Lauren and Steven Bryant run a group of southern Vermont ’ s top inns and restaurants . They also operate events at the Old Gray Barn in Dorset and the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester . The two met in 1984 while working as waiters at Steak & Ale in Dallas , when they were home for the summer from the University of Texas in Austin .
In the summer of 1988 , they were married at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden , on the terrace at the The DeGolyer House overlooking the White Rock Lake . There were some 100 guests .
“ My mom was an event coordinator for the city of Dallas ,” says Lauren . “ She was my lead for the cake maker , the table skirt draper , and the champagne .”
Theirs was a Sunday afternoon wedding with a string quintet whose members were from Richardson
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Symphony Orchestra . ( Her parents were neighbors with the symphony ’ s conductor .) “ Everything worked as it should have ,” says Lauren . “ It was probably because of my mother and the work she did .”
The two things that Lauren remembers most was how special it was for her maid of honor to attend . Her close friend traveled from England , where Lauren ’ s family lived while she was in high school . The other thing that stood out was the exquisite arrangement at the hors d ’ oeuvres table at the reception . It consisted of tall glass cylinders of different heights down the center of the table , filled with stargazer lilies . And at each table where the guests dined , the pleats of the pink silk taffeta table skirtings were handpinned .
Even before she got married , Lauren has always wanted to have an inn .
She became enamored by the inns in England with their character and warmth ; their individuality and history . After marrying , she and Steven moved to Austin , then Mexico City and Miami for his job . It was in Miami that they started looking to buy an inn in the New England area . “ We had conversations for years about doing this ,” says Lauren .
They wanted it to be a viable business and not just a hobby . They first looked in New Hampshire but liked the look and feel of Vermont . “ It seemed to carry some marketing weight to it . It ’ s less commercialized ,” says Lauren . The first inn they bought was the Inn at Weston . They had the slightly naïve notion that she would run the inn and Steve would travel and continue doing his job , helping when he was back home .
“ The reality is that it takes two ,” says Lauren . “ And the greater reality is that it takes a small army , with 18 guest rooms and a restaurant .”
They sold the Inn at Weston three years later and moved to Dorset — and never left . They proceeded to buy the Publyk House in Bennington , the 337-acre Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden , The Dorset Inn , the Barrows House Inn & Restaurant in Dorset , the Dorset Bakery , and the Lake House Pub & Grille in Bomoseen , which reopens for the season in late May . They ’ re also opening Pearl ’ s Place and Pantry in Manchester in July , which is now under construction .
“ It ’ s a super package — lodging , great food and beverage , different venues for rehearsals , bridal showers , goodbye brunches ,” says Lauren . “ Mountain Top is one of Vermont ’ s largest destination wedding venues . It ’ s on a reservoir , with beach and waterfront activities . It ’ s a winter destination , with skiing and sled rides . There ’ s also a wedding barn . It offers everything — and it ’ s isolated .”