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Saddle Wood Farm Creates Dream Weddings



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By Lee Rennick | Photos by Erin Kosko and Submitted

Driving west from Murfreesboro on Franklin Road towards the Williamson County line, a stone fence appears on your right with the words “Saddle Woods Farm” sitting on top. A few horses canter and play with unbridled abandon in the paddocks on either side of a gravel road leading towards what looks like a small village. There are a couple of homes and a few low-slung out buildings sitting in front of a hilly forest of hard wood trees. The trees shade the land and a massive state of the art barn peeks out from between the lushly leaved branches. This is the pallet upon which some pretty special destination weddings have quietly taken place. Guests call it, “A Little Slice of Heaven.” Saddle Woods Farm is the creation of Jayne LeGate. Once a teacher, hospitality is what she calls her “spiritual gift.” She always knew she was going to own her own business and has never been afraid of hard work. It took a year and a half to find the land, but the theme of the space was based on the family’s love of horses. Their horses are their pets and are scene stealers in many of the wedding photos taken on site. 

Begun in 2014, Saddle Woods Farm was one of the first new wedding venues built in the
county. They knew they wanted to be rustic, but close enough to Nashville where guests could do Broadway after the rehearsal, but be within 10 minutes of shopping in Murfreesboro for forgotten items and last-minute details.

A family affair, LeGate’s father, who was an aerospace engineer, designed the towering barn to have all the bells and whistles, but to be built like a rock that will weather many storms. It even has a generator should there be a power outage. “I want my guests to worry about nothing,” said LeGate. Her husband helps keep things in good repair.

A barn-erecting group out of Knoxville built the barn, but the family personally gutted the inside of the other buildings on site to create the Bridal Cottage and the Groom’s Quarters. The building housing these spaces looks like it was once part of an old grocery store or filling station. Under the porch sits a rocking chair and an old-time Coke-a-Cola machine with glass bottles. The whole atmosphere calls for a slower pace.

The barn is a huge open space with soaring rafters from which to hang bunting, lighting or special décor. When the weather is good, the entire space can be opened to the outside, but during cooler and hotter months it is fully heated and cooled, respectively. There is also a very basic wood pavilion to one side of the barn that can be turned into an open-air wedding chapel.

The Bridal Cottage is all creamy white with vintage modern furnishings. It provides a full kitchen, dining room, two large rooms with professionally lit makeup consoles, a full-length mirror, special places to hang the ladies’ gowns and a conversational seating area with plenty of over-stuffed couches where the bride and her party can sit back and toast the day with a glass of champagne.

The Groom’s Quarters is more rustic. There are lots of dark wood and leather couches. It offers the groom and groomsmen a bar area to enjoy a few beverages, big screen televisions to watch sports, a pool table, pinball machines, dining on the private patio and plenty of space to have fun outside – including a swing -- or a chance to hang out with the LeGate’s Clydesdales.

With her daughter Morgan acting as the wedding day coordinator, they both make sure that every detail is perfect. No matter the theme, everything on site was designed to be the support on which a bride and groom can build the wedding of their dreams. 

GETTING ON THE DESTINATION WEDDING MAP

A number of weddings that took place at Saddle Woods Farm have been captured in the pages of People Magazine, Bride, Southern Bride, Billboard and even Rolling Stone, but the one that put them on the map was that of country music star Tyler Rich and actress Sabina Gadecki. The pair had met at Coachella, and they wanted to recreate the festival theme= with tee pees, lots of pampas grass and a deep bohemian vibe.

Married in the open air under a canopy of trees hanging with fairy lights, they turned the barn and grounds into a lively party. During the star-studded celebration, the couple discovered that Rich’s new song, “Leave Her Wild”, hit number one on the SiriusXM music charts.

“Sabina immediately grabbed the mic and sang his song to the entire group,” noted LeGate. “The couple remains friends of ours.”

