A place to say ‘I do’
The date, the dress, the rings, the vows – these details and more are all crucial components of a bride’s perfect day. But amid the questions of whether to use fresh flowers or artificial, whether to choose musicians or a playlist, who will be the best man or what kind of menu will be suitable, this one question perhaps overrides them all for a newly-engaged couple: Where will we get married?
For those who are looking for another option besides a church or a barn, Hurricane Creek Lodge just might be the answer.
Tucked just off Highway 24 on nearly 700 acres of picturesque countryside, Hurricane Creek Lodge provides an idyllic setting for the bride seeking a rustic-yet-chic venue a little off the beaten path. Situated about halfway between Russellville and Red Bay, Hurricane Creek Lodge is a place where the happy couple can combine the beauty of nature with their personal vision of what a wedding should be.
Opening in 2004, Hurricane Creek Lodge is first a hunting lodge, hosting outdoorsmen and women for quail, turkey and deer hunting. Multi-day packages include guides and lodging, giving hunters a unique outdoor experience. Although the business was enjoying good success, owner Todd Ouellette and general manager Dee Murphy realized they could do even more with the beautiful property, especially during the hunting offseason.
“You’ve got the end of February through the first of October to do other events, such as family reunions, corporate outings and weddings,” explained Bobbie Sumerel, event coordinator for the lodge. Spring and summer have become wedding season at Hurricane Creek, although with the growing popularity of fall weddings, the lodge even allows bridal season to overlap into deer season.
Last year was the lodge’s second to host weddings. One of the catalysts was finally getting the property’s lake filled and landscaped – creating a focal point that is the crown jewel of a property that just had to be shared with others.
A breathtaking view greets visitors as they descend toward the lake from the main lodge. Past a large observation deck, stairs lead down to the water’s edge, where a gorgeous pier and arbor stand ready as the backdrop for the perfect outdoor wedding. The outdoor reception area is complete with lighting, plenty of comfortable seating, a huge fireplace, big screen TV, covered band stage and a large dance floor, all near the bubbling brook and waterfalls cascading into the lake.
“It took us about a year,” Murphy said, to get all the details in place to be able to offer Hurricane Creek Lodge as a wedding venue. With about half a dozen weddings now under their belts, Murphy and Sumerel and the rest of their team are ready to keep moving forward and expanding this side of their business.
Sumerel said they learned a lot from the first wedding they hosted at Hurricane Creek Lodge. “It was a little bit overwhelming because we had never done it before, but everyone who was at the wedding just kept telling us, ‘We can’t believe y’all are so organized,’” Sumerel said. “We just wanted everything to be perfect.’” Murphy agreed, adding, “They said everything flowed very well, from the parking, to getting guests to the ceremony area, to going into the reception … They couldn’t believe it was our first wedding.
“That made us feel really good and reassured us we were doing a great job.”
Sumerel said the setting of the lake and the woods provides a relaxing atmosphere for the wedding party and guests alike, where the bride and groom and all their loved ones can revel in the outdoors and create memories that will last a lifetime. “They love it here,” Sumerel said. “They just think it’s a beautiful place.”
Emma Burden is one bride who vouches for that sentiment. She and husband Kris chose Hurricane Creek Lodge for their wedding in September 2019. Burden said the couple had looked at plenty of other wedding venues before they realized the lodge would be the perfect spot.
“We both love to hunt,” explained Burden, who lives in Tuscumbia. Her husband had been to Hurricane Creek Lodge as a child, and she fell in love with the venue. “There were deer out here while we got married, out behind the water. I loved that.”
Burden praised the 700 acres of gorgeous spots for engagement, bridal and wedding photos and also loved that she and her wedding party were able to spend the night on site after a fun evening of celebrating. She said Sumerel and Murphy were endlessly helpful in making sure her day was one to remember. “It was beautiful – it was literally magical. It was perfect.”
Hurricane Creek can also offer all kinds of amenities, from catering to entertainment, or the couple can of course choose their own vendors, and the lodge furnishes tables and chairs. Perhaps the biggest benefit for brides is that Hurricane Creek Lodge provides a convenient, local option for weddings. “I think you should support your community rather than going out of town or out of state,” Sumerel said. “If you don’t support your local people, they eventually go away.”
When Sam Stephenson suggested Hurricane Creek to his bride Kelsey for their 2018 wedding, she was hesitant to be married at a hunting lodge – until she saw it. “I really liked it there, and I figured she would like it. We went out there, and she fell in love with it,” said Stephenson. “It was really pretty. It was perfect.” The Stephensons, who live in Florence, loved having their pictures done on the property. “It’s a very beautiful spot out there. You’re not going to find anything like it … It’s just something different you’re not going to find anywhere else.”
The venue plans to keep adding more features to enhance a bride’s special day and continue to set Hurricane Creek Lodge apart as a wedding venue. “We have a lot to offer other than just a venue. We have the overnight stays, we have skeet shooting, we have a long-range rifle range, we have a pistol range, fishing and we can do property tours,” Murphy said. “I think we have a lot to offer” – including other options for the ceremony site, if a bride would not prefer to get married on the lake.
“We just want to do everything possible to make sure the bride and groom have their special day, and we want to make sure we go above and beyond for them and take care of them,” Murphy added. “We want to make sure it’s a day they will always remember.”
To find out more visit www.hurricanecreeklodge.com.
Photos Contributed by Blush Imagery and Kelsi Loren Photography