After years of planning and preparation, one of the lake’s newest wedding and conference venues is now open for business. Nestled on 41 acres near Westlake Corner on Brooks Mill Road, The Stables at the Virginian is a custom-built, two-story space with an upscale western vibe.

“It’s too grand to be referred to as a barn,” said Rachael Strain, event manager of The Stables.

“It’s a destination wedding venue,” said owner/manager Jackie Baker, who, along with Strain, is a certified wedding and event planner and lifetime member of The Bridal Society, an international society of wedding planners.

Baker, a retired registered nurse, and her partner, Mike Boyd, a practicing physician, who manages business affairs for The Stables, envisioned the venue to be a central part of the lake area.

“We really are about the community,” Baker said, adding that she hopes to host community events there as well.

The venue’s style originated from Boyd’s love of cowboys and western culture, including abiding by what’s known as “The Code of the West,” as well as the couple’s shared values of “integrity, honesty and character.”

“The Code of the West is the personal character and principles you live by, and a great way to approach business ethics,” according to The Stables’ website. “Although he [Boyd] is not a cowboy in the traditional sense, he admires and respects what they stand for.”

With a vision for what The Stables would look like, the couple enlisted the help of Eric Buck of Comprehensive Home Design to create blueprints. From there, Dennis Cooper of Cooper Contractors helped make their dream a reality. Whenever they could, they hired local businesses — Randy Hodges for excavating the land, Billy Dudley for plumbing installation and John Ward, who polished and stained the venue’s concrete floors to give them a leather appearance.

The space is ideal for hosting wedding receptions, family reunions, retirement parties and other gatherings for up to 200 guests, Strain said.

With oversized sliding doors, the main entrance of The Stables opens into a grand hall that features a 40-foot ceiling, rich wooden accents and sparkling crystal chandeliers. Baker consulted with Nancy Daniel of King’s Chandelier Co. of Eden, North Carolina on selecting just the right lighting and suitable fixtures for The Stables. “For me, lighting is decor,” Baker said.

Adjacent to the grand hall with custom metal gates are five separate rooms that resemble horse stalls, suitable for smaller, more intimate gatherings. The stalls also provide access to a covered, outdoor patio that provides sweeping views of the countryside.

“It’s a special space for guests to gather and enjoy the beautiful views,” Strain said.

On the upper level of The Stables is the Longhorn saloon, a western-style bar, built by Rich Cole of Wirtz, complete with locally crafted wooden tables and high-top barstools, made by woodworker Billy Sebestin of Rocky Mount.

Just off the bar area is a spacious deck overlooking the property where guests can also mingle.

Anchored at the other end of the venue is a 600-square-foot room that can be used by families of the bridal party to relax and congregate before a ceremony begins. A trio of windows, including ones that look outside toward the front of the property and others that provide a birds-eye view of the grand hall below provide abundant natural light. The space is well-appointed with deep, comfortable couches, oversized chairs and colorful Brazilian cowhides that serve as area rugs.

When not used for weddings, the room, which is wired and equipped with the latest technology, is ideal for hosting smaller events such as corporate board meetings or organizational get-togethers, Strain said.

Dual walkways that overlook the grand hall connect the saloon and the gathering room. A Gentleman’s Quarters for the groom and his groomsmen to use before the nuptials is on this level and decorated with furniture and accessories that give the space a masculine edge. A separate Bridal Suite is decorated with delicate, feminine touches, including a fluffy white sheepskin rug, natural lighting and comfortable furniture.

While just about every inch of the 9,000-square-foot space is photo-worthy, The Stables would not be complete without its 1800s-era horse-drawn buggy and a fully restored 1880s Mitchell Wagon — both of which can be used as backdrops for photographs. “It’s an authentic carriage with all original paint,” Strain said of the Mitchell Wagon.

By partnering with area vendors, including wedding officiants, florists, bakers and Center Stage Catering, The Stables helps couples easily navigate planning their wedding. “We’re going to be partnered with all those folks exclusively,” Strain said. “So no worries for the bride; we’ll have all the tools put into place.”

As finishing touches were made to the venue before the start of the New Year, Baker said other projects, including a ceremony space, a reception pavilion and a fire pit, among others, are in the works. “This is pretty much our first phase,” she said.