Conner + Austin Wedding

So, so excited to share with you a few shots from Conner & Austin’s wedding the first weekend of October! The weather was just perfect — warm while the sun was up, then gradually cooling as the sun settled behind Sand Mountain.

Photography: Kelsey Dawn Photo

Florals: Melia Worley

Chairs: Something Vintage

 

 

Renovations Galore (part 1)

The month of August, we undertook a few big projects. One that I will reveal later, is our new parking lot (which is SUPER exciting all by itself!). But first, I wanted to reveal the big change in the ceremony area behind the barn:

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IT’S LEVEL! And it has grass. And brick steps. And steps leading down to the trail where folks like to explore and some of the BEST wedding photos happen among the rocks.

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Here is how it looked a couple of months ago for a photoshoot — you can see it isn’t quite flat, but it also slopes quite a bit off the barn. We had added five feet of dirt earlier in 2017 and it compacted enough for use just in time for weddings last November, but over time it was still settling and nowhere near as level as we wanted it to be. Plus the grass from seed kept dying. We went for sod this time.

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I went digging for how much this space behind the barn has changed since we bought the land just over two years ago — I found this one, from January 2017 (with Cookie in it, which made me sad all over again).

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You can see how MUCH it sloped — there was barely a useable area back here at all, certainly nothing for ceremonies.

And now, with 2 feet more of dirt in some places, plus rock — we treated it like a golf course, after a friend’s excellent suggestion. We have a couple inches of rock below the topsoil — that way, the ground dries faster than if it were only dirt alone. Drainage considerations on a mountain are serious stuff:

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We did most all of this leveling by HAND you guys. That means shovels, and wheelbarrows, and sore bodies. There’s no way to get equipment through the barn, and to go around back is a little dangerous for machinery… and still slow. So by hand it was. We have the muscles to prove it. For a while we were looking pretty svelte too… but I think a few quarts of ice cream may have caught up with us since then.

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The first little set of stairs are reclaimed brick from an old chimney in St Elmo, set with railroad ties to make them pretty long. They were not leveled yet in this shot– just placed down so we knew we had enough of them.

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Same view, from a few months ago with our photoshoot with Hillary Leah.

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One last before and after! We’re so thrilled to have it looking like…. an event space!

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Next post… parking!

Styled Shoot with our New Farm Tables!

We are soooo excited to say this: we built farm tables for our barn!

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And even more exciting, they are stepping out in style thanks to a photoshoot pulled together by Molly of Molly Nicole Details, flowers by Christy of MayFlowers, and photographed by adventure and elopement photographer Alyssa Smithley.

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Molly brought in chairs from Luma Designs to complement the aged gray tones of our tables, and created the beautiful setting. We adore her — she has such an eye for pulling together the unusual — we are in love with the copper flatware!

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Word among the Chattanooga wedding vendors has it that Christy is one of the BEST florists around — we have a wedding or two coming up with her, and we couldn’t be more excited. Aren’t these florals stunning?

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Want to see more? And maybe more images around our Cottage? Alyssa wrote up a blog post about the shoot and included gobs more beautiful photos than what you see here (this is a teaser, straight up).

Getting married? Contact us about our wedding packages! We are perfect for elopement and destination weddings, our Cottage sleeps 9 guests in style, we include shuttle service to and from our parking area (so our 28 forested acres feel like an exclusive park!), are on hand throughout your planning process and with you the day of — and now we have… TABLES!

More good things coming!

Cris & Dave

Why You Need a Day of Wedding Coordinator

Back in January, Dave and I had an idea that it would be nice to do more of an “introduction” to the vendors on our preferred vendor list so our engaged couples could get a better sense of who these folks are and why they are on our list.

For this initial Wedding Blog post, we’re talking to Jessica, of Jessica Ann Wedding Co.   Jessica is a Day of Wedding Coordinator (DOC) who moved to the Chattanooga area in 2015 and bravely but excitedly stepped out into this new world that is the South.


You started offering DOC services in California, where you used to live. Can you tell us what drew you into the wedding industry?

Let me just first say that you and Dave have done an absolutely beautiful job of transforming this little piece of earth into a place that feels like a kaleidoscope of magic and etherealness.

My husband and I had a four-month engagement and there was nothing I didn’t have planned out to a tee! Then I realized someone had to take my hard work and incredibly detailed timeline and make it happen. I sure couldn’t do it and neither did I want to! And I definitely didn’t want anyone involved in or at our wedding to take on the tedious job. Hiring a DOC was one of the BEST decision I made for our day. I worried about nothing and my day ran beautifully. Ever since then, I’ve found myself drawn into the wedding industry, specifically the role of a DOC. I first hand know how vitally important they are and I love the process.

What exactly does a DOC do?

I guess the real question is, what don’t they do? Haha. The interesting thing is, DOC are not just day of, we are a month-long BFF to our brides!  We coordinate the logistics of your wedding day to make sure that everything that you have spent months planning runs exactly how you envisioned. From the arrival times of the florist, limo pick up and drop offs to packing all your gifts and goodies at the end of the night, the day-of coordinator will have it all taken care of.

