The big red barn is a landmark for those driving through the countryside in Dellwood. “Everybody uses it for directions,” owner Scott Jordan says. The barn, in all its red glory, has been there for more than a hundred years and is a testament to days gone by, which is why Jordan went to the city with a proposal to turn it into a wedding ceremony and reception venue.
“I told [the city], ‘That barn, it’s not a functional building for me, but I like the barn,’” Jordan says. The barn was built for a dairy farmer, and without maintenance would deteriorate; if it were demolished and replaced, a pole building would be built in its place. This, he says, was not what he wanted.
The original owners of the pristine farm had lived on and worked the land for four generations. “I found an old farm magazine in the lower part of the barn,” Jordan says. “It had this farm [on the cover] and called it the perfect farm and [the owner] always kept it up that way. I try to do the same.”
While the original 360 acres were slowly sold off piece by piece to other farmers, the 50 acres that remain are, thanks to some upgrades, still pristine.
Jordan has owned the land for about eight years, but didn’t consider renovating the barn into a wedding venue until summer 2013, when his friend’s niece wanted to get married there. “She had been looking at other wedding barn venues, and most of them were booked up for the next year or two,” Jordan says. The barns that were available weren’t big enough to hold everyone she intended to invite. So they hosted the wedding to see how it went. “Everybody had such a good time and it went so great that I figured I might as well turn it into a business,” says Jordan.
This sounded like an easy enough endeavor—make a few renovations, get a permit and host some weddings—but like most success stories, it didn’t exactly run smoothly. It was a long process to get the permits to open up as a business, then Jordan had to get his certificate of occupancy and conditional-use permit. “I didn’t know it was going to be the process that it was,” Jordan says. Had he known the hoops he would have to jump through, the fight from some of the neighbors and the growing amount of money needed—in the end, roughly $300,000—it would likely have deterred him from starting the project. But he didn’t know, and the end result is the perfect blend of rustic elegance that so many wedding venues try to accomplish.
It is likely due to Jordan’s commitment to keeping all the décor consistent with what might naturally appear in a barn. This commitment led him to make most of what you see as you walk in the 3,800-square-foot space; the homemade wooden banquet tables filling the hall, and the lights that line the walls, hanging above side tables made from recycled wooden doors and whiskey barrels. In the bathrooms, Jordan says, “I made all my own partitions because I didn’t want commercial-looking steel.” And while the bathroom floors and walls have to be ceramic tile to meet code, he found the perfect tile that mimics wood barn walls, so visitors never feel they are in an industrial center.
The 2015 venue price is $6,000 and includes all-day use of the farm, but there are many extra items and decorations that are available to rent for added rustic charm. And while some bring in outside wedding coordinators, Julie Varney, the main contact for the venue, can be hired as a coordinator for an extra fee. Newlyweds Andrea and Seth Anderson, and Jenna and Zach Nesler were delighted with her services and the venue.
(Left: Jenna and Zach said their vows in front of the cornfields; Right: A lemonade stand was the perfect way for guests to cool off in the summer heat.)
“[Varney] knows the space, so she knows what works,” Andrea Anderson says. She and Seth were married in early September, and she says the best part was being outdoors, as well as the uniqueness of the space. “You can still dress it up so it has this elegant feel … but it’s still this old barn structure on a farm,” says Anderson. It’s also an ideal setting for wedding photos. The walkway to the barn is overflowing with colorful flowers, and the horse stables and farmland provide creative options. “We took pictures in the cornfields at sunset,” Anderson says.
The Andersons were amazed at how accommodating Jordan and Varney were, allowing them to bring in their own certified caterers, and to rearrange on-site for a more personal feel. The personal touch isn’t difficult to find, though, Anderson says. “It’s a licensed venue, but you’re on someone’s personal property.”
That personal touch also comes from Jordan. “Scott even took all the kiddos at the wedding for a hayride after dinner, which was such a fun and personal touch,” Jenna Nesler says (He did the same for the Anderson wedding).
The Neslers had one of the earlier weddings of 2014, which added a bit of stress since they weren’t sure the venue would get their permits in time. In the end, everything came together. “On the day of our wedding, both my fiancé and I kept telling each other how everything turned out better than we ever could have imagined,” says Nesler. Many in their family hadn’t experienced an outdoor ceremony or barn wedding, and the compliments flowed.
This is exactly what Jordan was hoping for when he began the extensive project. “It used to be the perfect farm,” he says, “and now it’s the perfect wedding venue.”
(Top: Andrea and Seth’s wedding party in front of one of the barn structures. Bottom: Andrea and Seth added their own touch to the barn interior.)
Tips for Barn Weddings from Julie Varney:
- Go formal with a sit-down meal, or casual with a pig roast.
- Take advantage of the farm and invite guests to spend the whole day.
- Pick flowers from your local farmers’ market.
- Browse Pinterest for cool ideas for a barn wedding.
- Use a local apple orchard for the best desserts to go with your theme.
- Provide lawn games and a s’mores fire pit to keep guests entertained.
- Use Mason jars for an extra rustic touch.