If you've been a loyal Southern Belle in Training reader over the past year, there are three things that you should know that I'm a big fan of in general. In no particular order, they are 90s boybands, bunnies, and Le Meridien Hotel in Uptown Charlotte (note: I also didn't say any of these three things were related!). My first visit to Le Meridien Charlotte was during the special grand opening preview night for City Lights Rooftop, their incredible rooftop bar, last spring. I fell in love that night with both City Lights and the hotel itself, and over the last year I've been invited back time and time again for many fun events, most of which I've recapped here on the blog. Just a few special highlight events included:
All of the events that I've had the chance to both coordinate and attend over the last year have lead to a lot of emails between myself and the fantastic PR firm which works alongside Le Meridien's marketing team. (Shout-out especially to my wonderful main point of contact, Lianne! 😊) I was invited to an event earlier this spring that I wasn't able to attend, and I mentioned in my resposne email that I was sad to soon be leaving Charlotte and not be able to attend events anymore at Le Meridien. After sharing this news, before I knew it there were two exciting plans in the works for my last week here in Charlotte, thanks to Lianne and the incredible hotel team. It was so incredibly kind of them to host me not one, but two evenings during my last week in the Queen City, and I can't wait to tell y'all about both experiences now!
First up was an evening with a special spring menu tasting at Evoke, Le Meridien's award-winning restaurant. Despite visiting City Lights Rooftop more times than I can count and also being a hotel guest, I had never gotten to eat at Evoke. I'm so glad that was able to change before my move! I took one of my favorite broadcasting school instructors as my plus one, and she was the ideal companion for an evening of food and wine tasting.
We had the chance to sample six amazing courses, and I am proud of myself for being an adventurous eater for the evening! The evening's selections from the spring menu included pork belly with quail egg and onions, yellowfin tuna with sea beans and crispy onion, and venison with butternut squash and two new to me vegetables: ramps and morels! I am normally more on the spectrum of traditionally picky eater, but everything was seasoned so well that I was enticed to try everything, and I really liked everything (minus trying some scallops- but I'm not a big seafood person). The most fantastic dish of all was dessert- a corn cheesecake with rosemary and blueberry sauce! I never thought that cornmeal and cheesecake would go well together, but at Evoke they are a combination made in heaven. I apologize for the blurry quality of some of my photos below- but of course I was more focussed on eating than photography for the evening!
Both the chef and manager of Evoke both took time out of their evening to introduce themselves to myself and my guest, and all in all it was a wonderful evening. And it was only a preparation for the next's night's festivities at City Lights!
One night later I was back again, and this time for my official going away party. I still can't believe how kind it was that the team at City Lights hosted my friends and I for such a special night, and complete with a champagne toast!! And it was the most special toast ever... the bottle had a customized message on it wishing me well in the next part of my journey. Too thoughtful!
Now I want to take a second to share a little bit about each of these special women who came out to celebrate with me. Something that kept going over and over in my mind during this evening is that the next time we're all together could very well be my Bachelorette party/wedding- and we all know that won't be for quite awhile. 😉 (A shout-out as well to my sorority sister and good friend Perrin, who was just married last weekend (!!!) and couldn't make it due to her honeymoon!)
First up is Cara- or you might know her as Caralina Style! A few years ago, when I first started meeting other bloggers in person in Charlotte, I always hoped to have the chance to make a best friend from blogging. I certainly found that in Cara!! Since Cara moved to Charlotte last summer we've had many fun adventures- some blogging related and some not, but all very special and memorable!
When I made the decision to hire a blog photographer around this time last year, I was hoping to really up the quality of my blog's images, and have more fun with shoots. Not only did I get both of those things over the past year, but I also gained a friend for life! This amazing lady is Deeana, the woman who has been behind the camera in most of my blog posts over the past year. Deeana is a sweetheart and I will truly miss her so much!!
This is my ADPi sister, Mary! Mary joined the chapter during my junior year of college, and has been a burst of sunshine in my life ever since. Some of my favorite memories with Mary are the many tea dates that we've shared in my dorm rooms and then first apartment. It's a joy to call her not only friend, but also my sister!
Next up is my oldest North Carolina friendship- my apartment roommate and bestie from my former college, Ciera! I met Ciera at freshman orientation in July 2012- and immediately after meeting her I just knew that we would be good friends. (Does that instinct ever happen to you when you meet someone?!) Fast forward to almost five years later and sure enough my instincts were right! Even though I transferred schools after freshman year, we remained friends and still have many fun memories from our college years. I am so proud of Ciera as she is not only doing very well in her career, but also just purchased her first house here in Charlotte!
And last but certainly not least, this gem of a friend, Caroline! Caroline was my suitemate during my senior year of college, and was the best college roommate that I ever had. She also took most of my blog photos during my last semester of college, and her own fantastic style has been featured here on SBIT a few times so you might know her from that. Caroline isn't only my friend, but also one of my role models and my sister in Christ! Her work ethic and kind heart always inspire me.
As I've said in other posts, leaving Charlotte is very bittersweet, and having these last few special memories during my final days in the city meant so much to me. I will miss all of my friends from the team at City Lights Rooftop and Le Meridien Charlotte- thank you for being my fun little home away from home during this year! I cannot say how much I recommend this hotel to both locals and visitors to the Charlotte area- the staff especially go above and beyond.
Thanks so much for reading! Stay tuned on Monday for a HUGE round-up of graduation dresses at all price points. Perfect for all of my graduating high school and college seniors who read... but these dresses will also be great for anyone attending any recitals, showers, or other special spring events soon!