The trend of barns converted into wedding and event spaces shows no sign of stopping.
We’ve had the pleasure of filming several barn weddings and appreciate the differences in style, size, amenities and services each site offers: The Farm at Dover, Rustic Manor, The Landing, The Octagon Barn.
On Tuesday, we had the pleasure of touring one of the state’s newest “events sanctuary” in southeastern Wisconsin: White Oak Savanna in the Driftless Area. For those unfamiliar with the region, it’s roughly defined by the Upper Mississippi River Valley of the southeastern corner of Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, northwest Illinois and northeast Iowa. Oh, and it’s very, very pretty country!
We had a double mission yesterday for the visit. First, we got to tour the facility with Jill Heilman, Director of Events, as part of our first outing with Madison NACE (National Association of Catering and Events). We joined the group after our studio expansion widened our “home base area” to all of southern Wisconsin, from Milwaukee to La Crosse.
Second, we wanted to attend this particular NACE meeting to hear a presentation, “Behind the Budget,” by Sarah Davidson of Harmonious Union Events. We always strive to understand more fully what couples prioritize for their weddings and how videography fits into a range of budgets. Sarah’s presentation was outstanding, and we’re hoping to interview her for a post in the future, which we think will help couples starting out their wedding budgeting journey!
Tuesday’s meeting included lunch from Enos Farms, the only farm-to-table caterer we’ve ever had the joy of sampling at a wedding (thank you Appy & Eric!). The food at their wedding at Burlap and Bells was so memorable that Dean and I are still raving about it. Especially a fresh root vegetable sala with beets that made it a sweet pink color. For Tuesday’s NACE lunch at White Oak, Erin and her husband, Jeremy, did an outstanding job once again. (We plan to email her to see if we can score her recipe for Whiskey Ginger Meatballs, which were among several delicious dishes we tasted, and maybe the root veggie salad, too!)
We also wanted to get a glimpse of White Oak Savanna, and it did not disappoint.
The barn wedding site, which is a working organic farm in Dodgeville, is just a stone’s throw from the heart of Frank Lloyd Wright country in Spring Green. In fact, the original farm was owned by Wright’s cousin, Charles, and spanned 100 acres. Today, owners Paul and Audrey Gaynor retain 87 of those acres, which are peppered with spaces absolutely perfect for a wedding or large gathering. The large barn, dubbed the Lloyd Jones Barn Pavilion, is mammoth. It can comfortably seat 200, with additional seating in a tent or other surrounding buildings. There are three primary wedding ceremony locations — the Savanna Sanctuary, the Pond Amphitheater and the Sun Dial — all with unique features you can read about on the farm’s website.
The property also has some amazing lodging options, including the cute-as-a-button Driftless Cottage and the Norwegian Hollow Farmhouse that sleeps 13. There are also 13 campsites available for rent, for adventurous wedding guests who want to spend a night under the stars.
One last impressive amenity is the Bluestem Kitchen Complex. It is outfitted with everything a professional chef or catering company would ever want to produce an outstanding meal. Dean, the resident chef at Sweet Pea Cinema, is not allowed to go into this space. We fear he might chuck all his other endeavors and volunteer to be White Oak’s creator of all things delicious.
Tuesday happened to be a glorious fall day: 81 degrees by midday with a bluebird sky that took our breath away. As we walked along the pathways of White Oak, we soaked in the sun and the savanna sounds: wind rustling the trees and grasses, birds chirping. We wanted to reach out and grab this afternoon and tuck it away for one of those frigid winter days when the sun hasn’t peeked out in weeks.
Thanks to Jill and the Madison NACE gang for the tour and invitation to join. We hope to be filming a barn wedding at White Oak in the near future!