By Jane Ammeson
Rustic venues for weddings, that include vintage glamour and locally-sourced foods, continue to gain in popularity according to weddingwire.com. The popular online wedding site also noted that eight percent of couples chose to celebrate their marriage at barns and farms last year.
“Story’s authentically rural and historic setting fits perfectly with modern wedding trends,” says Kate Ebel, Director of Sales and Events for the Story Inn in southern Indiana. “Our 120-year- old multi-level barn, located in a large meadow surrounded by trees, has stood the test of time.”
Indeed, the charm of oak and maple forests, winding country roads, rolling hills and white picket fences surrounding pastures filled with grazing horses are just part of the lovely backdrop of a Story wedding. Surrounded on three sides by the Hoosier National Forest and Brown County State Park, Story was founded in 1851 by Doctor George Story and little seems to have changed in the years since then. The country Victorian home Doc Story built the year he arrived here is just one of the original buildings turned into guest accommodations. Gardens brim with vibrant blooms and a creek meanders through the property, flowing underneath a covered bridge.
An orchard on the side of a small rise abounds with apples, pears and cherries and the sweet scent of ripening grapes from Story’s tiny vineyard wafts through the air. Wildflowers from long ago country gardens still blossom along the edges of the village.
“Besides our historic barn, we have several other beautiful settings for a wedding here at Story including our newest, The Sanctuary,” says Ebel.
Accessible by a small bridge, The Sanctuary sits in a wooded glen beneath a canopy of century- old trees decorated with dainty fairy lights. It’s a lush place where the sounds of singing birds and rustling leaves create an oasis of serenity for an intimate gathering.
In what is now the formal dining room of the old general store with its pot-bellied stove original to the 1916 building (see— not everything at Story is old), the porch overlooking the culinary and flower gardens is a lovely spot for a small wedding party, as is the patio nestled behind the inn.
The grain mill next to the general store was also built in 1851. Charmingly rustic both inside and out, the mill’s tin roof and clapboard siding is as historic as is its interior with pine paneling cut onsite after being harvested from nearby trees. The mill accommodates approximately 40 people and is perfect for weddings no matter the season. But weddings are more than just fairy-tale settings. Eric Swanson, Story’s executive chef, partners with local food artisans to source the meat, cheeses, jams, maple syrup and even Story’s special blend of hand-roasted coffee beans as well as other edibles featured on the menu. “Our chef works with the bride and groom to customize and individualize their wedding menu,” says Ebel, who lives on property in a historic home with her husband Jacob, co-owner of Story as well as its general manager and their two rescue dogs.
In season, Swanson visits Story’s gardens to pick fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits including Story’s tiny sweet summer strawberries to be used for dinner that night.
Accommodations in the village itself reflect the historic ambience of the location. In some, balconies overlook the gardens and the pastoral scene beyond, Victorian-era porches and small courtyards invite visitors to “sit awhile” and such fun amenities as a 250-gallon horse trough with an enameled interior, claw-footed bathtub, antiques from long ago, hot tubs and large comfy beds and linens all are elegant and inviting. The Garrison, with its four rooms hidden in the woods above Story, has a rough-hewn simplicity that makes it very special as well.
“Story is a picture perfect place for the wedding of your dreams,” says Ebel.