This article is written as part of the “Away From Here” series where All Things Madison branches outside of our city and explores destinations for residents to explore when they want to get “away from here”. Today we’re heading north to New Market, Alabama and touring Ivy Oaks, a brand new wedding and event venue that is now available to tour and book!
“This tree right here; This tree is my favorite,” shares Rachel Rutledge as she points to a large, captivating tree ahead and slowly parks the golf cart we’re spending the cool morning riding on. “This tree is why this property is named Ivy Oaks.”
In Rutledge’s front yard stands a century-old oak tree wrapped almost entirely with ivy.
“We were told that ivy usually chokes out and kills a tree, but these two have been flourishing together for over 20 years,” she shares with a smile. “As soon as I saw it, I knew what we’d name this property.”
The property Rutledge is referring to is the brand new wedding and event venue that she and her husband John have worked tirelessly on over the last 15 months to bring to life.
With great joy, John and Rachel will officially open Ivy Oaks this weekend as the first couple ties the knot under an arbor handmade by Rutledge in front of a crowd of 175 guests. They’ll then dance the night away in the event barn that backyards to a stunning grassy area with an outrageous stone fireplace and plenty of room to roam about and enjoy a night under the stars.
Ivy Oaks is located in New Market just south of the Tennessee border and a quick 40-minute drive from Madison. It sits on nine tree-lined acres and features:
- an event barn
- a boho porch (for smaller events)
- outrageous bridal and groomsmen suites
- a spacious prep kitchen
- a designated area for food/flower/beverage trucks
- a bridal lounge porch
- an outdoor bachelor pad
- a designated wedding ceremony lawn
- the “Bella Terra” lawn (Rutledge’s dream come true)
- two ponds
- a “Lovers Lane” woodsy walking area
- brand new, spacious bathrooms
- the Rutledge’s private home
Rachel and John are thrilled to already have nine weddings and one birthday party booked and cannot wait to help create incredible moments and memories for those who trusted the Ivy Oaks vision before the property was even complete.
In fact, each of the couples who already have an upcoming wedding booked at Ivy Oaks has been invited back for a private tour on Sunday to explore the grounds and personalize their events a bit more now that Phase 1 of the venue is complete.
No detail at Ivy Oaks has been overlooked, and it’s obvious that the couple not only has an eye for design but that they also have a heart for hospitality that ensures every minute spent on the Ivy Oaks property is comfortable and conducive to making long-lasting memories with others.
From ample lighting and signage to heaters and seating galore, Ivy Oaks is an event venue ready to be explored and enjoyed.
Our Trip to Ivy Oaks
Google Maps took the All Things Madison team to the exact address with ease, and a small sign with quaint lettering for Ivy Oaks met us as we turned on the property.
As we made our way up the driveway, plenty of custom-made signs directed us to the appropriate parking.
Rachel and John met us with smiles and invited us to hot mugs of coffee before we hopped on a golf cart for a cozy tour of Ivy Oaks. Though the property is easily navigatable by a golf cart, it is also quite walkable if more time is allowed to leisurely roam the property (like most event guests would be able to do!)
The site of the main event barn is the first eye-catching structure on the property. This space is great for a variety of uses, though Rachel mostly envisions it for wedding receptions and wedding ceremonies in the event of rain.
Rachel says that the barn doesn’t have to strike a country feel if the bride and groom desire something different.
“It’s been designed and developed throughout the interior to be more a classic, blank slate where we can bring whatever vision you have to life.”
The gates on each side of the barn entrance are from Alexandria, Egypt, and give the barn eye-catching, rich interest.
The open-air space features countless sit-down tables, bistro tables, and chairs galore. Rachel even had multiple highchairs set up within the space since the bride had informed her that several babies and toddlers would be in attendance.
On the back end of the barn sits Rachel’s dream come true, the “Bella Terra” which means “beautiful land” in Italian.
The barn opens up to a large patio area, perfect for additional tables, a band, a DJ, or a dance floor. Guests will also be treated to the site of an oversized wood-burning fireplace, which Rachel and John say can really roar!
On the opposite side of the fireplace is an expansive, grassy area with a sitting wall made of stone and plenty of space to customize the event of your dreams.
While walking around Bella Terra, one will discover a set of steps that lead to the wedding ceremony lawn.
