Rural and Romantic Farm Weddings
The Armstrongs knew they had something special when they purchased their 150-acre farm near Bedford in 2013. As longtime cattle and grain farmers, Alan and Sharon saw it as an opportunity to extend their operation. But they saw something else, too.
“It is an absolutely beautiful and serene place,” Sharon Armstrong says. “With rolling hills, beautiful meadows and stately trees, we just felt it was meant to be shared. With a unique Dutch hoop barn and other outbuildings, we envisioned a place that could be a perfect spot for brides and grooms to celebrate their wedding.”
The Armstrongs, along with daughter Ashley and son-in-law Heath Prince, took that inspiration to establish The Loft at Walnut Hill Farm. They renovated a dilapidated 70-year-old Dutch hoop barn to create a magnificent ceremony venue. They turned a swine-farrowing barn into a kitchen, restrooms and dressing room facility. To accommodate large receptions, they built a pavilion.
Since opening in 2014, the picturesque 10-acre site has hosted nearly 100 weddings. With the other 140 acres continuing to be used as a cattle farm, couples enjoy saying their vows just beyond the cows.
Cindy Cosgray describes her family’s venture into the wedding business as “a total accident.” Her husband Mark comes from a long line of grain and cattle farmers. In fact, Mark’s grandfather had once owned much of the 200-acre Christmas tree farm the Cosgrays purchased in 2012.
After buying the farm, she explains, they hired two brothers to help with the work. One of them asked if he and his fiancée could get married on the property, and three months later their wedding was held at Cosgray Christmas Tree Farm in Idaville.
That first wedding “made me realize that this is what we were supposed to do on the farm,” Cosgray says. Not only was the outdoor space picturesque, but also there were buildings on the property that the Cosgrays felt had potential to serve as wedding venues.
“The property had previously been used for fall festivals, so there were some areas that we could envision working well for wedding ceremonies and receptions,” she says.
One of those was a three-sided, open-faced building in the woods that had been used for storage. “We thought if we could transform that space, it would make an ideal setting because it was already a kind of natural amphitheater.”
The Cosgrays made it happen, creating bench seating, planting gardens and adding steps, pavers and a sound system. “The oak trees grow in a V shape, which creates perfect shade in the seating area,” Cosgray says.
Other buildings on the property were renovated so there were spaces to host the bridal party before the wedding and the reception afterward.
It’s Only Natural
The Armstrongs and Cosgrays are among the growing number of enterprising farm families filling this nuptial niche while establishing an alternative revenue stream. Others include Boondocks Farms just outside Knightstown, Heritage Farm in Flora, and The Barn on Boundary in Eaton.
Cosgray explains how the wedding business supports other aspects of their operation. “We have the Christmas tree sales at the holidays and a small window in the spring and fall to dig trees for nursery suppliers,” she says. “Hosting weddings creates wonderful activity on the farm during all those months in between and brings in revenue. Plus, all the wedding guests now know where they can get their Christmas trees.”
Entrepreneurial farmers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Area brides and grooms couldn’t be happier. Not only do they love the breathtaking views and rustic elegance the rural venues provide, but they also like the convenience of having the wedding and the reception in the same place. Plus, couples appreciate the flexibility to plan a wedding that matches their style.
“Our goal is to provide the wedding they dream of, so we offer a lot of opportunity for personalization and few restrictions,” Armstrong says. “They can get the pictures they want in an expansive outdoor setting, which allows for a lot of creativity. And the big draw is that they are away from the hustle and bustle, which makes for a more relaxing and enjoyable day. It’s an intimate setting, and they’re at the heart of it. It’s a privilege to share their happy day with them.”
Wedding Aisle, Barn Style
Ready to tie the knot? Check out some of Indiana’s growing list of working farms that also host weddings:
The Barn on Boundary
19601 N. Boundary Road, Eaton
8001 S. Grant City Road, Knightstown
Cosgray Christmas Tree Farm
11430 E. 700 North, Idaville
4175 N. 1200 West, Flora
The Loft at Walnut Hill Farm
1317 Bennett Road, Bedford