Farm and Field Celebrations

By Danielle Wong Moores
Photos Courtesy of Gunn-Stewart Farm

It’s mid-October in rural Warrenton, Ga., and at Gunn-Stewart Farm, cotton is in bloom. Walking the property, Amy Stewart stops to gaze out at the field of white, a gorgeous backdrop against the brilliant blue October sky. “Now this is where I would want to get married,” she says with a laugh.

Her words aren’t as random as they might seem. A working farm since the mid-1800s that currently specializes in raising beef cattle and crops like cotton, soybeans, wheat and sesame, Gunn-Stewart Farm just added “wedding and event venue” to its operations profile. 

Opened in May 2023, The Barns at Gunn-Stewart Farm completely transformed two existing barns into a bridal suite/salon and a huge reception space with a connected commercial kitchen; rebuilt a long-demolished cottage into a new, custom-decorated two-bedroom getaway and added a tiny rustic chapel. “We love the nostalgia of the place,” says Stewart, who can still envision the barns that used to house hay, feed, horses and cotton wagons belonging to her husband Gunn’s great-great-grandfather. “We’ve brought these barns back to life.” The Gunn family members were the original owners of the farm along Macon Highway. When one of the Gunn daughters married a Stewart son, the property was renamed Gunn-Stewart Farm. 

Photos Courtesy of Gunn-Stewart Farm

Courting the Commitment

Stewart also grew up on a farm in Warrenton and, after she married into the family, remembers “pulling calves” when it was a dairy farm. The dairy operations were shuttered in 2005. “It was just too hard to make it anymore,” says Stewart. Today, many of the family members work other jobs while still managing the day-to-day operations of the farm. 

The outbuildings had long been popular as backdrops for wedding and prom photos, but rustic charm comes at a price: termite damage, age and a constant beating-down by weather. Over time, several of the original buildings were destroyed. A few years ago, the old horse barn and feed barn were following the same aging pattern. “We knew it was time to do something or we’d lose them, too,” says Stewart. 

But with the cost of lumber and labor as high as it was, Stewart says the family didn’t like the idea of spending that much money just to “keep it for ourselves.” The idea of transforming the outbuildings into a wedding venue came when friends of the couple built a venue in the mountains near Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 

It would take a full year, starting with cleaning out about 100 years’ worth of debris. Although their contractor advised them that it would be easier — and less expensive — to tear down the barns and start from scratch, Stewart says the family was against the idea. “We wanted to keep the existing buildings.” 

Stewart isn’t trained as a designer, but she had specific ideas of how she wanted the venue to look, taking her cue from the words “rustic elegance.” She worked with local architect Paragon Home Designs to draw up plans, which were brought to life by local contractor Ronnie Easler Builders. “I just enjoy putting things together,” she says. 

Animals are still very much a part of Gunn-Stewart Farm. Guests can expect to be greeted by the family’s horses and micro-mini Highland cattle in the paddock next to the parking area. Families can also choose to have a miniature donkey fitted with saddlebags at their reception, providing a mobile “drink station.” 

Picture Perfect Settings

Today, inside the horse barn where once stood stalls and 70-year-old wagons, the interior has been opened to create room for table seating, with lightly stained walls and gleaming stained concrete floors, plus a bar area that flows into a spacious courtyard complete with a firepit. 

The upper floor was removed to create the expansive feeling of height, but stairs and interior balconies were added so guests could still enjoy a “barn-loft” view. Connected to the reception area by a breezeway, a commercial kitchen features all the appliances a caterer would need, including a warmer, commercial ovens and cooktop, refrigerator, ice machine, stainless steel worktables and more. 

Directly across from the reception area separated by the courtyard is what Stewart fondly calls the “bridal barn,” which once stored feed for horses and cattle. Brides and their bridesmaids can spend the night, thanks to a downstairs bridal suite, an upper-story bedroom with three day beds and trundles that can sleep up to six, and a generously sized bathroom. Then, in the morning, they can get ready in style, thanks to an upscale salon room with mirrors and plush off-white leather salon chairs.

The family also added a two-bedroom, two-bath cottage to the property, with other housing on-site at their cousin’s farm across the road for families of the bride and groom or other guests. In the future, Stewart says they plan to repurpose grain silos into chic cottages for the groom and groomsmen. 

But the addition most important to Stewart was the chapel. “I guess one thing with my generation is that we all got married in a church,” she says. “I know God is anywhere, but I still wanted a chapel.”

The tiny white chapel — with its accents of light wood and painted black trim, its tall steeple topped with a cross, and its silver bell — seats about 258. Couples can choose to hold their ceremony on the lawn, at the courtyard or within the pecan orchard — the site for many past Gunn-Stewart family weddings.

A family wedding also christened the new venue. On September 16, son Gunner married Tanner Grimes at a lavish wedding that seated 400. Grimes’ father custom-ordered a wooden cross for the couple’s ceremony, which they then donated to the venue to be used by other brides and grooms. Seeing the space in candlelight at night, with family and friends dancing under the stars — that was the moment Stewart says she realized they’d done it right. “Everything came together.” 

As of mid-October, The Barns at Gunn-Stewart Farm already has 39 weddings on its books. Wedding weekends are always full of fun. While families work closely with manager Carlee Milburn to firm up their wedding plans, on the weekend of, they know they can always call on the Stewarts. “We enjoy being up here and just helping as much as we can,” says Stewart. “We’re always accessible. We want their weddings to be just as special or even more special. It’s just such a happy time.”

Seen in the January 2024 issue of Augusta magazine.

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