Tying the Knot: A Natural Gathering Place

December 11, 2013 in Winter 2013 Issue by Lookout Alabama

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The wooded environment and earthy accents of terrapin creek lodge make it a quaint yet sophisticated spot to tie the knot.

by BRETT BRALLEY JAILLET

When Patsy and Mark Bragg stumbled upon a lodge on a 5-acre wooded property in Piedmont, Ala., eight years ago, they knew right away it was a perfect place for families to gather.

They envisioned it serving as a setting for their own family – for reunions and holiday get-togethers – but soon their friends started asking if they could borrow it for their events. Then, people started inquiring about using it for weddings. Now, locals and out-of-towners alike choose to tie the knot at this idyllic locale nestled on the edge of Terrapin Creek for the same reason the Braggs chose to buy it: to gather family.

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Not only can both the indoor and outdoor spaces of Terrapin Creek Lodge comfortably accommodate guests for the big day – with a variety of potential spaces for the ceremony, reception and cocktail hour – but couples have the option of renting cabins and rooms in the main lodge for family members to use the entire weekend. Many opt to host their rehearsal dinner there, too.

“You really can have it all in one place and not leave your venue,” says colleen Mathis, manager of Terrapin Creek Lodge.

With Mark Bragg’s expertise as an architect, the couple renovated the original lodge and refurbished several of the cabins. The main lodge can accommodate up to 13 guests; the cabins, 25.

And while most couples choose to get married beside the creek, in colder months, some opt to hold the ceremony indoors next to the welcoming fireplace. Natural finishings, like slate floors and cedar accents, complete the space.

“We wanted the interior to reflect what the property was like, so the inside is accentuated with lots of natural materials,” Patsy Bragg says.

This, she says, sets Terrapin Creek Lodge apart from other venues like it.

Mathis adds that because the natural surroundings are so beautiful, there’s little need for ornate décor when setting up outdoor ceremony and reception spaces.

“The feel of it is just so natural that a lot of brides don’t even decorate much,” Mathis says. “That’s what they want – that feeling of being out in nature. It’s just absolutely gorgeous.”

Still, the setting is versatile and has played host to a wide variety of wedding styles, from very formal to very casual, Bragg says.

Jenna Gilliland, who got married at Terrapin Creek Lodge, says her husband, Steven, and his friends often kayak down Terrapin Creek, and that is how he first came upon the grounds.

“We are down-to-earth people who didn’t want anything extravagant,” Gilliland says. “And we wanted a place that would house our family from out of town. We immediately fell in love with Terrapin.”

Mathis says many couples take advantage of the creek’s proximity. Often the ceremony is held right on the water. Sometimes the wedding party will wake up early the day of the wedding for a quick excursion or he couple might stage a grand exit at the end of the reception by floating off in a canoe.

The Gillilands held their ceremony with the creek serving as a backdrop, and Jenna describes the decor they used as “earthy.”

“We wanted something kind of elegant and kind of rustic, something that would fit into the outdoorsy atmosphere,” she says.

A basic wedding package at Terrapin Creek Lodge starts at two nights, and while vendor suggestions are given, Mathis says couples are welcome to use any providers. Spaces in the main lodge include a dining room with enough seating for 25 people, a kitchen with commercial-grade appliances and an open deck and patio that overlook the creek.

Bragg says her vision remains simple: she wants people to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle and simply be with those they love.

“I just hope the venue will allow [couples] the setting and the time to truly enjoy their event,” she says. “That it will bring out the best of family and friends being together in a beautiful setting.”[/s2If]