Brides and grooms looking for a wedding venue that features some, wide-eyed, four-legged onlookers will soon have a new location to consider.
Heathermoor Farms, a 42-stall riding facility featuring Saddlebred horses, is preparing to begin hosting weddings and rehearsal dinners in the next year.
Owner Jennifer Fernambucq said she was reluctant to commit to the venture when first approached by a representative with the Knot and Wedding Wire, because the barn wasn’t quite ready for its wedding-day debut. “But she told me, they’re not booking for this year, they’re booking for next year,” said Fernambucq. With the recent addition of landscaping, she said the facility is “going to be [a] phenomenal” location for weddings.
The riding facility, which has two barns, an indoor riding ring and outdoor patio area, was built in 2016. At the time, Fernambucq said they considered the possibility of a dual purpose for the farm. “We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if while we’re out of town at a horse show, someone could be getting married here?” she said.
Two weddings have already taken place at Heathermoor - the first was her son’s and daughter-in-law’s, Carter and Lacey Alvis. They had their rehearsal dinner in one of the barns with the horses looking on. “They were fascinated by it,” said Fernambucq. The other wedding - a riding student’s - had to be moved in to the indoor ring because of rain. With the addition of string lights, an arbor and the open bay door looking out at one of the corrals, “It looked like a rain forest,” she said. “It was really neat.”
Fernambucq has been operating Heathermoor Farms since 1999, training horses, teaching lessons and showing her beloved Saddlebred. “They’re just so expressive and very social,” she said. “They’re so smart and intuitive.”
Even with venturing into the wedding venue business, Fernambucq said the farm will continue to primarily be a riding facility, with weddings scheduled for the weekends she’s away at horse shows. She goes to shows one to two weekends per month from February to October.
“It’s not going to be a wedding factory,” she said.
Daughter-in-law Lacey, with assistance from another planner in Fairhope, is managing the wedding side of the business and providing on-site support.
Heathermoor is the latest barn to get in on what is a growing trend. Fernambucq said many other barn owners have told her they are also hosting weddings at their farms. “It’s a big business right now,” she said.