Paul and Susan Ryals

A “farm girl” from northern Missouri, Ryals said she and her husband, Paul, ran businesses throughout their careers, always working for someone else. Owning a wedding venue is their semi-retirement job, she joked.

“It is work, but it’s fun, full hours,” she said. “Last night we sat for three hours with a bride and her mother, and we laughed and had so much fun.”

Hosting these big events in a town of about 2,500 has its challenges. The Ryals have three employees, but when the staff isn’t available, their five children and grandchildren help out. Getting around is another consideration. Parking isn’t an issue on the 30-acre site, but some couples worry about older guests trekking to different parts of the outdoor space.

The Ryals came up with a solution that adds to the day’s celebratory feel.

“We have a wagon. … I said, ‘Why don’t we put you two in front with your grandparents in the back? Wouldn’t that make them feel special to go up to the banquet hall with you?’” she said.

But the wagon also comes with considerations: Horses to pull it mean a lot of liability issues, she said. Instead, the Ryals hitch theirs to an ATV.

The Ryals started their business with a busy month. Things calm down in August, she said.

“People are going back to school, it’s hot, there’s the state fair. I’m thankful for the breather,” Ryals said.

They’ll shut down for a couple weeks of maintenance — instead of just four days between weddings. The plan is to invest the time putting a new floor in the barn. Despite the whirlwind start, Ryals said she’s having fun.

“I make their one day very special in their life, and it’s very rewarding,” Ryals said.

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