Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TOP STORY >> Wedding bells at Reed’s Bridge

Leader staff writer

Reed Bridge Battlefield Park in Jacksonville is best known for its Civil War history and re-enactments, but on Saturday it was the site of a wedding.

Naomi Hawn of Jacksonville, a UALR nursing student, and Senior Airman Ryan Verge of Sherwood, a mechanic with the 19th Airlift Wing at the Little Rock Air Force Base tied the knot during a ceremony at the 19th Century-themed village.

The threat of rain forced the outdoor wedding to take place inside the barn.

The bride waited in the small cabin and the groom waited in the kitchen for the wedding to start.

“I did not think it was going to be that elegant. It was beautiful. I was surprised it turned out the way it did,” Naomi Hawn said.

“I chose Reed’s Bridge because it’s a historical place. Not many know about it. People should know the background of Reed’s Bridge,” Naomi Hawn said.

“I thought it was pretty cool. It is a reminder of how the Civil War was heading this far west,” Ryan Verge said.

The bride’s mother, Sheri Hawn, said they looked at barns in the area for weddings, and they rented for only a few hours. At Reed’s Bridge they were able to rent it all weekend.

“When we started looking at venues that were outdoors and rustic, this was the most affordable. We knew about the place. Once (Naomi and Ryan) saw it, it was great,” Sheri Hawn said.

Some members of the Hawn family belong to the Reed’s Bridge Preservation Society. Matthew Hawn, Naomi’s brother, is a blacksmith and a part of the cannon regiment for the Reed’s Bridge Preservation Society. Sheri Hawn and her daughter, Abigail, began participating in battle re-enactments last year, dressing in period attire and greeting visitors. David Hawn helps maintains the grounds. His son, Joshua, also married at Reed’s Bridge in 2012.

Less than a dozen weddings have taken place at Reed’s Bridge though.

Wedding rental prices at Reed’s Bridge is $60 for a half-day and $100 for a full day. It includes the use of the cabins and barns. Alcohol is not allowed as with any city facility.

Reed’s Bridge facilities are basic and designed to recreate the 1800s. Some temporary decorations are allowed on the buildings. There is no electricity so a generator is needed for power.

The restroom is an outhouse and wedding parties are responsible for cleanup afterward.

Wedding parties may need to bring chairs and tables as seating is limited.

Reed’s Bridge can be reserved for weddings by calling Jacksonville Parks and Rec programs supervisor Dana Rozenski at 501-982-4171.

“Right now we are pretty flexible,” Rozenski said.

She said during a wedding people may drive past on Hwy. 161 and see a lot of traffic at Reed’s Bridge and stop by. The wedding party cannot deny people access to the public park.

“Most people who have weddings at parks are fine with that,” Rozenski said.

Rozenski said people often use Reed’s Bridge as a backdrop for wedding photos and family pictures, which is free.

Wedding photographer Angie Davis of Vilonia said she did not know about Reed’s Bridge before Hawn’s wedding but will now recommend it as a wedding location or for engagement and bridal photos.

“It is a great location for a venue. It is beautiful especially if you are wanting a rustic type setting. It has great light for a late afternoon or evening wedding,” Davis said.

Davis said Reed’s Bridge has a little bit of everything — hay bales, cabins, a barn, wood fences and trees. Tents can be set up and the barn has plenty of room for a small to medium wedding Davis said.

Sheri Hawn said Davis and wedding coordinators Jennifer Mouser and Ricky Williams with Martha Ann Events of Conway were amazing. Sheri Hawn said they knew what the Hawns were looking for and made it happen at Reed’s Bridge.