It all started with a dream for West Union residents Audrey Gibbs and Connie Reierson.
For years, Gibbs and Reierson kicked around future business endeavors once they became empty nesters. One of those ideas was to create an event center.
This spring, that dream became reality as Gibbs and Reierson hosted their first full wedding at Rustic Chic Event Center.
Getting to work
Before settling on the Rustic Chic Event Center, Reierson and Gibbs said they kicked around several business ideas, including transforming a barn on Reierson’s property. However, the location wasn’t ideal.
That was when Gibbs looked at a barn on her own property, located off Highway 150 north of West Union. For a year, they discussed how to update the 80-year-old, 5,500 square-foot barn. After hiring an engineer to check the sturdiness of the structure, they got to work renovating the space.
Reierson spent 10-13 hours a day cleaning the barn from floor to ceiling while Gibbs worked around her full-time job as a massage therapist. Together, they power washed and scrubbed everything by hand from the ceiling down, using grinders and sanders to smooth out the beams.
“We both enjoy craft kind of things and we both enjoy a challenge,” they said. “Our contractors were awesome. Whatever we could do or save a little bit, they were just great. We didn’t have a blueprint or anything for what we were doing. It was just coming out of our heads and doing research to make sure what we have to have can happen.
“We just picked the brains of anyone we knew who had been married recently. What did they like? What didn’t they like?”
The bulk of the work was done during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to having more time to work on the project, it also led to unexpected positives.
“It made people realize you can have a smaller wedding. We’re a split level so it’s really become very positive for us,” they said.
The barn is located on Gibbs’ property, which was featured on the ABC show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in 2011. In addition to the split-level space inside, there’s an outdoor patio.
Reierson and Gibbs have collected wedding decorations that are available for use. In addition, Gibbs’ house is available for rent the day of the wedding, and Reierson makes silk flower arrangements.
The friends are all hands on deck during a wedding weekend. They help set up for the event and are available for support the entire day.
“We’ll have the wedding upstairs and then ask everyone to go downstairs for a social hour or go outside. We have an hour to flip the upstairs for the rest of the day with the team,” they said. “You really don’t get a feel for it with just pictures and getting the dimensions until you get inside the barn. A lot of people have commented that it’s gorgeous.”
The location can comfortably fit 200 for a wedding. They also host smaller events like birthdays, graduation parties, baby showers and business gatherings.
“We want to really focus on the family. It’s your day. It’s your family’s day,” they said.
The big day
Last fall, the duo hosted their first two weddings, with one in September and one in October.
The first wedding of 2021 was a special one – Reierson’s daughter Jessica was the bride.
“The hardest part for me was sitting while my partner was running around,” joked Reierson. “The wedding was a dream come true.”
“So many people are wanting something like this,” they said. “With Rustic Chic, you get the rustic and the chic, you get the whole look. We’re in an ag community, and this really hits home with a lot of people.”
Gibbs and Reierson have big dreams for their business venture. They have a renovation “wish list” to finish the inside roof, work on the landscaping and add on a reception hall and dance area.
“I think in a year, we’re going to look at each other and think, what the heck did we start,” they joked.
For more information and to book your spot, visit www.rusticchiceventcenter.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.