The Beginning of Something Sweet

The Beginning of Something Sweet

Serendipitous circumstances led Houston natives to wedding bliss at The Sugar Chateau 

The Beginning of Something Sweet

Serendipitous circumstances led Houston natives to wedding bliss at The Sugar Chateau 

Danielle Tilley

Some say the key to a happy marriage is to water and mow your own lawn - that way you will never think the grass is greener on the other side.

Wade and Ceejay Beard know a thing or two about mowing and marriage. They also have some thoughts on serendipity and how it led them to open The Sugar Chateau, a wedding venue located outside of DeRidder.

Twelve years ago, Wade’s father moved back to the family home place in Sugartown and began building a house with a few unusual features.

“They did some weird stuff to the house and we didn’t really know why they were doing it,” Wade says in references to his mother’s insistence to paint everything white and his father’s plan to have 32 outlets in the open space of the home’s second floor.

“We came and helped them a lot with construction, but we also griped a lot about some of the stuff they were doing,” says Ceejay. “But now we’re really glad they did it. Thirty-two outlets in a bridal suite can come in handy.”

Wade, working in the logistical industry, and Ceejay, a dental hygienist, were living in Houston at the time but were beginning to get burned out on life in the fast-pace city.


“I just didn’t think we were doing what we were really supposed to be doing,” says Wade when reflecting back on the time when the couple decided to take a hiatus and travel full-time.

Wade’s parents decided to join their son and daughter-in-law on the road and put the house up for sale, but after six months, it was still on the market. It was then that Ceejay had an idea.

 “I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t right to let the house go. I was sitting in church when I got the idea that we should keep the place and turn it into a wedding venue.”

In September 2016, the couple placed their home on the market, quit their jobs, moved to the countryside, and started building what would eventually become The Sugar Chateau. In December of that year, their first bride came to the venue.

“We built this for her,” says Wade, a phrase he uses often when he points to different additions to the property that they built to fulfill each bride’s requests. “I love doing things like that for our brides. And for my own bride,” he adds. “She’s one of the best bosses I’ve ever had.”

Wade and Ceejay’s love for each other, their clients and their English bulldogs, Brice and Lola, is apparent in the detail they put into their work. Their beautiful house is cozy and inviting and quickly begins to feel like home to everyone who enters.

The Sugar Chateau is a full-service event venue that offers tailored weddings for an affordable price. The open field surrounded by tall pines is a captivating backdrop for any outdoor wedding. The barn serves as a reception space with bathrooms, a stage and a bar. The second floor of the Beard’s home serves as a bridal suite and cabins are available for groomsmen or family.

While sitting in their large kitchen, where the couple cooks waffles for the bride and her bridesmaids the morning of the big day, Wade looks out the large window and says, “You can just see weddings here. It’s hard to describe why that is. But I had a vision of what it would all look like.”

When asked why the couple decided to go into the wedding business, Ceejay answers, “We’ve always had the kind of home where people come and stay.” They are self-described “HGTV people who never stop building” and love hosting parties and having their home filled with guests.

The first year, Sugar Chateau hosted seven weddings. This year it will host 27 weddings, with 10 more booked for 2020.

Running a wedding venue that has hosted 38 weddings so far does not come without its stressful moments, but it was Taylor and Conner Hays’ wedding that took the cake.  

The Hays Wedding was one of the most highly attended events the venue had seen, with over 150 guests, but it became a true testament to the couple’s grit when a severe thunderstorm threatened to ruin the entire day.

                “The weather was getting bad,” says Wade. “When I went upstairs to check on Taylor I said, ‘Don’t worry girls. The power has never went out here on a wedding day.’ Before I could finish the sentence, the power went out.”

The show had to go on and Taylor walked down an aisle lit by candlelight while the band played the acoustic guitar.

 Taylor remembers being calm despite the unfortunate circumstance.

“I knew Wade and Ceejay would make it work and they did,” she says. “What could have been a disaster turned into our favorite part. The only job I had that day was to eat, get ready, walk down the aisle and have a great time. They took care of it all.”

 “We knew after that wedding that we could tackle anything,” laughed Wade as he knocked on wood. “But we certainly hope that no other wedding will be as memorable as that one.”

The Beards, who themselves had a small ceremony in a front yard with a few family and friends, could have never imagined that one day they would run a wedding venue. Similar to finding the one you are meant to spend the rest of your life with, Wade and Ceejay can only credit the mystery of serendipity.

“It was just something that was meant to be,” says Ceejay.

“We do what we love to do every day,” says Wade. “Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Except for all of the lawn care.

“People ask us all the time, ‘What’s it like to run a wedding venue?’” says Wade. “I always answer, ‘It’s great – if you like to mow.”

As it is in the business of weddings, so it is in the business of marriage - you will be happy when you learn to enjoy the simple things, like mowing your own grass.

To find out more about the Sugar Chateau, visit their Facebook page or call (318) 358-3770.


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