Simple Rustic Elegance Visually Defined – Wedding of Savannah and Tyler by Caressa Rogers Photography

One look at this couple together and you know that it is going to be a special day and a special wedding.  Even this photo alone shows such a range of emotions; love – yes, but joy, tenderness, affection, and gentleness.

The day began as most do – with the bride being primped and prepped at the farmhouse.  It is amazing how words on a piece of paper – a sweet love note from the soon-to-be husband,  settles any bit of nervousness of the day and creates such powerful emotions.

Having access to the full farmhouse gives plenty of room for all to dress but gives that bit of privacy to gather your thoughts and to enjoy each little detail – like slowly and methodically lacing up the back of the wedding dress – isn’t this one gorgeous?

You would never know that lurking under this beautiful bride and her elegant wedding dress is a pair of these funky cowboy boots – love’em!  Likely most people never knew but something about wearing cowboy boots under the dresses (here) seems to add a bit of sas.

This wedding just seems to paint a very visual picture of what “Simple Rustic Elegance” is.  Since a picture paints a thousand words – seeing this gallery helps with the description.

Simple in a slew of ways.  Her choice of table decor was mixing some of our freebie decor with a few specialty pieces of her own.  This kept the costs down but added not only a touch of her color but this alone – gives another picture of that simple rustic elegance.  What is more simple that repurposing wine bottles?  Rustic with that little touch of twine and burlap votives.  Elegance with the shimmering golds and touch of lace….and they weave the looks together so easily.

This was a fall wedding and her colors of rich burgandy are just magic especially that time of year.  She was bold enough to think outside the box for her “down the aisle” decor/flowers.  These white pumpkins laying in a bed of seeded eucalyptus leaves again add a very simple touch but unique and kept it classy.

Her photographer, Caressa Rogers has such a creative eye….she sees magic where we see thirsty parched hay stalks.  She did several photos here and to my knowledge – she is likely the first to……and it “so” works.  It feels as though they are out in the middle of nowhere….and though it was a bit of a trek….it was on the farm.

This one is my favorite.  I don’t know if Caressa gave instructions to each and every girl here but they all are doing their own poses….somehow they morphed into models in this shot.  Just see the confidence and attitude in their faces?  Some bouquets up and some down plus they just seem to be enveloped into the haystalks….amazing!   Love this one!

Speaking of Caressa for just one bit….she is one of our “preferred” photographers and has been shooting weddings here for four years now and she impressed me then and she continues to wow me.

This is one of my favorites from 2012.  See how she just can set up a shot – and take a unique angle plus get some attitude from the subject.  There are so many things right about this photo…..you get the rich colors going on in the barn door contrasting with the brides dress with a straight on glimpse of the fiance “in waiting.”  Icing on the cake is that you can see facial expressions of the groom ever bit as much as the bride – who is having a grand ole time with this cat and mouse game of “get close but don’t look.”

So when i see this sort of shot show up in the gallery from Savannah and Tyler’s wedding – I am floored.  This shot is also full of depth and interest.  Not just the greenhouse but the balance of the patch of lilies on one side and the weeping grapevines on the right but it infuses the drying Cock’s Comb flowers that are her burgandy color – both in the greenhouse as well as beyond in the background.  Somehow it also gets the barn in the background plus front and center…it shows the powerful moment of Savannah taking Tyler to the walls with her kiss.

As earlier stated, this was a fall wedding and we had some gorgeous days last year with color lingering everywhere.  The light was just right hitting on this couple in the procession.  We could almost let them both be in hair commercials with this one….

There is something very symbolic about taking a picture of a bride and groom on a road because wedding day is certainly putting them on the road to a new journey.  But this couple seems quite content to take the journey as long as it with each other.

Even the kiss after the ceremony when Savannah is now his wife – Tyler is so sweet and tender with his new bride.  And – while the guests seem quite happy and content with the food and with the conversations – Savannah and Tyler are in their own world.

They had a beautiful naked cake – as they call these.    So, I suppose you could then call this a cake boudoir photo?  LOL!  Again – the angle of the cake and the mirror and the reflection all come together to make an extraordinary photo….and again…..the mix of a log (a symbol of rustic) and the simpleness of frames and mirrors adding to that this gorgeous cake with beautiful flowers showcases this reoccurring theme of simple rustic elegance….and it all works.

But – they didn’t just have cake….they also had donuts….and why not.  What is there not to like about having a slew of donuts at your wedding?  Obviously the groom was all in on this decision so he was quite happy.  They also did a cute job of displaying them.  I don’t know who did it but they put several dowels in some barnwood so you could see them all…and it actually mesmerizes you, a bit, doesn’t it?  You can even see the slight puddle of glazing on the board at the very bottom of the stack.  If they are Krispy Kremes – I think I could’ve eaten about 3-4 of ’em….but didn’t.

And did I mentioned that they not only had some donuts….but they had bunches of donuts in all sorts of flavors.

And in case you didn’t fully understand exactly how many donuts “a slew of donuts” were….this third photo shows it.

As dusk approaches and the lights start to put on their own personal show, the photographer grabs the newly weds and heads out to capture the ambiance.  Which of these three do you like best?

You can’t argue that these old vintage chairs (or couches) don’t just add a certain unique flair to a photo that nothing else can.  It is grand to know that there is renewed life and interests in these granny chairs….but again – the unique design and the cool fabric on these vintage finds is nothing short of awesome.  I think I need to build me a new barn – just for storage….and I would stash it full of interesting furniture pieces like this one.

