Rolling hills, a red barn, and just a few minutes from quite possible the most dapper of country townships in the South, Franklin, TN…yep, that’s Southall Eden. Southall Eden is about as cool as it gets for those wanting a farm wedding, but still wanting to maintain that chic and modern feel, and not cart your guests back and forth from the backwoods to the boondocks.
Southall Eden is nestled in the Liepers Fork community a stones throw from Franklin and about 30 minutes south of Nashville. Not only is it a fantastic wedding venue and event space, but it also seconds as a paperie where brides and others wanting custom stationery, invitations, and high-end paper goods can come and tickle their fancies. I had the chance to speak with Shannon O’Kelley, the head-honcho over at Southall Eden, and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the venue and paperie.
Give us a general overview of the services you offer to brides, as both a wedding venue and paper-designer.
Southall Eden Paperie specializes in custom wedding stationery. Our typical client is the mid- to high end bride who is looking for something completely unique to announce her big day. We work one on one with her to create an invitation that is both personal to the couple and also fits their wedding style, whether it is luxury, modern, vintage, or earthy. We offer complete stationery suites and all accessories from Save the Dates down to favor tags and boxes. All of our design, printing, die cutting, and assembly is done in-house, with gives us the flexibility to meet each couple’s individual needs. We also have a retail line of invitations available at You’re Invited in Belle Meade and Williamson County Weddings in Franklin.
The venue is a 5 acre farm in Leiper’s Fork, just minutes from historic downtown Franklin. In addition to a historic red barn built in 1904, we have a party shed, pavilion, restroom facilities, catering kitchen, and bridal suite. There are several sites on the property for a wedding ceremony and/or reception. We offer all-inclusive wedding packages but also rent out the property a la carte for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and engagement parties, as well as commercial photo shoots, bridal portraits, and engagement photos.
Southall Eden Paperie and Farm is quite the combination. Why did you decide to offer both services?
I have been designing wedding stationery for about 7 years, but just purchased the farm 2 1/2 years ago. I didn’t purchase it with the intention of hosting events, but after moving here I immediately noticed the demand for farm wedding venues in Leiper’s Fork. A photographer whose client had a last minute conflict with her venue approached me about having the wedding here. We made it happen, and word of mouth kind of took over from there.
Located in the gorgeous Leiper’s Fork Area near Franklin, TN, do you feel being positioned in a slightly more rural area has given you an advantage or disadvantage?
Definitely an advantage! People love this area, and are always happy to bring their out of town guests here to show them how beautiful Tennessee is. We are located just 10 minutes from downtown Franklin and 3 minutes from the village of Leiper’s Fork. Both have great restaurants, shops, and art galleries where guests can entertain themselves when they are not participating in wedding related events.
What has been your biggest obstacle as a wedding venue owner?
Well this is not unique to wedding venues, but I’d have to say the recession! The average Nashville wedding costs about $28,000. While we can throw a nice wedding here for significantly less than that, the fact remains that weddings are expensive. In the past year we’ve seen couples not having as much money to devote to their wedding as couples in past years have, and we have to be creative to throw weddings that are fabulous for budgets that are not
What entices a bride to book Southall Eden? Is there anything that sets you apart from the local wedding venues?
Most of our couples are laid back people who want a natural outdoor wedding that is beautiful but also comfortable and fun for the guests. We tend to attract a lot of artist and musician types, which we love! Our big red barn is usually a big selling point because of the popularity of barn weddings and the lack of other venues who have that sort of facility.
Are you simply a wedding venue, or do you offer planning and design services?
As of 2011 we now have an on-site planner who plans some of our weddings, but we also work with outside planners as well. And of course we are always delighted to be involved in the design process
for any couples who want it!
When designing wedding invitation and other custom stationary, what can a bride expect from start to finish?
The process begins with an in-person consultation (for local brides) to hear more about the couple, their vision, and other elements they are incorporating into their big day. We also work with brides on a national (and sometimes international) level, and those consultations are done either by phone or email. The second step is the design process, whereby I create a sample based on everything I’ve learned in the consultation. I then meet with the client again to go over the proof and make any necessary changes. Once she is 100% happy, we start production. After the invitations are finished and mailed, we move onto wedding day accessories such as programs, place cards, table numbers, and favors.
Where do you pull your inspiration from when designing wedding invitations?
This usually comes from the client. I always encourage her to bring photos of things she loves, whether its wedding related or not. I also like to find out details about the venue, the tablescape, flowers, bridesmaid dresses, and anything else that is important to the look of the wedding.
Does Southall Eden act as an event space for functions other than weddings?
Yes. This year we are offering a rehearsal dinner package that seems to really appeal to couples who want a formal indoor wedding but still want to give their out of town guests a true Tennesse experience. We also do engagement parties, corporate functions, and music industry events.
As always, I have to ask, do you have any quirkiness or weird habits you’ve noticed while working?
Me???? Never!! I’m totally the most normal person ever. Aren’t all artists???
What are the best ways prospective brides can contact you?
For brides interested in stationery I prefer an email (shannon (at) southalleden.com). For couples interested in the venue I prefer a phone call at 615-775-4080.