Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Never in our wildest dreams would we imagine that one day we would be hosting weddings – and absolutely enjoying it,” said Carolyn Harris, owner with her husband C. Paul Harris of the Van Dickson Ranch in Skull Valley.

Although owning the property for 18 years, they didn’t begin hosting weddings until 2012, after a friend asked if her daughter could be married there.  Reluctantly, the Harrises agreed, and they found it interesting and fun.  So, they began the wedding hobby, and of course C. Paul particularly liked it because he got to feed people his Texas, slow-smoked, barbecue dinners.

As the word got out and demand grew, the “hobby” turned into a business. Now there are nine people on staff, plus the Harrises, at every wedding to assure that the bride and her family are satisfied.

The six years of weddings at the Van Dickson Ranch have resulted in some memorable experiences, “and 46 Van Dickson Ranch babies – that we know of,” Carolyn smiled.  The most memorable wedding, according to her, was the one with a groom from Serbia, a bride from Phoenix, and with half the guests from Serbia – who didn’t speak English.  They had so much fun dancing to their folk music and forcing staff to join them, that they missed the last shuttle-bus.  But, after explaining the situation to the shuttle company, they came back and picked up the happy Serbians and took them to town.  According to Al Petrich, head of staff, “The Serbians told me we have the best barbecue in the world.”

At one wedding, a bride was distraught that her gown would drag on the ground before she got to the grassy ceremony area, so Al, anxious to assist a damsel in distress, picked up the train and kept it off the ground.  This has become one of his regular jobs now.

As another group of wedding guests were about to hear, “I Do,” the bride spun around to her guests and said, “Everybody stand up and look,” and she pointed to where Elmer and Jake, the ranch longhorn steers, were gazing up from the creek at the goings on.  Once everyone had had their look, the bride turned and said her, “I Do.”

Carolyn once got a request for a tiny wedding on the ceremony grounds with 12 guests and no reception.  Initially, she refused but finally agreed since the date was available.  As time passed, she heard nothing further and forgot about it.  On said date, months later, a couple and relatives showed up at the ranch ready for the wedding.   “We can’t have a wedding today,” Carolyn admonished.  “But the minister and photographer are on the way,” said the flustered bride-to-be.  “Guess what?  We’re going to have a wedding today,” Paul said, as he began assembling chairs for the ceremony.  It ended with a happy ensemble after all.

For more information about Van Dickson Ranch please contact Carolyn Harris at (928) 442-3658 or visit

Author: PrescottWomanMagazine

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