Tying the Knot: Wedding on the farm

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Proctor Farm in Rome, Ga., is an ideal spot for a country-chic family affair. 

story by BRETT JAILLET photos by KEITH AND NEMA HEPTINSTALL and CINDY HARTER

It wasn’t long after Emily Dill started dating he it beau, Wes, that the couple dreamed up their perfect wedding. Emily described to her mother their vision for an outdoor wedding in the country, complete with pews in a field, rustic details and a dance floor, and her mother knew just the spot to show her.

When Emily saw Proctor Farm, a wedding venue located in her hometown of Rome, Ga., she couldn’t believe how perfect it was. “My jaw dropped,” she says. “It had everything and more from the wish list.” She picked a date and signed their name to it – even though they weren’t yet engaged. “All I needed then was a groom and a ring,” she says with a laugh.

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[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()]Emily and Wes were engaged only weeks later. He surprised her with a snow-covered proposal in Minnesota, his home state and where the two were living at the time. Soon plans for their Southern wedding started to fall into place.

One big challenge the couple immediately encountered was that the date of their autumn wedding was the same as the Georgia-Florida college football game, which had a late-afternoon kickoff. But Michael and Kathy Proctor, owners of Proctor Farm, worked with Emily and Wes so they and their guests could celebrate their day while enjoying the game, too. The couple held their ceremony during halftime, and the Proctors helped set up TVs so attendees could cheer on their team during the party.

“They helped make our day so special,” Emily says. “From the rehearsal to the end, the Proctors made sure we had everything in line and ready to go.”

Michael Proctor says they aim to please. “It’s more than just a business to us,” he says.

The venue started simply as a farm. Michael lived in a house adjacent to the property, and when the land was up for auction in 1991, he bought it. A blizzard in 1993 prompted him to build a horse barn – now an iconic part of the property – and the first couple married on the farm in 1998 were friends. Michael added to the property little by little, using mostly timber from the land, and word of mouth spread.

Michael’s eye for all things old timey – think western saloon bars, stained glass salvaged from an 1800s church, wrought-iron details, a crystal chandelier and other heirlooms passed down from generations past, an old church bell and even a cannon – has given the property its character over time.

“Those things are my weaknesses – especially stained glass,”Michael says.

But he says the greatest addition to the venue didn’t happen until 2011. That’s when he and Kathy got married. The two were high school sweethearts who fell out of touch before reconnecting at their 30-year reunion. Both divorced, they picked back up where they started.

Now, Michael runs logistics and Kathy coordinates the weddings. They both are present when weddings are held. Michael says Kathy makes planning a wedding an enjoyable experience for brides.“When she came on board it was the best thing that ever happened,” he says. “She will meet with brides as many times as they want – she’ll have a file an inch thick on every bride. She makes it personal. “

Not too long after Kathy became wedding coordinator, the couple decided to build an 1,800-square-foot chapel with 10 7-foot-tall, stainedglass windows salvaged from a church in Macon, Ga., that was constructed in 1896 and was about to be demolished.

Couples can choose to be wed inside the chapel or they can take advantage of an outdoor chapel: a timber frame featuring a single stainedglass window set below an antique chandelier that belonged to Michael’s grandmother. Wooden pews are set up in the grass for the ceremony.

Receptions are held in a 40-by-80-foot pavilion, which is accented with more stained glass, wrought-iron chandeliers, two outdoor fireplaces and a bar from the early 1900s. The Proctors then offer a spot for the after party – the saloon.

Decked in Western flair, that was one part of the venue that sold Emily.

She and Wes got married in the outdoor chapel. The aisle was lined with hanging lanterns, while lights twinkled in the trees. To complement the rustic feel of the space, Emily and Wes incorporated mason jars, burlap and wooden slabs into the décor.

Emily says that while she could bring in her own accents, she didn’t feel like she needed to. “They offer tons of decorations of all kinds, so you do not have to go around finding them,” she says. Michael says when a bride and groom rent the space, the venue is theirs for seven days.

“We only book one wedding a week,” he says. “The family can come and bring things and set up anytime prior during that week. Some places do two or three weddings a day, but you can come on Monday, have the rehearsal dinner Friday evening, the wedding on Saturday and pick up your stuff on Sunday.”

The Proctors offer day-of coordination and help provide clients with vendor recommendations.

They also want to create a sense of family, Michael says, so they tell their clients they’re welcome to come back and visit. Emily and Wes, who now live in Woodstock, Ga., took them up on that.

“We went back for our 1-year anniversary,” Emily says. “We love that we chose a venue so open to their clients. We feel like we didn’t just get married at their place, we got married into their family.”

To learn more about Proctor Farm, see proctorfarm.net.

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