-The following first appeared in the winter 2016 issue of About HER, a regional magazine news insert.
Since the Floyd Event Center opened its doors a few years ago, it has been host to a high school prom, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, a dance recital, a Mardi Gras Ball, speaking engagements, Earth Day celebrations, corporate meetings, private parties, retreats and more.
Over the past two years the center has become known as a premier wedding venue. Located at the Floyd EcoVillage – a community focused on energy efficiency and sustainable agriculture – the center features a foyer, a main hall, a café, a patio and an outdoor timber-framed pavilion overlooking a pond. It is situated on 75 acres of woods, gardens, farm fields and trails just a few minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the one-stoplight town of Floyd.
Wedding packages at the eco-friendly, timber-framed facility are cost comparable or priced lower than other area event venues, said Maggie Hessinger, event coordinator. She noted an extra perk at the Event Center venue: tables, chairs and dishes are provided.
“I can put together a full package, but most brides are hands-on and do a lot for themselves,” said Hessinger, who agreed that some hands-on input, such as decorating, can personalize a couple’s special day and also cut costs. Some of the amenities included at the venue are a fully stocked commercial kitchen, a sprung dance floor, an elevated stage with curtains, a state-of-the-art sound system, an ABC license, ample parking and a bride’s dressing room. Everything is set within the EcoVillage’s picturesque mountain backdrop. “Sometimes deer show up,” Hessinger said.
There’s an off-grid earth-bermed lodge on the EcoVillage property and some wedding packages include accommodations there. Extras that can be provided or separately booked include a florist, band and caterer, although the Center employs a chef and staff that can provide food, some of which is grown on the property. Local seasonal flowers grown at the EcoVillage can be purchased and picked on site for $10 a bucket. As an event coordinator, Hessinger will seat wedding guests or take on other wedding planning and wedding day tasks.
The Event Center is always making improvements. Last year the driveway was paved. This year an herb garden and arbor were added, creating a perfect spot for memorable wedding photos. Hessinger said the center has been host to a military wedding, a Buddhist wedding, a Mennonite wedding, a 4th of July wedding, in which fireworks were set off, and a shot gun wedding, where the bride and groom were dressed in camouflage. She described the wedding of a pilot and airline stewardess who decorated the hall with a travel theme and hung paper airplanes over each table. “It’s amazing what brides and grooms come up with,” she said.
Beth Quinn and Dan Sweeney were married at the Floyd Event Center in June. About 90 guests attended their Appalachian Midsummer’s Night themed wedding. Before the ceremony, which took place at the pond pavilion, an hour long cocktail party in the foyer spilled out onto the patio, where tables were set up. Quinn described how local ambiance creator Barbara Gillespie decorated with local garden flowers that were put in old glass pickle jars and placed throughout the venue. A lavender scarf was draped along the pavilion and colorful prayer flags that guests wrote blessings on hung on the beams.
Quinn and Sweeney met on the Camino, a 500 mile pilgrimage walk through parts of France and Spain, and that was incorporated into the hand fasting ceremony, officiated by local ceremonialist Katherine Chantal. Instead of wine, the couple ceremoniously drank whiskey from Spain. Family members read poetry excerpts from Walt Whitman’s Song the Open Road, a book that Quinn carried on the Camino walk.
The reception took place in the main hall where lights were strung. Quinn recalled that Hessinger’s role as event coordinator was non-intrusive, helpful and flexible. “The kitchen is fabulous. All we did was give Maggie the names of the caterers and they all did the arranging. We didn’t have to think about it after we selected what we were going to have,” Quinn said. Some food was prepared onsite and some was brought in locally by Floyd’s Bootleg BBQ, which provided the main meal, and Cast Iron Catering that prepared the side dishes and cakes.
Quinn spoke highly of the elevated stage and reported that the band had fun playing. “There were enough spaces and different spaces to keep us all together from the cocktail party to dinner and dancing,” Quinn said, adding, “I had several people tell me it was one of the best weddings they’d ever been to.”
Whether formal or casual, large or small, indoor or outdoor, the event center can accommodate it all comfortably, with simple elegance, state of the art amenities, and in a uniquely beautiful setting, Hessinger said. She suggested that couples schedule a personal tour to see all that the venue has to offer. – Colleen Redman
Photos: The first four photos are of the wedding of Kat Perez and Rachel Baum. Following the pond view, there are four photos of the Beth Quinn and Dan Sweeney wedding (showing life ceremonialist Katherine Chantal in the first shot. All the photos were provided by the Floyd Event Center except for the one to the left of Maggie Hessinger at work, which I took. The photo below is of the front of the event center at night.
Post Note: To schedule a tour, contact 540-745-4434 or email@example.com. The first couple that books a wedding package at the Floyd Event Center and mentions this article will receive a FREE carriage ride from Laurel Springs Percherons as part of their wedding package. Visit Floyd Event Center on Facebook and on their website HERE.
Our World Tuesday