Fuquay Varina is a small town outside of the Raleigh/Durham area in eastern North Carolina. With the hillsides causing a certain ebb and flow in the roads; I can feel the ground change, I am closer to the foothills of mountains. What a wonderfully unexpected change from the flat beach land that I am used to. I had no idea what to expect when driving up from Myrtle Beach or what I would be coming to.
Highgrove on Laurel Lake is probably one of the most quintessential southern wedding venues I believe I have ever had the pleasure of working in. With a large plantation-style main house, beautiful patio area, ballroom and veranda overlooking the lake, there are amazing things to be seen from any angle.
The main house itself has numerous rooms to be used for preparation or waiting areas for family and wedding party. Every room is adorned with beautiful ornate furniture and period correct wall painting. One of my favorite rooms was an upstairs sitting room with a beautiful oak mirror set and vanity desk. Natural light washes in to all rooms very well and makes it very light feeling. Everything in the house feels luxurious and comfortable, a real deal old world southern mansion with all the modern amenities.
From a photographer’s standpoint, the place is heavenly. There are spiral staircases and old oak slat floors, there is also a certain quality of light that is present throughout the property. This is partly due to the large trees that surround the property. Because the house faces west Andy ceremony location is due east behind the property, The sun can be a little harsh in afternoon light. But this is a trade-off with the gorgeous backlighting that you receive while photographing the bride walking down the aisle.
Though I have not checked any information with the managers of the property, according to the other vendors there, all the catering is done in house and is phenomenal. All the hors d’oeuvres were plated very well and made for a real luxurious feel. A problem that I have with most venues is that the food was an afterthought just to minimize vendors and maximize profits. Unfortunately in the wedding business, many people see it as a cash grab, but Highgrove provided wonderfully crafted meals that really were great value.
The reception venue on property is especially unique because of the drop ceiling decorated with parachute-like drapes and twinkle lights. Though the pictures I have here are implementing the use of lighting provided by the DJ, there are still so many windows that provide very clean natural life all the way until twilight. Also the ceilings are especially great for photographers because when flash is used by bouncing it off the ceiling, it gives a softer more flattering light then when just bounced off the normal flat white ceiling.
After dark, The house is a completely new playground for creating portraits. The natural light fades away and reveals the unique qualities of light coming from the crystal chandelier in the foyer with beautiful contrasting situations to take advantage of. As you can see here not only do I love the spiral staircase, I think the shadows coming through the banister rails are very interesting.
If you were in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, you should seriously consider this venue for your wedding or event.
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