Modern elegance surrounded by lush farmland, endless skies and a sparkling lake perfectly describes Lake Martin’s New Water Farms.
“New Water was the perfect place for our wedding,” Rachel Matheny said of the special day in September when she wed Stephen Heard. “The beautiful water view, the farm with its gardens and vineyards and the open-air chapel brought my dream wedding to life.”
Matheny and Heard met attending Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. After the two dated for several years, Heard planned to propose to Matheny at Kowaliga Restaurant in January, but when he realized his plans coincided with the Lake Martin Young Professionals Polar Plunge for Lake Martin Resource Association, he quickly changed his mind. Instead, he chose Auburn’s Acre restaurant as the place to pop the question.
After Matheny and Heard became engaged, they agreed that Lake Martin was the perfect site for their wedding.
“It was the one place we all enjoy,” Matheny said.
Her parents own a lake house in Dadeville, and her mother learned about New Water Farms while searching online. The venue was only minutes from their house, and after touring the property, the decision was made.
“The farm’s setting provided the casual atmosphere we wanted,” Matheny said.
The bride’s sister served as her bridesmaid, and Heard’s brother and friend served as groomsmen.
The ceremony was held in the property’s lakeside A-frame chapel at the end of the farm’s peninsula overlooking the lake. The sun’s rays shone over the lake as the couple exchanged vows and family and friends looked on.
After the ceremony, the wedding party enjoyed a Southern meal catered by The Hotel at Auburn University in New Water’s open-beamed lodge. Café lights draped overhead brought a magical feeling to the special celebration.
“My grandmother, Barbara Whatley, provided the flowers. She also made our wedding cake, complete with three delicious layers of vanilla pound, red velvet and strawberry. She did all this for us in addition to perfectly altering my wedding dress,” Matheny explained, her voice filled with gratitude and love.
After the guests finished dinner, the band started playing. The sun set low in the sky as the couple shared their first dance as husband and wife.
The reception, held both inside and out, provided entertainment for adults and children alike. The kids played games, including corn hole and croquet on the lawn, while the adults danced on the lodge patio to music by the Emerald Empire.
Kimberly Roberts, New Water Farms’ event coordinator, said weddings are part of the community mission at the Lake Martin venue.
“We are a working farm, run mostly by volunteers, and we are here for the community,” Roberts explained. “We’re always ready to provide a place for gatherings, retreats and wedding celebrations. New Water is here to help people cultivate spiritual growth and rejuvenate their hearts.”
The 23-acre farm is only a 10-minute drive from U.S. Highway 280 in Dadeville. It sits on a peninsula overlooking the clear water of Sandy Creek across from Smith Mountain.
The farm’s core products include blueberries and blackberries, but volunteers also grow persimmons, figs and scuppernongs − a variety of muscadine. Bees make fresh honey, which is bottled and available for purchase, along with all of the farm’s produce. Volunteers spend countless hours making jams, preserves, syrups, salsas and pickled okra. The staff and volunteers at New Water work hard to serve the community.
“We are also about celebrating new life,” Roberts explained. “As far as a wedding venue, we provide simple elegance. For ceremonies, we offer the choice of our open-beamed chapel, the beach, the lawn or the vineyard.”
The lodge, a recently renovated building that can accommodate up to 250 guests, opens to a spacious porch with a wood-burning fireplace.
“There are so many options for couples here at New Water. Every wedding is unique and special in its own way. We are a great value for such a beautiful setting,” Roberts said.
Matheny and Heard’s wedding celebration at New Water brought a beautiful beginning to their new life together. After a sparkler send-off, the newlyweds spent 10 days honeymooning in Ireland.
Matheny is a registered nurse at Northside Hospital, and Heard works as a supply chain analyst for Focus Brands. The couple made their home in Atlanta, Georgia, but they visit the lake area whenever they can to keep their connection to the lake strong.