Their first dance here on the rock patio as if they were alone to the world but of course they are not.  The onlookers are just beyond them and the string lights only add more dazzle to this photo.

The dance of Savannah and her dad is special too.  You can easily sense the deep emotions in this one.  Him holding his dear little girl close to him…..one more time, with her hang pulled towards his heart – you just sense he is playing over and over in his mind the many years that took them her birth to now….his little girl is married.  And as intimate of a moment as this must have been for them – you can sense that their guests felt it as well as they stand in the distance and silently watch this special moment.

The sparkler send off was as beautiful as they come and it was a great culmination to such a special day and wonderful group of family and friends who had come to rejoice and celebrate this union.

Congratulations to Savannah and Tyler for showing us a glimpse of what love is and letting us be a part of this day.

And to all of the MOB’s and MOG’s (Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom) who hear that their daughters want to get married at the farm ….don’t fret and think that they are going to have a “Hoe-Down” sort of wedding but likely…..as the wedding of Savannah and Tyler show us, that it will be much more like a simple rustic elegant event that will help make this a warm and comfortable day with all of the classiness of beautiful dresses and table linens and stunning flowers..and it all just photographs so dang well!

Thanks to Caressa Rogers Photography for sharing so many of these photos with me.  I knew it was going to be difficult to pick a few…and I kept saying ‘one more, and one more, and one more…..’ but as you can see – these are extraordinary which means that you not only dazzle us with them but you have given Savannah and Tyler an irreplaceable gift that journals this day in living color and makes them feel like they were living a fairy tale.                                                                                            ~ Margie

Vintage Books, Teapots & Teacups Speaks “Volumes” About the Bride – Wedding of Brooke & Jared by Kenney Photography

What a beautiful couple Brooke and Jared are.  No surprise here that these photos of their wedding day would be amazing with Kenney Photography in charge.  The picture below was also taken here at the farm as their engagement pictures a year before and it was one of the more amazing photos of the year albeit an engagement….the selection of the location, the pose, and the lighting effect – kudos!

I was super pumped when I found out that I would be handling decorations for Brooke.  It was sorta like when a hunting dog sees its owner loading the portable kennels into the back of the pick-up truck….the excitement and anticipation are almost too much.  I remember the day well when Brooke and several of her family came to discuss ‘decorating.’  She said she wanted a very romantic woodland theme.  My mind went to auto-pilot and there was an almost visual “check-can do that” light that blinked in my brain.  That lasted for about ten seconds until she said, “I also want to infuse the woodland theme with vintage books, teapots, and teacups.”  That is one of those moments that your mind begins to mentally play chess as i imagined play by play – piece by piece –  how this would affects that and influence this and thus…..how  this decorating theme would play out.

Turns out that her reason for her specific request was that she was a nature loving girl – yes…..and she loved the thought of getting married in the grove as if she was in the middle of a forest – yes….and then beyond that…she was an avid reader who perpetually was sipping on coffee as she read.  It made perfect sense after hearing the ‘why’ but it initially felt like a daunting but overtly exciting prospect.  Vintage books I have (which that alone may be an understatement), vintage teacups and teapots I have (one of my many unique collections, I might add). and pulling it all together with a woodland romantic theme would mean infusing greenery left and right (mosses and succulents too), and infusing enough accents of lace, elegance, and flowers to set that romantic tone.

With a wide assortment of greens (many represented here in this picture), a short list of flowers in complimentary colors for her theme, and a fun and interesting mix of accents from the tea pots, tea cups, terrariums, mosses of several kind, and even my prized bird nest with eggs….all came together in a chorus of this Woodland Romantic theme.

Many brides are wanting some variation of “Fairytale Woodland Romantic” and often I hear from mothers, “What exactly is Woodland Romantic?”  The best way to describe it is to imagine that there is an elegant wedding set up in the middle of a forest….set with tables and chairs for a reception with linens and table decor plus all the typical things used for an elegant wedding; items like silver teapots and candlesticks and linens and lace.  Once you picture that in your mind – imagine that all of “that” sat there for a hundred years waiting on the bride to return back to the forest to get married…as if maybe she was Sleeping Beauty.  Okay….once she returns, the forest has gradually reclaimed the area.  Ferns, vines, and mosses have grown around and into many of the furniture and decor pieces.  Birds have made nests in the bowls and teacups.  Wild forest flowers have been seeded and are now blooming in the most unique places.  The fairytale side of it all means while all of this infusion is taking place – that nothing got dirty – LOL!  You have all of that vintage elegance of the tarnishy silver pots with lace as often as you can spread it around infused with lots of whimsical flowers and such….all with those luscious greenery and “life” that comes from being in the woods.

Luckily Brooke is an easy going girl, as the silly photo above will tout, but she knows her mind and knows what she wants…and by golly, on wedding day, let’s give the girl what she wants!  As you can see from the stunning bouquet (great job, Flowers by Tami) there is this grand mix of all things green but with very purposeful splashes of color (and textures too like those berries and the succulents).  I wondered if the bouquet weighed more than Brooke herself but oh, did it make a statement!  And – can’t have a woodland theme without crowns…these were beautiful.

Brooke and Jared had an “early reveal” (smart, smart choice) so that they could have that special intimate moment by themselves (and of course with their stalking photographer to capture that perfect moment).  This allowed them additional time as well for photos ahead of time.  Might as well have this moment by the woodpile to give that woodland feel, huh?

So many pretty faces here – how do you do that?  It was a great color to choose – that shade of purple for a fall wedding…and the flower choices were allowing the bouquets to accent the girls dresses without competing for attention – if that makes sense.

