While driving home the evening of their engagement in November 2016, Stephanie Faris’ fiancé, Shane, mentioned to her that they should get married at Alexander Majors Barn at 82nd Street and State Line Road.
“It really caught me off guard when he said that — my head was still reeling from just getting engaged, and then he brought it up again when it was time to choose the venue,” said Stephanie, who lives in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City. By December 2016, the couple agreed upon the venue for their ceremony and reception, a decision that Stephanie called the easiest in their wedding planning. “And then,” she said, “we just kind of worked everything else around it.”
Twenty miles away from Alexander Majors Barn another vintage barn with a long history also served as the backdrop for a recent memorable wedding. Janet Anderson and her husband, Bill, were looking for a local venue for their reception after they were legally married in a surprise ceremony in Cozumel on February 22, 2018.
Just five minutes from their home, Janet had driven past The New Yellow Rock Barn at 8307 Westridge Road on the Kansas City-Raytown city line many times, “but I didn’t really realize if they used it for anything special.” After finding the venue in an online search, Janet said she was drawn to it because of its appealing location, the large, open indoor atmosphere of the Barn, and the facility’s family ownership.
“The owners were super, super gracious. They treated us like gold,” Janet said. “Erik and Rachael (Messner) are super, super people, and it was just wonderful to be able to work with them from the get-go.”
The two barns, 20 miles apart in the Kansas City metropolitan region, are testaments to standing the test of time: As change and rebuilding occurred around them, they have remained standing. And while use of their recent rentals may have varied widely, those celebrating their new marriages agreed upon one common theme: They wanted to keep the day relatively simple while also celebrating it their own way, and the two barns offered them just that opportunity to do so.
New chapter while stepping back in time.
The Alexander Majors Barn is one-half of the Wornall/Majors House Museums, a nonprofit organization that includes the John Wornall House at 61st Street and Wornall Road, ripe with its own history.
The Barn’s grounds are adjacent to the Alexander Majors House, one of the few surviving antebellum houses in the Kansas City area. In addition to weddings, the grounds also play host to numerous museum events, craft fairs, and other events throughout the year.
“I like that the Majors Barn is a kind of traditional atmosphere to create non-traditional events, weddings, and receptions,” said Lena White, rentals coordinator at Alexander Majors Barn.
In March, the Alexander Majors Barn — for the second year in collaboration with Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair — hosted its second wedding showcase event, in which local photographers, caterers, florists, bartenders, and other vendors were on hand for those preparing for their special day. The day also served up some nostalgia for several couples in attendance.
“I saw two different couples that came that morning because they had gotten married here 15 years ago, 20 years ago, and they wanted to see how it had changed, and if it was the way they remembered,” White said.
Some couples choose the Alexander Majors Barn for their wedding because of the sentimental nature of the property. Others are more drawn to the historical components of the Barn, “especially south Kansas City, since a lot of the buildings in this commercial corridor here are a lot newer,” White said. “This is one of the last places in the immediate surroundings where we have that connection to the very beginning of Kansas City.”
Stephanie and Shane Faris only looked at the Alexander Majors Barn in their venue search, and then the remainder of their wedding was planned around the selection. The couple wanted a relatively simple venue for their out-of-town guests to access, while still being in Kansas City and close to where they live. They also wanted a venue that was primarily outdoors, while still having quick accessibility to an indoor space.
“It really just ended up being pretty perfect,” Stephanie said.
The couple was drawn to the natural elements of the Barn, so they opted for minimal decorations. “We left it alone because we loved the rustic-ness of it,” Stephanie said. They wrapped Christmas lights around the trees outside, as well as in the rafters in the wagon room. The cake display took place on two old whiskey barrels with down flats across the top to make a table, with additional crates to support the cupcakes.
Outdoors, the couple opted for simple tables with white tablecloths, while their wedding colors were navy and gold. For centerpieces, they purchased crates and stained them with tea and vinegar, while their centerpiece flowers were hydrangea and soft pink roses, with burgundy accent colors and hops.
The Alexander Majors Barn has seen “the total gamut of expense, effort, and time” put into wedding ceremonies and receptions, White said. Rental of the space includes use of the main Barn area and loft, the “wagon room,” the private bridal suite, restrooms, and the catering kitchen. Rental also includes use of the grounds, while the Alexander Majors House can be opened for tours for an additional fee.
“We have a wide range of expectations of what a wedding should be,” White said, “and we end up having really fun and diverse clientele because of it.”
Stephanie said she and Shane still smile and talk about their wedding day each time they drive past Alexander Majors Barn, several times a week. In having their wedding at the Barn, Stephanie said she was able to relax and to enjoy the day without worrying about whether every little detail was perfect.
“We kind of just let the barn speak for itself and didn’t overdo it,” she said. “On the day of, I didn’t have to worry about a lot, and when I look back at the pictures, it looks just fine.”
A space with its own character.
If the names Erik and Rachael Messner sound familiar, it is for good reason: They are those Messners, of the Messner Bee Farm, whose bee farm products are well-known in the local crafts fair circuit and as wholesale products available throughout greater Kansas City.
Erik’s family purchased property that included The New Yellow Rock Barn in 2003. His mother, Jana Lea, ran her interior design business out of what was once the carriage house and is today known as “the shop,” while also completely upgrading the house on the property. Erik’s maternal grandparents, Bob and Jodie Smith, assumed responsibility of The New Yellow Rock Barn. Bob and Jodie, who were honored as the Raytown Citizens of the Year by the Truman Heartland Community Foundation in 2012, used the Barn to promote Raytown high school reunions, Kiwanis Club meetings, and even as a polling station.
Rachael said she and Erik are “such geeks about property,” and they eagerly, and in great detail, describe the history of the property while poring over scrapbooks and photo albums that have grown through the years. The Barn itself dates back to 1925 and is considered one of the few rock barns still standing in the Midwest. In the 1960s, it served as a popular venue for square dancing, and by the 1980s, it was being rented out for events.
Rachael’s started her then-Messner Family Farm business in 2013, and by 2015, the couple were looking for a bigger space to grow their family and their businesses. They purchased the north half of the property (the house and the shop) from Erik’s mother, who has since moved to Arizona, while his grandparents continue to own the southern portion. They moved into the property’s house in 2017, and Rachael now runs the Messner Bee Farm out of the shop.
Today, The New Yellow Rock Barn is under Erik and Rachael’s management, with Janet and Bill Anderson’s reception on March 31, 2018, serving as the first event under the new management.
While the space itself includes vintage-inspired details with lanterns in the windowsills and lace curtains, the music, food, and decorating are wide open for guests, Erik said. Building off of their wedding in Cozumel, Janet and Bill Anderson “brought the beach back home” in incorporating seashells, fishing poles, and other sea-inspired details into their late March reception.
“In terms of the Barn, the number one thing that we hope people experience and take from the space is an appreciation for older times and the desire to live in a space and share a story with a space that celebrates history and that celebrates the enterprising spirit,” Erik said. “The space comes with its own character, and we hope that people who want to get married here celebrate that character.”
As Rachael has moved operations of Messner Bee Farm into the shop, customers will often come in and share their stories and memories of the property, including events that they attended at The New Yellow Rock Barn.
“All these memories are good memories,” Rachael said. “I love that this space has such a long history of good memories. Everyone takes ownership over it — it’s great.”
More information on the Alexander Majors Barn can be found at www.wornallmajors.org or call 816-444-1858. Find information on The New Yellow Barn by calling 816-358-6690 or visit www.theyellowrockbarn.com.