“A monument of bygone days,

I’ve kept the place where now I grow,

And, over all my head did raise

Above a thousand years ago

What mighty changes in that space!

What revolutions on the earth!

What strange events have taken place!

What wonders! Since I date my birth!

Of these I have laid up a store,

And at your service they shall be;

When you would think on days of yore

Come sit beneath the Hemlock tree.

In every branch I have a tongue,

I have a voice in every breeze;

And when I speak to old or young;

My aim is to instruct and please.”

~The Hemlock Tree and It’s Legends

I’ve never felt comfortable wearing most jewelry, so when Skip first took me shopping for an engagement ring, I was really nervous. When I was a child, if we went into a store that had pricey things on display or pretty much anything breakable, my mom would have me put my hands in my pockets since I had a tendency to touch things. On this shopping trip with Skip, instinctively, my hands went into my jeans pockets. As we looked at gorgeous sparkly and giant diamonds, while I found them pretty, nothing really felt like me. Skip picked out a truly stunning ring and a diamond to match, but when I saw the price tag I nearly lost it and ran from the store. I felt a little bad being so awkward as Skip was obviously enjoying this shopping experience, so I humored him and tried on a few different rings. They felt cold and heavy and knowing how expensive they were, I felt like I needed a bubble around my hand to protect that “investment”. No doubt they were all beautiful, but it just really wasn’t my style, so we left empty handed.

I had an idea of what I might like though and shared my thoughts with Skip not knowing if such a thing even existed or if it could be made. Being the amazingly supportive man that he is, he encouraged me to look for exactly what I wanted. A quick Google search led me to two websites that offered exactly what I had in mind…something natural, organic and earthy. Rings made of wood.


Since it was the Red River Gorge and the outdoors that brought us together, what better way to celebrate our relationship than to have rings made from wood from the place we met? One of the companies we found, Northwood Rings, can custom make rings from the materials you send to them, and we knew immediately what we would choose.

My favorite tree has always been the Hemlock with it’s gracefully feminine evergreen branches and woodsy scent. When we first started dating, I was delighted to learn the Hemlock was also Skip’s favorite tree and also the name we chose for our business. The Hemlock is also known as the “Tree of Faith” and is symbolic of family, tribe or community, and healing. We chose a piece of a recently downed Hemlock as the inner layer of the rings; the one that would be closest to the skin. For the outer layer of the rings, we selected a remnant of one of our Douglas Fir beams from the barn. The Douglas Fir is known as the “Tree of Strength” and is symbolic of past and future. Like most evergreens, both the Hemlock and the Douglas Fir are flexible and will bend before they break. They are some of the longest living evergreens, perhaps because of this flexible quality and something that we felt was important for a marriage. Both trees maintain their deep green needles throughout the year symbolizing enduring love…another important marital quality we wanted to be reminded of. To this end, we had a dear friend, Tim Yates, design a Hemlock branch that would be engraved on the outer layer of my ring and inlayed with crushed malachite.


Though unconventional, we couldn’t be happier with our choice. Our rings hold much meaning and symbolism for us and serve as a reminder of the place we call home no matter where life takes us.

We would love to hear of any other couples who have chosen an unconventional ring, so please leave us a comment and tell us your story!




How a permitted venue makes all the difference.


If you’re an adventurous bride or groom that’s looking for a unique venue, then you may want to pay close attention to this post because I’m about to share with you some little known information that could literally make or break your big day. This one detail can ruin your wedding.

As the popularity of farm and barn weddings has exploded across the country, couples are choosing to come to Kentucky to take advantage of all the Bluegrass state has to offer. From quaint farm settings, to sprawling ornate horse barns to spectacular natural scenery, Kentucky has a bit of everything to suit rustic tastes to elegant soirees and everything in between. The possibilities are endless when you consider the multitude of barn venues, farms, vineyards and woodland locations, but before you book, I’ll fill you in on a little secret that will save you tons of stress.

At Hemlock Springs, doing things the right way is very important to us. Hiring competent contractors, ensuring guests’ safety and comfort and not cutting any corners has been at the forefront of our venue project. We have been in the process of obtaining all the proper permissions, permits and certificates for quite sometime now, (much longer than we were initially advised of) and let me tell you, the process has been slow and painful…but not all venues go to this trouble or expense. There are currently venues that are operating without proper permitting or certifications and that puts YOUR wedding day in grave jeopardy.

Some venues across the country have been shut down just days before an unsuspecting couple was to be married; leaving them stranded on one of the most memorable days of their lives. Other venues that have been shut down were unable to refund their couples’ payments creating an even worse situation. Unfortunately, this is beginning to happen more and more often. To be fair, many venue owners are unaware that permits and certifications are required, but that still won’t stop officials from shutting the venue down and potentially ruining your day.

So, how can you protect yourself? Make sure that you’re asking these specific questions of your venue.

  • Are you a permitted venue?
  • Have you passed all final inspections?
  • Do you have a certificate of occupancy?
  • Are you a registered business?

These questions aren’t romantic by any means, and they may seem strange to ask, but they can potentially save you from having your wedding cancelled at the last minute.