Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

February 15, 2013

County offers several unique wedding venues

Bart Doan

— One thing that is forever etched into the memories of every married couple is where it all happened.

Some prefer it more low key, while others are just fine hopping a plane to Las Vegas. For everyone in between, Hendricks County offers an array of picturesque options.

Two of the more unique places in the county come on opposite ends of the spectrum but aim to provide the same special moment to couples on their wedding day — Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield and the Blanton House in Danville.

Though Chateau Thomas Winery is annually packed to the gills with ceremonies, Kathy Baker, who has been there for several years, says that to many, the fact that the Vineyard Room is upstairs offering such a feature is widely unknown.

“I don’t know what it is, but I hear it a lot, that people don’t know about this place,” she says of the room directly above the area where patrons can sample wine and tour the facility. “It’s like it’s a secret, but I hear that all the time (from even regulars), ‘we didn’t know this was up here.’”

What is up there is a facility that holds up to 180 people with their Champagne Room addition 10 years ago. Chateau Thomas has been open since 1987. Baker says the venue is a perfect mix of good time and romanticism.

“This place is romantic, I think,” she said. “And it’s different. It’s cozy, unique, the decor, the ambiance, it’s unlike other places that are just four walls. Wine is romantic to begin with. A lot of people choose to come here because of the winery and they fall in love with the wine and each other.”

Baker says their famed wine can be sampled by prospective couples and any variety of their favorites can be placed on the tables, a custom addition to their evening, and with 75 to 80 varieties, she said there’s something for everyone.

In addition to that, chef Pete Gulesiam customizes every meal to the specific tastes of the couple.

“I like getting the chance to sit down with the bride and groom and customizing their meal for them,” Gulesiam said, adding that the winery is a chef’s dream. Over the years, the favorites seem to be his sun-dried Tuscan chicken and a roast beef with Cabernet wine sauce.

Surrounded by hotels, there is no reason for patrons of the winery to worry about a long travel back for the evening. Baker said that a partnership with Jennifer Smith of Staybridge Suites allows discounts for group parties who are exchanging their nuptials there.

Couples wanting a little more outdoor flavor to their special day might consider the historic Blanton House in Danville. A picturesque park setting awaits, with a stately house in the backdrop.

Jeri Bice, promoter for the Blanton House, says the scenery, nostalgia, and customization make the venue perfect for weddings.

“It’s very private because you have this gigantic backyard that is backed up to the woods,” she said. “We don’t have to tell you that you have to use certain caterers or a certain DJ. Just rent the house and the ground and everything else you do is up to you. Grill outside or have it catered, it’s anything you want and it’s beautiful.”

She said that while couples typically get married on the lawn, the venue is compact enough to where those that might not be able to stand the sultry summer heat can be in the house taking part in the ceremony and be just as close to the couple.

The also have two portable gazebos, a large verandah, a patio, and an area to put a tent as large as a 30x75-feet. She also said that over the years, couples have had bounce houses, yard games — whatever suits them, which isn’t always an option at a wedding.

“I had one groom come up to me at the end of a night and say that it was magical,” Bice said. “It was so different to hear a guy say that. Everybody just says it’s beautiful here. It’s elegant, but casual. People have the freedom to move around. No matter where you’re at, outside or in the house, you’re part of the ceremony. Plus, there’s a big kitchen which caterers love and a bridal suite where the bride can get dressed at the house, not the hotel.”

And while both venues are so different in nature, they share one common theme. Get them early, because both are booked every weekend of wedding season and usually need to be reserved a year in advance.

“A lot of people get engaged over the holidays, so in January, the phone starts ringing off the hook,” Baker said.

Bice added, “We have a few spotty weekends available, but for the most part we’re booked. People need to reserve a year in advance.”

The Blanton House, at 625 N. Washington St., can be reached by calling 745-4180. Chateau Thomas Winery, at 6291 Cambridge Way, Plainfield, is online at chateauthomas.com and can be reached by calling 837-9463.