Stunning new outdoor venue in Henryville makes planning easy
BY MANDY WOLF DETWILER | PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN WATSON AND COURTESY IMAGES
When planning a wedding, the bride and groom have a plethora of decisions to make, from choosing date right down to selecting a guest book and designing the invitations. One of the biggest decisions, of course, is choosing where the event will take place.
The location sets the tone for the entire event. A barn can be dressed up or down. A rented reception hall gives the bride and groom ample space with which to work. But if it’s elegance you seek, one can hardly do better than EnJoy the Venue, located off Flat Rock Road in Henryville. The picturesque setting overlooks a lake named after co-owner Sydney Higginbotham.
But the property is more than just a dream-wedding venue. During the off season, it’s also a stunning place for yoga, CrossFit and pop-up events like canvas painting and wine events.
“We opened July of last year in a rush for a wedding for a good friend’s daughter,” says co-owner Tracy Reardon. “There were so many bumps and tension was so high with the pressure of completing it satisfactorily for her wedding. Doing something for a friend is risky in business, and I didn’t want it to affect that relationship. We got it finished in time. There were over 300 people, and it was the worst storm of the year with tornado warnings and lightning. Total disaster. Talk about trial by fire! It turned into the best wedding ever. People left soaking wet but with so much joy it was amazing. There are stories online about the wedding.”
Reardon, is a CPA, and business partner and long-time friend Lee Sweeney actually took Reardon to see the property 20 years ago to get an opinion about making it a housing development. Sweeney had built two beautiful lakes on the property and did all of the infrastructure himself.
“The sun sets right over the lake. It’s incredible.” – EnJoy the Venue co-owner Tracy Reardon
“He is a true visionary,” Reardon says. “I actually purchased a lot for a house back then across the lake from the venue but never built there, so it’s vacant across from the venue. One day, we were just talking casually, and I said I have always thought about opening a spa or a wedding venue, and just wanted his professional opinion. He surprised me and said he has always wanted to do [a wedding venue, too]. I asked where, and he said right here, and that’s where it started.
“My daughter Sydney is partner as well. She went to Sullivan University and has an event planning degree, so it’s a great fit for her. Flat Rock Estates is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places you’ll find.”
Initially, the team wanted to “make it simple, and see what direction it organically grew,” Reardon says. “We considered a large indoor building and may do that in the future. There is space for retreat cabins so we could do corporate retreats or a place for people to come in the fall to just relax and enjoy nature.
“We have an Amish-built pavilion that is 2,800 square feet. It is open air. We are considering enclosing it in the near future in case of weather. It’s a beautiful space and the lighting makes it magical at night.”
The team built stadium seating going up a hill, with no obstructed view of the event participants and the large lake, dubbed Sydney Lake after Reardon’s daughter, as the stunning backdrop.
“The sun sets right over the lake,” Reardon says. “It’s incredible.”
That setting is something many other wedding venues just can’t boast.
“The setting is unlike any place around,” Reardon says. “When you come in the entrance, there is a feel of relaxation (that) immediately everyone tells us. It is so quiet and peaceful. We hear over and over there isn’t a need for much decor because you can’t outdo what is naturally there already when you look around. To be able to enjoy your family and friends in such a relaxed quiet setting is irreplaceable.
“We like to say we don’t just hold events, we help create experiences to last a lifetime. It’s truly why we got into this business. Watching people react to the space and the comments about the setting make us so happy. Then to see the love and laughter people share is the biggest reward for us. We work hard to make sure our couples have the experience for their guests that isn’t just a wedding. Instead, it’s one of those memories when people think back they smile because of the experience they had here with us.”
In the off season, the setting provides plenty of opportunities for other events, making good use of a stunning location.
“We are starting to organize pop-up events, such as yoga and fitness classes,” Reardon says. “This is so exciting, and the response we have had is heart-warming. I think there is a craving for people to have a place to come and do the things they love to do but in a unique setting once in a while.
“We have a couple of artists who would like to do art classes by the lake. Yoga and fitness in a setting such as this is perfect. We want to host EnJoy Yoga, EnJoy Art etc. at the venue. I’ve spoken with a couple of musicians and would love to have a place music students could come and share their talents. Dinner under the stars is an idea we have knocked around as well. Sitting with friends enjoying the sounds of tree frogs and crickets and unwinding doing what you EnJoy is what we want to offer.”
Choosing Your Setting
When choosing a wedding venue, EnJoy the Venue coowner Tracy Reardon offers some advice:
“Of course an outdoor venue is not for everyone,” she says. “You won’t get the same setting or feel, but the flip side is the uncertainty of the weather. One of the best weddings we had was in the middle of a storm. You have to be able to let that go upfront and roll with it in those cases. So asking yourself if you accept that uncertainty is important.”
Reardon continued: “I think couples need to list the most important things for their special day and choose the best fit based on their own list. Couples should ask venues their policies on outside vendors, times they will have access to the venue, cancellation policies and what is included with the rental.”
Learn more about EnJoy the Venue, which is located at 13967 E. Flatrock Trail in Henryville, by visiting enjoythevenue.com or calling 812.595.2168.