The HENINGERS, Leatherwood Mountains

"At Leatherwood, the couple were able to include their own horses and dogs."

A Lifetime of Love
Crystal & Garrett Heninger

Leatherwood Mountains August 1, 2015

The true love story of high school sweethearts Crystal Thomas and Garrett Heninger began in grade school in Smyth County, Virginia. They’ve loved each other for their entire lives, so it was no surprise to their friends and family when they set their sights on forever.

They’re adventurous, down-to-earth, and they love to travel. Of all the places they like to visit, the most special to them has always been Leatherwood Mountains Resort in Ferguson, North Carolina — a secluded, equestrian-inclusive resort that allows them to bring their own horses on their getaways.

After Garrett popped the question on a New Year’s ski lift ride in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, these two knew right away they wanted to get married at Leatherwood.

“Not only was the setting gorgeous, but the people who worked there were so friendly and helpful that I felt comfortable and relaxed from just being there," Crystal said. "We really wanted to share that with our closest friends and family."

At Leatherwood, the couple was able to include their own horses, "Cool" and "Pepper," and their dogs, "Caine" the German shepherd and "Weenie" the dachshund, in their special day.
Crystal knew exactly what she wanted for her late summer ceremony and reception and, rather than hiring a consultant, she was able to make it all happen with the help of the resort’s full-service staff.

She wanted to include elements of lace and antique charm, and she found just that in her wedding dress at the downtown Boone bridal shop, Did Someone Say Party?

“I found a gown with sleeves, an open back, and lace overlay that I never dreamed I would like, but I fell in love with as soon as I tried it on,” she said. “They were able to order it for me and it fit like a dream.”

From designer Maggie Sottero, Crystal’s hand-embellished sheath gown featured a dramatic illusion lace back, illusion sleeves, a delicate scalloped hemline, and pearl buttons over a zipper back closure. Glimmering with metallic lace appliqués and embroidered with Swarovski crystals that drift from the shoulder to the floor-skimming hem, the dress was the final touch to the storybook wedding she imagined.

To keep the day focused on the exchanging of vows, the couple decided not to include a bridal party in their big day.

In the hours leading up to the ceremony, their approximately 100 guests enjoyed horseback riding on the resort grounds, relaxing in the on-site cabins, and soaking up sunshine by the pool.

Following the suggestion of their photographer, the bride and groom made time to sneak away from all of the pre-wedding excitement and meet on the deck of Leatherwood’s Cloud Nine Cabin to catch a glimpse of each other for the first time that day.

“I cried the first time I saw Garrett,” Crystal said. “The Cloud Nine deck has some of the most beautiful views and it could not have provided a more romantic place for us to see one another for the first time.”

Family and friends gathered on that sunny afternoon for the wedding just outside Leatherwood’s Hendricks Home Place, an original 1840s two-story log home. Escorted by her father, Crystal crossed the property and approached the ceremony on horseback. The day ended with an evening under the stars at the resort’s outdoor pavilion.

The newlyweds are now embarking on their next great adventure — a new life together in Montana.

“I look forward to seeing where life is going to take us and really finding ourselves as a married couple,” Crystal said. “I am so excited because we are embarking on this huge cross-country road trip as a married couple and we’re doing it just for us, just because we want to do it.”