HPF – How Did We Get Here – Part III
Our journey to becoming a wedding venue was challenging, but we were excited to finally get our first wedding under our belt. Janelle and Brian were the perfect couple to jump start our new venture; they had low expectations, but then they were tickled pink at all of the changes that we had made. We still had much learning to go and we were optimistic for what was coming ahead.
When I look back at all of this first year’s photos, even I marvel a bit at how stark the contrast of then and now are when it comes to both our barn, as well as our venue area around the barn. For that first year, we kept all of our past barn stalls still in tack and they were used mostly for storage and also for that “authentic effect.” Indeed it was quite charming to have them. I remember guests suggesting that it would be entertaining to have a horse actually in the stall. I am sure that I was very coy but respectful as I laughed (only city folk say such things) and avoided to truly answer them. A horse in a stall would be a sweet feature until the horse pooped or pee’d in the stall. Enough said.
Those early ceremonies, even like today, were outside and not inside the barn. With the new term “barn wedding” that was becoming popular, it typically surprised guests when they came to our venue to see that the weddings were actually inside. I always would reply, “our brides get to have it all – the beauty of an outdoor reception and the uniqueness of a beautiful barn reception.” It seemed to be the key and continues even today. Some of our weddings were behind the barn and looking pasture way while others were in the grove and others were even out in the front hayfield looking towards the mountains.
Even before the term “rustic-chic” came on the scene, this is what most of our brides were embracing. In those early days, I admit, it was much more rustic than chic, whereas now it seems to be more chic than rustic. The mix of the two is the fun and unique part. To have a rustic barn with reception tables set with long flowing tablecloths set with vintage china and glassware was such a welcoming change to a typical fellowship hall church reception. It was a contagious mix of those worlds that started the whole craze and continues still.
Along with the barn wedding craze was the birth of the “homemade sign” displays. I love all of these specialized signs made from old pieces of wood, to vintage school easels, to hand-crafted creations. These add such a personalized touch that it too continues today.
What girls were wanting then, and again, I think what they are still wanting from us, is a real authentic place out in the country with our scenic views, our family home-place that feels special from the moment you arrive, and of course having some beautiful animals to dot the landscape too.
It wasn’t until we received the photo gallery from Kelly and Trenton’s wedding by Blue Vinyl Creative that we suddenly realized the magnitude of how this odd recipe we had created could be so awesomely portrayed! When I say “recipe” it is just all of these odd features that our specific venue embraces, i.e. a very old vintage farmhouse that we have worked hard to keep as original as possible with a Pinterest-twist, a plain-jane authentic pole barn that we revamped by our own hands and labor, an ugly cinder-block milkhouse that we transformed into a storage/vendors area, a simple family farm with page fence (not high end board fence) and a real garden and a real old tractor, and our own animals here and there because we already had them and love animals. We made our own recipe of lemonade out of what we had. When Kelly’s photos were revealed, we could suddenly envision these being picked up by some wedding magazine, though I don’t think they were. This was really our mind-shift of knowing that we had something really worthy of sharing again – of improving upon – but that we were on to something. This not only affirmed us and all of our work efforts, but it got our brains a-thinking on ways to make us better.
As more and more photos were shared with us from our first year of weddings, we began to see the talent of some amazing photographers who made our simple farm look so beautiful for all of our special brides. Each wedding gallery looked different than the next because of all of the different locations around our farm that were photo worthy. I could’ve posted so many of these photos on this blog to Instagram and Facebook (which weren’t around when we began) today and you would’ve never imagined that they were taken nine years ago.
Improve we did do and that will begin our next blog. With the excitement of a successful year and bookings for the year to come, we began to make a Winter Project List which fortunately or unfortunately (depends on which way you look at it), we too have continued this tradition every year of reinvesting back into our venue to make improvements for the next set of brides. As pleased as we were with our first year, we found ourselves saying, “but if we were to to add this or that just think how awesome that would be,” etc. We looked at our budget, made a list of priorities, and made a plan.