Brittany Evans wanted a storybook wedding but what she got was something more like a movie.
For the past eight months of their year-and-a-half engagement, Evans and her fiance Jared Roberts prepared for a wedding at the Walters Barn, a popular wedding and event venue in Lula. Then in early March — two months before the wedding — a fire destroyed the barn.
“I cried, oh I cried,” Evans said remembering the moment she heard about the fire. “I was completely shocked. That was the worst thing. You never hear about that except for in the movies.”
Evans had only nine weeks to put the pieces of her perfect day back in order. She said she felt like she was in shock in the days following the fire. As a full-time student at Lanier Technical College with a part-time job, Evans worried she simply wouldn’t have enough time to plan her perfect day.
“I thought everything was under control, then all of a sudden it just got thrown a curve ball when there was only nine weeks left,” Evans said. “... At this point I was thinking ‘OK, we don’t have anywhere to get married. What am I going to do?’”
Evans wasn’t the only bride scrambling to find an alternative wedding location. In the two months since the barn was destroyed, six weddings have been relocated or rescheduled.
Jackie Walters, assistant to and daughter of Walters Barn owner, Jim Walters, said while the family was heartbroken about the loss of the barn and all the memorabilia collected inside, their main concern was helping the brides.
“We feel most obligated to the brides,” Jackie Walters said. “It’s hard to change courses right in the middle of something like that. Although it was terrible that it happened, we were glad to get the brides placed elsewhere without too much difficulty.”
Walters said many other venues and businesses came to the aid of the brides and helped make the barn’s loss less catastrophic.
Jim Walters almost immediately began reconstructing the building. It is expected to be completed by June.
Evans thought she would be one of the first brides to be married in the rebuilt barn, but found out it would not be ready in time.
“At that point I was just, like, scattered,” Evans said. “I was freaking out. The wedding was in three weeks and I didn’t know if we were going to have it, because (the barn) wasn’t going to be done.”
Many of Evans’ friends and family urged the couple to consider changing their wedding date to a time when the barn would be ready, but Evans said she wouldn’t hear a word of it. She laughed, saying she would get married in the courthouse or “in some random person’s front yard” before she changes another thing about her wedding plans.
“I’m so tired of being engaged,” Evans admitted. “I’m not waiting one minute longer to be Mrs. Roberts.”
Originally, the couple planned to marry at the Roberts’ family farm. But Evans said she changed her mind “for some reason” and wanted to have it at the barn instead. Fortunately for Evans, the Walters Barn wasn’t her only option.
With help from her wedding coordinator at Soiree Southern Events and both sides of the family, the couple put together a “shabby chic” wedding at the Roberts’ family farm.
She hastily sent out postcards notifying her guests of the location change.
Evans said her mother and father got busy making decorations that she thinks “need to be in a magazine.” Her father built barn doors for her to walk through as she made her way up the aisle. Her mother handled the decorations and color coordination — neutral with a pop of Tiffany blue.
The couple exchanged vows Saturday.
Evans said she thinks her perfect day has become even more perfect for all the challenges that were overcome.
“I feel like in the end I’m actually kind of glad in a way that it worked out the way it did,” Evans said. “Because we are getting married at my fiance’s family farm. ... It’s more sentimental to us. It’s a more personal and intimate setting.”