Family ranch provides space to celebrate
Local ranchers Brian and Mary Eckert knew their ranch had a larger purpose.
“We wanted to share this beautiful land and I think we knew long before we came up with this idea that it was going to be special,” Mary said.
After planning their son’s wedding, the Eckert’s realized how in-depth the wedding planning process can be and saw a need for a larger space in Fredericksburg.
In April 2018, their vision came alive, with the opening of wedding and event center, The Venue at Rafter E Ranch, which showcases the land that has been in the Eckert family since 1871 and includes the cattle brand that Brian uses.
When developing the game plan for their venue, the Eckerts saw specific needs that other venues lacked.
At the top of their list was ample parking and space to accommodate 300 people or more.
“Parking was the utmost important and often times you have to park in a pasture and if it rains, your guests are going to be stuck,” Brian said.
Mary also wanted to incorporate quality customer service. She has owned In-Step Boutique on Main Street for 32 years.
“We knew this was important and we knew this would be our top priority,” she said.
Their packages include access to the venue prior and on the day of the event, tables and chairs, linens, access to a staging kitchen, bar with three kegerators, two ceremony sites, photo shoot on the ranch and the option of added security and breakdown of the event.
The venue also provides a preferred vendor list to assist out-of-town visitors with the event-planning process.
Inside the space, are two suites, typically for a bride and groom, that include open space, a full bathroom with a shower and a bar.
Faith at the front
The Eckert’s wanted to give the space a rustic yet formal feel.
Designing the space themselves, the Eckert’s used reclaimed and milled materials, swamp pine from Louisiana, stamped tin from and old barn and whitewashed wood.
A reclaimed cross is at the forefront of the space, something that the Eckerts say makes their space unique.
“This cross literally came to me in a dream and people know, from the minute they walk in, that we put Christ first,” Mary said.
While the Eckerts are putting their focus on weddings, they have also begun hosting community events including concerts, family reunions, corporate events and more.
“We are starting to see more than just weddings and people see how open and big this space is and they just fall in love,” Mary said. “I think it also shows that our hard work is paying off and people want to enjoy this space, just like we do.”