I love these photos showing the “shock and awe” of the bridal party as they watch the merry couple making out beside them. It allows a bit of the personality of the bridal party to be revealed as well.   As usual, Kenney Photography perfectly framed this pose with the canopy of tree leaves behind them…making it a keeper from the gallery.

So I infused this theme throughout the venue layout.  She came out of the white french doors of the barn through the vine and moss ridden curtains into the grove with stumps aligning her aisle with sprigs of cedar and little bits of sweet gum balls or hickory shells.  She indeed stepped into the forest – a magical one with prince charming awaiting her.

Now, did I mention that I love, L-O-V-E to surprise the bride with some bits of unique details that I didn’t tell her about?  Well, I do love to go above and beyond and wow the girls a bit.   Yes, I had fun making reserved signs for the tables out of old book covers and making table numbers out of old book pages with stenciled numbers on them…that fuels my creative juices for sure.  But…when Brooke’s mom emailed me a couple of weeks prior to the ceremony (yep – a couple of weeks ahead of time – why do they wait to throw me such a interesting curve ball?), and mentioned, “oh, by the way, Brooke is a huge Harry Potter fan if there is any way to use that somehow….”  Well, back to the hunting dog analogy, it was as if she had waved in front of my nose a raccoon scented soaked rag!  This dog was on the hunt!

 

Ebay – here I come.  Ordering a couple of old editions of Harry Potter was easy enough.  One of them, I set it opened in the vintage chair by the gift area presentation area and the second one, I gutted a hole out of the center of it to plant some mossy succulents for her head table.  I also came upon a prized find – some old glasses that sure did look a lot like those wirey ones of Harry Potter’s….I ordered them and asked for a quick delivery – all of the way from Eastern Europe!  So – again in weaving her book theme with the woodland theme…I titled their head table “Our love story” but I figured if nobody else even noticed that Brooke would be ever so familiar with the Harry Potter books that even opened in the middle and with a succulent sticking out of it – that she would pick up on the Harry Potter surprise.

Brooke ordered a cake that certainly fit into her theme as well.  Isn’t it adorable?  Brooke had her own surprise for Jared.  When asked what he wanted for wedding day he replied, “You can have anything you want as long as I can have some pizza…” (or something to that affect). So, Brooke ordered the groom’s cake to look like a pepperoni pizza.  I am often amazed at the creations coming out of these local bakeries for it certainly did look like a pizza though it was certainly sweet and albeit, a cake.  There was cupcakes ordered and Brooke wanted me to do a sign telling of the various flavors.  Bingo!  A new idea flew into my head…make a sign out of an old book.  Sometimes my brain just needs to slow down.

So the magical day began to wind down.  Plenty of awesome food and drink, lots of family and friends to dance with and to mingle about, cake to eat, favors to share, and time to chill out by the bonfire.

and in the end….

….there was an awesome couple who had their own fairytale – a “Woodland Romantic” dream wedding come true, they left happier than they arrived, and I believe that they “lived happily ever after” or at least they are on that journey to live it.

 

~ Margie

Open House – Part III (The Final Trilogy Ends Today!)

So much to tell…..so little time, but let’s begin.

My blogs for Open House Part I and Part II have gone over the events of Open House day as well as most of the winter projects related to the barn….but there is still much more that we had on our To-Do List.  Mainly it has been projects concern the old farmhouse.

Most of you think of the farmhouse like the picture above – as you see it today.  It was not….let me repeat and put it in caps to express more intensity….IT WAS NOT like this when my parents purchased the farm.  Let me show you what it did look like.

This is the house that my parents thought that they would renovate once they purchased the farm but soon after pulling off a back addition with a lean-to type kitchen and bathroom area, they discovered some structural issues and damages that were going to make this renovation much more of a project than they originally had planned for.

Once the decision was made to go to a plan B and build a new house, my dad boarded up the back of the farmhouse where the wing had been pulled off and switched his focus to building a new house.  Now, I will say that we lived in the farmhouse, minus a kitchen and a bathroom because those had been torn down with that first minor demolition.  Though it was only for about 4 months, it was an interesting experience and challenging to say the very least.  The Men’s restroom currently in the barn was originally installed in 1976 by my grandfather so that we would have a toilet.  We had an outdoor make-shift shower (no walls, no heat) behind the farmhouse so needless to say, they were quick and always semi-clothed.

This is me having more fun washing my horse than taking a quick shower but it shows you where the shower was.  You can see the “Milkhouse” (i.e. the Man Cave) in the background.  It too has had a make-over, huh? My mother had a make-shift kitchen set up on the wrap-around front porch with a wok, a toaster oven, and a Coleman stove.  You can cook about anything you need on those three things.  It was better than camping but still very rustic….but we were all so happy to have the farm that even this crude living for those several months was more of an adventure than a hardship.  As winter approached and the brick house was still under construction but “dried in” as they say, it was the bathroom in the Master Suite that was the very first thing to be completed so that we had a real shower with warm water and a door and a real toilet without bugs.  That’s called “Living in High Cotton.”  I can remember sleeping upstairs in the farmhouse bedroom – no insulation in those walls, one receptacle with a mini-heater plugged up, about 3 quilts piled on my bed in order to stay warm, a cat or two sleeping on top of the quilts because I had snuck them in through the window, and come morning….when you could see your breath in the chilly air but your bladder said get out of bed, I would throw off those weighted quilts, slip on my house shoes and a robe, run lickety split down the stairs, through the hall, off the porch, across the yard, onto the brick house porch, open the door and scale the steps, down the hall, into the bedroom, and finally make my way to the toilet.  It was a feat only a young bladder could accomplish!

