I have waited for years to tell the story of Ingrid & Maria, and the time has finally come. I never had a place to be able to write the story for others to read, until the creation of my new website and blog. Ironically, neither of those things would have been possible if it were not for Maria DeForrest, her photography, and her tenacity. This is a story of cosmic timing, genuine and organic business evolution, personal development, and a connection that seems to continually refresh.
In 2015, I began creating The Covered Bridge Inn. It was a terrifying and solo journey, but I was determined to be in business for myself, and utilize the historic structures of my family’s farm. A Bed & Breakfast was my path. I knew I could renovate, make breakfast, and change sheets, but I had no idea how to market my business. I had zero experience in website design, management, social media, or marketing.
Simultaneously, in 2015, Maria DeForrest, a young and extremely talented photographer in our area, became engaged to the love of her life, Jonathan. As a young couple trying to blend their 2 families, Maria set out on a journey of creating her dream wedding through the art of bartering her photography services. This may seem like a straightforward approach, for someone like Maria who has such an amazing gift, to share her photos with others in the wedding industry in exchange for wedding services. But let me assure you, this took WORK.
Maria messaged me on Facebook with the cliff notes of her story, and I welcomed her out to my budding business to talk about her ideas. At this point, weddings were a small portion of my business plan, meant to be a supplement to the B&B, and help support my operating cost. Needless to say, I was blown away by Maria’s passion and the vision she had for farm weddings.
Meeting Maria changed ALL of that, instantly. She introduced me to the world of weddings. Caterers, rentals, DJs, Photographers, and Wedding Planners. I watched her create her dream day through hard work and follow-through. Not only did she provide me with professional photography to promote my B&B, but I got a crash course in social media and marketing. Maria has very high standards for her social media presence and showed amazing patience with me as I stumbled my way into the world of Instagram & Facebook. Knowing that it would be mutually beneficial for both of us, she never hesitated to reach out to me with advice on how to improve my meager attempts at creating a brand. No matter how frustrated I became with learning a new industry, she was steadfast and confident that the results would be worth every bit of hand-holding that I required.
Our connection continues… Not long after their wedding in 2016, Maria’s husband Jonathan joined the team. For 3 years, Jonathan was our trusted groundskeeper, and helped us navigate the early years of property management. Because of Jonathan, we have some of the most epic before-and-after pictures of our barn interior. I will be forever grateful to Jonathan for his years of hard work.
And again… in 2018, another magical connection is made. Maria was hired as the photographer for one of my most memorable brides, Corrine Rains. Corrine and I have been inseparable ever since… but that’s an entirely different blog post. I’ll never forget the day that Maria stopped by for a visit, we had coffee, and she said “Ingrid, you need to hire this girl. She is the perfect match for you.” She was 100% correct.
When Maria and I first met in 2015, I had never even heard the word “brand”. It was a foreign concept to me. As my business has grown into a wedding venue over the years, Maria’s images remained at the forefront of my marketing and continually connecting Maria & me in business. As the years have gone by, we have both blossomed into our own unique and individual businesswomen. At the end of 2020, I decided it was time to take on a re-branding.
The creation of Hopkins Heartland forced me to remember all of the details of my business beginnings, create my message, and define my purpose. Time after time, it was Maria’s photos that reminded me of where I came from and who I have become. Time after time, it was Maria’s images that I chose to define my brand, and illustrate the core values of Hopkins Heartland. With the website complete, it is crystal clear. Maria Deforrest will be part of Hopkins Heartland’s past, present, and future. She’s part of the structural integrity of Hopkins Heartland, and I’m honored to call her my colleague and my friend. Cheers to many more dreamy photos of farm weddings.
April 1, 2021