Editor's note: This story first published in print on Sunday, March, 3, 2019, as part of the Daily Nonpareil's Happily Ever After special section. You can find the e-edition here

Many couples feel that there’s no wedding venue like the Great Outdoors.

Fortunately, southwest Iowa has several places that bring nature and nuptials together in a pleasing manner.

One such place is Bella Terre at 23375 Barrus Road, Glenwood.

The property hosts 70 to 80 weddings a year, according to Haley Scanlan, manager.

“The majority of our brides have an outdoor ceremony,” she said.

But if this is where you want to have your special occasion, you will need to make reservations 1 ½ to two years ahead, depending on the time of year, Scanlan said.

“We book up pretty fast,” she said.

Bella Terre has an outdoor seating area with seating for almost 300 people, Scanlan said. There are electrical outlets so wedding parties can plug in sound equipment and/or special lighting.

Bella Terre’s beautiful Italian-style reception hall, which has room for 400, is just a short walk away.

In addition, Bella Terre has tables, chairs, linens, place settings included when you rent the hall, Scanlan said. The facility does not prepare or serve food, but the staff can recommend a caterer from its list of preferred vendors, she said.

If you decide to have an outdoor wedding, a companion hall is important, Scanlan said.

“Make sure there’s a venue nearby that fits in the budget,” she said. “A backup plan is also huge for bad weather.”

And Bella Terre has plenty of atmosphere.

“With our venue, there’s no need for (props),” she said.

Bella Terre is modeled after an Italian-style villa, complete with vineyard. Features like balconies and shutters inside the reception hall help recreate the village atmosphere.

Bella Terre has event planners who can help work out arrangements, Scanlan said. They will also serve as an on-site coordinator on the day of the wedding.

For more information, visit bellaterre.com or call 402-740-4176.

Council Bluffs’ own Bayliss Park is another popular location for outdoor weddings.

“We get people from Colorado, California, Michigan – we get people from all over that actually send in their registration,” said Sarah Allen of the Council Bluffs Parks, Recreation and Public Property Department.

“The fountain is a beautiful feature here in town, and it’s extremely gorgeous especially in the afternoon and evening,” Allen said. “It makes for great photography, great atmosphere. It’s a very romantic atmosphere.”

The park has an elevated stage and green space and water features for children, Allen noted. There is a built-in sound system and microphones that are available for guests to use, for a fee.

The stage is lighted, and there are electrical outlets in case guests want to bring their own sound equipment or lights.

The stage and a new fountain were installed as part of a park renovation in 2006-07.

If a couple is also looking for a reception hall, Bayliss Park Hall is just across the street.

For more information on renting a quadrant of Bayliss Park, call the Council Bluffs Parks, Recreation & Public Property Department at 712-890-5291.

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