After a few weeks of research, Mr. C and I had a small selection of local venues from which to choose. Our top choice was Tucker Plantation, a restored barn located on a historic farm about 20 minutes from where we live. Even though it was close to our home, being there gave us the feeling that we were hundreds of miles away. I say barn, but really the place looks more like a restored factory with exposed brick walls, wooden floors, and high rafters supported with thick wooden beams strung with rustic chandeliers.
At some point people stopped booking ballrooms and started booking barns and lofts for their weddings. I don’t know when this shift occurred, but I’m going to be cool and pretend that this is something I would have wanted even if it wasn’t so popular right now. Seriously, though, ballrooms just aren’t my thing but they are awesome if you are going for the sleek, modern look. There’s nothing sleek or modern about Mr. C or me, so it’s off to the barn/field/warehouse for us!
Tucker had the perfect romantic, casual setting that we were looking for. It also met all of our other requirements in that we could choose our own vendors, serve our own alcohol, and hold the ceremony and reception at the same site. The building is divided into two sections: one for the ceremony with a gorgeous large window overlooking the fields and trees, and a second larger room for the reception. It has a groom’s barn for the boys to get ready in, and a lovely bridal room with large mirrors and vanity lights. It is a blank slate that can be adapted based on the vision of the bride, groom, and/or wedding planner. Even after visiting the other venues on our list, we kept coming back to Tucker Plantation. It was actually the first place my fiance really seemed to love. Check out these amazing photos:
By May we had made our choice. We signed the contract and eagerly made our first deposit. This is when things started to go downhill. It’s pretty bad when things go downhill immediately after making your decision.
Weeks went by and the venue did not cash our deposit check. I started to worry, but several friends and coworkers told us that this was sometimes common practice for venues, especially during the busy summer wedding season. Still, I had this strange pit of doubt within me and my gut instinct was telling me that something wasn’t right. I was also having issues contacting the venue’s wedding coordinator. This lady was constantly MIA. Both my fiance and I sent a couple of emails and left numerous voice mails over a period of weeks asking for an explanation or at least some assurance. What I hated most about this experience is that the coordinator made me feel like a crazy ex-girlfriend. If you don’t receive a response, what is the appropriate amount of time to wait before sending another email? In my world, where I’m freaking out about our venue, it’s a week. Sometimes less. My point is that no vendor should ever make you feel crazy like that.
After several weeks we finally received an email from the coordinator. She assured me that our date had been reserved and that the owners probably hadn’t cashed the check because of a recent holiday weekend. This explanation didn’t convince me because it had been six weeks since I had mailed the check and one holiday weekend would not have made much difference. It seemed a bit fishy. We had also been told that we would receive a copy of the signed contract from the venue attorneys, but nothing arrived in the mail. I was terrified to book any additional vendors because I was not confident that things were going to work out with Tucker Plantation.
It wasn’t until the end of July that we finally had some answers to this venue mystery. At this point we had been busy traveling all summer and I had shifted my venue worries to the back burner. That all changed when we returned from a visit to Michigan to find a letter from the Tucker Plantation attorneys waiting for us in the mailbox. Finally! The venue contract! Uh, no. It was something I had been secretly dreading for weeks.
Inside was a voided copy of our deposit check and a letter of apology from the attorneys. The letter stated that all weddings booked after October 2012 had been canceled.
Apparently the owner of the venue and surrounding farmland passed away the previous fall and there is some dispute as to who has control of the property. The property might also be in the process of being sold. I’ve also heard rumors of foreclosure. I thought that maybe the venue would have a new owner in time for our wedding in May, but when I contacted the coordinator she said that the venue owners had lied to her up until the very last minute. Apparently they told her via a text message the day they mailed out the apology letters so she didn’t even have time to contact any of her clients. Just days later she was already working as wedding coordinator for another venue in our area so she had zero information on what (if anything) would be happening to Tucker Plantation after October.
The whole situation obviously left me distraught. We lost a really amazing venue. But really, we were lucky because our deposit was returned and we had plenty of time to find an alternate location. I felt so incredibly sorry for brides with November or December weddings who were just months away from their dates only to have their venue pulled out from under them. The news about Tucker Plantation spread quickly around the Athens wedding-vendor community. Everywhere we went we heard about the “Tucker brides” who had been left venue-less.
I went through a few days of mourning. For several weeks I had imagined and re-imagined our wedding at Tucker Plantation. All of my inspiration and plans had developed around the look and feel of that venue. I’ll be honest, when I opened the letter from the attorneys it felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. I felt physically ill and, yes, I cried. I gave myself time to mourn but I also knew that being upset would not change reality. A few days later my fiance and I picked ourselves up and began the venue search anew.
This story has a happy ending, though. We ended up finding a venue that we LOVE and that I think suits our aesthetic a little better. We love all of our vendors and the people we are working with now, which is something I’m not sure I would be willing to admit if we had stayed at Tucker Plantation.
And just to follow up on this story in case you have fallen in love with Tucker Plantation: they have recently transferred ownership and have reopened for wedding and event bookings. Honestly, though, the whole fiasco left me feeling so bitter that even if we had not booked another venue, there’s no way I’d want to go back.
Did you have any drama with any of your wedding vendors?