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VIP At Home: Sharing the Love



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By Lee Rennick | Photography by Erin Kosko

Almost three years ago, when Lea Anne Bedsole showed then Sarah Smith and her fiancé Bill Deloach what would become Forever Farms, all Sarah could think about at the time was, “that’s a lot of grass to mow.” Bedsole advised them to go home and think about it.

“The next morning, I thought, I’ve always loved weddings,” said Sarah. “If we can find a way to share the property with people, then yes. I’d helped family and friends plan weddings, but I didn’t want to do it full time. This was my chance. I discussed my idea with Bill.”

After they decided to purchase the home, they wrote a letter to the seller. They told the seller that they wanted to get married on the property, to share their love with other couples by creating a small wedding venue to make it a haven for their new family. They knew they wanted it to be their forever home.

Soon, they were moving into the house, then bringing in an open-air wedding chapel and placing it next to a small pond, under some trees. They inaugurated the space with their own wedding. All of the design and much of the work was done by Bill, Sarah and her two sons from a previous marriage, Benjamin and Luke Smith. The boys also walked their mother down the aisle on her wedding day, wearing khaki shorts, with a floral boutonniere on their crisp white dress shirts and white Vans. Their casual fashion reflecting the feel of the weddings that Sarah saw happening on the property in the future.

Creating Forever Farms

Just getting the property ready for their wedding and those to come took time and planning. First, they moved a two-story log-look home that was on the lake and under the trees where Bill envisioned the chapel to another part of the property. Built for the previous owner’s children as a play house, teenaged Benjamin and Luke were happy to be able to take over that space as their own.

Next, they brought in the chapel, which they found in Texas. Sarah’s only stipulation was that none of the trees could be cut down. So, they wedged the chapel under the trees and cut away part of the roof that one of the trees grows through.

“We wanted it to have a Gatlinburg chapel feel under the trees,” explained Sarah.

Lastly, they put stone in the bed of the creek that connected the pond at the front of the property and that at the back. Eventually, Bill, Luke and Benjamin built a deck that the creek runs under and added inviting Adirondack chairs. Here, the couple love to have morning coffee all times of the year and watch the sun come up.

When they were done, they christened the property “Forever Farms.” 

Getting into the Wedding Business

“One thing that was central to our plan for having weddings here was to keep it affordable,” said Sarah, “and second was that everything would be outside. There are lots of massive wedding venues in the area that are booked every weekend, all year around. We chose to limit our space to 30 weddings per year maximum, planning that first year, 2020, to just have 10 weddings. And then COVID-19 hit. We had 23.”

Brides, having heard of the new venue, called them crying. They wanted to keep their wedding dates, but spaces had closed down and vendors were cancelling. Always a planner, Sarah already knew a number of bridal vendors. As brides edited their guest lists, Sarah pulled together their weddings, doing many things herself or with the help of her family.

“Bill does everything outside, and I do the inside as far as the house is concerned,” explained Sarah, “so that is how we split up the work on weddings. He coordinates all of the logistics outside, like parking and logistics, and I do the décor, flowers and work with caterers, photographers and DJs.”

During COVID-19, Sarah planned many weddings from top to bottom with a short turnaround time to help brides who were at loose-ends with all of their pre-pandemic plans falling apart around them. Out of this crisis planning came the creation of their all-inclusive wedding packages.

“I love the details,” said Sarah. “I want everything to be timed perfectly to go perfectly. I bring the calm. That way the brides can focus on what the day is all about.”

Their wedding packages run from a “Just the Two of Us Elopement” to the “All Inclusive.” The number of guests is limited at 100, but they prefer weddings that have 45 to 50 guests.

While Sarah loves all weddings, she has become very fond of the smaller fair, especially the elopements. They have had several couples come for the elopement ceremony from other cities, like Chicago and Milwaukee then jet off on their honeymoon.

Another couple chose Forever Farms for an intimate wedding then brought their entire family to stay with them in Nashville for the following week. It cost them the same as it would a regular wedding in Chicago.

“Our goal is to provide brides with the wedding of their dreams,” explained Sarah, “even if they are on a budget.”

Weddings are a Family Affair

Everyone pitches in on wedding days. As Bill coordinates golf carts to bring guests from an off site parking location, Benjamin and Luke might be putting out tables and chairs, while Sarah is checking on last-minute touches on the floral arrangements and making sure that the DJ has the music cues.

Sarah feels that less is more is best with the park-like surroundings. She especially likes modern country with touches of glamor -- such as crystal goblets and elegant chandeliers blended with fresh cut greens and natural elements. But, she has seen weddings with many different themes. One bride simply rented the property and pulled up with a U-Haul trailer truck filled with decor – from tables and linens to elegant centerpieces and a dance floor.

Always willing to do what it takes to make the bride happy, Sarah has turned the space into a seaside retreat and has even found sunflowers for a fall wedding. She is on property as wedding coordinator for every wedding taking care of any issues that crop up.

“Having a wedding at our home is more like having one on an estate, even if we call it a farm,” explains Sarah. “There are a number of places to have the wedding and reception. Including by the pool.”

One of their weddings started with the ceremony in the chapel then cocktails by the pool while the chapel space was being flipped for the reception. Another bride chose to have her wedding in the open-air chapel and the reception in a tent. And they have a wooden arbor that can be placed anywhere.

“I have been around weddings since I was a kid,” said Sarah. “My Dad had five sisters and three of them got married during my pre-teen years. We did all of it – food, dresses, flowers.” 

When Not Doing Weddings, Forever Farm is Home

Bill and the boys have done a lot of work on landscaping the outside of the home, as have past wedding guests. One group of former guests help put in a stone path to the chapel. Bill completely changed the plantings around the pool area.

When not working on weddings or her full-time job, Sarah has turned the house they bought, with the vision to share their love with other couples, into a home. It has been a labor of love.

The modern Georgian style home offers a grand staircase winding up to the second floor, which frames the entrance into the rest of the living spaces, including Sarah’s wedding coordination office. Keeping to her belief that less is more, she has decorated her house with modern country and industrial pieces with a touch of glam that she loves to use as a theme for her weddings. It is light and airy and inviting.

Choosing an achromatic color scheme of black, cream and gray, the honey wood floors, wood furnishings and natural elements like green plants and floral prints make it feel warm.

Sunlight streams into the master bedroom through the many windows that look out onto the pool area and extensive grounds. Playing with texture and color, Sarah has added a dash of purple and red to the master suite with bed coverings, pillows and a faux sheep skin rug placed before the soaking tub in the master bath.

Throughout the house there are decorative pieces that tell the story of their family, including a collection of mini motorcycles. Bill and Sarah both love motorcycles and that is what brought them together through mutual friends. Also, in the living room, over the fireplace hangs a painting of a Dickson farm that once belonged to his grandfather.

Both coming from farm families, they are not afraid of the time and dedication it takes to keep up with their full–time jobs, home, family and wedding business.

“It is a lot of hard work,” said Sarah, “but we grow attached to our couples because we work so closely with them. We like keeping in touch. Some have even come by and waved as we are sitting out on the deck overlooking the pond watching the sun set. We like to focus on what we have been given and share it with other people.” 

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