Our Homemade Wedding: Venue


From top, left: The site of our ceremony at Blackacre, straw bale seating via
Martha Stewart Weddings, Blackacre map.

We're hosting our wedding and reception at Blackacre State Nature Preserve in our hometown of Louisville, KY. Blackacre is a 300 acre secret tucked away on a single gravel lane, smack dab in the middle of expressways, strip malls and parking lots. But once you turn onto that tree-lined road, it's as if you're 50 miles outside of city limits. There are rolling pastures, grasslands, forests and frog ponds, nature trails and barnyard animals. Our ceremony will happen behind an old double-crib Appalachian style barn, sandwiched between a field of goats and a historic farmhouse.

This may come as a shock, but there will be no dancing or booze at the actual reception. I promise you, we don't hate fun. The truth is, we're just not into it. Instead of an evening event, we're hosting the wedding at two o'clock, followed by a picnic catered by our favorite restaurant. We'd rather take advantage of our beautiful venue by encouraging guests to pet the goats, stroll around the homestead or take a short hike on the bluebird trail. We don't drink very much, and the cost of liability insurance to provide alcohol on a nature preserve just wasn't worth it. If anyone wants to get get down like that after the reception, guests may follow us over to our hotel's incredibly rad bar for a very informal after-party (as in no reservations, cash bar). At first, I worried that our guests wouldn't enjoy themselves. Don't people look forward to getting gussied up, getting drunk off their ass and shamelessly getting loose to Love Shack? Maybe some do, but I suspect that by inviting only our nearest and dearest, it ensures that they'll be there to celebrate the love we've found. What better way to celebrate than with activities that reflect us? If we weren't totally stoked about a particular tradition, we just gave it the boot.

Our venue was the second largest wedding expense, but because it is a beautiful scenic farm, we were able to save money in other areas. For example, instead of renting chairs for our ceremony, our guests will be sitting on bales of straw, covered with colorful mini quilts sewn by our crafty friend, Heather. This way, the straw can be recycled as food for the goats. We negotiated with the farmer, and he agreed to order the type of bales suitable for his livestock. We also have access to the venue's 8 10 ft. picnic tables for the reception. Since the place is already so gorgeous and interesting, we're spending less on decorations.

Although I've never planned a wedding before, I've coordinated
corporate events for the last four years and I've learned that networking can get you everywhere. If you're into the outdoorsy wedding, you could always ask around and see who has connections to a family farm, rural property, garden or big backyard. Also, look for places that include seating, or don't call for much added drama, as far as decor goes. To save money, you may have to be clever and think outside the wedding box. Our original idea was to rent out a few cabins in a state park, and have the wedding in the forest!


  1. Love everything about it! Who cares if there's no booze or dancing. Your friends/family will be there to celebrate your union... not to get housed. It'll be awesome.

  2. You picked a great location! We had similar motivations for picking the beach. We did have booze at our reception but no dancing, and no one missed it (I think)! We had time to actually TALK to our guests, which doesn't usually happen at weddings.

    Your wedding will be perfect! People go to so many evening weddings with the Electric Slide and cheap beer. Believe me, they will be glad for a change of venue.

  3. Hi,

    I love reading about your awesome "customized" homemade wedding. I am getting married July 31st in Northern Kentucky... We have saved and are doing everything ourselves. Our reception is on the family farm on the river.... I love your ideas.. it's helping me with cool ideas for mine. Good Luck next weekend. A small intimate wedding sounds so nice!

  4. My son and his sweetpea are getting married in October - in our yard! The wedding itself will be small, about 30 people or so. But the reception? Well, let me start by saying that she's from a very traditional Catholic family. A very LARGE, very traditional catholic family - so for the reception, they're thinking about (sit down, this is horrid)...300. Yes, I know. THREE HUNDRED people I don't know, at my house. gulp, cringe, faint...

    I die every time I think about it. So far I'm dealing with that by not thinking about it, but that can't last forever.

    Your wedding sounds perfect. You and your guests will have a wonderful day!


  5. Thanks everyone! I love hearing about your weddings/ wedding planning too.

    Dayna, very true. Haha electric slide. I haven't been t a wedding like that is forever, so I've forgotten about that dance.

    Ramona, your wedding sounds fantastic! What area of Northern KY?

    Susan. Wow, 300!!!!? Sounds pretty ballsy, but I think you can do it!

  6. your wedding sounds amazing! i can't wait to see pictures!

    it's great that you've managed to achieved all you wanted without blowing the budget- nice work!

  7. Hey... we are getting married really close to Rabbit Hash... ever heard of that?

  8. Nope, but I've heard of it. I'd like to visit. Sounds wonderful!

  9. Thanks, SJ. It's easier to stay on budget than wedding magazines and websites make it out to be. I think the key is to be open minded and not feel pressured to do what the wedding industry tells you should do.

  10. I just photographed a wedding at Blackacre. It is a beautiful setting! Unfortunately rain caused us to move the ceremony inside the barn but was still quite cozy. You can see their wedding pictures and slideshow here http://www.ericgraf.com/louisville-weddings/graham


Speak your mind.