Planning an Indian Wedding: Castleton Goes International

You haven’t heard? Castleton Farms is headed to India! As you read this, our Executive Director, Darla Walker, is jet-setting across the world with our bride Heena and photographer Ben Finch to prep for the big day. While over there, Darla and Heena will shop for the wedding sarees, jewelry, invitations and more, and back home, we’re going to be documenting every bit of it. While they’re all en route, we wanted to introduce Heena + Ronak to you all!

International Indian wedding planning

Indian wedding photography_Bill Waldorf


their storyThe two met at a graduation party at the end of their Junior year in college, and Heena claims she knew there was something special about him when she saw him walk through the door (swoon!). Little did they know, at that moment, where life would bring them! A few days after, Heena was leaving Atlanta for the summer so Ronak asked her to grab coffee at the ever-so-eclectic Java Monkey, and the rest is history. Heena commented, “It’s a good thing that I liked him enough to go on a date with him because I’m not the biggest fan of coffee!”


Indian wedding engagement_Ben Finch Photo


how he askedOne of the couple’s favorite places is Savannah, Georgia. The fact that 3 out of 6 of their anniversaries have been spent in the charming, historic town made it the perfect proposal location. Ronak had mapped out every detail of the day, which would end with him on one knee, at their favorite place in Savannah–the fountain in the middle of Forsyth Park, asking the girl he adores to spend forever with him. But life happens, and the day didn’t go as Ronak had planned. Every time he thought about proposing throughout the day, something went wrong. The day ended back at the town home where they were staying, and Ronak decided then that the time was right. He asked. Heena was taken by surprise. She said yes, of course, and here we are today!


Indian wedding engagement_Ben Finch Photo

castleton brideHeena had previously been to an Indian wedding at Castleton and fell in love with our property. When the time rolled around for her to choose a wedding venue, she considered Castleton because of the outdoor venue options. In India, over 90% of couples get married outside. While there are endless outdoor venues to choose from in America, the couple had difficulty finding an outdoor venue that could accommodate such a large guest count. Indian families consider everyone they meet part of their family, which explains their 500+ person guest counts. Heena + Ronak also mentioned choosing Castleton because of Darla and the built-in event planning that comes with every experience. Unlike American weddings, Indian weddings consist of multiple events occurring over a 3-day time period (at least!), so having an event planner to keep track of each detail and hold people accountable was a huge deal breaker for these two.

All of that being said, we are SO excited to have the opportunity to experience India with Heena, Ronak, Ben, and the whole family. Join us on this adventure and find some entertainment in our daily Facebook vlogs, Instagram inspiration photos, blog posts describing the details and importance of planning an Indian wedding, and one of our favorite parts – Pappu’s passage! That’s right. The little friend you see below is joining our journey. We’ll be posting photos of Pappu wherever we go, and it’s up to YOU to guess where he is. Darla will be bringing back some fun souvenirs for each winner! Be sure to follow us with the hashtags #PappusPassage, #WhereInTheWorldIsPappu and #IndiaExperiencesCastleton.

authentic patchwork Indian elephant

Southern Charm is Here To Stay: The Rise in Rustic Barn Weddings

It’s no secret that planning a rustic chic wedding is a trending topic among brides lately, and we hope that trend is here to stay! Couples aren’t having to travel to the South to find the perfect barn venue anymore. They are popping up all over the country – and for good reason!

Compared to a traditional wedding venue, such as a church or a reception hall, barns provide a much more relaxed environment for couples and their guests, so you could argue that people who have barn weddings have the most fun!

Picture of a rustic barn and fall wedding ceremony setting


Adding a little southern charm to your wedding is easy in our Carriage House garden. Whether you choose to have an enchanting outdoor ceremony in the pergola or take the party indoors during a hot summer evening, we can do it all! Our space is a blank canvas, so dress it up with sparkles and bling or keep it naturally rustic. Either way, we can guarantee you’re going to have an unforgettable experience!


Rustic barn wedding venue



There’s something simple, yet so elegant about a barn wedding. The wood provides natural beauty, so tons of dollars aren’t being spilled into the decor budget. All you really need are lace + burlap table runners, a few lanterns, and chalkboards displaying your catchy hashtag. Add in some string lights, and you’ll create a venue so cozy, guests won’t want to leave!





Choosing Castleton Farm: Real Castleton Couples

Castleton Farms wants to share a little LOVE from our 2013 Brides and Grooms. Here, in their own words, find out what they LOVED most about their Castleton experience and find out why they decided to make Castleton their wedding venue of choice!