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Is a DOC generally for smaller weddings, or are they even more needed for big weddings and working side-by-side with an Event Planner?

A DOC is for any size wedding. I’ve worked weddings with a total of 45 people including the bridal party! The amount of people isn’t really what determines the necessity of a DOC or not, it’s how you want to remember your wedding! The value of having one is invaluable.

Some venues have an “event planner” whose role is to ensure the logistics of items the venue provides are in place. For instance, tables, chairs, benches, and other specialty items they may offer. They don’t necessarily run your day, they run the venue leaving the importance of a DOC even greater!

Being a small venue, we’ve had a lot of potential brides wanting to appoint a friend or relative to be in charge of coordinating details during the day. While I can see this may make sense for a really small wedding of 30 people, at what point do you think a DOC is needed?

I think that’s a really great question! While it seems like a great idea, the fact is that your friend or family member wants to enjoy the wedding just like everyone else. The reality on any wedding day, without a leader, someone who knows the ins-and-outs of your day, has the increased potential to be chaotic and stressful. A DOC has worked with you and beside you and your vendors and knows all the details of your day. They are with you from morning until vendor departure and you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re enjoying themselves because their job is to ensure you, your family, and guests are!

What is something that relates to your role as a DOC that you wish brides knew?

Details and time. I am very, very detailed. My timeline begins when your feet hit the ground come wedding morning until they’re tucked into your getaway for send off. Nothing is left unknown or untimed. I’m involved with not just you but your vendors. Everyone is on the same page, with the same info, and the same timeline.

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What is a misconception you find brides often have on their wedding day?

A major misconception that happens more often then not is brides and bridal party thinking the photographer is the coordinator. I’ve seen it before as a guest at weddings and it can lead to confusion, frustration, and delays. Be warned, they aren’t and it’s best to have that knowledge before going into your day.

What’s your favorite thing about being a DOC?

My favorite thing about being a DOC is seeing the bride first thing on her wedding day. No dress, no makeup, usually in comfy’s and she’s beyond giddy her big day has finally arrived! She’s not stressed about anything because she knows I’m there. So I’m giddy right along with her, I end up jumping up and down.

What was the most innovative thing you saw at a wedding that really impressed you?

One of the sweetest things I thought to be unique and special was a couple who did a ‘warming of the rings.’ Basically, the couple had their guests pass their wedding bands around during the ceremony asking them to silently give a special blessing or wish for their marriage. It was quite a special moment!

I also had a Jewish/Christian wedding that very much impressed me. Not only were the Jewish wedding traditions very involved and interactive, but the details implemented around them were really beautiful. I’m also proud to say I’ve learned the correct names and pronunciations of four major Jewish wedding traditions!

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you?

I have several ways in which you can reach me!

By email: jessicaann.weddingco@gmail.com

Phone 707.849.4654

Instagram: @jessicaann.weddingco

Facebook: Jessica Ann Day of Wedding Coordinator

You can also check out my website at www.jessicaannwedding.com to see my list of services, weddings I’ve done, and more about who I am!

Our next wedding post will be about our favorite caterers: Foodworks! Photo credit for the above images goes to Austin & Rose Photography

 

 

Shinrin-Yoku – Learning to Take in the Forest

I hadn’t heard of Shinrin-yoku until last winter, when I came across an article explaining the restorative, calming, benefits of the practice. There are full studies on the effects of forest bathing being held in Japan, noting reduced blood pressure, improved mood, increased energy levels, improved sleep, an increased ability to focus and even accelerated recovery from surgery or illness.

Having purchased this property while working in a fairly stressful job, I can attest to how just taking ten minutes to breathe outdoors here, staring up at the tree canopy or sitting on the ground did far more to calm my racing mind than a glass of wine.

The concept of Shinrin Yoku is simple: visit a natural area and walk in a relaxed manner. I would argue, one does not even need to walk — simply choose a spot, and sit still. Oh, and leave your electronic leash (cell phone) in the car.

The science behind it is fascinating, for example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “natural killer” cells that are part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.

Over the last few months, Dave and I have done more digging into elements of the practice of Shinrin-yoku. We have found it’s best if you can take in nature through all five senses, and we have noted that many of us busy Americans need to be coached in what “walking slowly” is. No fitbit. No hiking. No goal except to simply relax.

To that end, Dave and I have decided to host a Shinrin-yoku workshop here at Oakleaf on Oct 22nd. We will practice breathing, take a guided, slow walk through the forest, enjoy site-made tea and refreshments and learn how to fully engage with the beauty of the wild — and meet some like-minded folks interested in the benefits of the forest.

We decided on a Sunday, so you can start your week off right.

It’s better than a hike, I promise. Get tickets here.

Cris (and Dave)

 

 

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Revealing the Barn

Well, kinda revealing. It’s not finished — but considering where we started a few months back, the transformation is coming along well.