So as the history of the farm goes – the brick house was finally completed and the old farmhouse turned into more of a storage unit.  Years later when I got married and we decided to move to the farm, I wanted my own private corner of the farm and we built our home in the northwest corner of the farm under the big tall oak trees…..so again, the farmhouse just sat.  I raised my family here on the farm and the kids would often play house in the old farmhouse but mostly it was a glorified storage unit.  We would often do small projects to the house just to keep it from falling completely apart; repair a window, patch a leak in the roof, repair the hole in the basement that the groundhog made, etc.

 

Twelve years ago, my daughter Jill decided to get married here on the farm out in the field in front of the farmhouse AND have her reception in the barn – a thing not heard of back that many years ago.  With a total of 3 months to plan a wedding, muck and power-wash the barn, collect vintage china from every thrift store in town, etc., we also decided to spruce up the visuals of the farmhouse just a bit.  Apparently it is a tradition for us to cram as much work as possible on a huge project in a short amount of time as possible……..LOL!  We did a good enough job that several of her wedding pictures were taken on the front porch – forever tying her to the farmhouse.

History had turned and after the wedding, Jill and her new husband John decided that they wanted to come live on the farm and tackle the renovations of the farmhouse.  What John thought would be some minor clean up, few repairs and some paint (ha, ha), turned into a gradual metamorphosis involving more time, energy, and money than he every imagined.  We did most of the renovations ourselves, keeping as much of anything original and usable as possible both from a budget standpoint as well as a purposeful philosophy.  Each year, just as we now do winter projects, Jill and John tackled another list of To-Do’s on the farmhouse….working through slowly and as money  could be allotted for certain projects.  Children came along that slowed the process from time to time (actually three times)…. but life is a journey not a destination.  The farm and farmhouse have woven themselves into our lives and created a wealth of stories, experiences, trials, challenges, heartache, work ethic, and a true love and appreciation for life here with all of its complications.

The farmhouse began to take shape.  Many projects done but anybody with an old house will tell you that they never end….which feels true.  As we began doing weddings, Jill gave up her  front room for the brides to prep in.  Eventually, Jill moved her family of five from the farmhouse to the cabin on the knoll closer to the creek.  The farmhouse once again became more of a storage area for vintage china, wedding rentals, and a work room…. plus upstairs was more of a play room for the kids while we worked close by.

We have finished the farmhouse renovations – could it be?….maybe, maybe not…but we have certainly refined her, gave her a make-over of sorts, and made her primed and ready for her next phase.  We are now allowing the farmhouse to be used as an extra option – to rent her for over-night lodging.  So, for an extra $300, you would get access to not only the Bridal Suite w/powder room….but all of the downstairs would be opened up which gives so much more spill out space for the entourage of people that hover around the bride on wedding day; hair and make up vendors, bridesmaids, flower girls and their mom, Mother of the Bride, Photographer 1 and 2, and so on.  So….more spill out space.  The downstairs offers another restroom and we have put in a nice large shower.  There is a great room with a living area and unique kitchen space.

Upstairs masks no secret that this is an authentic farmhouse.  The steps have a higher rise to them than a typical stairways of today.  In fact, they say you can almost tell how old a house is by how high the rise is in the stairs…which this one, we think, dates back to before the Civil War.

Upstairs there is a front bedroom with a King Size bed and windows on three sides.  This is the bedroom that I slept in when younger.  We have actually added bonafide heat and air system – no more window units and plug in heaters!  In the back is a Master Suite with a King size bed (The Cowboy overlooks) with a TV sitting area (with a daybed) plus their own powder bathroom.  What a rare opportunity for you to sleep in such a unique place with so much history and ambiance.

Another benefit to adding on the extra option for the Farmhouse lodging is that  you would not only have the extra lodging options but it gives you more  prep space during the prep time and you would not need then to vacate the farmhouse by 8 p.m. which is the typical standard.  This means you could delay some of that pack up/exit chores to later in the evening then leaving those left who will actually spend the night.

…………Next up…..We are offering two different items that you may want to consider for your wedding “favors.”  First is Goat Soap samples.  Our goats have become our mascots and brides and guests too are enamored with our sweet goats – how could they not?  We have had requests to do this, so we made the plunge to add it this year.  We have options on different smells and sizes so check with us if interested.  We sell her per piece and then for an extra charge, we can even use our decor wares and make a cute display for you.

The second farm related favor option is Farm Flower Seed Packets.  You know we are all about flowers and have them everywhere.  Each year guests rave about our beautiful flowers, especially our Cock’s Comb fuchsia flowers that line so many of our beds.  They are easy to grow, handle drought, hard to abuse, and they have such a long extended bloom time that you certainly do get lots of bang for your buck.  We decided to start with these seeds.  Again – check with us about pricing and if you want us to creatively display them as well.  So, consider giving your guests a bit of the farm to take home with them.

Then finally – drum roll for the “finally”…..High Point Farms is offering Farm Fresh Flower “designs” for your bouquets or your table arrangements.  We are so into flowers and have them planted everywhere.  We have often used them when handling our own decorating clients and for Rehearsal Dinner table decor accents.  We keep getting more and more requests from brides who do want a more natural and organic look to their flower designs.  Fresh is certainly true and being able to infuse local (right outside the barn local, I mean) flowers is appealing to many.  Our approach and our product tends to look quite different than a typical florist.  We often infuse herbs, berries, wildflowers, and more “outside the box” plants in our productions which gives it a very unique look.