Bride and groom on wedding day

 “Well, for me, I knew I was only going to get married once, so I had to do it right! From the moment I saw the sheer, effortless elegance Castleton exudes, the search for my perfect venue was over.  As a full-time law student as well as part-time employee, planning a wedding wasn’t something I could possibly have time to do by myself – that’s where Darla came in. I cannot sing her praises enough. She and the Castleton crew made my entire wedding experience a true fairy tale!

Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Newton

Real couple on wedding day

“The absolute best thing about Castleton farms is Darla. She helped us make the best decisions before the wedding, and literally took care of everything we needed the day of the wedding. We loved her level of involvement! No wedding is stress free, but we are so thankful Darla was there to take care of us. We trusted her from the moment we booked the venue, and she took incredible care of us.”

Mr. and Mrs. Nick Kakanis

Carnival themed wedding

“Dreams do come true! There are not enough words to completely express our thanks and appreciation for all that Castleton did to make our day the BEST day of our lives. No detail was left undone, and the Castleton grounds looked as if they were ripped from the pages of Southern Weddings magazine. The styling team really carried out our vision of a Vintage Carnival themed wedding throughout the ceremony, Carriage House, and reception. Our guests are still swooning over how amazingly beautiful everything looked! We find it nothing less than incredible that, with the volume of weddings you all help to perfect, ours was truly so unique and everything we dreamed of. The food was absolutely delicious and unique, as was the cake. The Castleton team, led by the amazingly talented Darla Walker, exceeded all of our expectations and absolutely no detail went unnoticed or unappreciated. We could not have dreamt of a better way to begin our journey as husband and wife and we are so thankful for Castleton’s hard work, creativity, love and passion that they put into every inch of our Castleton Experience. Brides, look no more…because everything you dreamed of is about to come true!!”

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Courtney

Choosing Castleton Farms: Darla Walker

Darla Walker with bride and groom at Halloween wedding

And first runner up of why you should choose Castleton Farms as your wedding venue….our very own, Darla Walker. When she reads this, I won’t be her favorite intern anymore because she is humble and wants absolutely no accolades, but the truth is, Castleton Farms could not be the most sought after venue in the South without her.  She is everything that a wedding planner should be.  She wears many hats and wears them well. I would like to think of her as a fairy godmother. She takes your vision of a fairy tale wedding,waves her magic wand and makes everything come true, just like that! *poof* How does she do it? In my opinion, she has been given a God-given talent. Talent, coupled with experience, style, negotiation and project management is a win-win in the wedding planning industry. Lucky for our Castleton Brides, her talents are at your disposal. She takes the stress, the negotiations, the budget restraints, project execution and carries it on her shoulders until the end, while doing all this, she has the wonderful ability to keep a clear head and still get excited about all the tiny details. This enables our brides to have fun during this process. After all, your wedding is supposed to be fun! You’re not supposed to worry!  This is where Darla steps in. From the beginning, until the end, she is with you every step of the way. After the initial Castleton experience, she begins her magic. She converts your vision into reality. This includes supervising vendor negotiations, managing vendors, managing guests, and handling all other wedding details, no matter how unimportant they may seem. She helps you save money, manages your timeline, while trouble shooting any unforeseen mishaps. Not only does she handle these important tasks, but she is a sounding board for decisions, a mediator, a therapist, a stress reducer and a resource of knowledge that is invaluable in this industry! Her awards and her testimonies speak for themselves. When you choose Castleton, Darla is the wedding topper on your cake, she genuinely loves our brides and follows them for many years after their big day. When you become a Castleton Bride, you become part of the Castleton family, and of course Darla, will always be your fairy godmother!

Darla Walker with bride and groom

Darla Walker with bride and groom

Darla Walker and bride at rehearsal dinner

Julie Roberts Photography


Choosing Castleton Farms: The Southern Gardens

If your wedding style is defined by elegance and luxury, dream no more! The Southern Gardens at Castleton Farms is the ideal venue for you. Surrounded by the mountains of East Tennessee, the backdrop for any Castleton wedding is merely breathtaking! Add a bit of draping to our elegant bridal pavilion, and the most sophisticated of brides will be perfectly pleased. Keep it simple with a crystal chandelier and lush florals, and you will leave guests ooh’ing and ahh’ing. Not to mention, with the ability to seat 500+ guests, you won’t have to narrow down that guest list too much! The bridal pavilion is perfect for spring, summer, and autumn outdoor weddings since it is completely surrounded by natural beauty and immaculate landscaping.

