Behind The Retreats: Catching Up With Xplore Team Maven and Soon-To-Be Bride, Blair Wissinger!
It’s not everyday that you get to plan your wedding at work! We sat down with one of Natural Retreats’ Xplore Team travel experts, Blair Wissinger, to hear all about her engagement and upcoming nuptials at Virginia’s Homestead Preserve. Follow along below for the inside scoop on wedding planning, where to find the best sandwich in Virginia, and how to de-stress in the great outdoors...
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started working with NR?
I had always known that I wanted to be in hospitality and tourism industry. After school, I began working at a study abroad company in Charlottesville. I was in the midst of traveling to India, Vietnam, and all sorts of exotic destinations when Natural Retreats contacted me asking if I would be interested in interviewing with them. Saying "yes" was one of my best decisions!
What made you decide to join the NR team?
I think it was as simple as “vacations vs education.” I saw a future here, and I saw the direction Natural Retreats was going. I wanted to be a part of it and grow with the company. I’ll never forget that they asked me upfront what I wanted to do in the future and where I saw myself in 10 years. That speaks volumes about the company culture here.
So, tell us about your engagement!
We got engaged in Charlottesville...he showed up at my house and surprised me. We’ve gone out to the Homestead Preserve three times with Natural Retreats since we started the wedding planning. It’s an amazing location, and our main goal for our wedding was to make it a relaxed weekend that everyone could enjoy.
What has the process of planning your wedding with your own company been like?
It’s been pretty crazy, but really fun. I wanted to make sure that it didn’t feel like my colleagues were working for me, but everyone has been super helpful and supportive. Two of my colleagues have gone above and beyond to help me plan, so it’s been a great process.
Where are you getting married at The Homestead Preserve?
The wedding will take place at The Old Dairy in May. The ceremony will be outside, followed by an outdoor cocktail hour, and then the reception will be inside.
It’s cool because some of the guests are staying longer, and most of our family will be staying in all of the homes. My fiancé Bryan’s family all wanted to have the full Natural Retreats experience, so we set them up with a guide to learn how to fly fish! It’s going to be a fun weekend for everyone.
When you’re not in Charlottesville, where can we find you?
I love to ski, and one of my favorite places to go is Winter Park, Colorado. Also, I’m a Midwest girl from southern Indiana, so I love going home to my small town and seeing my friends and family.
What's your secret to total relaxation?
Sitting back, putting on a fire and playing cards. In the summer, sitting with a glass of wine on the back porch and getting away from business and emails...I think it’s the simple things.
What is your favorite thing to order at The Homestead Preserve? Is there anything special you’re serving at your wedding?
The Milkhouse Market next to the Old Dairy - amazing sandwiches! The Potomac is my favorite, it’s amazing!
We’re having barbeque at our wedding, just good comfort food. I’m excited for the casualness of the wedding, bringing our friends and family together. Oh, and the corn pudding will be to die for!
What's the best time of year to visit The Homestead Preserve?
The spring is beautiful there...but the fall is amazing! Seeing the leaves change in Virginia is the best.
What’s the best part about working for Natural Retreats?
The travel! Getting to experience new locations that I had never heard of before that are actually incredible. Even a place like Teton Springs Lodge in the middle of Idaho - it’s breathtaking and is surrounded by mountains on 3 sides. Each of our destinations are secret gems in their area, and I love telling vacationers what the best thing to do is in each location.
Will you be going on a Natural Retreats honeymoon?
We’re going to Jamaica for our honeymoon. We knew that we wanted to do the Carribean, and we couldn’t be more excited!
I’m going to throw out some words, and you say the first thing that comes to mind!
b. The Homestead Preserve….beautiful
g. Natural Retreats…not a job - it’s a career!
h. Fiance...the best
i. Relaxation…no stress