Another famous couple who wed at Saddle Woods were celebrity entrepreneur Erin Foster and businessman Simon Tikhman. Their 2020 New Year’s Eve wedding completely transformed the barn into an elegant garden with a floral covered chuppah at the center of the space, and Erin walked down the aisle illuminated by candlelight. The couple’s ceremony was done in the round so that no one felt too far away or had a bad seat. Something perhaps learned from her father -- musician, song writer, producer and soon to be Broadway musical composer, David Foster. The entire barn was filled with climbing= white roses and greenery. Special up-lighting gave the space a warm glow accented with natural light from hundreds of white candles.

As the clock struck midnight, the wedding party went outside to enjoy a fireworks display.
“There is something about our space that intrigues these celebrities,” said LeGate. “It is the same reason why we had to put up a gate. The feel of the space and the land just calls to them. They are drawn here by the diversity of looks for photographs that can be created on the property, the privacy and the ability to have a relaxing day.

We are set up so they can do it all right here.” Bridal event planners are used to pulling the event together, but LeGate insists that Morgan be their on-site coordinator. Her daughter knows the site, knows how everything works and knows the area well, so she can take care of any last minute glitches quickly. Initially, they allowed other coordinators to run weddings, but soon discovered that it didn’t work for them and what they wanted to create for their couples.

Attention to detail is why actress Katie Stevens and music producer Paul DiGiovanni decided to have a fall wedding at Saddle Woods. They had it outdoors with their pup Winnie as the flower girl. Where the other weddings used greens and flowers for décor, this couple had the barn swathed in miles of draping and clean lines. It offered a modern, yet classic feel. 

BUILDING A VISION ON A BLANK SLATE

What makes us different is that our barn was created to be nothing more than a blank slate,” said LeGate. “Other properties were designed with one style, the rustic barn wedding, but our space can be dressed up or down. We have done the bohemian, the classic elegant, the mid-century modern, the Miami chic, the New York sophisticate and even the minimalist. As brides have moved far away from wild flowers in canning jars, space flexibility is what is becoming more and more important for barn weddings.”

Although weddings are their main attraction, they have also produced an annual private VIP concert event for FirstBank for a number of years. Special guests do a meet and greet with the headliner and then everyone sits no more than 10 rows back from top country performers like Josh Turner, Lee Brice or Randy Houser.

“The event is a mini-Bridgestone for FirstBank’s guests,” said LeGate. “There is an opening act and then a concert by a headliner whose music everyone knows. It is a great night.” Couples or businesses come in with an idea, a vision, and the LeGate family’s purpose is to help them make that vision a reality. They love having people have an enjoyable time on their property, where they not only run their business, but they also live. 

LOTS OF HARD WORK

LeGate admits it is not an easy job. But she has always loved entertaining, especially setting up events. “I have calls every day from someone wanting to start an event space,” said LeGate. “I invite them to come help us put together one of our weddings. About half way through the day they are sitting down, done. I tell them that they are not quite half way through their day. Many of them walk away from the idea.”

This has been LeGates dream for a long time. She had chosen to stay at home and take care of her kids as they were growing up and then taught, but at the age of 50 she decided to start a new career. She has not looked back.

Living on site is part of the reason the “wedding village” has a homey atmosphere. And the horses provide a real Tennessee farm flair. Perhaps the blend of professionalism and laid-back charm is the prefect escape for many from big city life. They have had couples come in from California, New York, Florida and Chicago to get married here, as well as plenty of local couples.

Their average attendance is between 100 and 125 people, but pre-COVID-19 they have had over 175 guests at some weddings. “With COVID-19 we are following all of the protocols,” said LeGate, including masks, hand sanitizer and providing lots of space to social distance.

She knows where she will be and what she will be doing well into 2022, with just about every weekend scheduled for a wedding. It is a seven day a week business with her either speaking to a client, planning a wedding, or producing one every day.

“I couldn’t do it if I didn’t love it,” added LeGate. “These couples become family to us. It is all about customer service. On the big day, it is all hands on deck, and we do whatever it takes to make the day their dream come true.

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