Oakdale: From Farmland to Dream Venue
By Marissa McCormick
Just off the beaten path, The Richmond Weddings™ Team traveled to Ashland Road to explore and discover one of Richmond’s newest and most unique venues, Oakdale. We chatted with Chris Stem, Partner and Bookings Coordinator for the farm.
Driving onto the pristine grounds, the overall ambiance of Oakdale is like something out of a storybook. A 4,000 square foot building sits small in the foreground against the forest behind it. Trees, that look like they’ve been there forever, sway in the ever-present breeze. The dark, lush green giving way to those signature Virginia technicolor leaves in the fall. The venue is set up to face the sunset, so you and your guests can watch the yellow sun settle on the Hanover Vegetable Farm across the street. And in the corner of the picture sits a quaint and quiet pond with a landing, a magical place to say your “I do’s.” Chris explains, “You’ll have the trees in the background, lights, and power down there.” The breeze plays on the surface of the pond as light shimmers off of it, a little slice of heaven. And you’re not just limited to a pond ceremony. “You can get married on any part of the 100 acres you want to. If you want more of a field, we’ll have groomed pastures for that.”
Although the structure will be brand new in the fall of 2019, just like its quiet surroundings, it seems like it’s been there forever. It’s the beginning of May and yellow wildflowers have grown and surrounded the building. Basking in the silence, one would never know that you’re less than 10 minutes from both Short Pump and Downtown Ashland. It’s almost boggling to wrap your head around. “The location of the property really meant something to us, you’re close to amenities, but you’re far enough out that you can have a beautiful, private, unique wedding.”
When starting this endeavor, one thing was completely clear to Chris and his partners, Jeff Sears and Eric Pair, keep the integrity of the land and showcase its beauty as farmland. The name Oakdale comes from Jeff Sears’ family farm, a little down the way on Ashland Road. Passed down from generation to generation since 1902, it wasn’t just the name Oakdale that continued, but the importance of keeping agricultural integrity. Up until 2018, Oakdale was used to raise cattle and collect hay, leaving the resulting land completely groomed and manicured. “We wanted to stick to that tradition of farming and the fourth generation. Oakdale really ties in how we came together and still holds that family history. We wanted something that had some meaning to it.”
Oakdale has taken into consideration how temperamental Virginia climate can be. Along with an inclement weather plan and a tent, the venue is temperature controlled for year-round comfort. While the exterior of the building is quintessentially barn-like, the inside gives way to an industrial and totally on-trend space that can accommodate up to 220 guests. Vaulted ceilings will enclose the stamped concrete and the walls will be suited with full windows, showcasing the countryside landscape. Along with a full bar and bathrooms, they’re finishing up a bridal suite with enough sinks for all your girls to get ready. They’ll also have a patio where Edison lights will hang, the perfect spot for your cocktail hour and just steps away from the pond ceremony location.
Included in every wedding package is a day-of coordinator, so you can relax and be stress-free on your big day. They’re also including all of the tables, chairs, glassware, etc. in their 2019-2020 bookings. “You can really come and get married and all you have to do is show up and bring some food.”
There’s a nice sense one gets when coming onto the grounds of Oakdale. Suddenly the hustle and bustle of Richmond life fades away and a sense of serenity replaces it. There’s also the sense that you’re part of something bigger. A lineage of farm owners that are working to preserve the beautiful land that decades of grazing has led to. While some aspects of Oakdale are blatantly beautiful, there are other more subtle details that make this place unlike any other. The quiet moo of a cow in the distance, the rustling of the forest, the breeze playing through acres of wildflowers, the shade of a tree that was around since before you were born.
A slice of heaven and not too far off the beaten path, Oakdale checks off so many boxes as a venue. And behind the venue is a group of dedicated families ready to make your wedding dream come true.
Oakdale is now taking bookings for 2019- 2020 and beyond. Visit their website, www.oakdalerva.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for booking inquiries or more information. 13497 Ashland Road, Ashland, VA 23005