This popular wedding venue was once a real ranch

Located on 44 acres in Jenks, Spain Ranch has evolved thanks to one Tulsa family.



The White Barn is a popular venue at Spain Ranch, 732 E. 116th St., Jenks. The Spain family has owned the 44-acre property since 2004.

Michelle Pollard

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Spain Ranch is a labor of love for its owners. After all, it’s often love that brings people to the 44-acre Jenks ranch.

In 2004, Dr. Michael Spain bought the property from longtime owners Sue and Lloyd Clifton. The couple had owned the property for decades, nurturing it as an agricultural production with cattle and bison. “The Cliftons held out for years as developers wanted this attractive property for the booming housing industry in this part of Jenks,” Spain says.

From 2004-2009, Michael and son, John, worked the land, eventually hiring Kris Yancey, first a ranch hand and now director of operations. Eventually John and now-wife Bronwyn moved onto the property and considered future opportunities and keeping the ranch in the family.

“Bronwyn and I committed to staying in Tulsa to see the formation of the business through and create a sustainable model that in turn pays for the land and reduced the financial responsibility of the other family members,” John says.

Over the years, the Spains hosted small family get-togethers and charity events. Then, in March 2014, when a family friend needed a venue for their upcoming wedding, they had the proverbial lightbulb moment.

After that wedding, Michael, John, Bronwyn and the whole family came together with the idea to use the property as an event venue, something the Spains thought was lacking in the Tulsa market. “We wanted to cater to a whole different kind of bride and bring city brides to the country,” says Bronwyn, Spain Ranch’s creative director.

The property’s existing buildings wouldn’t support a large gathering, so the family knew a new structure was needed. They purchased a Sand Creek barn kit, which was later built by John, who has a background in construction.

Like any family decision, opinions varied on how to design the space, but an overall mindset was to keep an interior raw wood aesthetic. Bronwyn, who holds a degree in interior design from University of Oklahoma College of Architecture, had another idea.

“We had to do all white,” she says. “It never goes out of style.” She felt the color also would play well for photographers, stylists and event designers. The space became known as “The White Barn.”

Even though they were hesitant to paint over the natural raw wood, John and Michael admit Bronwyn was right about the color decision. The Spains even painted the building themselves. “People look straight up as they walk in,” says Director of Events Cecily Tawney of the barn’s vaulted ceilings. “Many of our guests don’t know this place is out here.”

Large picture windows and French doors showcase the property’s lush foliage, trees and pasture. “We also wanted to let the land be part of the design,” Bronwyn says.

The results have been overwhelming. Since 2014, Spain Ranch has hosted 272 events: weddings, elopements, and corporate and charity functions.

Demand was so great, the family decided to do it all over again. The summer of 2018 saw the introduction of “The Black Barn,” a space that challenged the team while demonstrating the thriving business community and collaboration the Spains are passionate about championing. “We believe that Tulsa is the best city to start a business, and small businesses have been crucial to Tulsa’s economy,” John says. “Being a small business, we feel it’s important not only for the economy but for the people behind each small business in Tulsa to support one another.

“We want to educate and inspire our clients — especially young Tulsans — to shop and support local. We are passionate about Tulsa thriving, so we want to use our platform to inspire others to want Tulsa and its residents to thrive.”

Before the Black Barn’s construction, the Spains interviewed hair and makeup artists, photographers and other local industry professionals on what they wanted in a space: good lighting, accessibility, functionality and flexibility.

When it came to the color, Bronwyn thought of a wedding’s VIPs, the bride and groom. “This is the black tux to the bride’s white dress,” she says. She was inspired while on a trip to Kentucky where she and John saw several black fences and barns.

Along with the construction of the new barn, the family focused on creating a setting that was reflective of its surroundings. “We wanted to bring back some of the natural elements,” John says, referring to the use of local building materials. They also planted mostly native plants for water-conscious growing and to provide a refuge for pollinators. The family has reclaimed the property’s pond, which had previously suffered from silt as a result of the area’s booming developments.

