Montgomery Farms in Scottsburg has turned a 150-year-old farm and barn into a wedding site in the middle of nature. Sunsets are preferred. Rainbows cost extra.
BY STEVE KAUFMAN | FAMILY PHOTO BY TRINA WHALIN
Imagine a 10-year-old girl and boy who first met in the pumpkin patch at Montgomery Farms playing hide and seek in the corn maze. And now, 12 years later, they’re getting married on the grounds of the same Scottsburg farm.
The pumpkin patch and the corn maze are gone now. So are the hayride, the straw jump and the bonfires. But the 40-acre farm with the 150-year-old cattle barn has been turned into one of the most popular wedding venues in Southern Indiana. And, said Mandi Bieda, one of the owners, it’s true that some of her clients first met at the farm.
In 1999, when she and her brother, Dallas Robert Montgomery, first turned the old working farm into what’s called “agri-entertainment” – the hayrides, pumpkins, farm store, etc. – they were getting 20,000 to 30,000 people coming out on fall weekends.
“People looked around our great landscape and asked if it would ever be possible to hold a wedding here,” said Mandi. “It turned out, my brother and I thought it was a great idea, too.” So, apparently, did everyone else. The minute Mandi and Dallas Robert decided to turn the farm into a wedding venue, the phone started ringing.
By the way, Dallas Robert gets the full moniker treatment because he’s the third generation of Dallas Montgomerys. Grandfather Dallas Donald Montgomery bought the land 70 years ago as a full working farm. But while his sons, Dallas Earl Montgomery and Gary Montgomery, worked the farm, they eventually went off to get engineering degrees and pursue their own professions.
Mandi and Dallas Robert grew up on the farm, at one point running a little sweet corn stand across the street. It was they who had turned the property into a weekend attraction, starting in 1999, and it was they who had decided to close it down.
“Having a play farm is such a weather-dependent business,” she said. “It’s awesome when it doesn’t rain, but when it rains six weekends out of seven, it’s not a lot of fun.”
So, the two-story barn was modernized, although it’s still authentic with bales of hay, whiskey barrels and old furniture all around. “Brides like rustic, but not completely rustic,” said Mandi. “They want their comforts, too.”
The modernization included replacing a gravel floor with concrete and building an adjoining, matching wood-frame building with a bridal suite with its own restroom, groom’s suite, other restrooms and a kitchen prep area. There’s also a covered connection between the new building and the barn for when the weather is iffy. (Mandi doesn’t use the word “rain.” It’s considered superstitious in the events business. She calls it “Plan B.”)
But the barn is not the only possible wedding venue. The 40 acres are full of possibilities. People can get married in a clearing in the woods, on the great lawn, near the pond or at other spots on the property that catch their fancy. “We’re completely open to anyone’s preferences,” Mandi said. “But the great lawn is our most popular outdoor venue. It’s a beautiful backdrop.”
And, of course, “Plan B” is always moving back into the barn. “But we’ll wait until the last minute before we revert to Plan B,” she said. “Brides know what they want, and we want to be able to give it to them.”
For barn weddings, the ceremony is held in the large, peaked-roof, beamed-ceiling loft. After the ceremony, while guests are eating downstairs, the loft is turned into a festive, sparkling party and dancing site.
“The downstairs of the barn is pretty,” said Mandi, “but the loft is breathtaking.”
The barn can hold 300 guests comfortably, but other options can handle more. “We can seat more people on the lawn, and we can add tents on the lawn. We’ll work with anybody’s needs and preferences.”
The farm’s wedding season runs from the beginning of April to the first weekend of November. “Because we wanted to keep the barn as authentic as possible, it isn’t air-conditioned or heated. We’re eventually going to add an all-weather venue so we can accommodate people all year round.”
Accommodating people is the root of this family’s business. “We know that we do this every weekend, but for most brides this is a first-time, one-time event,” said Mandi, “and we want to offer a no-surprises experience. We handle every detail. We don’t want them to have to think about anything but having a great wedding.”
1122 Radio Tower Road