When couples are searching for the perfect venue to host their big day, few know the story behind the magic that goes into creating the space, like The Sycamore Tree in Savannah, Missouri.
When owners Eddy and Cindy Hopkins were dating, there was a sweet couple who would host church events on their property south of town.
“We always thought that was neat and thought, when we grow up, we wanted to be like (them),” Cindy Hopkins said.
The couple searched for a property but never found one, and life went on.
About 16 years ago, the couple found their current property, an old rock quarry with a couple of lakes. They purchased the approximately 58-acre spot from a friend. It took them a couple of years to build their own home there.
“As soon as we bought it, before we built our house, we started having get-togethers with our friends,” Hopkins said. “Just inviting people out and began having events out here, too. I kept trying to get Eddy to build a barn for all of these 14 years we’ve lived here.”
Around that time, Hopkins was working as the general manager at The Journey Home, another venue, in Dearborn, Missouri. It was while doing that job that she discovered her joy of decorating. She would buy decorations, stockpiling her inventory in the couple’s four-car garage and creating Cindy’s Elegant Events.
She ended up retiring from there, but the experience helped her move forward with that idea of opening her own venue in the back. Hopkins knew what she loved and what were challenges.
“If I had my own venue … I would fix those challenges,” she said. “I took from my experience there.”
When her mother passed away, she came into some inheritance and prayed about whether (building a venue) was what they were supposed to do.
“My sign from God was that I was going to remodel my mom’s house to sell it,” she said.
But when the estate company didn’t want her to make any changes and it could sell “as is,” Hopkins said she just felt like that was God’s green light to get started on the barn.
When The Sycamore Tree project started, Hopkins said it was the winter from hell.
“My poor builders,” she said. “(The contractors) worked tirelessly through the elements to get the job done.”
The Hopkinses were on a timeline to get the venue done. Their nephew’s wedding was set to take place in the new space on April 6, 2019.
“We literally were putting railings up the day before the wedding,” she said. “It was quite the adventure last winter. It ended up a lot harder and longer and expensive by far than we had expected or planned.”
Then the unexpected happened. Hopkins said she reached out to personal friends on social media, asking for their thoughts and prayers to get them through the final stages of the project. Word spread. Quickly.
“So, I started doing tours when it was still under construction,” Hopkins said. “We got bookings. We got 11 events this last year strictly through Facebook. It started out as people we knew, then it tiered out to friends of friends.”
“We made it through that first wedding then busted out on more projects,” she said. “We definitely had a few moments that we thought, we’re insane, we shouldn’t have done this.”
The space, however, has turned out to be everything they’d imagined. Last year, they hosted pickleball tournaments.
“We’re getting to enjoy it now, finally,” Hopkins said.
She says The Sycamore Tree isn’t a stereotypical barn venue where it’s rough. It’s something more elegant, and Hopkins said she aimed for more Pottery Barn than barn, barn.
“There’s a lot of wonderful rustic barns out there, if couples are looking for that, they’ve got that out there for them,” she said. “We wanted something different.”
The Hopkins’ venue is a climate-controlled 48-foot-by-96-foot barn with a 40-foot-by-48-foot loft above. The radiant-heat floor helps with cooler months and creates much more even heat throughout the space.
There are five bathrooms, rooms for the entire wedding party to get ready in, a full-warming kitchen and several outdoor spaces to host ceremonies, yard games or other reception activities. The property boasts three lakes, and the couple even have giant Jenga, yard darts and other games for guests of weddings and other events.
Hopkins said her husband put in a dock that goes out to about the middle of the lake. He put a baby pool on it with floating golf balls and created a place on shore to try to chip it in. He calls it “redneck TopGolf”.
Hopkins said her vision is coming to fruition and hopes the space can become a place for even more than weddings, just like that couple did all those years ago that inspired them.
They have an upcoming Valentine’s Day event with dinner, dessert and dancing. There are four proms booked for 2020 and they hope to host a slew of other events, maybe even an outdoor concert.