Thoughts from North Carolina: My Cousin’s Wedding & Fancy Mansions

Here’s a travel blog to spice things up a bit.

I recently returned home from North Carolina, where my family travelled to attend my cousin’s wedding. Now I get to check off North Carolina from the states that I haven’t yet visited. Besides a trip to Washington D.C. in the second grade and a trip to DisneyWorld when I was about four-years-old (neither of which I remember at all), I have never travelled to the eastern part of the United States.

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We started in downtown Charlotte – Uptown, really – which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I can sometimes have an aversion to big cities (unless they are London, of course). The city is kept clean and is extremely picturesque. We found good food at the 7th Street Market. I found great coffee near our hotel at both a place called Amelie’s and another place called RUSH.

10/10 – would recommend to a friend.

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I enjoyed an insanely good iced espresso while looking at this beautiful view.

My cousin got married at a fancy downtown-penthouse-ballroom because he and his wife could afford it. (I have entered the Age of Friends Getting Married, and all of its power to make me feel significantly weird and slightly inadequate. My friends may also have no idea what they’re doing with their lives, but at least they’re married. Somehow it just seems like a one-up on me – a step that I may never take. But that’s a different subject. My cousin is older, so it’s less shocking for him to get married). Looking out the windows of this building made me feel powerful – like I should have been holding a glass of champagne and checking my fancy pocket watch while I watched fireworks going off outside.

My extended family is not close – physically or emotionally. I have family everywhere except close to home – California, Minnesota, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina. Basically, it has never been an ideal situation for developing close relationships with them. Yet, I find myself looking forward to the times when I get to see them, even though I’m usually disappointed. My family is constantly guilty of calling me shy and quiet, therefore I act as such around them. Seeing my family this time around was especially difficult, considering I had just moved back home and was searching for a new career path (aka, had no idea what I was doing). In the meantime, my one cousin that is my same age, while still living at home, is at least starting her second year as a first grade teacher. Another way that she is better than me I guess. Then I had to listen to my uncle repeatedly tell me I need to get a job, without actually outrightly telling me I should get a job.

Family, to me, is subtle digs and passive aggression.

(Ok, ok, so I’m not that cynical. . . But kinda.)

Regardless, the wedding was beautiful. For one, it worked – they are legally married, so the wedding can be considered a success. Secondly, the food was good, the dance floor was hopping, the color scheme was on point, and the venue was wonderful(ly expensive). Mostly I sat in the dessert room (yes, there was a dessert room) drinking coffee and eating cookies while trying to keep my arms down to cover up my massive pit stains. Let’s just say that the overall experience of my cousin’s wedding differed more than slightly from the sentimental experience of seeing my best friend get married.

Everything was as it should be.

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They had gold plates for goodness sakes.

After the wedding, we headed to Asheville, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been. Our main goal was to explore the Biltmore property, the former home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, with probably the most beautiful grounds I have ever seen. (Have I said the word “beautiful” enough in this post?)

Oh, and the house was sweet, too.

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I could probably live in that mansion forever. Exploring old buildings, especially castles and palaces was my favorite thing to do around the United Kingdom when I was studying abroad in London. This brought me back to that.

It was crazy to think about the kind of wealth that was required to build such a property. (For some reason, no one was able to tell us exactly how much the whole project cost, nor how much the property is worth today). When George Vanderbilt bought the grounds, there were close to no trees on the entire estate grounds. He commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted (the same person who designed New York City’s Central Park), to cover the grounds with local and foreign flora, as well as beautiful gardens to surround the house. Vanderbilt also brought in Richard Morris Hunt (who did the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty) to design the mansion itself. It was a pretty big deal, I guess.

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Clearly, that “no trees” thing has changed a bit.

The house ran with the typical upstairs-downstairs system that is depicted in Downton Abbey. Downstairs in the kitchen, I took a picture of their coffee grinder (the only picture I took in the interior of the house), because the barista in me told me it was significant.

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Mostly, though, I fell in love with the grounds, which seemed positively endless in beauty and scope. Near the village, I found a patch of sunflowers and proceeded with a photoshoot.

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So I guess I have 36 states to go. Not that I’ve really been making an effort to see every state in my lifetime. (Honestly, I could live without seeing North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Idaho – unless someone convinces me otherwise).

All in all, let’s call the trip a success. And I repeat – North Carolina is beautiful.

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