Bridal parties primp and prep in luxe, boutique style at The Cottage at Warren Place.
Words by Andrea Darr | Photos by Taylor Douglas
mong KC’s many wedding venues, you’ll often find changing rooms for bridesmaids and groomsmen to gather and prepare. They vary in size and are typically minimally decorated. That’s not so at Warren Place in Gardner, Kansas, where co-owners Connie and Raelee Wright—grandmother and granddaughter—renovated a 1960s rectory for bridal party use. It’s not every day that you hear about someone going into business with their grandma, but the generational spread helped them strike a fine balance. “From the beginning, this project was very much a generational melting pot,” Raelee says. “Between my grandma, who’s in her 70s, and me in my 20s, we tried to find something that would appeal to all.” The Cottage is one-third of the grounds of the former Divine Mercy Parish complex, which was founded with the historic Sacred Heart Chapel and later joined by the rectory for the priests in the 1960s and the parish hall in the 1980s. For a decade, no one bought the trio of buildings. But Connie, who grew up in Gardner and owns another business on the same block, disheartenedly watched the property dilapidate. She and Raelee stepped in to save the buildings with true vision.
“My grandma and I were on Pinterest for five years,” Raelee says. “We had time to sit there and envision what it could all be. Style-wise, being in Gardner—being in Kansas—we saw the need that a rustic feel was met—but mixed with a clean, modern, higher-end touch. Grandma is the chandelier queen, with the glitz and glamor of the Old World, and I’m the boring modern minimalist. We met somewhere in the middle.”
They brought in DRAW Architecture + Urban Design for the concept design and did the renovation work themselves. Jennifer Boender with Hello Homes (who has since relocated to Florida) was hired for the interiors.
“They wanted the space to feel bridal, but not in-your-face bridal,” Jennifer explains. “The ultimate goal was to look like a luxe, boutique hotel.”
Most of the walls were taken down to the studs at the cottage, where the floor plan was revamped from five small bedrooms for traveling priests into three glammed up bridal suites.
“When we purchased the property, the cottage had different shag carpet and different wallpaper in every room,” Raelee recalls.
Although, where they landed was not so far off.
“In each bedroom, there is something special—not necessarily a theme, but a vibe,” Jennifer describes.
One bedroom is earthy, one is Art Deco, and the bridal suite is blush-colored with a leather chandelier. Each bedroom has its own bath, and that’s where Connie’s word of the day—jewelry—showed up the most. Lighting and tile selections grab attention in metallics; wall treatments and custom murals make bold statements.
Space rental is an add-on and flexible from one hour to a full weekend, and also available for birthday parties and corporate retreats.
The Wright ladies finished Warren Place in early 2020—just in time for the COVID-19 shutdown. Now, they are booked through 2024 and continue to enhance their vision for this special venue.
“It’s always changing; it’s a dynamic space,” Raelee says. “We are growing with the space as the space grows with us.”
For instance, the meeting hall for the Knights of Columbus—which was in the rectory basement—is transforming into a groomsmen’s room. And the Wrights are adding more functional options, such as a steamer.
“I love when people walk in with their mouths wide open,” Raelee says. “It’s our Pinterest page come to life.”
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