Can't say enough good things about the Inn at Hickory. It is the perfect venue for brides on a budget. The inn is fabulously landscaped - my friend even took a picture of the grass with his iphone, it looked so good). The real beauty of this place is that it is a blank canvass. In back, there is a pool area, a gazebo, and a large tree as well as a few smaller trees and flowers. You have free reign to decorate it how you wish and turn it into any type of theme you wish. Our theme was Happily Ever After. We rented a tent, and strung white lights in the trees, under the ceiling of the tent covered by lilac tulle, and filled the gazebo with lights. We put a fountain in the pool and lined it with candles. The tent was decorated with topiaries, lanterns, and lots and lots of candles. For our night time wedding it was gorgeous! But you could do something completely opposite of that and it would still look nice because the inn provides that canvass. The wonderful thing too is that your event rental (ridiculously affordable) includes all four guest rooms at the inn and their breakfast the following morning. You can give out of town guests a place to stay and also stay there yourself if you wish. The innkeeper is the most flexible, nice person I worked with through the wedding. He let us stay there on Friday night instead of Saturday because we wanted to go to downtown Charlotte to get a hotel on the wedding night. He didn't charge us for that night and gave us breakfast the next morning - his breakfasts are incredible, and it came with champagne. Anything we wanted to do decoration wise, he let us, and he even had a few suggestions of his own. He and his wife helped us string up lights in the trees (their idea), and he helped my sister in law set up the pool fountain. Through it all he was absolutely accommodating and flexible. I highly highly recommend any bride who is having a difficult time finding a place to check here, especially if your venue rental budget is small. It is an incredible value. Also the groomsmen were able to get ready here while the girls got ready at the church.
Only downside: the backyard is on a slope, which you could feel when you were walking under the tent and on the dance floor. However, it is not enough to throw you off your balance, and I think Chaz said he was going to work on leveling it out this year (he does all his own landscaping and it is meticulous and beautiful - he even planted flowers in our colors the winter before so they would bloom for our wedding).
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