By Lindsay Curtin | Jun 24, 2016 | The Waynesville Mountaineer

A couple in Canton got a boost recently to help them turn their business dream into a reality. Taylor and Preston Gregg are the winners of this year’s Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Business Start Up competition, and they plan to put the $10,000 to good use.

The Greggs are building a dream wedding venue that will be called The Ridge on Chestnut Mountain, located at 633 Turnpike Road in Canton. The projected opening date is fall 2017. Ironically, the Greggs actually had their on wedding on that same plot of land.

The venue space will include a 6,400 square-foot enclosed reception barn to include a bridal loft, groom’s den, full kitchen, bathrooms and working bar in addition to the 2,400 square food ceremony pavilion with church pew seating.

The venue will accommodate up to 299 people and will include Amish farm tables and wooden cross back chairs.

Brides will have the option to choose a basic package for just the event space, or an all-inclusive package with local vendors.

Additional bells and whistles include firework send-offs, day-of skeet shooting and onsite bridal party yoga.

The Greggs would also like to offer the venue space for business seminars, meetings, conferences and retreats and down the road, build a bed and breakfast and rental cabins for weekend lodging.

Taylor Gregg said she and her husband have done extensive traveling and research, from Tennessee to Maine, to get a first-person perspective of what they do and do not want at their wedding venue.

“Some things that were really important to us, on the top of the list, included central heating and air. We did not want a barn spaceand it just be hot, hot, hot in the summer and cold, cold, cold in the winter,”said Taylor. “That allows us to have weddings all year long and be comfortable in your space.”

She added the ceremony space will be open but will have the ability to be closed in, so if it’s frigid outside or raining, visitors can still feel like they’re outside, but closed in.

Preston Gregg grew up on the property as a kid and worked on the farm with his family. Gregg is now the town engineer for the Town of Waynesville.

Dream Come True

Taylor Gregg started wedding planning in 2011 with a dream to one day open her own venue.

“I just think this [award] is another door opened. We’ve prayed about this for a really long time, and we see it as another door opening, leading the path that this is what we should do — kind of expanding our dream into reality,” she said.

The Greggs believe their venue will be one of a kind, despite the fact outdoor, country-chic weddings are growing in popularity.

“We really want it to be a full weekend experience for folks. A lot of venues rush you in, rush you out, and give you a limited time. We want people to come spend the day with us or the weekend if they want to,” said Taylor Gregg. “We want this to be an experience, not just a production that gets put on in a certain time frame. We want them to just relax and enjoy what Western North Carolina has to offer.”

The Greggs admitted they wouldn’t be human if they weren’t at least a little nervous about their big business plans.

“All this started for us on a scratch sheet of paper that we still have in our house. We sketched out some plans, the layout and vision, and now, six years down the road we have a business plan,” said Preston Gregg.

Each year, the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce sponsors a business start-up competition, with the grand prize of up to $10,000 for the business plan that shows the most promise.

Last year's winner was Elevated Mountain Distillery and Dave Angel, who is working on opening a tourist venue and distillery in Maggie Valley.