason, but the common theme is that there is a connection to the ship. It may be to honor a member of the family who had served in WWII, they may have had their first date on the ship … or it may be a strong military connection. When you get married on the Battleship, you are encouraged to make it your own. There was a couple who were big Pittsburgh Steelers fans, so we flew the Steelers flag off the yardarm during their ceremony.”

Where do couples marry on the ship?

Wallace: “The best spot on the Battleship for a wedding ceremony is on the fantail, which overlooks downtown Wilmington and the Cape Fear River. In Battleship Park, we often see couples get married near the gazebo or in the area that is across from the foot of Market Street.”

Wedding photo hotspots?

Wallace: “Couples like to take pictures all over the ship, and they often have a lot of fun with it. I often see pictures of the couple in front of the ship’s bell, on the bow with the ship and the city in the background, by the Kingfisher plane, and sometimes on different areas of the tour route, mimicking a historic photo.”



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