On Sept. 1, Anfesa Matthews opened the doors of perhaps her greatest store to date, a 20,000-sq.-ft. complex complete with a ballroom and banquet facilities, jewelry showroom, and a day spa and lobby. "The ballroom looks like it was ripped out of Gone With the Wind," says the owner proudly.
The idea was born from Matthews’ bridal niche-she carries Tacori and Scott Kay-and her desire to operate a freestanding store. The result is a fairy-tale-like venue that is so elegant that residents of the 26,000-person town question their humble hamlet as the most sensible location. "People say, ‘You put this in Garner?’ " says Matthews of her bridal palace.
But she did, intending to make guests feel like royalty. This is why the ballroom is outfitted with six 7-foot crystal chandeliers and 11 4-foot wall sconces, a 20-foot by 20-foot marble dance floor, private dressing quarters for the bride and groom, and colored lights that coordinate with bridal party attire and accessories. A full kitchen allows brides to bring in their own caterer or select one of Matthews’s, while the spa enables everyone in the party to relax before the festivities. Ballroom packages start below $6,000. Everything from rings, bridal party gifts, and reception space to the cake topper can be purchased at Anfesa’s. And while Matthews also hasn’t ruled out hiring a chef, per-person meal prices currently start at just $29. The ballroom can hold 425 people, and not just those attending weddings (Matthews has a tea party scheduled in October to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month).
In addition to reception space, brides can also rent high-end jewelry to wear on their big day. "The idea is to sell jewelry, of course, but not everyone can afford a $25,000 necklace," says Matthews. "My vendors help us treat our customers just like Hollywood stars and New York socialites by lending high-end pieces."
The first reception took place Sept. 5, and a grand-opening party occurred last Wednesday. Matthew’s daughter, Meredith, works as the store’s event planner, and her husband, Al, serves as the business’s vice president. According to Matthews, Miss North Carolina has even booked a reception at Anfesa’s. "People are always going to get married," says Matthews.
Check out the new space at grandmarquiseballroom.com.
Editor’s Note: Photos of the new store and ballroom were not available at press time, but stay tuned for a feature article about Anfesa’s Jewelers in a future issue of JCK.