Picking a perfect venue can make a couple’s dream wedding come to life, and more brides and grooms are saying “I do” in rural Alabama as they look for natural, rustic scenery for their big day.
That was the case for Kayla and Stephen Benak who tied the knot before family and friends next to a pond surrounded by towering oaks in Montgomery County two years ago. In the background was The Barn At Pisgah Hill, the dream wedding venue of owners Rae and Kelly Culver.
“My granddaddy owned this land years ago. When he sold it, I thought there was no way we would ever get it back,” said Rae, whose creative flair for flowers and food fuels her reputation for one-of-a-kind weddings. “When the land became available, we were thrilled.”
A multi-tiered tin roof with window skylights provides soft, natural light for the thick, wooden walls that evoke an older era than 2013 when it was constructed. The barn is within walking distance of the Culvers’ home in Grady and was built by Kelly and family friend Frank Livingston, who designed the barn.
“We actually had a wedding here before the barn was finished,” Rae said. “When we first bought the land, I thought we’d build a floral shop. Then I realized how many people were looking for a venue like this.”
Kayla Benak grew up nearby and dreamed of marrying there as she watched The Barn At Pisgah Hill take shape.
“When we walked down by the pond, birds were singing, and we could hear crickets chirping,” Kayla said. “Stephen looked at me and said ‘This is it. This is the spot where I want us to get married.’”
Rae said The Barn At Pisgah Hill provides full wedding services or can be rented by couples who prefer to manage their own details. Find The Barn At Pisgah Hill on Facebook to learn more.
For the Benaks, who wanted a simple, down-home reception, guests were treated to fried chicken, cornbread and country sides catered by Red’s Little School House Restaurant. Rae’s mother, Debbie Dees, owns the local eatery.
“It was a perfect wedding and a perfect day for us,” Kayla said. “I can’t think of a single thing I would do differently.”
Heather Bradford Sherrill of Town Creek in Lawrence County understands about planning those perfect days.
She operates Bradford Farm and Venue, a certified TREASURE Forest that was the vision of her late father, Butch Bradford. Sherrill is also a professional wedding photographer.
“My dad dreamed of making this land beautiful, and he did,” Sherrill said. “I dreamed of having my own wedding venue, so his dream helped make my dream come true.”
Massive majestic pines provide a gorgeous backdrop for couples like Lindsay and Pate Wear — and their more than 300 guests last fall. There’s also an outdoor chapel and a barn.
“Even with a large crowd, the ceremony was intimate,” Lindsay said. “We had congregational singing at our wedding, too, and it was so special to hear the music through the trees.”
Sherrill said her father would be proud of how she’s using his dream to make couples happy.
“He would be overwhelmed,” she said. “It was a beautiful place before, but he would be glad to know his special place brings happiness to others.”
Sherrill said the venue offers full-service weddings of any size and rentals for those who prefer to organize, decorate and oversee specifics. Visit BradfordFarmAndVenue.com for details.
Although the Wears and Benaks tied the knot hundreds of miles apart, they both advise couples to find a venue that fits their dream.
“Find someone you’re comfortable working with,” Lindsay said. “We wanted a wedding that wasn’t flashy, just something simple that was special for us. Our wedding in the trees was perfect. It was every bride’s dream.”