GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some couples looking for a unique wedding site love the idea of renting a rural barn, but neighbors don't always like it.
Homestead Meadows Farm in the Outagamie County town of Greenville has had about 2,000 weddings and 4,500 other events since the early 1980s, but owner Steve Nagy has run into opposition from neighbors -- including a 1988 lawsuit that left him operating in limbo for years.
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Zoning and regulations became better defined in later years, and Nagy managed to keep his business alive by staying active in town politics, serving on the plan commission and volunteering, Nagy told Press-Gazette Media.
"In the meantime, Homestead Meadows emerged as one of the area's showcase projects," said Nagy.
There also were issues recently with LaGrange Ledgestone Barn, which has hosted weddings in Glenmore since 2008. After neighbor complaints, the town board declined to change its zoning to accommodate owner Steve Corrigan this spring, but he's going ahead anyway for weddings already scheduled for this summer.
A look at Pinterest or online wedding sites show the wild popularity of rustic and rural weddings.
"It's been a big deal for a long time, but it's absolutely caught on fire in the last, I'd say, three years," said Peggy George, owner of Seize the Day Events, in Allouez. "Brides today don't want the ordinary, the traditional. This is such a unique thing, and guests like it.
"And it's not just weddings. Corporate people like them, family reunions, high school reunions. There's a fire pit, it's folksy, it's family, it's more fun."
George said she advises her clients to make sure their venue has all of its permits in place.
"It goes with almost any vendor," George said. "When I talk to brides, I tell them, 'you want to make sure it'll be there when your day comes.' It's really unfortunate what happened in Glenmore, and you want to avoid that."