January 2017

Page 12

From Mercantile Shop to Wedding Venue How One Family’s Promise Led to a Premier Wedding Spot


he Gin at Rasberry Greene is a charming and scenic outdoor wedding and event venue. Nestled deep in the Piney Woods of South Mississippi in Soso, Rasberry Greene has a long and storied history that dates back to the 1930s. But that history has only recently included weddings. It was four years ago when owners Donnie and Lauren Zumwalt, with retirement approaching, started talking about what they were going to do with their newfound free time. Lauren explains, “We were sitting on the front porch drinking coffee, looking down through the pines and we thought about all of the good times had in this place. All of the memories [we’ve] made and shared and the time spent with family. We wanted to find a way to share that feeling with others.” The Zumwalt’s younger son Casey is a wedding photographer, and he clued his parents in to the emerging trend of rustic and unpolished weddings. “Casey said our property would be perfect for brides who wanted that type of wedding,” Lauren recalls. The land was originally owned by William Green Rasberry, Lauren’s grandfather, who owned a mercantile store in Soso and operated a cotton gin. The land that Rasberry bought was passed down through the family and Zumwalt’s mother and father placed a heavy importance not only on the land but its connection to the family. “She made us promise that we would take care of it,” Lauren Article by Clint Kimberling

says. Her parents have passed on, but she adds, “I think they would be real thrilled with what it has become.” With a firm idea for a wedding venue in place, the Zumwalt’s decided to name this new venture Rasberry Greene as a nod to her grandfather. They also chose to construct the main building in the style of a cotton gin rather than a barn. The design of the gin, conceived and sketched by Donnie, features an open space layout and high windows that offer more natural light—a necessity for taking good wedding photos. The gin is decorated with two industrial chandeliers and matte black wall sconces that give the space a rustic elegance. The gin is also outfitted with reclaimed wooden tables that contribute to the rough charm of the room. The standout feature of the property is the 14-acre spring-fed lake that Lauren’s father built. Situated on that lake is a two bedroom, two bath guest house (also built by her father) that is referred to simply as “the lake house.” When they couldn’t bear to tear down the lake house, it was transformed into a dressing suite for the wedding party. The grounds at Rasberry Greene feature several great options for outdoor wedding ceremonies, each more picturesque than the next. Brides can choose to get married beneath a brick arbor that offers a view of the lake or standing on the deck overlooking the water. The deck, covered in overhead string lights can also serve as Photos submitted