By, John Casper
When I asked her to marry me I never knew the “yes” she uttered would result in so much immediate adventure and excitement. You married men are probably thinking I was just naive, but oh contraire, this was mutual the whole way…not the anticipated excited Bride kind of craziness!
Although dealing with real estate decisions occupied much or our early engagement days, weeks, and months, we couldn't help but start thinking about our wedding venue options. One of the reasons I asked Teri to marry me is because we both have an appreciation for doing things OUR way, rather than conform to the norms that seem to drive our society. You see, we could care less about impressing our wedding guests with an extravagant, expensive, dare I say “stereotypical” wedding/reception. Instead, we wanted to personalize that day to be all that we envisioned for ourselves and our future together!
At the same time, during our many road trips throughout Michigan, and all points connecting the mitten to North Carolina and Georgia (my wife’s native soil), we found ourselves constantly admiring old farm barns. Their stature. Their faded siding and dilapidated conditions. The generations they’ve seen come and go, and if their beams and boards could only talk. These buildings have a personality and ambiance you just can’t get in a modern pole building that has taken over our countryside due to ease of building and perceived lower cost. I dare anyone to set foot into an old barn and just try not to say “wow” when you look around, but a modern pole building nets no such reaction.
Then it hit us…we NEED to get married in a BARN because that is so US! You can search “barn wedding venue” all day long and find countless options, but they still wind up in that same category of “expensive” along with any other modern wedding venue for rent. What seemed unrealistic at the time started to infiltrate my every wedding thought until I had the epiphany: why not use our hard-earned money to build our own barn to get married in?
How ridiculous was that solution? Well I said “why not” and turned my attention toward making that dream a reality. Or at least convincing myself I could reasonable pull it off. Think about it, you’ll shell out tens of thousands of dollars to throw a ONE DAY party in someone else’s building, and that building may not even be a wedding venue forever! You may not be able to return to the scene of the crime year after year to remember the day you married your best friend. Not to mention the utility aspect of simply having an extra storage space or work shop for all the years to come after the nuptials!
It seemed impossible to consider this option, but that’s when I came across “The Barn Geek.” Having researched several post and beam designers, builders, fabricators, etc. along the way, this one intrigued me more than any other for two reasons. First, because they’re located in Michigan and I figured that would help both logistically and physically getting me to a place where I knew I could do it. And second, because they’ve designed multiple barn plans and options that bring back that traditional, historical, nostalgic farm attitude and appearance, yet are using modern structural components that do not require an “old world” expert to understand the mechanics and assembly procedures.
These are essentially brand new OLD barns! Many folks may criticize the lack of old world components such as tenon joints, wood pegs, and the use of a small army to assemble these barns, but I personally admire the balance between old and new in the designs. The Barn Geek style is preserving historical physical features, and are packed with “old barn charm” in every detail. Modern features have been incorporated to reduce the cost, time, knowledge, capability, and workforce required to get from dream to reality. These are DIY enthusiast friendly barns that can be assembled easily with proper planning, arm-chair building knowledge, and plenty of friends to help.
In my case, I’ve never worked professionally in the construction field, but have helped build enough things over the years to be pretty handy with power tools, construction principals, and building codes. When I got stuck, the Barn Geek was there to help, knowing every necessary nuance of assembling the kit safely and efficiently. For the do-it-yourself enthusiast, you won’t build a large Barn Geek kit in a weekend, but within a few months you’ll get from bare ground to final building! AND, it wasn’t hard to get my friends involved because they thought it was SO COOL to work on a project of this scale and shared the same degree of satisfaction as I did after each day.
Our wedding was attended by almost 300 people, and we’ve received countless responses from our guests that it was the most memorable they’d ever attended. Much of that was due to the attention to detail my wife put into décor, food, and activities for all ages, but the prevailing sentiment was how completely awesome the barn venue was. We went from the dreaded significant wedding expense to rent a venue, to an equity investment that increased our property value and provided us with a building that will host not only ONE party, but parties for years to come. I will never get tired of hearing guest say, “you seriously built this yourself?” Yes…yes I did (with lots of manual help off course).
I encourage anyone reading this to strongly consider the Barn Geek for your own barn project, you won’t be disappointed! Big box store pole barn kits are marginally easier to build, but they won’t provide nearly the same enjoyment and equity you gain with a new “old post & beam barn.” Cookie cutter pole buildings use unattractive, kiln dried, mass produced material that has lost its attitude. Become part of the movement today to re-dot the countryside with barns that are as visually appealing as they are functional, built from trees that aren’t even cut from the forest until you order your kit, then custom milled to meet the design specs of your “dream barn.”
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