Highgrove Estate from the Beginning

Welcome to the all new Highgrove Estate Blog! We are excited for you to join us on this journey. In this space, we will be featuring real Highgrove Estate weddings, sharing our wedding planning expertise, highlighting our fantastic vendors, and keeping you up to date on seasonal design and menu ideas. We have a library of topics and features we are excited to share that we believe will help simplify your wedding planning process and hopefully remind you of the joy you felt when it all began.

For those of you new to Highgrove Estate, we are an all-inclusive, Southern-style wedding venue set on seven acres overlooking Lake Laurel, tucked away in Fuquay-Varina, NC. A full-service venue where every detail is covered and wedding planning is made simple.

Ashton Brent Wedding-Bride Groom-0051
House Before 2015 Renovations
RoseyShell Highgrove 1
House After 2015 Renovations – Rosey Shell Photography


We have dedicated over fifteen years to planning the celebrations of hundreds of new beginnings. So we think it only necessary to start our new blog celebrating the very first one: the beginning of Highgrove Estate. We can’t think of a better place to start than by introducing you to the President and heartbeat of our venue, Vicky Ismail. Vicky is an incredible chef with over thirty years experience in the restaurant and catering industry. She inherited her passion for entertaining and incredible food from her family of restaurateurs, known for their hospitality and lavish parties.

Vicky opened her first restaurant in South Florida at just twenty-two years old with her husband Abdul. After their restaurant had a great thirteen year run, even expanding into a franchise, Vicky and Abdul decided it was time for a change and moved their family to North Carolina, opening a little café in Cary. The Cary Café would eventually expand into catering, specializing in corporate and wedding catering, leading to the opening of Highgrove Estate.

Vicky Headshot
Vicky Ismail, President & Owner – Rachel Red Photography
Vicky & her daughter Angela Wright, Vice President Photo by Rachel Red Photography
Vicky's Mother at one of her lavish house parties.
Vicky’s Mother at one of her lavish house parties.

In the spring of 2003, after a few renovations, including the addition of our white trellis in the ceremony area, we officially began hosting weddings at Highgrove Estate. We served every dinner to wedding guests in a small, one hundred-person tent. Vicky and Troy, our Executive Chef, would create the food at their respective restaurants and bring it in like most off site caterers. After a few years, we purchased our own two tents with a max capacity of two hundred and fifty guests. Five years after our first wedding, we transformed the two-car garage into a commercial kitchen and expanded the area to include our own dishes and serving pieces. Everything from then on was prepared onsite with an expanded menu into broader fare. In addition to the kitchen, we decided to make our reception space more permanent and added our breathtaking window-wrapped Grand Ballroom. Its fabric draped ceilings covered in twinkling lights, six antique chandeliers and the grand fireplace make quite the dramatic statement every Bride dreams about on her wedding day.

“Serving the most delicious food possible at a catered event is at the root of who we are. We realized that in order to present the absolute best for the parties, celebrations and events we were catering, we would need our own kitchen space and equipment. It has become like a private restaurant that just happens to open up for our wedding guests on the weekends.”

Southern Inspired Menu – Rachel Red Photography
Grand Ballroom – Rosey Shell Photography
2010 Ballroom Addition with 2015 Renovation Photo: Bow Tie Collaborative
Bar Area Before Renovations
Bar Area and Kitchen renovation in 2010

“We were laser focused on weddings and put all our energy and resources into developing the best wedding venue we could; from the ceremony, great food and ambiance, to excellent service and a professional team to carry out a bride’s vision. Building trust was key and we thrived on doing just that.”

Trust is built through great attention to detail and communication. Three years ago, we teamed up with a Senior Software Engineer from the SAS Institute to help develop Releventful, a custom event planning software application. It has allowed us to keep the lines of communication with our couples at their fingertips. From menus to vendors, timelines and wedding day details –nothing is left to chance or overlooked.

“WEDDINGS MADE SIMPLE – that was our plan! A Highgrove Estate bride has her own personal, professional team from start to finish – from welcome champagne to wedding cake and all the food and drinks needed to pull off a signature wedding day that will indeed be a memory for all the right reasons.”

Original Bridal Suite in 2005
Renovated Bridal Suite
by Bow Tie Collaborative
View More: http://bowtieco.pass.us/highgroveestate
Special Suite Renovation – Bow Tie Collaborative
View More: http://bowtieco.pass.us/highgroveestate
Groom’s Suite Renovation – Bow Tie Collaborative


Our vision for the future is to continually enhance the building, property, and decor of the Estate, each year adding something new and surprising. Our latest feature added last year is our new outdoor pergola with a fourteen foot fireplace and chandeliers. We are currently in the process of enhancing our ceremony area with an updated pergola, walkways, and new seating as well as a front porch extension and manicured landscaping by our gardener.

Highgrove Estate Outdoor Fireplace
New Pergola & Outdoor Fireplace on the Side Patio –  Megan Kerns Photography
Updated Fireplace by Bow Tie Collaborative


“Creating memories that last a lifetime; one couple, one celebration, one story at a time.” This is our mission, our motto, our mantra. Our desire is for brides to have their own personal experience—to be able to express themselves just as they want for their wedding day. We want brides to take what is in their head and allow us to bring it to life. We want it to feel beautiful and relaxed from the moment they engage our services to the send off at the end of the evening. Even though it is the same house, grounds, and ballroom it gets transformed into their own story. We want them to have JOY IN EACH MOMENT with heart, mind, and soul and not be worrying about details being overlooked. They can confidently relax in the process knowing we’ve got this!

Rachel Red Photography
Original Ceremony Trellis by Hartman Outdoor Photography
New Cedar Ceremony Pergola Photo by Bow TIe Photography


2 thoughts on “Highgrove Estate from the Beginning

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *