Shoulder Season, Outer Banks Style

Once upon a time, there were two seasons on the Outer Banks–there was summer and then there was everything else. Folks would start showing up about Memorial Day, things would get really busy about the third week in June and pretty much stay that way ‘til Labor Day. After which point in time, not too many people came this way  . . . or as a friend put it, you could fire a cannon at noon on the Bypass and not hit anything but the county line.

There are certain advantages to that kind of a lifestyle, but the reality is, it’s tough to earn a living when the only game in town is tourism and there aren’t any tourists.

So, a conscious decision was made by business and civic leaders to start promoting the Outer Banks in the shoulder seasons. The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau was funded with a portion of occupancy tax revenues, a number of steps were taken to let our visitors know that fall and spring are great times to visit the Outer Banks and the result has been a consistent and very noticeable growth in visitation and jobs in the shoulder seasons.

The growth of fall and spring as important to the overall economy of the Outer Banks is more than just getting people here.

At some point in time–and it’s hard to pinpoint just when–folks began to notice that the natural beauty of the Outer Banks created the perfect setting for an outdoor wedding. And the perfect time for those weddings are the shoulder seasons . . . the weather is great, the summer crowds are gone, rentals fees are down from their peak season highs.

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The result is that September and October may be the shoulder season for everyone else, but it’s the high season for the wedding industry.

One of the reasons that the shoulder seasons (spring is a great time on the Outer Banks, as well–and a great time to get married) have become so popular as an event destination is the interaction of a number of factors.

As the shoulder seasons on the  Outer Banks became more popular, there were more reasons to schedule events. More events brought more people. Until what we have now is wedding parties will come to the Outer Banks for an entire week there’s lots to do while everyone is here, great weather (usually), with the marriage ceremony being the highlight of everyone’s time here.

The whole idea of the Outer Banks as a marriage or event destination (we’ve moved beyond just marriages) has become an important part of what we do. It gives homeowners a very important secondary market beyond the peak summer season, the support services that go with any well planned event have become thriving businesses and in January there is an annual Wedding Expo (January 18-21 this year). More information atwww.outerbanksweddingassoc.org.

Of course here at Resort Realty we have our own expert on event planning–George Bell at [email protected]. If you have questions, send him an email. He’s been doing this for almost 20 years, and his knowledge is invaluable.