Our very own intern, Elise, runs a wedding venue with her mom, Heather, at Cane Creek in Efland, North Carolina! We thought it would be fun to ask her some questions about what it’s like to own and operate a venue.
What inspired you and your mom to embark on this venture?
I always had the dream of wanting others to get married at Cane Creek after hearing about my parents’ experience of being married on their property.
They got married in September of 2000 on a beautiful sunny day with family and friends in attendance. It was an electric night filled with love and joy. My mom always says it all felt surreal, to get married at your own home. And to have enough acreage to host an event or celebration for others is a dream come true.
When was Cane Creek officially open for business?
Lilymont was formally established in 2017 as a wedding venue aiming to be an uplifting space for residents of Chapel Hill and beyond. Much of the inspiration for the venue came from Merry Hill, a local wedding venue close by that my brother and I worked at during high school. The owner of Merry Hill is a very close friend with my family and was very influential and encouraging of our dream to open Lilymont.
What makes Lilymont so unique and special?
The property is based around agricultural tourism, an environmental concept that highlights the importance of education and retail practices. Making people aware of farmland and where things are grown in North Carolina is something that my mom enjoys talking about during venue tours and at events.
What do you think draws couples to get married here?
The venue is widely known as being rustic, yet charming, and affordable. Lilymont is on Cane Creek which is a large recreational area that surrounds a 350-acre lake. Guests love to take pictures down at the creek and engagement photo sessions are very lovely at the water.
Guests also love that we offer our venue to clients on the Friday before their wedding day for a rehearsal dinner and for quality family time. Every couple has said how memorable the Friday dinner has been for their wedding weekend. People love cookouts and sitting by the fire in a calm familiar setting.
Describe a typical day for you, owning a venue.
A typical day for Lilymont varies depending on the month and season. Since I’m currently attending college in Washington DC and my works as an Ergonomist in Research Triangle Park, weddings cannot occur every month at our venue because of our family’s schedule.
Daily tasks include making sure that the property is cleaned up and ready for anyone to drive by, even though we prefer that prospective clients contact us for a tour instead of just showing up.
My mom is an active gardener and mows frequently to keep the grounds looking spotless. Establishing the garden is a big step in first starting a venue, as that is a major selling point for pictures and overall scenery. My mom is a superstar and is very talented with construction projects and has a creative eye for the rustic space.
Not surprising, this past year has been challenging for our business, as many clients have pushed back their wedding dates or have had to pull out of their contracts for various reasons.
What is a challenge(s) you and your mom have come across?
The only major challenges we faced in the beginning was deciding how to promote our venue and deciding on a good price point. It all depends heavily on your physical location and your property’s amenities, but having a niche with your venue is special and also having a unique selling point that sets your venue apart from others in the venue touring process.
One challenge of our venue is that parking can be very difficult on our land, since we don’t want to have to cut down any trees to form a parking lot. We have parking located in our field for guests but many events will actually have buses rented which makes things a lot easier.
What do you love most about having Lilymont?
Seeing our couples a few years after their wedding when they come to visit and catch up. Reminiscing about their wedding is so much fun and it is also great to meet their kids (that has been happening recently, yay!). So many happy emotions!
Thanks so much for sharing Elise!