Large or small, rustic or modern, fancy or casual, when it comes to wedding planning, the decisions a couple makes reflect who they are. For some that means a traditional church wedding. For others it means a barefoot ceremony on the beach. But for several gals in Middle Tennessee, it meant heading down to the farm.
For Amy Delvin of Delvin Farms, one of the largest certified organic vegetable farms in the region, a farm wedding was the obvious choice. "Brandon proposed on the farm on our walking trail under a sugar maple. He said he wanted to get engaged on the farm, married on the farm, and one day raise our children on the farm." Another factor was the atmosphere. "[The farm] was a representation of our lives together. We met at an organic farm conference, we farm as a living, and farming is what makes us happy."
After marrying on April 30, 2011, at St. Philip Catholic Church in downtown Franklin, Amy and Brandon headed out to the family farm to hold the open-air reception under a wooden pavilion.
The couple chose local friends to help with flowers, catering, music, and photography. A family friend, Joan Presley from Geny's Wholesale flowers, designed a "shabby-chic" look for the reception, incorporating chandeliers and hanging candle-lit Mason jars around the pavilion. Hay bales draped with fabric served as seating, old handkerchiefs as napkins. Jeremy Barlow of Tayst restaurant, the first and only green-certified restaurant in Tennessee, provided the catering. For favors, Amy gave out potted basil plants she'd started in the spring so that guests could take a piece of the farm home with them.
Amy says she would relive her farm wedding again in a heartbeat. Her favorite wedding photo was taken in a flowering collard field as the sun was setting, an impossible shot to capture in a more traditional setting. But her most treasured detail of the wedding on the farm? "Our going-away vehicle was Brandon's New Holland tractor!"
Like Amy and Brandon, Kelly and Aron Bacher also chose a farm wedding. They were married on October 3, 2009, at the Wooten Woods Retreat in Only, Tennessee (that's right, the town is named "Only"), about an hour west of Nashville. The camp is owned by Grammy-winning bass player Victor Wooten, most notably of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, and was originally built as a bass camp for aspiring musicians.
"We knew we wanted to get married outdoors, and we wanted to keep it affordable," says Kelly. "Originally we looked into some of the historic mansions, and even Cheekwood, but we were hoping for something less established, where we could have more control over the details while also keeping costs low."
The couple found the rustic barn and cabins charming and knew they'd found their place. So they started from scratch, bringing in everything from porta potties to refrigeration, and getting lots of help from family and friends along the way. Kelly's father smoked pork butts for pulled-pork sandwiches, while a friend squeezed dozens of lemons for lemonade. Her mother designed the flowers while friends made potato salad. "Guests didn't just show up at our wedding, they participated. Aside from just being witnesses to our vows, they were contributors to the whole process."
One of Kelly's favorite memories of the couple's farm wedding was the lighting. "We used only string bulbs to light the barn. Without any fluorescent or other overhead lighting, we created this beautiful, warm glow that never would have been possible in a place we'd rented."
After a very public proposal over the intercom at the Nashville airport ("and after the airport intercom operator took the mic and confirmed for the rest of the terminal, 'She said yes!'"), Melissa Corbin married her sweetheart, Stuart, on November 11, 2009. They married on her grandfather's farm outside of Clarksville as homage to her grandparents, whose love began on that farm many years before. They even had copies circulating of the original love letter her grandfather sent her grandmother when they first began courting.
"We chose to do all the work ourselves to keep every detail very personalized," says Melissa. They raised a tent and laid a barbecue pit. In lieu of cake, Melissa made ice cream sandwiches using her grandmother's oatmeal cookie recipe and cinnamon ice cream from Pied Piper Creamery in East Nashville. They used Mason jars for beverages and Stuart's grandmother's silverware. Melissa's flowers were picked on the farm that day by a friend. "Stuart even collected loose turkey feathers that summer up in the hills to add to the bouquet!" she gushes.
The wedding party made their way via hayride down to the creek-side for the ceremony. That evening, Melissa and Stuart spent their wedding night under the stars beneath a wedding quilt Melissa's grandmother had made for her before she passed away.
"Of course I would do it all over again," Melissa states. "Everyone still talks about how fun that day was. But most important are the memories that Stuart and I have!"
While creating a wedding from scratch in a rustic setting may not be for everyone, there are venues that provide the "farm-wedding" experience without much of the hassle. Kellers Corny Country in Dickson, for example, is a working farm that offers help in coordinating weddings on their property. There also are venues that offer weddings with a "farm aesthetic" on historical properties that aren't actually working farms. Front Porch Farms (Charlotte), Watermelon Moon Farm (Lebanon), and PineHalls (Cottontown), all of which offer guest lodging, are three to consider.
To bring the farm to you, consider a caterer with a focus on locally sourced meats and farm-fresh veggies, or work with a farm to provide local flowers.
Jeremy Barlow of Tayst restaurant offers catering services through Local Kitchen Catering. With an emphasis on farm-to-table cuisine, his menus feature locally procured, seasonal ingredients whenever possible.
Perl Catering's philosophy is to support local, because a freshly picked product simply tastes better. "There is no comparison between a carrot that came out of the ground three hours prior [to an event] and one that has been on a grocery store shelf for days," says Robert Spinelli, proprietor of the two-year-old business. He and his wife, Elizabeth, also choose to buy local to cut back on transportation costs and their environmental effects, and to support the local economy.
Porter Road Butcher and local cheese-monger the Bloomy Rind have teamed up to offer local catering with an emphasis on local meats and cheeses.
For flowers, consider Madison Creek Farms, the largest specialty-cut flower farm in Tennessee. From sunflowers to multi-colored zinnias, this vegetable, flower, and herb farm offers U-Cut bouquets throughout the season. Turnbull Creek Farm offers bulk flowers for sale-all certified organic-including bridal bouquets, table arrangements, and corsages/boutonnieres.
While it's easy to get mired in the details of wedding planning, make choices that represent you as a couple, explore your options, and most importantly, have fun during the process-because as any bride will tell you, it'll be over before you know it!