By Annemarie Mannion
Situated between 150 acres of prairie grasses and 500 acres of rolling hills, Emerson Creek was an ideal setting for the June wedding of Jenna and Arnie Fitzwater of Aurora.
“We wanted something unique and different. We visited Emerson Creek and we immediately fell in love with it,” says Jenna, about the seven-acre farm in Oswego. “We were looking for rustic elegance, and this venue had that balance.”
Emerson Creek (emersoncreek.com) features a renovated barn with chandeliers and ceiling fans and an attached tent for weddings and other events. It also offers a café and the Country View Shop, which are located inside a 100-year-old farmhouse with a wide, welcoming porch where visitors often gather to take a break from shopping.
The business is owned by Chris and Dave Demiduk, who had their own wedding in the white and gray barn nine years ago.
“It was just a yucky old barn, but we cleaned it out. We put a lot of TLC into it and now it’s pretty,” says Chris, noting that people were soon clamoring to have their weddings there, too.
Chris and a partner (who is no longer involved in the business) started Emerson Creek 23 years ago after Chris had worked at Nordstrom in Oak Brook.
“I loved Nordstrom and the corporate world, but it was time for a change, and time for me to do my own thing,” she says.
In keeping with her retail background, her first endeavor was establishing the Country View shop, which sells a range of items including signs, clothing, purses, scarves, candles, handcrafted gifts, bridal gifts, and more, all priced between about $10 and $50.
“We try to carry things that a lot of shops around us don’t have,” she says.
Eventually, the business evolved to include a café that was first open just one day a week, and is now open Tuesday through Saturday.
“We make everything fresh and the menu changes every two weeks,” says Chris.
For the Fitzwaters’ wedding, 130 guests traveled down a long gravel road that leads to the farm where the ceremony and reception were held. The couple liked that the venue has many peaceful places and serene vistas. “It had a bunch of places for our guests to be,” says Arnie. “There were beautiful fields to look out at, or the hills.”
Emerson Creek can accommodate up to 250 for a sit-down dinner and up to 225 for a buffet-style service. Because Emerson Creek’s kitchen is not large enough for large gatherings, food for weddings and other large gatherings is catered by My Chef of Naperville.
The Fitzwaters had their wedding ceremony in the barn before guests moved into the attached tent for dinner. Later, guests were back in the barn for dancing.
The staff at Emerson Creek helped arrange with a local business to deliver alcohol and provide dram shop insurance. Emerson Creek also offers rental services for items to make a wedding more elegant and fun, including table linens, farm tables, votives, photo booths, and backdrops—and even a camper that subs as a food truck.
The business employs a staff of 50 including servers, bartenders, retail shop assistants, and more.
“Our staff provides a lot of tender loving care,” says Chris. “You have to be that way to work here.”
Whether visiting for a day of shopping and lunch or for a wedding, guests love the setting of Emerson Creek, Chris says.
“People say, ‘Oh, my—it looks like we’re in Napa Valley!’ ” Chris says.
The business also offers fun events like Yoga and Mimosas, a monthly gathering with yoga, a light breakfast, and a selection of juices. (Pro tip: bring your own Champagne.)
“People come here to escape the hustle and bustle and craziness of life,” Dave says.
The Demiduks say the Emerson Creek venue attracts visitors from Naperville, Rockford, Galena, Champaign, and points beyond.
“It’s definitely a destination and that was what we wanted it to be,” says Chris. “We wanted to have a place that would be like no other.”
Photos courtesy Emerson Creek