A decade after exchanging vows, amid the global pandemic Brian and Loree Wheeler purchase Avon Wedding Barn from retiring Jim and Darinda Dragon
By Stephanie Dolan
A decade ago Brian and Loree Wheeler became husband and wife at the Avon Wedding Barn. Theirs were the first nuptials said before the space on 10th Street officially opened for business. Now the Wheelers will celebrate their 10th anniversary in October, and they have come full circle purchasing the event venue from owners Jim and Darinda Dragon.
When searching for a place to hold their wedding, Loree Wheeler had a friend who knew the Dragons, and the Wheelers had driven to the barn to take a look at it. While they liked the look of it, they knew it would take a lot of work to clean out and get in shape for a wedding.
“Wedding barns were just starting to get popular at that time, but God shined down his grace on us,” Brain Wheeler said. “This couple pulled up as we were there. They said they were just driving by and thought the barn would be a great place for their wedding.”
It turns out the couple offered to not only pay to have the barn cleaned and decorated, but they asked Brian and Loree if they would be interested in using their decorations the day after their wedding.
“They said to us that they’d just leave their wedding setup on the 15th, and we could get married on the 16th,” Wheeler said. “Loree and I paid for port-o-potties, that’s it. The other couple paid for everything.”
Brian Wheeler believes experience with the first two weddings on their property spurred the Dragons to turning the barn into a business.
“We gave them our wedding pictures and they turned it into marketing and it became a business, said 41-year-old Wheeler who has run Legacy Wealth in Plainfield, a wealth management company for 20 years. “And now here we are 10 years later. And we own it ourselves.”
The small company helps with financial planning, acquiring and growing businesses and selling businesses, Wheeler said.
“We’re big into wealth creation,” he said. “We like to get down to that next deeper level and help clients create it.”
Because of Wheeler’s financial background, he has the perfect skill set when it comes to knowing how to acquire a business.
In early 2020, as part of his participation in Leadership Hendricks County, Brian Wheeler was working on a capstone project focusing on bringing manners back to teenagers through ballroom dancing.
His mother Barbarann has taught southern style ballroom dancing called cotillion for 30 years in Kentucky and came to teach and bring the project to life. It also led the Wheelers back to the Wedding Barn.
I have college students now who will call me because they’ll tell me ‘I’ll still use my manners, and my wife loves it,’” said Barbarann Wheeler who intended to hold a grand ball to end the series of cotillion classes, but needed to change venues at the last minute.
“The moment I walked into the Wedding Barn it just felt like where I needed to be,” she said. “I came out of the barn that day and said that this business would be great, but I doubt they’d want to sell it.”
However, even though they might not have wanted to leave the business, the Dragons were ready to retire.
“Running a wedding venue is far more work than anyone knows,” said Jenn Pettersson, the Wedding Barn’s sales manager and wedding planner. “They built such a great legacy. I realize it was hard for Darinda to let it go, but it was their turn to hand over their legacy to the Wheelers.
“It was the perfect opportunity that came along. They’d just decided to partially retire, and then they get a phone call from the Wheelers offering to buy. It was divine intervention.”
Wheeler appreciates Pettersson for a giving, service-oriented heart, and the new business partnership is already improving the venue.
“We’ve all been able to put our minds together and come up with new lighting, an upgraded bridal suite and even a honeymoon cabin suite,” Pettersson said. “It will definitely take the Wedding Barn to the next level.”
Barbarann Wheeler looks forward to them all working as a family, tweaking operations and creating events to help the community and help create meaningful memories.
“I think that we can make the Wedding Barn a beautiful place for people to come and enjoy,” Barbarann Wheeler said.
Meanwhile her son will work alongside his parents who will own the facility as a silent partner and business manager.
“I’m really excited for my parents to live there and take this on,” Brian Wheeler said. “My mom has more energy than any human being I’ve ever met. That’s just who she is. She is super stoked about this. It’s right in her wheelhouse.
“She’ll get to do public relations and talk to people and get to know people and make it a perfect day for the brides,” Wheeler said. “My mom thought this would be a pipe dream and something that would never actually happen, so she’s excited.”
For more information on the Avon Wedding Barn visit http://avonweddingbarn.com
Getting to know Brian Wheeler
Do you have pets? We have two dogs, a poodle and King Charles spaniel, Ruby and Sam.
What do you like to do with your downtime? Hang out with my family. We’re all very musical. Our kids are big into sports too, but we love to sit around and have jam sessions.
What was the last great book you read? I love to read. I’m an avid reader. One of my favorite recent books is called “God and Money.” The quintessential message is how everything belongs to God and how we’re just stewards of those resources.
What is your favorite movie? “Mully,” a documentary about a man in Africa that starts from being orphaned to growing up and helping other people. Great family movie.
Who or what inspires you? My faith inspires me the most. Jesus inspires me to be a better man. My wife inspires me. My family – my parents. They’ve always been very giving and loving towards others and they’ve inspired me to be the same.