Las Brisas Farm owners will give free weddings to lucky military couples
Mayra Beltran, Staff
Friendly atmosphere at Las Brisas Farm on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Fayetteville. Kathy and Eldon Aydelotte will be providing free weddings or vow renewals to active military. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle )
Kathy Aydelotte and her husband, Eldon, have a long history of finding ways to show their appreciation to the military. This year, they're kicking it up a notch.
It started when Kathy read an article about a program called Weddings for Warriors, begun in Savannah, Ga., in 2009. The program offers free weddings or vow renewals to couples in which one member is active in the military.
This struck a chord with Kathy because for the past 11 years the Aydelottes have run Las Brisas Farm, a charming wedding and retreat venue in Fayetteville, and she loves helping veterans and active duty service members. "My passion is giving back to the military," she says.
Las Brisas is taking applications now (go tolasbrisasfarm.com to find the application) with plans to give three free weddings or vow renewals Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day. With donations, everything from bouquet to banquet will be provided for the deserving couples.
Las Brisas Farm is perfect for it. There are three separate ceremony spaces and plenty of room on its carefully landscaped 17 acres. "Rustic but not primitive" is how she describes it. (Kathy is an ambitious landscaper, with more than 100 pomegranate bushes, an olive grove and a huge and ancient fig tree. There are flowers everywhere.)
The Aydelottes are old hands at putting on weddings, given that they host 20 or 25 a year at the farm.
Kathy also has a personal reason for being so passionate about giving back. Her son was a trauma surgeon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and he served two tours in Iraq, leaving his wife and four little boys for long stretches.
"I know first-hand the personal sacrifice these people make," she says. "No one comes back the same."
Kathy, who retired from teaching in Spring Branch, has been impressed by how willing businesses have been to donate goods and services to the project. "People who hear want to help," she says. The weddings will be completely free to the couples.
Mayra Beltran, Staff
Siting area near one of three wedding spots at Las Brisas Farm on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Fayetteville. Kathy and Eldon Aydelotte will be providing free weddings or vow renewals to active military. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle )
But her dream is that other wedding venues will get on board and join Weddings for Warriors as well, which is what has happened in Savannah. "All these Texas venues giving back - that would be a life fulfilled," says Kathy. "Hopefully, in 2014 there will be other venues who want to do it."
In other years, Las Brisas has offered free stays for members of the military under the Texas Veteran Project, in which more than 30 other properties participated.
The difficult part of doing Weddings for Warriors isn't doing the weddings. It's finding the couples. "The hardest part is getting the word out."