A wedding in the family leads to a new business venture.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Megan Deitz, Time 2 Remember & Ray Baca
When Winnabow native Lesley Padgett and her fiancé Sten Taube told her parents that they wanted to get married at home, naturally everyone was thrilled.
Most parents would have called the caterer, ordered the tents and paid the bill when the nuptials were complete. Instead, Lesley’s parents, Donald and Mary Padgett, cleared 10 acres, added a custom fence, planted trees and grass, prepared a pond and built a brand-new barn.
The planning began in 2012 with the couple’s engagement. Mary Padgett owns Ward Hair and Nail Design in Wilmington, where both Lesley and her brother Seth are employed.
“When we started talking about our wedding, clients began to inquire about the location.” Lesley says. “Everyone asked if we had a barn.”
They didn’t, but the idea grew — and soon another family-owned business was born. In fact, they had several weddings on the books before the barn was even ready.
Donald designed the spacious 2,400-square-foot building, complete with barn doors, gambrel roof and a hay loft door with pulley and rope. He added an 800-square-foot covered porch overlooking the pond.
They broke ground in December of 2012, and construction was completed a mere three weeks before the inaugural Padgett-Taube wedding in May of 2014.
From construction to operations, the entire family has pitched in. Seth worked on landscaping. Donald built an arbor for the main ceremony location. Seth now handles all of the building maintenance, the sound system and lawn work, and Donald and Mary handle the greenery and cleaning. Depending on their schedules any one of them might meet potential clients to show the property.
Lesley and her mother scoured antiques shops and auctions to complete the interior. Thirteen crystal chandeliers dangle like fine jewelry from the cathedral ceiling.
“We started with a few turn-of-the century chandeliers,” says Lesley. When they were alerted that a home in Wilmington was being renovated, they acquired six more. Although none are identical, they appear to have been designed for the space.
Mary bought 35 sconces that came from a historic hotel in Louisville, Ky. The lighting provides a measure of sophistication to the rustic charm of the barn. Mary and Lesley discovered the 100-year-old bar and back bar at the Ivy Cottage in Wilmington.
The two then searched high and low for china and vintage linens. They amassed an assortment of 500 antique place settings and linens for 50 tables, as well as a variety of antique glasses, jars and vases.
Since the grand opening in August 2014, there have been 35 weddings and 12 parties at the Barn. Weddings have ranged from 50 to 350 guests. Inside, the barn can accommodate 150 people with buffet and seating, and with outdoor tents and tables, the number of guests can expand beyond that. “We had 350 guests at our wedding and 180 of those were family,” says Lesley.
There are several ceremony locations on site, plus two handicapped-accessible bathrooms and a small caterer’s kitchen with a covered caterer’s porch in the back of the building. A side patio can be used for dancing and cocktail hours and is open air with Edison lights hanging above. Space on the lawn accommodates tents, and a field provides for ample parking.
The barn doors are handmade, including the “hayloft” door where many brides choose to pose for photographs. “We have had several photo shoots here,” says Lesley. “Brides love the picturesque setting.”
During construction, the Padgetts relied on the expertise of locals for the custom work. “If we couldn’t find what we needed, someone local could,” says Lesley.
The Padgetts provide a list of preferred vendors to help clients with event planning. Clients are free to bring beer and wine for their events, with the stipulation that they hire a bartender.
Just this autumn, the Padgetts finished the upper floor of the building, adding a bridal suite and groom’s quarters. The bridal suite is furnished with family heirlooms from both Donald and Mary’s childhood homes and even their grandparent’s homes. There are antique doorknobs and hooks on every wall for hanging dresses. They repurposed an old prayer bench from a Wilmington church to serve as a bridesmaids’ vanity complete with vintage piano stools.
The groom’s quarters have a more masculine feel and is decorated with antiques as well. “The captain’s chairs are from UNCW,” says Lesley. She and her mother found them at an auction.
Savannah and Anthony Scoggins celebrated their marriage at the Barn at Rock Creek in October. They threw a country-chic fall wedding for 156 guests. Both loved the venue, saying it was perfect for their theme and that they had a wonderful wedding experience. “We loved working with the Padgetts,” says Savannah. “They made sure we had everything we needed for our big day.”
The entire family is on hand for every event to make certain everything runs smoothly.
“We spend every weekend here, now,” says Lesley. “We had no idea it would take off like this.”
Mary agrees. She loved the excitement of building the barn for a family wedding and now enjoys watching it evolve into something new for each event. “It is wonderful to see the creativity and uniqueness of each new client,” she says.
Seth is pleased with the entire project. “We find that a lot of our guests love our venue because of how peaceful it is here,” he says. “They love to be outdoors in the wide open spaces that we offer.”
The crafty entrepreneur is not resting on his laurels yet. He has a vision for the Barn at Rock Creek. “I would like to see a pavilion for the cocktail hours and dancing,” he says.
The Barn at Rock Creek is located at 5900 Rock Creek Rd. NE in Leland. For more information, call (910) 253-4012 or visit thebarnatrockcreek.com.