North Carolina offers 300 miles of sandy beaches, pristine wetlands, and a pleasant climate, attracting millions of tourists each year.
For your special day you can choose from the islands of the Outer Banks in the north of the state. Here you’ll find great resorts and perfect white sand. The islands are connected to the mainland by private boats, ferries, and bridges. Part of the barrier island system which runs along the US East Coast, the Outer Banks have created the visually spectacular lagoons between them and the mainland. One of these lagoons, Pamlico Sound, at 80 miles long is the largest on the US East Coast.
North Carolina's Lower Coast is home to pristine settings like Cape Lookout and Hammocks Beach State Park and popular tourist spots like the Crystal Coast and Pleasure Island.
The Crystal Coast, also known as the Southern Outer Banks, is an 85-mile stretch of coastline that includes Cape Lookout National Seashore, which in itself has 56 miles of protected beaches – so it’s the place to go if you want untouched natural beauty.
History buffs will also be pleased with the abundance of historic sites – which you can incorporate into your wedding day either for the ceremony, photographs or the reception. Significant sites include Cape Hatteras, Fort Macon, Roanoke Island and Wilmington.
Most Popular Beaches
Crystal Coast Beach - There's only one type of wedding you can have on the Crystal Coast, and that’s uncompromisingly romantic! With a variety of locations and wedding day resources, it’s a popular destination for couples wanting a truly unique setting for their special day.
Hammocks Beach State Park - Hammocks Beach on Bear Island is one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic coast. Accessible only by passenger ferry or private boat, it’s all about the sand, the dunes, the grasses and marshes – and the spectacular Atlantic Ocean. For somewhere that feels untouched and remote, it’s the place to be.
Holden Beach - Holden Beach's shores extend for eleven miles, making the longest shoreline of all the South Brunswick Islands. The town of Holden Beach, with fewer than 1,000 residents, has maintained its charm and solitude. There’s a lovely marina for your wedding photos, and the old Town Hall would make a quaint and cozy reception venue.
Pleasure Island - Pleasure Island incorporates Carolina Beach State Park and Kure Beach. A popular coastal attraction with distinct coastal habitats, Carolina Beach State Park is the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in nature. While Kure Beach is picturesque, surrounded by stately homes and offering a lovely pier for romantic photos.
Ocean Isla Beach - Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina is a quiet, unspoiled beach. One of the barrier islands along the southeastern corner of North Carolina, Ocean Isle Beach is the uncrowded alternative. Discounts for accommodation apply between December and March.
Sunset Beach - Since most of Sunset Beach and the adjoining Bird Island coastal reserve encompass a barrier island, the only way to get there from the mainland is by crossing a pontoon bridge (swing bridge) – the only one of its kind in use on the East Coast, it’s quite a lovely way to get to a wedding.
Topsail Beach - Topsail Beach boasts the white sands and dunes typical of North Carolina. High-rise development is not allowed, beautification is encouraged, and conservation of the island environment is a top priority. The town of Topsail Beach has only 500 residents, offering a very relaxed experience.
Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc). How to get there. - If flying in from outside the US, you might need to fly into Wilmington International Airport in the southeast, or if you’re connecting from elsewhere in the US you can fly to Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, which is more central to the coast. Some islands are only accessible by ferry however bridges connect most of them.
Entry Requirements; passports, visa, etc. - If you are from Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand you do not require a visa to enter the US. You only need a valid passport and proof of ongoing or return travel as long as your stay does not exceed 90 days. Citizens of other countries will require a visa. Note that the US government administers a strict entry regime. If in doubt, you should contact your nearest US embassy or consulate about your specific circumstances.
Languages Spoken / official language - The official language is English.
Currency - The official currency is the US dollar.
Tipping - In the US, most waiters and bartenders are paid below minimum wage, as they’re expected to make up the rest in tips. So if you’re in the US, you really should tip. A good rule of thumb is to tip 15 percent of the food bill to the waiter, and if the alcohol consumption has been substantial, split that part of the tip between the waiter and the bartender (if there is one). Always remember to pay the tip in cash directly to the person who has provided you with the service. Of course, if you think the service was terrible then you shouldn’t tip. For large groups, check your bill first as sometimes the tip is added automatically.
Taxes - In the US sales tax is applied to retail goods at the point of sale. There are also airport taxes, however generally these are paid along with the purchase of your airline ticket.
Electricity - The electrical systems in most residential and commercial sites in the US use 120V and 60Hz. The electrical plug in use is known as the Type A electrical plug, which has two flat parallel prongs.
