When Alison Travis, formerly Van Gelder, was looking for a place to host her wedding, she had trouble finding an event venue large enough to host their guest list.
Like many daughters in trouble, she turned to her dad, Brad Van Gelder, for help. “I was wanting to build a new machine shed for the farm,” Brad said. “Then Ali got engaged and wanted to have the wedding at the farm.”
The family began work to make their family farm, 15 miles west of Creston, ready to host Alison’s dream wedding.
As they constructed the shed, the family joked that they could rent the space as a wedding venue for other families, but Alison was hesitant.
“My mom and dad started talking about making it a venue,” she said. “I was kind of against it. Who’s going to want to get married in the middle of nowhere with farm smells and machinery? I was hesitant.”
Alison’s wedding in August showed guests and the family the potential the location had. “After the wedding, we had a couple people asking if they would be willing to let them have the wedding out there,” Alison’s mom, Terri said. “It sparked the conversation, could this be something?”
Once she had her wedding out there, Alison said she realized it was the perfect space. “We could do so much with the blank building to give to other couples,” she said. “It really is a blank space for them to customize.”
Alison and her younger sister, Morgan, put together a website to test the waters, and with that, The Legacy Venue was born.
Before long, the family had six weddings lined up for next year.
Last week, dirt work began for a new building at the venue. “We are adding on restrooms, a getting-ready room, walk out deck, overnight suite, commercial kitchen, showers,” Terri listed. “The overnight suite is like a motel room. We’re hoping to rent it out throughout the year.”
Terri said no event is too big or too small for their venue. “It’s an option not just for weddings. A Creston class reunion contacted us,” she said. “We will have a bar that will be able to serve pop and alcohol.”
In addition to weddings and reunions, the venue will be able to host events from family reunions, corporate parties, or even a place for hunters to stay.
The family is committed to customizing the venue, including 5,600 sq. ft of indoor space, to fit the event. They will be available to help transform the space. They even plan to offer tractor rides.
“Brad and I, we want to work with you,” Terri said. “If you have an idea you’re unsure about, we want to work with you and make that happen. We’re going to have plenty of parking, overnight rooms, you can have our place for four days or whatever you need. It doesn’t have to be super big. We’re here to help.”
The website features a local vendor list for brides to look through when planning their wedding. “It’s very stressful finding everything,” Alison said. “Me being able to reach out to other vendors, photographers, bakers, DJs, it takes the pressure off the bride and groom.”
Terri said it’s important for them to build up and support the local area. “We live in a piece of paradise,” she said. “We have amazingly talented people to plug into. This is not something we could do on our own; we need the support of the community.”
Their first wedding is scheduled for July. Though the space isn’t scheduled to be completed until March 1, venue tours are available on their website, www.thelegacyvenue.org.
Terri serves as a teacher while Brad farms, Alison owns a boutique uptown and Morgan is headed to college. Alison’s husband, Connor, is a large farm equipment salesmen, and also helps with the venue.
“As parents, there’s nothing better than raising kids that want to be here,” Terri said. “That’s the beauty of small town Iowa.”