As parents of the bride, Davin and Wendy Dempsey knew they’d have to foot the biggest part of the bill for the wedding of their daughter, Rachel, last year.
But as the couple and their daughter researched numerous wedding venues within an hour’s drive of Decatur, they were blown away by the price tag attached to each option – none of which completely suited their daughter’s preferences.
At the prompting of their financially-conscientious daughter, the Dempseys decided to instead make the investment on their property of about 10 years.
“We always thought it would be the perfect spot to have a wedding,” Wendy said. “The view, it’s just beautiful … When we pulled into the place when we were looking at buying it, I told him that if the house was even halfway decent we had to get this place because of the view.”
The back property line of the two-acre tract, located a few miles north of Decatur, is a dropoff that offers a glimpse of rolling hills, trees and even the Wise County Courthouse in the distance – an ideal site for Rachel and her groom, David, to exchange their vows.
“We started talking about the possibility of having the wedding out here, and I didn’t really think much of it,” Davin said. “But when I saw the prices they were coming back with, I said, ‘I’d rather do it here.’ Once I said it, their eyes lit up, and I knew the train was rolling.
“I didn’t know what we were getting into.”
With the head of the household’s OK, Wendy and Rachel began outlining the various projects to help the place accommodate 250-plus guests.
First, they hired a crew to move an already aged and worn septic system whose heads were located where the family envisioned putting guests. They also reseeded grass that then had to be watered every morning and evening to remain green for the blistery July wedding.
After seeking the advice of an electrician, the couple had a power supply installed on the east side of the home, where the wedding would take place.
During a family work day, the men in the family finished installing a koi pond previous owners had started.
“It was really an eyesore; it was starting to gather leaves and trash,” Wendy said. “So the boys moved boulders, placed the liner and filled the pond to add in fish and lilypads. In turn, we fed them.”
After their neighbors, the Jacksons and the Caseys, graciously granted the family use of their pastures for parking, Wendy and Davin spent the better part of two months clearing the fence row. They also put in a gate and lined a woodchip pathway to the ceremony and reception sites. Davin and his father, Larry, a talented woodworker, built a pergola under which Rachel and David would exchange their vows.
The family also laid a stone path that went under a garden arch for Rachel’s entrance down the aisle.
“We enjoyed [the projects],” Wendy said. “We like working outside. And although some days it was a pain, we felt it was worthwhile to invest in our property instead of spending our money somewhere else.”
“It was a never-ending thing for a couple of months, right up to the wedding,” he said. “It was like, ‘Come on July! Come on wedding! Get here already!'”
The couple agree that the abundant compliments they received validated all of their hard work – but no praise meant more than that which came from their daughter.
“She thanked us for giving her the wedding of her dreams,” Wendy said. “She was glowing the whole day. She was so calm. You could tell she was really enjoying it. That made it all worth it.”
And those two acres with a stunning view now have another story to tell.
“Before, it was just a piece of property,” Davin said. “Now it’s a part of our family. It was the location of a very important day in our family’s history.”