Immunizations & Health Concerns - All travelers going overseas should be up-to-date with their routine vaccinations, which are usually given to babies and children, with some boosters given in adult life. Adults should have had a Tetanus booster in the last 10 years and consider having an Influenza vaccination if they have not had one in the past year.
Marriage Requirements, Licenses & Wedding Information
As state and county marriage license requirements often change, it’s important that you verify all information with a local marriage license office or County Clerk before confirming your wedding or travel plans.
Currently the Following Applies:
- You do not have to be a resident of North Carolina to get married there.
- You need to apply for a marriage license from a County Clerk.
- You will need to your driver's license, Military or State ID, passport or certified birth certificate. You will also need to show proof of your Social Security number (US citizens).
- The license fee will cost at least $50 (varies by county). Cash only.
- There is no waiting period.
- The license is valid for 60 days.
- If previously married, the date of divorce or date of spouse's death must be supplied. If the divorce was in the previous 60 days, a signed copy of the divorce decree will need to be shown.
- Applicants less than 20 years of age will need to show a certified copy of their birth certificate. If you are between 16 and 17, you will have to show parental consent. Those who are 14 to 15 years old need a court order.
- Same-sex marriage is not permitted.
- Marriage ceremonies can be performed by any licensed or ordained Clergy and Magistrates.
Requirements for a Beach Wedding:
- You might need a special permit to hold your wedding on a beach or other public space if it is part of a State Park. For more information visit http://www.ncparks.gov/
Tourism Office Information
Other North Carolina Related Websites
Climate Information & the Best Time to Travel
The North Carolina coast has hot summers (August averages in the 90s) and mild winters (January averages in the 40s). Hurricane season runs from June through November, although hurricanes are most likely to strike these parts in August and September. So a spring wedding in North Carolina sounds just fine! Remember though that it can get quite windy, especially in the northern beaches.
High & Low Season for Travel - If you’re planning a spring wedding, it’s best to avoid Spring Break. You could also consider weekdays (Monday through Thursday), when you’ll find cheaper airfares and accommodation rates.
Map of North Carolina
Local Attractions & Must Do’s
Adventurers will enjoy scuba diving, surfing, hang gliding and with wind a feature of the northern beaches, it’s a great place to fly a kite and go kiteboarding. Or take a paddle through the Great Dismal Swamp for a real taste of the outdoors untouched.
If history is your thing, get to Cape Hatteras, the first national seashore proclaimed in 1953, which now boasts Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest in the US (visitors can climb the 248 stairs in the warmer months). Then there’s Roanoke Island, where North America’s first English settlement was established in 1585, and Tryon Palace, which served as North Carolina’s first capitol after independence and where George Washington dined.
On Kill Devil Hills is the Wright Brothers Memorial, marking the place where Orville Wright made the world’s first powered flight in 1903.
North Carolina is also known for the many shipwrecks near the coast (more than 600 since the 16th century). As a result the state built ten lighthouses, of which seven remain. You can find artefacts from shipwrecks, including Blackbeard’s pirate ship, at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.
North Carolina is also a great spot for fishing, with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream nearby attracting a large variety of fish. And you simply can’t leave the state without tasting some of that seafood Calabash-style. Reviewed by the New York Times, Calabash-style cooking embodies true North Carolina spirit.
Top 5 Most Popular Hotels
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation, with resorts aplenty. Here are a few of our favorites.
Brunswick Plantation Resort, Calabash - A casual yet refined atmosphere, endless amenities, terrific golf, and minutes from fantastic beaches. One of the few complete resorts in the area, this spacious and luxurious property sits on 1400 acres.
Hilton Garden Inn, Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk - A luxury experience, every room enjoys ocean views and you can walk right out the door and onto the beach. With excellent hospitality and facilities, as well as wedding packages, you really should keep it in mind. http://www.hiltongardeninnouterbanks.com/
Pinehurst Resort - At Pinehurst Resort you can choose from two hotels: Holly, a warm and beautifully decorated boutique hotel that has hosted presidents; or the grand Carolina, which has welcomed guests through its stately columns since 1901. Wedding packages are available.
Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center, Sunset Beach - Nestled just five minutes from the Atlantic Ocean in Sunset Beach, Sea Trail provides endless activity choices for everyone on 2,000 beautiful coastal acres. Wedding packages are available.
The Sanderling Resort & Spa, Outer Banks - Situated between the shores of the majestic Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound, The Sanderling is the perfect hotel for your vacation. Within walking distance of the sand and the surf of the beach as well as the tranquil waters of the sound, it has everything you could want from a resort. Wedding packages are available.
The Winds Resort Beach Club, Ocean Isle Beach - The Winds Resort Beach Club is complete with its own white-sand beach and spectacular oceanside pools – it’s the island getaway you've dreamed about.