Our southern pavilion, located just a few short steps from the bridal pavilion, beckons for gathering and dancing after the “I do’s.” This covered structure is great for cocktail hour and receptions. Think of it as a blank canvas! Because of it’s natural color palette and versatility, your wedding color scheme and style are guaranteed to complement, never clash. Dress it up with draping from All Occasions Party Rentals and tall, extravagant floral arrangements from the talented Samuel Franklin to leave your guests absolutely stunned. Can we say ‘Wedding of the Year!?

Our mezzanine patio sits right beside the pavilion and can be home to the dance floor, one of our specialty bars (a late night Moonshine Bar or Bourbon & Cigar Bar), or a fire pit for guests to congregate in the chillier months. The options are endless!

Last, but certainly not least, the Southern Gardens accommodate a small lake, covered by a grassy bridge that leads to a Grecian-inspired gazebo (one of our photographers’ favorite locations) that serves as a breathtaking backdrop for your bridal portraits or wedding day pictures.

The Southern Gardens are perfect for the bride who desires luxurious glamour, romance, elegance, and southern charm. It’s the venue that fulfills every wedding dream.

Choosing Castleton Farms: The Rustic Carriage House

Rustic barn wedding venue

Looking for a barn wedding venue? We are thrilled to introduce you to the Carriage House Gardens, which are absolutely stunning, but are also, perhaps, the most versatile of all of our gardens. This rustic (and recently renovated) barn can take on many different looks to suit our brides’ inspiration. The Carriage House Gardens consist of 3 different venues, each totally customizable: the Carriage House itself, the Croquet Lawn, and the Pergola. Each of these locations would be perfect for hosting a ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception.

If you dream of a wedding filled with rustic elegance, southern charm, or vintage glamour, this is the place for you. Some of our Castleton Brides have chosen to glamorize the barn with metallic accents, chandeliers, and fabulous draping by our favorite, Gina at All Occasions Party Rentals. The Pergola behind the barn is, without a doubt, exquisite. Dress it up with draping and floral arrangements, or keep it simple and let its natural beauty shine. The Pergola is surrounded by a woodland forest, which creates a perfect landscape for a chic, vintage wedding. Receptions and after-parties are also a favorite on these grounds! The Carriage House contains ample decking that can host beverage bars, buffet lines, photo booths, DJ’s, bands and more. From the knotty pine walls to the exposed wooden rafters inside, this barn is anything but dull.

Barn weddings have become a hot trend in the South, and we don’t plan on them going out of style anytime soon. However, barn weddings don’t always mean country, homegrown weddings. We’ve seen it all – from a carnival-themed wedding to an elegant, high-end wedding and everything in between. The Carriage House Gardens allow our brides to create a fun atmosphere while using their own imaginative ideas–and kudos to our Castleton Brides with immense creativity! The possibilities are infinite at The Carriage House Gardens. Find your inspiration, create a vision and go with it! We can help you create a unique celebration that you will cherish forever.

Add in your personal touches and charming décor, and you will surely find this spectacular barn to be the answer to your dreams.

Outdoor wedding venue

Rustic barn wedding venue

Rustic barn wedding venue

Choosing Castleton Farms: The Tuscan-Inspired Vineyard

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Imagine having your wedding a few steps away from the set of Under the Tuscan Sun. If that thought causes you to daydream, look no longer. The Tuscan-inspired Vineyard at Castleton Farms is absolutely stunning! Rows upon rows of muscadine grape vines help make this site a magnificent location for your wedding – not to mention when the leaves turn to yellows and reds in the fall, this is the spot to be for your first look photos.

The Vineyard is for the sophisticated bride who wants a quaint and intimate ceremony. It is a combination of intimacy and elegance, surrounded by rolling, green hills. The possibilities are abundant, and our Vineyard looks beautiful decorated in any theme. It is a site that you can easily make your own. No fancy décor is needed to make this garden jaw-dropping. The Vineyard is located on one of the most beautiful areas on property, overlooking the breathtaking Smoky Mountains. The Vineyard will have your guests in awe, watching you exchange your vows with the beautiful mountains as the backdrop. Included in the garden is also a patio large enough to hold your dance floor or even an intimate reception with only your closest friends and family. What could be better?  If that is not enough, beside the Vineyard, you will see our new Laghetto. The Laghetto is our gorgeous, manicured pond that is housing the Castleton SS boat. This boat is similar to The Notebook, just waiting to take the new Mr. and Mrs. on their voyage. Well, the Mr. And Mrs. who are brave enough to risk getting wet! Surrounding the Laghetto is rich and lush landscaping with space large enough to accommodate your reception.

If you have always dreamed of a vineyard wedding, there is no need to travel thousands of miles to Europe because The Vineyard at Castleton Farms is your perfect destination!

