When Doug Humphrey of Atlanta caught his first glimpse of the mountains in Dahlonega, his thoughts drifted to the countryside of Vézelay, France.
“The feeling I got when I was out there with the rolling hills and a peaceful beautiful feeling is the exact same feeling I got just walking this property before I even built it,” Humphrey said.
He purchased a 15-acre property with a panoramic view of the mountains in Dahlonega, and nearly a year later in 2016, he broke ground to transform the place into a wedding and event venue called Vezalay.
Humphrey said he slightly altered the name of the French village, to make the name stand on its own.
“I thought that it would be a pretty cool name for a venue,” he said. “People always ask about it, and I like telling the story.”
Humphrey originally planned to build a second home or a vacation rental home on the land. After inviting people over to see the property, he kept hearing the same recommendation to turn it into an event venue.
In October 2018 Humphrey held a grand opening of the space, which has a pavilion, event center and a cottage. Straying away from traditional, rustic mountain venues, Humphrey describes the style of Vezalay as classy and contemporary.
The pavilion is typically used for outdoor wedding ceremonies and can hold anywhere from 100 to 140 people. The cottage, which offers overnight stays, has a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Humphrey said brides and their bridal party have used it for doing their hair and makeup before the wedding.
With high ceilings and an expansive dance floor, the venue offers a large space for both wedding ceremonies and receptions.
The room holds up to 200 people, and is surrounded by windows that offer a full view of the mountains. It contains a plethora of electrical outlets, wood-burning fireplace, chairs, wireless microphone, catering area fit with refrigerators, and surround sound system that’s compatible with phones and iPads.
The room includes a projector and pull-down screen, which blend into the walls and ceiling when not in use.
All of the lights in the building are dimmable and provide different color tones.
Although it wasn’t in his original plan, Humphrey attached a deck onto the event center, which gives an outdoor view of the mountains and spot for mingling in the fresh air.
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“This turned into my favorite spot,” Humphrey said. “People come out here and say they feel like they’re floating.”
For those who are lucky, cows will often move into view to graze on the hills at the base of the mountains. Humphrey said people have often requested to have the cows in the backdrop of their wedding; however, he doesn’t own the cows, so he can’t plan when they wander near his property.
Humphrey received his first wedding client over a month before he opened the venue. He said the bride had wandered around Dahlonega looking for a place to hold her wedding and spotted him on the unfinished property.
Humphrey said her venue plans had fallen through and she was desperate to find an alternative.
“She just fell in love,” Humphrey said. “She was like, ‘This is exactly what we want. Sometimes things just happen for a reason.’”
Watching the bride and her husband hold the first wedding at Vezalay, Humphrey said proved a special experience. He found it a wonderful beginning to the venue.
Humphrey has already set his sights on the future of Vezalay, which includes constructing 14 additional cottages and trails near the property’s lake. He also aims to hire a team of staff, which would give him more opportunities to expand on the venue’s services.
Currently for weddings, Humphrey will allow the clients to set up the spaces themselves. He hopes to soon add a section option, which would involve his team taking care of most of the planning.
For those interested in using the venue for an event or wedding, Humphrey encourages people to reserve a tour or pop up on the property.
“I just feel like it’s a place that can create a real special and memorable experience,” he said. “Every time I bring someone out here they tend to echo all of those sentiments after they see the place.”
To schedule a tour, get in contact with the owner or find more information about Vezalay, visit vezalay.com. The venue is located at 520 Highway 52 W in Dahlonega.