By Amber Mabe
Deciding to get married is often hailed as the biggest decision in a person’s life. But once you have decided to tie the knot, suddenly you are faced with hundreds of smaller decisions about your wedding. What style will it be? How many people will you invite? Will your flowers be fresh or silk? Wedding planning can quickly become overwhelming. Darlynn Nichols hopes to take some of the stress out of wedding planning with her new event center, The Back 40 Wedding and Event Center.
A Historical Backdrop
Set back into the woods of the Nichols’ family farm, a quintessential part of North Carolina’s agricultural heritage. Even the name itself can be traced back to when land was divided into 40-acre quarters as part of the Homestead Act of 1862. Darlynn says the family has always referred to the back several acres of the property as The Back 40. “It goes way back to when the farmers plowed the back 40,” she says, dispelling the rumors that the name refers to their location near interstate 40. “We don’t have 40 acres, but we have always called it that and it just stuck.”
Guests travel down a gravel road, past historic tobacco barns and a remodeled farm home to a secluded clearing where only the sounds of birds and cicadas can be heard. A renovated barn serves as a rustic but elegant reception hall, or an option for a rainy-day wedding. Chandeliers hanging from exposed beams, and mounted wall lanterns mix with natural light in the open-air building to create a romantic glow for both daytime and evening weddings.
The Back 40 can accommodate 100 guests comfortably, and offers several different sites for ceremonies, from open clearings to secluded glades surrounded by shade trees. The property includes a vintage outhouse that the family has restored and updated with modern plumbing, an inground pool that can be included in event packages, a separate air-conditioned shop with a kitchen for catering use, and access to the main house for bridal party preparation. Darlynn says one of her favorite things about the property is the ability to customize the experience. “We offer our blank shell to the bride and groom and they can come and see how they want to fill that with their dream wedding, how they want to decorate it. It is a blank canvas.”
A Labor of Love
What really makes The Back 40 special, however, is the Nichols family and their commitment to making each experience the best it can possibly be. “Eddie and I are both passionate about it,” Darlynn says, enthusiastic about their vision for a family-run venue, “we work together really well.” The Nichols are no strangers to running their own business, as they have run a refrigeration business together from their home since 1985.
The transformation of The Back 40 from an old tobacco farm into a picturesque event center has been a labor of love for the Nichols and their three sons. Nearly every feature of the property has been crafted or renovated by their own hands. From the house itself to the vintage outhouse that was originally found in the woods behind the house, the Nichols have poured their time and effort into creating a beautiful and peaceful home.
The family’s vision to turn their home into a wedding venue did not become a reality until two of the Nichols’ sons proposed to their girlfriends in February and began to plan weddings for the summer of 2018. The family spent the next five months working every day to transform the property, including clearing out buildings, leveling ground, installing concrete flooring, plumbing, landscaping, and restoring the outhouse. They put care into every detail, even down to the handmade wooden arbor and flower arrangements. The venue was completely revitalized by the time Josh and Kayla Nichols had their ceremony in July. “For it to turn out the way it did was beyond our wildest dreams and still surprises me that we were able to make it happen,” Josh says, looking back on the day. “It was a project that I will never forget.” The Nichol’s oldest son, John, and his fiancée Maria were also married on the property in August.
Wedding guests and event staff have nothing but praise for the Nichols family and The Back 40. “I have been deejaying for several years now in venues across NC, and my experience at The Back 40 wedding venue blew me away,” says Will Jackson, who was part of a wedding at The Back 40 in July. “The Back 40 venue staff were so kind and welcoming, and I would happily return here for future weddings!”
The Back 40 is not just for weddings, however. Darlynn hopes to host many different types of events on the property, from birthday parties and vow renewals to business luncheons and show events. The Back 40 will be hosting a bridal fair showcasing local vendors this fall. The event, which will be held in the reception hall on Sunday, October 7th from 2-4pm, will be open to the public and will feature local bakeries, caterers, DJ’s, stylists, and a live music performance.
Ed says they are hoping to use local vendors as much as possible for future events. “The local community around us has been extremely helpful,” Ed says. “I want to extend a sincere thank you to Dwayne, Beverly, Brian and Harley at Little Cedar Grocery for fuel/landscaping/venue supplies (they have great bluegrass on Monday nights!). I really appreciate Holden and his folks at Putnam Concrete as well as Pat McGinnis at Nationwide Kernersville, Mary at The Buttercup Cafe/Catering, Candy at Ella Grace Salon, and Bobby at Outwest Steakhouse. Will and Makenzie are the house DJs and just plain fun people. And if necessary, Fast Eddie can crank up his band, Unfinished Business, for some crowd-pleasing classics. We have an absolute fantastic support team.”
If you would like more information about the bridal fair in October, or if you think The Back 40 might be the perfect backdrop for the wedding of your dreams, contact Darlynn through their website, www.back40wedding.com or by calling 336.655.6965. It might turn out to be the second-best decision you have ever made!