A picture does paint a thousand words and these do a good representation of what we want to achieve.  Using as many flowers that are in bloom at the time of your wedding, infusing natural plants to add texture and interest, accents with even herbs both for blooms and for foliage, and just a more organic approach.  If this philosophy and look interests  you, then it is a conversation to be had.  We won’t be as cheap as a grocery store flowers, but we won’t look like them either.  If you are more interested in a refined sculpted look then best to stay with one of our preferred florists who will dazzle you in that look. We are not in direct competition with them but feel as though we are just offering something different.   We are open to selling you flowers “by the bucket” but as you ponder your choices, consider the tedious time that it requires on a day that you don’t have much extra time and that a bit of experience in flower arranging will be of visual benefit typically to you. Any consultations on the flowers will need ample time – so don’t wait till the last minute to ask.

So, finally….the secrets have been revealed and the multitude of additional choices are out there.  I am in the process of updating the Bridal Survival Guide and the website.  I hope to go over some of the basics in a broad email to our booked brides within the week.  I hope these are exciting ideas to you.

Thanks again to Sabrina at Bri Sanders Photography for taking so many of these photos and so quickly sharing them with me – at no charge!  It certainly has helped to tell these stories with some beautiful photos of our Open House, our additional furniture pieces, our winter projects, the farmhouse renovations, and our additional favor options and flower services.

~ Margie

Open House – Part II

Despite all of the insane reasons to have an Open House on February 4, 2017 – we did, but we “did it our way.” (Here the Frank Sinatra music playing in the background?)

We did not attend the highly publicized Pink Bridal Show in Chattanooga the week before.  We have done that gig before in the past but it just wasn’t our style.  The cost of having a booth at the show is very high especially for venues. That is a hard pill to swallow.  Plus….we felt like we had 30 seconds to draw a distinction between our venue and the other 20 venues that were there as crowds of prospective brides passed by.  You print off hordes of material to throw at all of these people when most of them have already secured their venue and half of them will ditch their bag of paperwork within a few hours of the event.  When a true prospective bride looks down into a plastic bag filled with brochure after brochure concerning “all things wedding related….and more”, it just exacerbates her and just magnifies the daunting task before her as she struggles to plan for her wedding.  She rummages through a mess of papers trying to find the perfect venue and the perfect vendors and trying to imagine how to determine such a standard when all you have to go by is a short write-up and a great one-liner catch phrase.  Or…..she walks past a booth of a venue that sounds interesting but she can’t get a moment to talk to the representative because they are talking to other people. So, she looks at a few pictures hanging on the booth wall or on an easel and though they are beautiful photos of a beautiful bride, it makes it very difficult to see exactly what the venue itself looks like because all you can really see is the bride.  So – you walk on into the sea of other brides meandering through the aisles of a bridal show looking left and right and feeling much like a pinball as you make your way through the packed event hall.  Does this sound familiar?  I imagine that this approach does indeed work for some brides….and maybe many brides – or the bridal shows would change their format.  But….it is not our approach…..good, bad, or different – I wanted a  very casual approach.

Invite brides to your house – well…..close, my barn.  Let them see first hand what sort of place we are.  Even in early February when our flower beds are not bursting with blooms yet (though the Jasmine vine in this photo was touting a few yellow buds already) and the chilly frost was melting off of the grass (but hey – look how green our grass is even in February….my husband has the magic touch and knows how to talk to the lawn) and the trees stood naked (but – we do have the trees and it makes it easy to imagine all of the shade that will come from them once spring arrives) and there were no newly born baby goats in the pasture (but we still had a slew of goats and young’ens that flocked to the fence to greet our visitors)……despite all of that, the barn (and farm) still had no trouble showing her strengths and her unique features.

We do hear quite often (and I heard it again that weekend) from first time visitors these two comments, “From the outside of the barn, I wasn’t sure what to expect…but when you come in, wow…it really works!” and the second is, “I have looked at all of the pictures on your website and they are amazing but they just don’t do the place justice.”  I take both of these as compliments.  We are indeed a simple farm and we just embrace that.  We don’t have expensive cedar board fencing lining our property, a monstrous mountain stone entry way, a concrete statue fountain spewing water in our garden, an old dairy barn design with gables in every direction and an ornate cupola on the roof, and we also don’t have a Tara-style plantation mansion setting at the end of the driveway.  But – that is just not us….we just aren’t the mansion sort of people and our farm was nothing more than a simple farmers homeplace where he invested his heart and soul to live off the land and provide for his family.  We take what we have and make the most of it.  We think there is not only value to this approach; i.e. be thrifty, repurpose, embrace a simple way of life, etc.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t make improvements or put a fresh coat of paint on something or add a new addition….it just means to keep the same ambiance – the same spirit – the same path as you  move forward.

We often say that we were repurposing long before Pinterest became trendy.  There are so many items around the farm that you see and often walk right past that have been on the farm for years (or from my grandparents farm even)…items that many people would’ve tossed in the dump or not taken a second consideration to…but we found new life and often even a new purpose in them.  Take for example:  our whiskey barrel bar.

