What started as several requests to use the property has today turned into a thriving business for the Carolyn Baldwin Lake Pavilion.
Located on Cooks Road, just minutes away from Downtown Farmville, General Manager Joanna Baldwin and her family take pride in offering couples the perfect dream location for their wedding.
“It was around 2011 that I got the LLC for the business,” Baldwin said. “People were asking to use the property, and it grew out of a demand for it.”
The Carolyn Baldwin Lake Pavilion is named after Joanna’s mother, Carolyn Varner Baldwin, who unexpectedly passed away in 2008 due to an allergic reaction.
“She was the matriarch of our family and a beautiful, one-in-a-billion type of person with a generous and loving spirit,” Baldwin said. “She was a talented gardener, a devoted fisher-woman who could out-fish the best of ’em (we’re talking ‘sun-up-till-sundown’ kind of fishing), was creative and artsy, and never knew a stranger. We felt it only fitting to name this lovely place in her memory.”
Today, the wedding venue hosts around 35 weddings a year, with over 250 weddings since its opening.
Like most small businesses, Baldwin said the COVID-19 pandemic hit them hard, and weddings were greatly reduced.
“COVID greatly affected the business,” Baldwin said. It was a very stressful time for the wedding industry and our clients, but we got through it as best as we could. We did not receive any small business financial assistance. There was no handbook or precedent to follow for how to get through, so it was a challenging learning experience.”
With a lakefront backdrop combined with the rustic wood structure of the pavilion, the area creates a beautiful setting that Baldwin says is pretty unique to the area.
“There is a lot of natural beauty all around the venue, so it appeals to couples who love nature and being outside,” Baldwin said. “The setting surrounding our venue makes it a really special place. Things happen here naturally that you don’t have to create or force because of the lake and the forest surrounding us.
Baldwin said it is captivating watching the seasons change and the wildlife that is a part of that, like the white egrets that flew across the background of a ceremony just a few weeks ago.
Privacy but also being close to many things wedding couples may need is yet another feature the location provides.
“The location feels very private but is only 10-20 minutes from a number of accommodations and conveniences, which creates a nice balance,” Baldwin said.
As with any business, growing, expanding and creating new client experiences is at the forefront of future plans for the Carolyn Baldwin Lake Pavilion.
“We’re always evolving,” Baldwin said. “The business has evolved over the years with the real-life education I’ve gained, and physical improvements to the property are made when possible. Baldwin said they are continuously adding flowers to the landscape, and wooden benches were added to the ceremony area overlooking the lake last year.
For Baldwin, being able to help couples create their perfect wedding day and share in that is priceless.
“I love being a part of unique and memorable days at our venue,” she said. “Since the venue is named after my mother, it makes my heart happy when I see love and happiness shared in the venue named for her. She would have loved that. I hope the venue will continue to be a place where happy memories are made for years to come.”