Events with experience

Amanda Cottingham celebrates one year since the opening of Barn at Bay Horse Inn

Amanda Cottingham celebrated a year since opening Barn at Bay Horse Inn in September.

From day one, the community has understood the vision that Amanda Cottingham had for Barn at Bay Horse Inn. The venue had 60 events booked before construction concluded. Having celebrated its first anniversary on Sept. 27, the Barn announced that it hosted 124 events in that year’s time – from weddings to fundraisers and corporate events.

Before the business concept came to mind, Cottingham had been debating whether to sell the Greenwood property or develop it. She had 20 years experience as a real estate appraiser and broker. She attended a friend’s wedding at a barn, giving her the inspiration to do something similar, but with the modern conveniences of heating, cooling and bathrooms.

“I wanted to be more higher end and offer something unique that you can’t find anywhere around here,” she said. “Greenwood was lacking unique event centers, a place that was different from a traditional banquet hall, a place not only for weddings but corporate events to provide more of an experience.”

She entered the process of rezoning in 2015, thinking if she could get support from the community to go ahead with the project, they would go for it. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers was an advocate of the construction, she said, and the project began with a groundbreaking in March 2016.

Barn at Bay Horse Inn opened Sept. 15, 2016 with a grand opening celebration. More than 600 people were in attendance that night: friends and family, business leaders, city officials and brides and grooms who had already booked an event there.

Four events in total were held that first weekend. After the grand opening, The Social of Greenwood held a fundraiser – for which the second annual event, Sparkles and Spurs, is coming up on Oct. 12.

Since then, it’s taken off. The Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce awarded Barn at Bay Horse Inn with the new construction award of the year, the Salute Award. Indy A List deemed the Barn the best wedding venue after only being open six months.

Fridays and Saturdays fill up fast, to the point that Sunday weddings are growing more popular. For 2018, the Barn already has 52 weddings booked, 60 events total. Some weddings have also been booked for 2019, with autumn being the most popular season.

Barn at Bay Horse Inn not only has the barn for events, but a log cabin where couples can stay overnight, stables with horses and a donkey, and a saloon. Cottingham’s children, ages 10 and 11, help out. Her son will often be on “janitor” duty, while her daughter enjoys helping with the animals, grooming them and getting them ready.

“It’s definitely teaching them responsibility and what it’s like to own your own business,” Cottingham said. “It was a rough year for them, us all being so busy and being a new business.”

Barn at Bay Horse Inn held its anniversary celebration on Sept. 27. Through the past year, guests received the opportunity to paint a little on a canvas designed by Cottingham’s sister. That mural, featuring the barn and additional colorful nature imagery, was unveiled at the opening, a representation of the past year.

Now looking to the next year, Cottingham said they’re always looking for new ideas to make the overall experience better for their guests, from keeping up with trends to perfecting customer service.

“We love adding as much personalization as possible,” she said. “We’ll give them the cake cart to use. We added a stained glass sign that points to their wedding. We have lots of props we use. We want to continue adding elements to make each event as memorable as possible. Now with the year anniversary with the brides from last year, I’m starting to see their post. Some of them are pregnant. It’s cool to look back. They’re using the photos from their wedding day. It’s like it was yesterday.”

Getting to know Amanda…

-We sponsor a lot of Center Grove Football and Center Grove Sports. We do a lot of banquets for the kids.

– I like to shop. Every decision that went into the barn, I shopped for.

-I enjoy watching my daughter do what she’s doing. She’s in the Valley Riders Club, a horse club that’s been around for 50 years. We have the big banquet here. She’s int he Johnson County 4-H.

-I like to travel. love the beach.

– I have bought and flipped houses in the past. I really enjoyed going through that and staging it at the end.

Best advice: Be open to change, new ideas and the unexpected. We had to make a lot of changes through the building process.

Worst advice: People say you can’t do that, when we knew we could.

Best business decision: On our original plan, we were not adding the saloon. This was the best thing we did. With having the bar separate from the main space, it added on the patio. We had to come back and add this to the blueprint. It opened up the door for smaller events.

Secret to success: Having a team of people. That is really important. You have to have a team that works really well together. If you have a great staff, that will help you succeed.

In 5 years…. It could grow into doing our own catering, our own kitchen, adding some full-service options. We’re finding a lot of couples would like one-stop shopping.

Barn at Bay Horse Inn

1468 Stones Crossing Rd W.

Greenwood, IN 46143

(317) 760-8778

barnatbayhorse.com