Adorned with plenty of custom-made benches, this space is ready for hundreds to gather and watch a couple tie the knot. Guests will also discover the handmade arch made by Rachel out of Crape Myrtle branches. She collected hundreds of branches over time and created an archway with much thought in mind (such as how the back of the arch features a small opening that an officiant could subtly move in and out of).
Brides will adore the detail that Rachel put into their entrance. She’s created a beautiful double-door entrance that will close before she walks outside, shielding her from the groom and guests. This allows the bride to still have a “doors swinging open for the bride” moment, even though they’re outside.
Rachel and John know that when guests choose to host their event at Ivy Oaks, they are on-site for most of the day or weekend preparing. For this reason, they’ve created spacious restroom options that are just a few feet away from the event barn.
No detail was overlooked in the restrooms, with the women’s restroom even including seating for a mother to feed her baby. From restroom artwork to the vanities themselves, Rachel has a story. Every decision for everything brought on-site to Ivy Oaks was intentionally thought through. (Ask her about the flowers on the wreath above the barn or the vertical wood panels outside of the restrooms. Even THOSE have a story. Amazing.)
Near the event barn and Bella Terra sits one of Rachel’s favorite areas of the property, the Boho Porch.
This open-air area is ideal for smaller gatherings, gift collecting, additional food serving, and more. It is even conveniently situated right next to a gravel area designed for service trucks, such as food, flowers, beverage, and more. Rachel is so excited to customize this space for couples who have unique visions for their special day.
As aforementioned, the spacious property has areas to roam that guests will enjoy exploring, such as two ponds and “Lovers Lane”, a wide, meticulously cared-for hiking path ready to be the background of some beautiful photos!
Last but not least, guests will be wowed by the bridal party accommodations. When Rachel was designing these areas, she wanted to create spaces where bridal parties could spend hours enjoying each other’s company while also comfortably preparing for the wedding.
The bridal suite features a custom area for eight women to sit and apply make-up, use hot tools on their hair (so many outlets!), charge their devices with USB plug-ins, lounge on couches, and hang their dresses.
There’s also an exterior bridal porch area with additional seating, a coffee or mimosa bar, and more.
The groomsmen suite is also five stars and features a television, plenty of seating, and custom lockers options for each gentleman to hang his suit and store his belongings.
The “bachelor pad” porch has additional seating, a full wood bar with barstools, and more.
When asked where the idea to bring an event venue to life came from, Rachel shares a story about her time as the store owner of a formalwear consignment shop in Huntsville.
The Story Behind Ivy Oaks
“I had a lot of brides coming in to shop for dresses who would share with me that they couldn’t find a venue. I knew that outdoor venues like this were the next big thing, and I began to wonder if we could find a place where we could live and work right there on the same property.”
She says that this idea of bringing something like Ivy Oaks to life was one she couldn’t shake and eventually found herself awake in the middle of the night sketching out her entire vision.
She and John then began to search for something that was in line with Rachel’s ideas but found that it was tougher than they imagined.
After a few heartbreaking losses, they found the property they’d end up purchasing. Though the property needed some love and looked nothing like it does now, Rachel says that she and John fully trusted God to either shut the door on the opportunity or give them a green light that they were on the right path.
When she got the call that the property was there’s, she was elated and immediately got to work on not only the event venue space, but also their historic home which also sits on the property.
Rachel says that Ivy Oaks is “where beautiful things happen” and promises to listen to each guest who is interested in booking with them.
“When my brides come here, I want to learn about who they are and what they envision for their wedding. I always ask them before we begin the tour to share what they desire for their beautiful day, and then I help customize the tour for them so that they can truly see if this is the right fit for them.”
Once the venue is booked, Rachel will then request to meet again in person six weeks prior to the event. During this meeting, she’ll discuss rain plans, event barn set-up, and much more.
Though Rachel envisions the majority of bookings being for weddings, she is thrilled to also offer options for birthday parties, bridal showers, anniversary parties, corporate events, group picnics, and more.
Next Steps for Taking a Tour at Ivy Oaks
Interested in touring Ivy Oaks to see if it’s the right fit for your upcoming wedding or event? Click here to send Rachel an email! She’d be delighted to hear from you and schedule a time to visit at your convenience.
Psst: Did you know that New Market has some of Alabama’s most desirable and frequently booked Airbnbs? Check out this list of options for your stay! The cottages and tiny homes are so precious!
Quick Info for Ivy Oaks
176 J B Walker Road, New Market, AL, United States, Alabama