The wedding and event industry’s environmental footprint weighed heavy on Bronwyn, who sees a lot of waste when it comes to weddings and events. She created a nonprofit called Project Bloom, which allows clients to donate the flowers used at their event to be delivered to one of four places in Tulsa.

Through the Ranch’s board of directors, which consists of six Spain family members, the board donates venue space each year for a number of nonprofit events.

Spain Ranch has spawned national attention from its design, aesthetics, services and brand, as well as venue management team and event planning capabilities. And the venue is starting a consulting firm that will help fledging venues succeed in an industry for which best practices are not openly shared, Tawney says.

But to what do the Spains credit their success? “We’re successful because we have young people in the business,” Michael says, and each brings their own special talents and skills. Each member has their own responsibilities — and each do their best to stay out of each other’s responsibilities.

“Micromanaging a family business is asking for disaster,” Michael says. Each member has found their niche and has excelled, John adds.

“We are very proud of and recognized for creating trends and showing the market or event industry as a whole things they have never seen before,” he says. “This level of forward thinking and creativity has allowed Spain Ranch and the brand as a whole to create demand in parts of the market that hardly existed, such as small weddings and elopements.”

The toughest part of the job is the ability to manage the “on/off switch,” a doubly tough challenge since four of the family members employed at Spain Ranch also live on the property.

The acreage is more than just a livelihood. It’s their home, something the family doesn’t take lightly.

“We manage to a vision,” Michael says. “With a strong set of values, your vision is set.”

 

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October 2019

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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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More information

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Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
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View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: 0.00

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View map »


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More information

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Cost: $10-$70

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View map »


Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
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Cost: $10-70

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440 S Gary Ave
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
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Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma  with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and fun...

Cost: $10 at the gate or $7 in advance for adults. Children 12 and under are FREE.

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
Contact Name: Zachary Johnston
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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
Hugo, OK  74743
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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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The Karbach Games and Competitions Arena becomes our own center of the universe Saturday at 2:00 PM for true fans of German bier. Why? Because it is ground zero for the Linde Oktoberfest Bavarian...

Cost: $40

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 South Jackson Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: River Parks
Contact Name: Ryan Howell

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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
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Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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Folk Salad Radio Show celebrates its 20th anniversary with a potluck meal followed by a concert featuring Grammy-nominated singer songwriter John Fullbright and several other Tulsa musicians on...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Stone Church
4225 W. Fifth St.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Folk Salad Radio Show
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Join us for Nimrod Write Night, the opening event of our Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers weekend, on Friday, October 18th, at the Tulsa Historical Society, 6:30 p.m. Write Night is...

Cost: free

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society
2445 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
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Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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Flashes of vivid colors, laughter, dancers whirling around keeping pace with the energetic music, more laughter……this is what you will experience at Guthrie Green this Saturday,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: SAPAF
Telephone: 918-665-6419
Contact Name: Mohan Kelkar
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Tulsa in Harmony is a congregation of community choirs, lending their voices in one accord. They sing of their hopes and their faith and aspirations of a more unified community and a more unified...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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What's New


Ernie Fields Jr. honors his father's musical legacy

The saxophonist and Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame inductee returns to his hometown Oct. 18-19 for “The Golden Age of Greenwood.”

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Muscogee artist Leslie Deer melds couture and tradition

“Voices of our Ancestors,” a red dress with symbols representing the “Three Worlds” from Muscogee legends, will be among Deer’s pieces at the Cherokee Art Market.

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3 arts events to see this month

See exhibits at ahha Tulsa, Woolaroc and Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.

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McDazzle Fun Ball

“Lighting the Path of Hope” benefitted Ronald McDonald House, a temporary home for families of critically ill or injured patients

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Try not to smile at this happy puppy painting...

Talitha B. Jacobs' art will be featured at Utica Square’s Art in the Square from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 5.

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