With a shovel in hand, co-owners and husbands, Billy Smith and David Haass, officially broke ground on the Abbey Estates last Thursday morning.

The official grand opening of Waxahachie's newest wedding venue will be held August 29. The venue is located at 3314 FM 1446, just four miles west of Waxahachie.

Stretching over 17 acres of land, the Abbey Estates will serve as a venue for weddings, proms, reunions, celebrations and many other events. The venue, previously named Chapel Creek Manor, previously hosted weddings on private property. However, Smith and Haass plan to make the location purely a spot for hosting upscale events.

“We wanted to do something very positive and put on events,” Smith said. “So we decided to buy a wedding venue.”

Smith and Haass actually searched for land to build on prior to their purchase of the venue.

“We’ve been looking for about three years, and this one just fell in our lap on a God's whim,” Smith explained.

Everything happened so quickly, Smith explained. The two first checked out the venue on a Saturday, placed a bid Sunday and were ready to close Monday.

The renovations began June 1 and have continued with Augusta Ventures – a custom-home company based in Midlothian.

The venue will include multiple areas with separate functions. Renovations are expected to total about $300,000.

The main house will host cocktail parties downstairs and a bridal party preparation space upstairs. There is also a rustic barn for the groom's party to prepare, a beautiful outdoor gazebo and a new outdoor pergola chapel, which doubles as a band stage.

The entire venue plans to accommodate a maximum of 400 guests, all at one set price.

“We want to make it simple for people,” Smith explained. “We’re not your wedding planners. We’re your event center. We’re just here to help you have a great time – whatever your event is.”

Reservations can be made on their website at www.celebrateattheabbey.com, which goes live July 5, and customers can begin to book events as soon as Sept. 1 for any time of the week and up to two years in advance. An app is also in the process of development, so users can easily book an event at the palm of their hands.

The aforementioned grand opening is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 29 and will include a mock wedding with a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Attendees have the chance to win prizes, as the team aims to hand out ten $100 bills and some "bling bags" sponsored by Solar Bags.

“It’s going to be short and sweet and to the point,” Smith stated.

And the team is on the lookout for vendors they can work with, which does not require a fee but at least three references. They are already partners with a few companies in Waxahachie, including The Silo House and The English Merchant Inn. They have joined the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We want to be involved in the community,” Smith said. “[...] It’s a good feeling – being involved with friends that you’ve known and getting people excited about hosting.”

Smith, David and their team also intend to get connected with the special needs community. They hope to host one of Tim Tebow’s "Night to Shine" proms and sponsor the Miracle League of Ellis County.

“My nephew’s autistic, so that hits home with me real close,” Smith stated.

With so much in store, Smith expressed that he and his team aim to impact people’s lives through events.

“Creating happy – I think that’s what we want to do every time,” he said. “[...] It’s just a good feeling when you get to know that the world is really small and everybody is supporting each other and lifting each other up to do better.”

The name of the venue reflects an idea of a place where people can come together and indulge in a shared happiness. The word "Abbey" came from a word meaning “safe space,” while the entire name — Abbey Estates — refers to the multiple areas one can use for events: the main house, the barn, the pergola chapel and the gazebo.

Most of the ideas that contributed to the creation of the space were inspired by Smith’s “wow factor” philosophy.

“When you drive up to a house and sit in front of it, you should be able to look at something and go, ‘Wow,’ from the outside,” Smith expressed. “Then, you open the front door and go, ‘Wow, look at that!’”

The idea first emerged from a decorator when Smith was remodeling a house in Oak Cliff. It was later cultivated when he and Haass owned the cheerleading company, Spirit Celebration Cheer and Dance Championships.

“At our cheerleading events that we put on, we realized that the first thing when you are coming up to the door was the excitement level,” Smith explained. “There should be anticipation with balloons and signs and stuff, so kids get excited walking up.”

He added, “It just sets the stage for everything so that ‘wow factor’ kind of instilled in us now for what made this place ‘wow.’”

As promised, the “wow factors” will include a giant fountain in front of the building, a beautiful pergola chapel in the back, giant mirrors and a dressing table in the upstairs, cocktail tables in the downstairs and an enormous chandelier in the barn.

Smith anticipates the future of the venue will help turn the page to the next chapter in his life.

“I turn 59 this month, and I did cheerleading for basically 20 years,” he stated. “This is the next 20-year plan.”

The team already plans to work on the 12,000-square foot building next door over the next three years. Smith also hopes to build on the seven acres at the back of the property, where he and David will construct their new home.

“It’s more than just a business,” he admitted. “It’s an entire lifestyle of promoting positive events.”

For more information, contact the Abbey Estate at 972-923-333 or by email at info@celebrateattheabbey.com.