We have so many gorgeous “cake table” photos of this particular set up; two old whiskey barrels, one from the George Dickel Distillery and the other no-name barrel alon with a wood table top.  It is the table top that has the more interesting story.  This use to be a work table top in our Milkhouse building when that housed the tool room.  This wood table top was set on two old oily metal barrels and it had piles of odd tools, rusty coffee cans full of used nails, half-used oil cans, and such on it that the table top itself was buried under the mound of junk.  That first year of hosting weddings we were looking for any economical choice to provide additional tables.  I began to clear off all of the “junk” and decided that even as worn and oil-stained as this was – that there was beauty “enough” even in this table top to make the effort worthwhile.  Clearing off the junk was the easy part for it was the gobs of dust laden oil spills that proved a challenge…but once I removed the oil, the character of the wood and all of its many years began to shine through.  It still is an old worn out tabletop but the beautiful hues in the wood partly comes from the oil that was absorbed over the years from being a work table.  I wouldn’t part with it though after its rescue, I have had several men offer me hundreds of dollars for it (surprisingly enough).  I could go on and on about such stories about many of our decor choices; the hand plow in our flower garden, an old decrepit wheelbarrow, a cast iron tub, an industrial wheel, and more.  (Ah, sounds like a good idea for a whole new blog post – for another day.)

I guess I want to say that we do winter projects and we do make improvements on our venue and farm but we always try to follow the same template and follow the same approach.  When we added onto the main part of the barn to build our dancehall (a few years ago), I made sure that we found some old “oak” weathered barn boards so that from the outside – no one would know that we had added a new wing to the barn.  I hope that I haven’t shattered someone’s assumption that it was part of the original barn – LOL!  But by using the same old barn boards from another barn, it tied the look together and followed the same approach.  A year ago, or so, I had 2 older men come up to me after the wedding reception dinner while I was sitting in the lounge on the sofa. One man said, “We keep debating each other on a subject and wanted to ask you….Is this barn a real old barn or did you build it to make it look like an old barn?”  I looked at the man in astonishment because as I sat there listening to him, I see the original tackroom floor underneath my feet and they are about as ancient and authentic as anything could be.  I see the horse stall door feet away from me with an old rusty colored chain on it where I had to latch the stall door with the chain so that my horse couldn’t open it with his mouth like he did with a regular stall latch.  I replied to the gentlemen, “Oh my, you must think that I am very talented to think that I could create all of this from something new!”  I, again, took all of this as a compliment though, and with each addition or improvement, I once again hope that most people cannot even see and distinguish the new from the old.  My husband says that I am the “Queen of Distressed” which is different from being the Queen of Stress or “being” distressed….I think – LOL!  But, I want it all to blend and if I can’t find a way to repurpose something old – I sure want it to look as though I repurposed something old.

You saw this photo above in the Part I blog, right?  Do you notice anything new?  It is a cool shot and angle that Bri Sanders Photography took.  My colored bottles in the window were her idea….and it really showcases all of the lighting effect that is going on.  It also shows that mix of old weathered wood that accents off of the colors of the bottles and lights.  What it does show that you may have missed is that we have “put in” a few wooden windows in the back of the barn.  OF COURSE, we used old wood to make them.  They look great and blend in too.  They look like horse barn windows and best part….is that they look good closed and look good opened.  So when the weather permits, we can open up the windows later in the evening to increase the air flow “as well as” this will make some adorable photos with a bride and groom looking out of them!  This is a great example of “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” as I like to say…..great additional function plus a great photo op!

We have also added a unique feature to the window near the “Watering Hole” (i.e. our Bar room).

Notice this picture from last fall.  See the wooden window behind the bartender.  We have added a unique hinged shelf type bar that provides a work area shelf for the bartender and also provides a shelf type bar for the guest to have the drink set on.

So this now allows your bartender (and all of his clutter of bottles, coolers, and more) to remain inside of the barn and serve your guests…..and your guests who can remain outside, have a little bar top shelf that sits atop the opened window making it easier and safer to position them a drink.  When it is no longer needed, it folds down and the window can close.  Eeeeezy Peeeezy!

Next two barn related projects will have to wait till I have pictures “at night” to fully tout them but I will at least tell you about them.  We have added more lights to the Horse Ring/Bonfire area.  They are strung overhead so it will give a whole new look.  We have just given the whole bonfire area an upgrade….in defining the space and such…you will just have to see for yourself!… We are still working on it but I hope to have a night photo when it is all completed.  Then we are adding some unique lighting “effects” to the old pear tree there on the rock patio.  This is going to look amazing especially towards evening…..in fact…..I could totally see the rock patio as being a great place to have your “first dance.”

 

We often say that the stage is a great place for a first dance (and yes – still is) but we sometimes hear grooms say that they don’t like the feeling of being “on stage” while doing this first dance.  Some brides will kick off their dance time by doing the first dance “in” the dancehall.    But now, let me suggest another option…picture this as I describe it……..

Your guests have finished eating.  Everybody needs a bit of relaxed time afterwards so that they can have a restroom break, maybe go back outside to see the goats before they head back to the barn, or others to play another round of cornhole.  So, maybe you even have a table set out “outside” near the ring for your cake display even.  I would have the table set up earlier then have someone move the cake or desserts out closer to cutting time so it doesn’t sit outside the whole time.

So….rally people to watch the cake cutting – outside provides lots of space for all to see and surround you by then easy access to get their own slice of cake.  Once most people are served, have the DJ announce the first dance on the rock patio. You can see from these photos (the one below was over a year ago) that the rock patio area is always beautiful with its Queen Anne’s Lace and other flowers always putting on a show.

You two come together and have the whole rock patio as your dance floor – allowing for your guests to be encircling you all around the patio and some maybe even standing inside the barn though the barn doors are wide open.  This lets you be less on a stage but still the slight elevation change allows good visibility.

Photograph wise….it doesn’t crowd you out since you have the whole patio plus you will either have the new lighting effect from the Pear tree or you will have the barn lights in the background…either way…..should photographer beautifully as well as function well.