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We had a deadline that we never expected would be tight, but with all the rain this spring it took for-ev-ah to get dirt and rock up here. Also, due to our location, a lot of work has to be done by hand. Mostly by two people. Myself, and Dave. I’ve got some pretty cool muscles going after slinging a pickaxe so often. Who needs a gym, when you are remodeling a barn on the side of a mountain?

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Our deck is complete, save we will be changing out the farm-fence look to tension wire in the very near future. It’s 16×50, and feels outright amazing – like you are in the treetops. After we stain it in a couple of months we can add pots and some minor furnishings out here for our Cottage guests to relax on while watching the sunset. We’ll be leaving lots of room for morning yoga, which some recent guests found the deck to be perfect for.

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Inside, we are still working as well. The floor will get poured SOON, and we have some really cool details that will go into that. After that, we can install the lighting on the posts (and down the center), and we will be using reclaimed brick on the posts to give the barn a different, but solid, look.

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Our first event, a rehearsal dinner, went super well. Everyone loved it, and we loved watching how guests spilled out to explore the property and trails, some assisting newly walking kiddos who held on to their parent’s fingers — both for balance and to pull Mommy and Daddy everywhere. We were completely exhausted, but even through that were thrilled to see how people interacted in the space. It’s just as we dreamed.

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We literally pulled our temporary bar together using the original lower stall doors about 2 hours before the event started. We were sooooo down to the wire. We’re happy it looks halfway decent, but looking forward to installing the original design with bar sinks and an undercabinet fridge. It will have a floating/locking island that can be used too, for greater versatility of space. But it dresses up nice.

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Early this week, we had a small group of people come through to have a look at our little construction project, so we set out a little wine and cheese. I loooove pulling greenery straight from the outdoors in decorating a space.

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Our tripod dog, Cookie, was completely worn out from playing host/official greeter and spent the majority of two hours right about here.

Work continues out here — this week, Dave has been installing the beams and details on the ceilings on the sides of the barn. It has a steel structure, which is nice and sturdy but not terribly pretty. From here, it’s all cosmetics.

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We can’t wait to see what neat events will be in store for this place over the years, and have a number of great seminars and nature-related events in the works. Watch our events page or follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!

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xoxo-

Cris & Dave

 

 

Deck and Barn Progress

The passage of time is a strange thing when you are working on a big project, because every day you see one more small thing finished or changed and it seems like progress takes forever, until you look at your photos from a week or two ago and realize how far you’ve come.

This was the MOAD less than two weeks ago (Mother of All Decks, which is what we are jokingly calling the massive deck we are building off the barn’s stall doors). Dave and I now have added the beginnings of stairs, considerably more posts, cross bracing and more cross bracing, and the board aprons.

When the Cottage isn’t rented, we like to take advantage of the kitchen and create a picnic lunch somewhere on the property. We have a slight tendency toward workaholicism, and it’s good for us to occasionally stop and enjoy this place we love so much, but work so hard on. The grapes left by the last guest made a welcome addition to our Eggplant Parmigiana.

  We don’t stop long, but it’s fun to swing our feet under us like little kids and talk about next steps or things we are looking forward to. How we will string lights in the trees, the view from the deck in winter, what kind of furniture we should have out here most of the time, the workshops we’d love to host. Before long, guests will be able to lunch (or dinner, or breakfast, or coffee) out here — and they won’t have to balance on a 2×12 to do it, either.

Last week, I laid new gravel in front of the barn. With so many loads of dirt being brought in, plus all the rain, the drive in front of the barn was terribly rough. I spent a day in the mud, trying to shovel the ruts out and get it level again, and the next two days spreading gravel — but it looks much improved and was the first step toward something looking better, rather than worse, as construction often does.

Around the same time, Dave poured the last section of footer and sill in the barn — we had to leave the back doors open while shuttling in all the dirt for the Barn Lawn (raising the ground level back up by about 5 feet from where it had been dug out during the barn’s build some years ago). This end of the barn was 32″ lower than the other, which also necessitated a lot of dirt/fill being needed in the barn.

The interior of the barn now has the start of the electrical rough-in, we spread gravel throughout, and I spent Saturday removing the original oak boards and the thin insulation behind them (seen in the sill photo above). The oak will go back up after the new insulation is installed next week, and we are saving the old insulation for the goat shed we will build this winter. None of this is particularly picture-worthy and we both hate showing something that isn’t perfect — so note, you don’t see much of the walls in the below picture (if you follow us on Instagram, you may notice I don’t post pictures of the barn or construction, but I do show it in the Stories.)

Also — oh HAPPY DAY! — I finally found reclaimed windows to replace the existing vinyl windows (and in two places, we are adding windows). We were beginning to think we might have to cobble several windows together, as the opening size is rather unusual and generally custom order — but this guy had the precise size we needed, and the exact number! We will be cutting the window openings taller to make room for them, and we are both excited to see more natural light coming in to the barn interior.

We will have more natural light coming in from the other side as well, as we are taking the original stall doors that led to the outside (and now lead to the deck!) and changing them to look a little like this:

It feels so good to be finished with the “deconstruction” phase and start seeing progress toward the place looking better. Hope you are having an amazing summer so far!

Cris & Dave