This post is part of a series about our DIY Kentucky Vineyard wedding. It was such a labor of love and there is so much to tell, so I’ll be splitting it up into categories. I hope you’ll find some inspiration and entertainment from what we did for our wedding, along with some ideas for your own day! You can read about the music here.
Choosing a wedding venue was possibly one of the most stressful decisions we had to make for our wedding, probably because I knew it was possibly the most important part of the celebration.
I knew right away that I wanted an outdoor wedding, but the problem was finding a location that was pretty, had electricity and water, and had enough space for mine and Kyle’s absurdly huge families. I spent days driving around the countrysides with my siblings and soon-to-be husband looking for locations that might be suitable for our big day. We stumbled upon several beautiful fields and farmland, but there was always something that made it impossible, usually that the land was owned by a stranger. We considered having it at the Wayne County Police Farm, a big field with a shelter in a big valley in my hometown, but in the end, it just didn’t feel right to us.
By total happenstance, Kyle’s aunt went antique shopping in Grayson, Kentucky, and told us to check out this vineyard there – Rock Springs Winery. Kyle and I typed the address into Google Maps, and off we went to check it out. Of course, our directions took us a crazy way, down a gravel path in the middle of nowhere with crazy looking dogs chasing our car, and I was thinking to myself “This is going to be awful.” Negative Nancy right here. But as we rounded a corner and crossed a tiny bridge over a creek, we saw what we’d been looking for all along.
Even though it was wintertime when we first visited the vineyard, we could see the potential of this place. There were rows and rows of vines just waiting to bud with juicy grapes for different wines. And they had a barn! Perfect for our reception and the answer to all of my Pinterest prayers. One of the owners of the vineyard showed us around the property and explained what was included in their wedding package, but I honestly didn’t hear much of anything she said, because I was busy dreaming of my wedding day. My mind was whirling with ideas. I could see myself walking through the vineyard surrounded by my friends and family. I was dreaming of how beautiful it would be on top of that hillside in the sunshine of September.
Once Kyle and I were able to take our parents to the vineyard to show it to them in person, they too, saw what we saw in this place. I also had a wine tasting with my family a few months before the wedding and ordered some for the reception. Looking back I wish I had ordered more of the Blackberry wine, because it was my favorite and apparently everyone else’s, because I didn’t even get any at my reception!
We decided that the ceremony would be on top of the hill with the vineyard beside us, and the reception would be in the barn, which had been remodeled for such an event. It had a bar area, as well as a side lot to set up all of our food. Of course, any time you decide to have an outdoor event, you risk having everything ruined by weather. The barn also made an excellent Plan B if the weather turned sour, but luckily, it was beautiful and sunny, and the sun dipped behind the mountains just as we said our vows.
The scenery was what made it so special, and it was perfect to have a blank canvas for decorations and details. Kyle and I are very lucky to have had so much help with preparing our big day. So many friends and family offered helping hands to decorate, set up, run sound checks and work out the seating. The vineyard provided most of the tables, chairs and tablecloths we needed for the reception, but because of our huge guest list (about 300 people were present the day of the wedding), we needed more seating for the ceremony. My mom lucked into some old church pews for front seating, and we rented chairs for the rest. Two huge trees framed the front of the ceremony and we created a sort of wall-less church feel with stained glass windows and the church pews.
Guests walked or rode a golf cart down the hill from the ceremony to the barn for the reception. We really wanted the reception to be the best party possible for our loved ones, so we put a lot of thought into how it would be set up and what would be available to our guests. The barn was so festive and fun for the reception and created such a great atmosphere for the party. Even though we were a bit crammed in there, the big doors being open on either side of the barn made it feel much more airy. A corncrib outside of the barn was also available for guests to mingle around with drinks, which helped air it out even more. These are all important things to consider when choosing a location.
Kyle and I wanted our location to be different, characteristic of who we are, and most of all, special. I think Rock Springs was all of those things for us. I think we created a memorable day, not only for ourselves, but for everyone who was able to be there and be a part of our day. If there’s a list of things you want people to remember about your wedding day, I would think a beautiful location would definitely be in the top five.
Would you ever have an outdoor wedding? What do you think about barn receptions?
Photos by Jessica Hutchinson