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Wedding Business Becomes Big Business at Elegant Plein Air

Plein Air is the perfect venue for a wedding with beautiful furnishings and a convenient location only 20 minutes from the Oxford Square. Photos courtesy of Plein Air.

Campbell McCool never envisioned himself in the wedding business, or anything close to it. But as a serial entrepreneur who has started multiple companies, he recognized an opportunity when he saw one.
“People kept asking about getting married at Plein Air” he said (of his planned neighborhood in Taylor, Miss.) he told HottyToddy.com in an exclusive interview. “We had some beautiful outdoor space, but no real venue to host a reception of any meaningful size.”
It is well chronicled how Oxford has become a bona-fide destination for weddings. Ole Miss alums come back to get married, and with the growing population of Lafayette county, (listed as one of the 50 fastest growing in America according to the most recent United States Census), this trend isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. That, along with the multiple requests at Plein Air, brought McCool to look more closely at the wedding industry.
Everything changed when McCool made the decision in mid-2012 to convert a 12,000-square-foot brick building into a venue focused exclusively on weddings. McCool approached his four tenants and politely explained that he wasn’t renewing any of their leases. “You should have heard the conversation with my bank. ‘You’re doing what?’” they asked in shock.
Forgoing guaranteed rent to pump more money into a renovation to launch a speculative venture in the wedding space was a tough sell to the bankers, but eventually they went along.
Oxford is one of the wedding destinations of the country and Plein Air offers the kind of luxury and service that will make any wedding the event of a lifetime.

In August of 2013, The Mill at Plein Air was launched. The renovations turned the former restaurant, antique store, and offices into one continuous space with several ballrooms, three bars, six bathrooms, two stages and a full commercial kitchen. It is more akin to a building you might find in the French Quarter of New Orleans or the on the Battery in Charleston. Fourteen-foot-tall ceilings, antique maple floors and century old brick walls give it an elegant, timeless feel.
The many chandeliers are made from French wine barrels . The bathrooms are well appointed with black and white photos of Mississippi landscapes by the noted photographer Maude Schulyer Clay. Brides walk down a sweeping 12-foot wide staircase from the loft into the main ballroom. Upstairs a 60-foot balcony capable of accommodating dozens of people overlooks the main green and is frequently where the late night party forms.
The Mill will celebrate its one-year anniversary in less than thirty days. McCool says business has been better than he projected. “There is a long lead time with weddings, so it took us a while to hit stride, but we are wide open now. We want it to be a simple, elegant, and seamless experience for brides.” Asked whether he ever thought he’d know this much about the wedding business he smiles, “no way. I just renewed my subscription to The Knot. (Referring to the bridal industry publication.) I didn’t even know what that was a year ago.”
The Mill can be reached at www.themillatpleinair.com.
Jim Roberts is a HottyToddy.com contributor.

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