When we started hosting weddings in 2016, we never thought the concept of having a wedding in a barn would become so popular. In September of 2021, we hit the big milestone of hosting our 100th wedding. What started out as an idea of "sure we can have a couple weddings at the barn each year as something fun to do" has turned into weddings year round and on almost every weekend. Here is a look back on where we started to where we are now.
Our first wedding was held here on April 30, 2016. Rob & Tina wanted to have their reception in a barn so we fixed the floor, purchased some table, chairs and rented porta-potties. That year we hosted two other receptions and a ceremony.
As the new inquiries for hosting weddings began, we quickly realized if we were going to do this, there needed to be top notch restrooms and the whole barn needed to be handicap accessible. To build the restroom addition, one of the silos had to be removed.
As 2017 went on, we realized we had a hidden gem that was quickly being discovered. Guest comfort was becoming very important and with that, meant we needed to find a way to air condition a barn. Most people thought John was crazy by even thinking about trying to cool the upstairs of a 5400 square foot barn. For those of you who know John - this should not be out of the ordinary as he always seems to be thinking about new projects and what we can do to improve our couples and guests' experience with us. We ran the air conditioning for the first time on September 23, 2017 for the Andy and Mackenzie Mullins wedding. Normally you would assume late September weather would be cool -- not that day. It was 90 degrees and humid. Needless to say everyone was thrilled to be in an air conditioned venue. Less than a month later for Carrie and Steve's October wedding we ran the heat.
The arched sides of the barn just had tin so after we installed the insulation it was covered with plywood sheets that were stained at John's shop. The wood gave a completely different look to the barn, but made it much more cozy.
The year 2018 brought weddings May through October. We started to see a trend with the majority of our couples choosing to also have their ceremony here at the barn so the whole day's event was at one location. We had a few weddings like Ashley & Jason's wedding in June where it was so hot and humid outside that they chose to have the ceremony along with the reception all inside.
In 2019 we had our first winter weddings in December. Samantha and Jacob chose to have a variety of soups and grilled cheese as their meal. Each guest was able to take the soup bowl home with them as a keepsake of the big day. Samantha said she had so much fun collecting the various bowls.
2020: We started off the year with Tenille and Erik's unique wedding date - February 29 (leap day). Little did we know, that would be the last "normal" wedding. When things shut down, we worked very closely with our couples on postponement options. Many of them said they still wanted to keep their date, but would have a much smaller guest list. Kari and Josh got married here on July 4th with a small outdoor ceremony. They came back July 4, 2021 to have their reception.
That spring while we were all on "lock down" John continued to plan for the future with his many ideas (I don't think he even shares them all with me). He built an arched bridge that he placed over one of our field waterways. Then he thought he needed to build a flat bridge to get to this bridge. The grass walking path makes for stunning sunset photos. He also covered the bridge that led to the large ceremony area. Guests loved all the extra space we have on our property, especially at a time when social distancing was important.
In August we hit another milestone when our very first wedding Tina's daughter, Stacia, got married at our barn. It was fun to see the family back for another wedding.
We also had our first New Year's Eve wedding! This date is becoming more popular and books fast. It is such a great way to celebrate a marriage and ring in the new year at the same time.
After going through a crazy 2020 year, we anticipated 2021 being a bit more normal or simply a new normal. We are in a busier than ever year with hosting weddings January 1, 2021 until December 31, with weddings and one anniversary party. We also hosted the Dance Education Center's spring performances and The Play House Theater's Princess Party. John's winter project was finishing half of our lower barn with insulation and rough sawn lumber to add even more usable space. In spring, we were honored to receive the Entrepreneur of the Year award through the Portage County Business Council.
2021 also brought more themed weddings: Star Wars, Luau, Black Tie and Bohemian. It was so much fun to see the decorations come together on those weekends. We have found that our couples rely on us to help with more of the wedding planning - we are glad we have the experience to share our insights on making the wedding day go smoothly. We love connecting on a personal level with our couples and their families - that is what makes what we do so special.
Looking into 2022, we only have a few open weekends left and are planning to host some fun events for the public over the winter months. John and I both grew up on farms. We crop farm and also harvest other farmers crops so we know first hand that when there is work to be done, we simply do it. We like that we can include our children in our business, teach them about being authentic and working hard (and they are thrilled when they get invited to be at the wedding instead of having a babysitter). We have learned to enjoy our weekends off, but also wonder what normal people do on a Saturday night.
While it is fun to reminisce over how far we have come over six short years, it hasn't been without its challenges. It has helped John and I grow as a couple. Not many people can say their spouse is also their business partner. Some days I wish I could actually have a "real job", but honestly wouldn't trade our blessings God has given us for anything else. We thank you for all your support over the years and are gearing up to host another 100 weddings!
"We have thought long and hard about the "perfect" review for this venue, since the service given to us was beyond what we could have asked for. I have always had my heart set on having a wedding here however when my husband and I toured the facility as a newly engaged couple, it became even more apparent that this was the place we needed to be. They provided a list of recommended vendors that they work with which helped make many of our decisions easy with wedding planning. Having the venue for the weekend allowed for stress free set up on Friday, a relaxing and enjoyable wedding day Saturday and quick clean up on Sunday. John and Melissa are more than just owners, they remember things about couple's special days. Our officiant ended up not being able to attend our day due to being sick, John and Melissa stepped right in and found us a replacement without complaint. The whole day ran smooth and it was beyond perfect, more than I will ever find words to explain. Hands down the best venue in central Wisconsin!" ~ Nicole, September 2021 bride