All the lights glowing this time of evening, people’s bellies are full so their full attention can be on this moment, it just makes for a grand way to wind down the evening a bit.  I love this picture above because you not only see the tender moment between bride Savannah and her father, but you can see how comfortable and casual people are sitting on the large boulders behind them, sitting in the grass beyond them, and just folks chilling out in the  background as they get to be witnesses to this magical moment.  Anyway……….this is just too awesome of a set up not to consider it as an option.  Plus…we are adding some really cool lighting effects to this old pear tree so it will be even more stunning of a photo this for this year’s brides.

One of my last decorating opportunity last year, I told the bride that I was going to “doll up certain areas” to add a whispy romantic touch and one of these areas was in front of the buffet room.  I added a collage of vintage frames – some with mirror insets and some empty…but I loved the look that it gave…..and it does add a cute element to those walls.  So – we decided to keep it as a permanent accent wall.  A wedding or two later, Caressa Rogers Photography captured this amazing photo that at least highlights why I like the look…whether as a cake table backdrop or even for your tea and lemonade drink station.

So, just in case you have not visited the barn in a while…..imagine and enjoy this new accent wall and find a way for it to help dazzle your own wedding day!

Two more important notes that are related to the barn before I end.  One….we have added more of the farmhouse tables to our inventory of “included furniture pieces”.  This brings us up to 7 Farmhouse tables and 3 of the larger barnwood tables.

Having now 10 wood tables that you can use for your reception will allow you to either use exclusively wood tables for your reception needs (if your wedding is 75 guests or smaller)….or we can mix the rounds and the wood tables in  a mismatch fashion which looks great.  For each wood table that you incorporate – it will save you money on linens plus it infuses the cool farmhouse look into your layout.  Some brides have done this last year utilizing the fewer wood tables that we had and you can see how trendy the look was.

Even in this photo above, you can see how this bride rented colored napkins for each table that infused her color scheme as well as tied the different tables together with the similar napkin.

The bride in the second photo used a colored runner PLUS a different color napkin to infuse her colors.  Neither is necessary but you can see by these photos how interesting the look becomes by the mix.  And…don’t fret, Jill is a master at blending the mix so she can help you with those layout decisions.  Ultimately, of course, if you do want to use all round tables with linens – that certainly is your choice to do so too!

We have also added 6 high top tables to our inventory as well.  These again do not require linens as most high tops do but look cool and funky enough without them but you could certainly add them if you desired.  These can be set up outside for your cocktail hour, in the dancehall for guests to set their drinks on, or even in the main part of the barn as back up table options for unexpected guests.

This for now is where I will end Part II but don’t think this is the last of it.  One more blog posting for the Open House is going to continue the pictures and news about the renovations. We have one more fully packed Farm Blog telling about some Farmhouse renovations but also about a few new “services” and “options” that we have added to our list of “extras.”  Do I still have you interested?  Great!  Check in later this week.

A shout-out to my number one construction company that is always on board to help us with our crazy ideas and our winter projects.  Steve, the man, finds a way to “make it happen.”   I paint the picture for him….I concentrate on the art department side, but Steve at Woodward Enterprises figures out the logistics.  It is a collaboration for sure as me and Jill go back and forth and back and forth over vision and what we think would look best until we agree (no small feat for a mother-daughter duo).  Then….we get Steve involved in the “how best to make it happen” side of things and him and his crew go to work.  I am sure that they tell tales about us and our crazy antics.  And I am confident that I have finally taught Steve to think outside the box now.  But I did want to thank them officially here for their hard work.  It is great to have such a diverse work crew who you can trust to be on your property no matter what….and that they will work hard to get your vision completed.

 

That’s it for now….check back in a couple of days for the final post in this series – Open House Part III.

~ Margie

Open House February 4, 2017 – Part I

It sounded like a good idea…..to host an Open House in our off-season.  And….I do think that it was indeed a good idea but also an insane idea.  Why insane, you ask?  You did ask, right?  First – it is during off-season.  Shouldn’t we be taking it easy?…..sleeping in?……going on vacation?  Yep – we should, but we don’t.  For some reason, off-season means coming up with a long list of “winter projects” where we reinvest in our property – in our venue, to make it look better, function better, and offer more.  We began doing this after the very first year.  We were floored and awed that we had brides who wanted to come to our farm for their most special wedding day and share that day with us.  So….each year, we came up with a list of ways to improve.  This year, our list again was long so shortening our work schedule 5-6 weeks early surely wasn’t a brilliant idea.  It certainly made for a chaotic last couple of weeks….but……we hung in there and though not totally finished just yet – I think we put on a fair representation of our projects.

So….to continue the tease just a bit longer…..for now I will say that one of our winter projects has to do with the Farmhouse, and details will come in more specifics later this week.  For now – you can see that the Bridal Suite is ready for brides.  We did add a table to the room to help with more work space.  We also added air-conditioning to the room – a real bonafide system, so  no more window units (yeah!).

Second insanity reason is that it is February where the days can be 65 or 25…..and the sun can beam or there can be snow piled on the ground.  I guess we got good and bad.  The sun did shine (eventually) that morning but an hour prior to the Open House debut – it was a chilly 26 degrees.  Fortunately, we had patio heaters positioned inside the barn, the Dancehall set at a toasty 72 degrees, and the Guest House and Farmhouse were warm and cozy too.  The first hour was slow with only a few brave visitors but after that…..not only did the sun begin to burn off the frosty dew on the grass but the inside of the barn was warm enough to open up the doors and windows a bit.

