The barn wedding craze has taken the country by storm. Regardless of where in America you are, you’re likely not far from a venue that’s been given the rural appeal of a barn to keep up with this growing trend. And Arkansas is no exception.

As more couples line up to exchange their vows with a rustic soirée, a number of venues have popped up across the region to meet the need for a pastoral locale. And they get the job done – they’re built specifically to accommodate these events, and they do look like barns.
But few are truly as authentic as what you’ll find on the outskirts of Little Rock, at the Pine Hill Ranch.

Pine Hill Ranch isn’t your typical barn wedding venue. It’s not even your typical barn. It’s part of Bob Mullenax’s plan to create a world-renowned equine facility right here in Central Arkansas. The fact that it could also play host to extraordinary weddings was really just an afterthought.

Mullenax bought the sprawling 220-acre property a decade ago with the dream of building a state-of-the-art equestrian center like no other. Since then, he’s constructed phase one –an impeccable lodge that would rival any countryside resort. It’s where he works, lives and plans for the future Pine Hill Ranch.

Pine Hill Ranch lodge

The lights of the Pine Hill Ranch lodge glow as nightfall approaches.

Phase two, which is nearly complete, includes a spacious lesson barn, a 15,000-square foot covered arena and an uncovered, outdoor arena. The driving force behind all of this hard work, Mullenax says, is his passion for horses and his desire to share that with the world, especially new equestrians.

“We wanted to have a special, world-class facility with world-class trainers and really nice horses for people to learn,” he says. “You never get a second chance at that… And there’s a relationship a person can have with a horse that you can’t have with any other person or animal.”
According to Mullenax, Will Rogers was right when he said: “The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.”

And with beautiful horses and a magnificent property, it wasn’t long before friends began to ask him about hosting weddings. But after hosting two, he decided it was time to bring in a professional. Enter Mary Thomas Lewis, a veteran event planner with more than 20 years of experience. Lewis was chosen by Mullenax to serve as the official events coordinator at Pine Hill Ranch.

Together, they aim to make Pine Hill Ranch Arkansas’ preferred venue for nuptials, as well as parties, festivals and corporate events.

“I have a beautiful piece of property. I know people would love to come, and I want them to,” says Mullenax. “I want to share it with everyone, and I’ve always felt like horses were a big part of weddings. If you want to do it right, have some beautiful horses carry you away from your wedding. They’re just magical.”

Mary Lewis Pine Hill Ranch

Veteran events planner Mary Lewis brings her expertise to every wedding at Pine Hill Ranch.

And that equestrian element can be added to any wedding at Pine Hill Ranch, as little or as much as you want, Lewis says. “Brides can be brought in on horseback, and newlyweds can be carried away on a horse-drawn carriage.”

According to Lewis, Pine Hill Ranch lends to lovers the most authentic venue for a rustic, picturesque barn wedding. Every single detail of the property, she says, is the result of thoughtful planning. Even the trees that remain on the property were hand selected, and thousands of daffodil and tulip bulbs are planted between them.

“Pine Hill Ranch is definitely unique in the fact that this is a true, working barn,” Lewis says of the lesson barn, as she watches a construction crew install massive Pella windows that will fill the venue with natural light.

“This isn’t just for show; it’s very, very real. And that’s important to a lot of people,” she adds. “I think the world-class nature and the aesthetic of the property is second to none. There’s not once piece of Pine Hill Ranch that is not as top notch as it can be… In Bob’s world, nothing is done halfway.”

In addition to being an equestrian paradise, Pine Hill Ranch has also successfully captured a genuine at-home ambience. Each of the buildings on the property was designed by luxury home builder Jack Hartsell. The kitchen, though built to accommodate catered events, still feels as cozy as your mother’s. The bathrooms, though large enough to serve as dressing rooms for wedding parties, are every bit as intimate as your own.

wedding invitation Pine Hill Ranch

“These are far from your typical barns,” says Lewis. “They’re every bit as luxurious as a Jack Hartsell home… Because of the high-quality nature of the construction here, this place has a very warm feel to it. It’s very homey.”

In addition to having a world-class venue, couples who decide to have their wedding at Pine Hill Ranch will also have the luxury of a built-in event planner, says Lewis. “We welcome any event planner, but if you don’t have one, I’m here. We offer everyone full service planning, just as if you had hired a wedding planner.”

And though their new barns won’t be open until spring, Lewis encourages couples to book immediately. The schedule, she says, will fill up quick. The venue has a capacity for up to 300 visitors. Custom weddings are welcome, but she will soon begin rolling out wedding packages, too, for those interested.

“I’m out here, ready and eager to give people tours and begin booking weddings,” she says. “We want to accommodate everyone, while also not limiting someone from customizing the wedding of their dreams.”

Also in the works is an enormous events center, which will sit near the center of the sprawling estate. The structure will be built with the same rustic aesthetic as the rest of Pine Hill Ranch, but will be much, much larger, multiplying the number of guests the ranch can accommodate.

Mullenax’s office inside the lodge is lined with artist renderings of the events center, which includes a covered terrace and bridal dressing rooms. When the center is completed, couples looking to tie the knot at Pine Hill Ranch will have a variety of options available when deciding the actual location of their ceremony.

Unlike most other wedding venues, Pine Hill Ranch will also have living quarters available to the wedding party and their family members. Building a series of cabins along the edge of the property is just another piece of Mullenax’s grand plan.

And in addition to rustic, equestrian-themed weddings, Mullenax hopes to host a few Harley Davidson-themed ones, as well. He says anyone interested in riding to or from their ceremony on the back of a shiny motorcycle is more than welcome to. The venue is really intended to host motorcycle rallies for him and his friends, he jokes.

“The things that we do here, we’re going to do them to the very best of our ability to provide the type of amenities and excellence this market is after,” he says. “And I’m looking forward to it.”