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While Castle Ladyhawke is breathtaking on its own, what makes us a top-notch, destination wedding venue is our awesome Castle Family. Introducing our newest series of blog posts: Meet the Stewards. Once a month, we’ll connect with one of the many great people that make weddings at Castle Ladyhawke truly magical, from planners to chefs to DJs! In our first installment, I caught up with Shayna Bigazzi: owner of Altaterra Events and wedding planner extraordinaire!

Can you share a little bit about who Altaterra Events is and what sets your company apart from others? 

Altaterra Events is an international event company specializing in luxury experiences with a home base in Highlands, NC. What sets us apart is our service heart.  Our background was built in the world’s finest resorts. Creating experiences is the wind in our sails!

What does a wedding coordinator do? How does this differ from what the venue manager does?  

A wedding planner, or coordinator, is the advocate for the couple and their family.  They understand the client’s vision, needs, and goals and can work with the venue manager to achieve this.   Venue managers know a little about many couples.  Wedding planners know a lot about a select few couples.  They are the best tool to maximize budget and achieve a meaningful and authentic wedding celebration.

What types of packages are typically offered for planning services?

Most planning firms offer 2 or 3 “packages” to ensure each family has the right degree of support.  They range from being a “supporting role” with smaller contributions to being the “director” who will handle every detail for you.  At Altaterra Events, we offer only full-service planning.  This allows us to ensure our couples have the wedding of their dreams.

What tips would you give to couples planning their wedding at Castle Ladyhawke?  

Many venues like Castle Ladyhawke require, at minimum, a supporting role planning package where the wedding planner will step in several months prior to the wedding date. I’d recommend booking a package that begins sooner so that your planner can take the tougher decisions off your hands. That way you can truly enjoy the process! Once you have your planner booked, urge your guests to book accommodations at Bear Lake Reserve. It’s never too soon!

Do you have any good cost saving tips for couples planning their wedding?

– Yes, if you have a big wedding party, or even a small one, have strategically placed vases of water around for bridesmaids to put their flowers into for instant additional décor. 


– Ask your florist what is in season and locally accessible. 


– Opt for a stations style dinner- you get much more “bang for your buck” with this meal format.  Lots more food and you don’t have to worry as much about dietary restrictions.


– Some couples will rent a van for the whole weekend to help move guests around.  This saves a lot of money when compared to hiring a transportation company.  You just need a driver 😉


– Hire a local planner- they are worth their weight in gold!

What is the biggest misconception about wedding planners? What is the one thing you wish people knew about what you do?  

I wish people knew the cost savings of having a planner are much larger than you would imagine.  We frequently have amazing relationships with local vendors who are happy to help us out in a pickle.  We can advise you on contract negotiation and share trade tips and secrets to maximize the money spent.  More importantly, they are your sanity.  Weddings are listed as among the most stressful experience in a person’s life.  Right up there with losing a loved one and being fired.  Who needs the stress???