Rustic Chic

A rustic wedding theme, with traditional down- home charm and family-friendly atmosphere, is a great choice for Southern brides.

Harkening back to old time values and simplicity, rustic barn weddings have become very popular in recent years and are regularly featured in Bridal magazines and blog sites for their traditional influence and cost consciousness. But while a country-themed barn wedding may be very appealing, finding the perfect site can be a challenge, as many sites lack the amenities needed, such as bathrooms, kitchen, even electricity.

Fortunately, a new wedding facility called The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch will open in Dardanelle in June 2012 with a specially- built barn and spacious landscaped grounds, complete with full-service planning and staging services.

According to Twin Oaks designer, Lesleigh Smith, a Russellville native who recently moved back from Fort Worth/ Dallas where she had a successful event planning business service, Lux Events, barn weddings are very much in vogue.

“As a southern girl myself, I know rustic weddings are a perfect fit for this area, so barn weddings are natural for me. I’m very much a down-home girl,” said Smith, a young wife and mother with a winning smile and creative energy to burn. Perhaps that’s why she was named 2010-best dressed for “down home” category by a popular Fort Worth Texas magazine.

Smith and her family are building the new facility on family property.

“Twin Oaks Ranch was originally our grandparents land and my brother and sister and I grew up on it. My grandfather, Kenneth Davenport, and grandmother singly-handedly cleared the land and my mother and father now live in the main house,” said Smith.

In June, Smith’s brother, Lucas Cox and his fiancé, Bayley Hepp, will be the first to wed in the new facility.

“My brother’s fiancé wanted a rustic wedding and that was the birth of the idea of building a barn for the event. My brother picked his most memorable place on the property, where he used to play when he was little. That’s where we built the altar where he and his fiancé will conduct their ceremony,” said Smith.

“First and foremost, we’re family and we are making something wonderful for us all to use and building the barn ourselves. Being able to share it with others is a very rewarding perk. It all goes hand in hand,” said Smith.

The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch is something of a unique concept in Arkansas, said Smith. Unless you get married at a place like a hotel, where they have in-house catering, you still have to go out and procure all your other vendors like entertainment, décor, flowers, etc, said Smith. “There’s a lot of phone calls and weeding out that must be done.”

“We are an all-inclusive venue, meaning we provide everything all wrapped up in a bow. We’ve got caterers, florists, wedding planning, event designer and music.”

“We have all the details covered and encompass all you need for a magazine worthy wedding. I hate to call it a one- stop shop as that has some nasty connotations, but we are an efficient choice for all things rustic chic,” said Smith. Explaining the facility, Smith said it’s a new barn being built to look old and is specifically set up with all the amenities needed for a successful event.

Surrounding the barn is acres of land with beautiful outdoor spaces, she added.

“We can do hay bales covered with quilts for seating or Chivari-style chairs predominately featured in high-end weddings. We will be able to cater to all expectations and styles, whether they want fun and frilly, shabby chic, whimsical, rustic, or country where people wear jeans and boots and want to two- step. We want the bride and groom’s style and personality to be expressed through the décor,” said Smith.

Smith’s reputation as a “rustic chic” wedding designer gained so much media attention that one of her weddings was featured on the Style Network, “Who’s Wedding Is It Anyway?”

Although the film crew came in and wanted to stage some drama to make the show more interesting, the couple’s wedding ended up “all tied up nicely in a bow”, said Smith.

Of all the weddings Smith has done, her most memorable wedding to date was for a bride who works in Washington, DC, for the Vice President of the United States and the groom worked for a well-known Senator.

“It was a very hush-hush affair beforehand because if any of the details were leaked, the entire guest list would have had to have been background checked. I already hadto background check all of my staff without telling them why, which inevitably made them curious. Not many people will give out their social security number to a relative stranger without explanation, which is what my vendors had to do.

It was a really intense working with so many different teams like the Secret Service, the V.P. advance staff and military staff. There were teams inside of teams!

With all that hoopla plus trying to successfully orchestrate a fabulous wedding, I still wanted to make sure it was the bride’s day and all eyes were on her, and not focused on who she worked for.

Smith’s expertise enabled the couple to have the elegant, yet rustic, barn wedding they envisioned.

“It was very interesting to see at these high-profile wedding guests in their Jimmy Choo shoes walking around in a barn,” added Smith with a smile.

“It just goes to show you that barn weddings are all-the-rage these days, regardless of your roots!”

For more information on the Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch, call (817) 925-0510 or go to their Facebook page listed as The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch or email Smith at barnattwinoaksranch@yahoo.

The Big Day

For couples who got engaged during the holidays, this might not come as a surprise, but more proposals occur during the Big month of December than any other month.

According to Carley Roney, editor in chief of The Knot, an online wedding planning company, about 17% of the 2.3 million engagements every year take place during this month. Valentine Day is also known a romantic day for proposals.

Whenever the proposal happens, it is a wonderful time for the prospective bride and groom and their families. But the time leading up to the big day can be intimidating and planning the details can be overwhelming without the proper guidance.

Those who have resources often call in a wedding planner or event designer. While a wedding planner takes care of all the details, such as food, music, flowers, venue coordination and protocol, a wedding designer is used to visually set the stage for the perfect day.

Whether you choose to do the coordinating yourself or hire someone to do the planning and staging, know what you want (and don’t want) and your budget limitations beforehand. A little forethought will go a long way to making the big day every bit as special as your dreams for the future.

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