There are actually two clues in the photo above.  Again….I am loving this bit of tease that I am putting  you through.

The third insanity reason was that from the time we decided to host this Open House to the time of the Open House was a total of 3 weeks.  Yikes!  Three weeks to schedule an event, finish as many of our projects as possible, invite a few vendors, figure out a schedule, make plans, get food, set up signs, and notify brides.  I did hear from several of you that you wanted to come but that your schedules did not permit.  I will think on this earlier next year and with more of a sound mind – I think I can have a whole year to plan, announce, prep, and execute it.

That said…..we were blessed with quite a few visitors – both interested brides who were checking us out as well as some of our booked brides who came to see the Open House and all of our secret reveals.  One of our photographers, Sabrina with Bri Sanders Photography was gracious to many of them and took a quick photo of them on the vintage couch.

We were also blessed to have a few volunteer vendors to come by to meet and greet our guests.  We had Double Portions Catering who brought an awesome aromatic grits casserole that had cheese, egg, and bacon in it – oh my, oh my!  My diet came to a grinding halt on Saturday!  She also had these Havarti Cheese biscuits that were soft and yummy to go along with the casserole.  Apparently breakfast buffets for “dinner” is a new wedding trend.  Fine by me!

We had two photographers come and set up displays to impress and showcase their talents.  Al with Mile Marker Images ….

and Sabrina with Bri Sanders Photography – who graciously supplied most of the photos journaling our Open House as well as our updates.  Thank you, Sabrina, for all of your help and generosity!

DJ Mark, With Class, LLC, came and kept the music going.  His Boze speakers always always sound good – even for an Open House we were all tapping our feet and had a angst to dance.

 

Riverside Beverages who offers a wide inventory of wines and beers and can deliver your drinks on wedding day could not come to the Open House but donated some sodas.  Needless to say – they were easily chilled and ready for anybody who was thirsty.

Sugar Chic Bakery in Ringgold, another one of our Preferred Vendors, could not make it to Open House.  Running a bakery is a 6-7 day a week job but they generously provided cake samples, carrot cake, and an assortment of Smores’ Bars, cookies, and cupcakes.  I set up a smorgasbord with all of her goodies (plus a few candies and such) in my vintage dessertware vessels and it made for eye candy as well as scrumptious delights for the taste buds.  Did I mention that I blew my diet on Saturday?  Yep – sure did.  It would be hard to decide what tasted best but I kinda think that even as good as that beautiful carrot cake was…..that it was her cake samples that won the day! Oh my…..I can’t describe how moist the cake part was and how delectable the icing was…..but….. order it….whatever it was – order it!

So have I wet your appetite for more pictures and more information?  Hope so.  Check in with us in a couple of days for Part II….as we document more of the specifics….what our projects produced….and what you can look forward to this year.  Thanks for being part of this journey with us.                                ~ Margie

California To Georgia – Wedding of Julia and Russell (Summer 2016)

Every bride comes with her own story – her own likes and expectations for her wedding day – her own family history and friend dynamics – and her own style and vision.  That is as it should be, but I must say that Julia and Russell’s wedding likely gets top honors on being the most unique wedding that we had last year.

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Relaxed, Laid Back Wedding Day – Meagan and Ben by Daisy Moffatt Photograhpy

To decide to get married….and then to get married should be a solemn and serious decision and commitment.  That said, there is every reason in the world to try to aim for a relaxed and laid back wedding day.  Wedding day should be just as you want – whether that is being pampered by a hair dresser and make up artist in the farmhouse Bridal Suite or by having your bridesmaids help you have fun decorating the venue or by chilling out on the couch with your BFFs laughing and sipping wine.  Wedding guests should be your closest friends and family – those who love you and want the very best for you unconditionally.  You shouldn’t have to feel like you are doing a performance but rather create this day as a “I won the Lottery celebration.” Make it real – and make it you.  Wedding day schedule should give you plenty of time to take a slew of pictures – if you wish….or to hang out with guests during appetizer hour instead – if you wish…..or to have a Mexican Buffet for your dinner food – if you wish…..or to have Key Lime Pie and cupcakes for your dessert instead of a wedding cake – if you wish…..and to change out of your wedding dress after dinner into comfortable attire for the last part of your scheduled events – if  you wish…..and to sit by the bonfire listening to a musician strum the guitar instead of having to dance the night away – if you wish.  So, think outside the box and embrace the traditions that are important to you, but then, make a few of your own and determine to craft a wedding day that will indeed be relaxed and laid back.  You have already picked a venue (us) which will certainly encourage this atmosphere but it also requires you to be purposeful in your decisions and in your attitude.  But if you can determine to do this – you will not regret it…and when the bride is happy (and relaxed)….then everybody (groom and guests alike) will also be happy.

 

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Late Fall Wedding – Trishell & Jimmy by Rich Smith Photography

The wedding of Trishell and Jimmy was from that first weekend in November ’16.  With the drought still in play – you wouldn’t know it to look at these pictures; the grass is green around the barn and there are colorful leaves at the feet of this bride and groom.  It was indeed a gorgeous day and a beautiful wedding.

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Just What a Videographer Should Accomplish

A Videographer might seem like a luxury easy enough to eliminate from your “Must Have” wedding list but a good one is worth their weight in gold.  Wedding day comes finally after months of preparations….but once the day begins, it flies by in a flash.  A talented photographer will not only capture the moments and create some amazing portraits for you to relish your entire life, but a videographer should actually accomplish something else.  What – tell me what?

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