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue. Dance floor


Choosing Castleton Farms: Our Exclusive Wedding Vendors

Wedding vendors portfolio and work

As we continue our countdown, we must ask, have you ever fallen in love?  If you are still crushing on our venue, but not actually made the commitment yet, maybe #7 will change your mind – our amazingly talented wedding vendors! At Castleton Farms, we have worked with many professionals and have found that our vendors are the best-of-the-best in the industry!  They have each won various awards in their chosen fields and are completely competent to exceed your expectations. Could you imagine your wedding without food, pictures, makeup, linens, tables and chairs or wedding décor?  What about a cake, drinks, music, videos, lights or flowers? Without those items, it doesn’t sound like a dream wedding, does it? Your vendors are such an intricate part of this day. They are like the branches on the tree that you have planted. They take your inspiration and put it into action by using your thoughts, your ideas and your dreams. No one should share their dream wedding with just anyone–you must use vendors that are foolproof. That’s why Castleton has completed all the research for you and chosen some of the best-of-the-best in the industry.  Allow us to introduce you to our Castleton vendors. I promise you can’t help but fall in love with these professionals!

Tilley_Jones_WatsonStudios_kendracodyw0390b copy


Bangs and Blush

All Occasions Party Rentals

All Occasion Catering

Corks Wine & Spirits

Samuel Franklin Flowers

Unique Settings and Mismatched China Rentals

Ben Finch Photography

Bill Waldorf Photography

Cody Myers Photography

Katherine Birkbeck Photography

Bryan Allen Photography

Jennie Andrews Photography

Tracie Ancelet Photography

Julie Roberts Photography

Milestone Pictures

Casey & Kristin

Alex Widmer Video

Special Notes

Ogle Entertainment

The Happy Envelope

Choosing Castleton Farms: The Groom’s Quarters

Southern groomsmen in gray suits

Yes, we said Groom’s Quarters! Not only did Castleton Farms think of the Bridal Suite and an overnight stay for the bridesmaids, but we also thought of the Groom’s Quarters! Our groom and his groomsmen will have the time of their life in the basement of our Manor. Castleton Farms has thoroughly thought through activities that our groom and his groomsmen our bound to enjoy; such as, video games, corn hole boards, chipping golf balls and last, but certainly not least, skeet shooting on the farm. A typical Castleton Experience may look something like this. Groom and groomsmen arrive for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on Friday evening. After dinner the men leave property. (The closest hotel is just 10 minutes away.) On Saturday, if our groom would like, he and his guys can arrive on property around 9:00am and begin skeet shooting. This usually begins with dontus and coffee and is a favorite for our groom and groomsmen! It’s a joy to see our guys having fun in a stress-free environment before ceremony begins. Around noon, lunch is served and dressing begins shortly after! The Groom’s Quarters also includes spacious closets for tuxes, stocked refrigerators, baskets full of snacks and comfy leather sofas! Wedding days are filled with a whirlwind of activities and when our grooms have their closest buddies around, we have found that it certainly creates a lively and calming environment. Our Groom’s Quarters is perfectly designed for our Castleton groom to help him create wonderful memories that can be remembered for the rest of his life.

Wedding venue groom's quarters

Groom getting ready for wedding

Groom getting ready for wedding

Choosing Castleton Farms: The Bridesmaids Are Invited

There are only 10 days left until Valentine’s Day! You know…the most romantic day of the year? Every day until Valentine’s, we will be counting down, revealing to you, reasons why you can’t help but fall in LOVE with the premier wedding venue of the south – Castleton Farms.

Are you ready?  Let’s begin.

Bride and bridesmaids

#10: The bridesmaids are invited

Could you imagine beginning your the weekend without your girls? I sure hope not! Your wedding weekend is supposed to be perfect and without your true friends, your partners in crime, your confidants, your specials bridesmaids, it would be far less than perfect! At Castleton Farms, we are pros at hosting bridesmaids and can accommodate up to 12 bridesmaids in our Manor. A typical Castleton Experience may look something like this: arriving on property Friday afternoon, rehearsal + rehearsal dinner, then your bridal party is welcome to stay the night before your big day. It’s your last sleepover as a single lady! Saturday is up to the bride’s discretion. You may want to just lay in bed with your girls, or perhaps you’re a little adventurous and want to do some pilates to cut down on the jitters. Nevertheless, it’s your day, and you get to do what you want! You can opt to have a bridesmaids’ brunch with your girls, served by Castleton staff, and while this is happening our exclusive hair and makeup vendor, Bangs and Blush, begins styling your bridal party. Lots of special girl time, moral support, and encouragement are guaranteed to make sure this is the best day of your life!

Bridal party getting ready

Bridesmaids getting ready

Bridesmaids relaxing on wedding day