The Farm Transforms
In 2010 Leigh Clarke, a city-dwelling MBA-type with a corporate background in finance and consulting, stepped foot on Chanteclaire Farm and fell madly in love. She purchased the farm from Christiane and Fred Bergheim, who retired to the beaches of South Carolina, and began the happiest period of her life, starting with the 2011 wedding season.
The farm had been a wedding venue for a decade. Having spent years living in Italy, France, and England, she was immediately drawn to the farm's European vibe. Leigh's passion had always been the creation of beautiful businesses that are constantly evolving and growing. She brought her discerning taste in food, decor, and design to the farm, and began her quest to make Chanteclaire a nationally recognized, top-notch wedding venue.
She instituted a deep involvement in guiding each couple through the wedding planning process, spending time creating a mood and avoiding any pitfalls of a poorly orchestrated production. Her ability to connect deeply with people means that couples don’t feel like just clients, but partners and even friends. Because she has a profound reverence for weddings, she focused the business entirely on this one type of event. As Leigh would say, she has no interest in catering parties, but in creating weddings, because they are filled with so much meaning and importance.
Leigh’s first mission was to upgrade the property to match modern tastes in a way that would last for many years. This meant balancing a cleaner and more streamlined aesthetic without losing the "quirky European sensibilities" that set the farm apart. A roof was added over the upper deck, changing the profile of the structure from a barn to an estate. New, larger bathrooms were built, and storm drainage added.
The Friend family cabin and farmhouse, described in Part 1 of our series, were renovated and redecorated to become gorgeous rental properties where brides, grooms, and their wedding parties spend the weekend connecting with the farm and one another.
The farmhouse, where the Bergheim's once lived, is now where our brides gather with their bridesmaids. It is a historical wonder and a modern woman’s dream. The original plaster walls still exist and in one room the lathing beneath has been exposed as a design element. Central AC, a massive master suite and classic European decor have been added to make the home the perfect place to spend a wedding weekend.
The cabin is the groom's domain. Built in 1840, its hand-hewn logs and chinking are masculine in a way that reminds us of how life used to be on a farm. Even the nails in the walls are hand forged, evidence that it was crafted with care and meaning. We love sitting on the porch swing under the metal roof overlooking the pond during a rain storm. The sounds and view are so cozy and intense at the same time – it’s an experience that almost makes you long for rain.
In late 2014, the farm's most impressive upgrade was completed, transforming the barn's silo into a steampunk-themed bar. For a peak at the process, which was televised by Animal Planet. (see our blog post)
In 2015, Chanteclaire launched a new website that would better display the property’s personality and atmosphere. Leigh is now creating an online wedding planning platform that distills her experience and advice into an easily accessible app. Future plans include publishing a book on the art of wedding planning. Leigh wants to create a roadmap for all couples that challenges old traditions and infuses weddings with deep personal meaning all while creating a party so epic that it becomes a family legend.
We hope you have enjoyed our three part series on the history of Chanteclaire Farm. As you can see, Chanteclaire is constantly evolving, so be sure to check back often to see our latest projects.