The thought of someone in the wedding business usually brings to mind an individual who has spent their lives fantasizing about the perfect wedding with Prince Charming on his white horse and the beautiful princess adorned just so, in a fairy tale setting. Not at Eden Try. While the region’s premier wedding venue located in Spotsylvania County does offer a fairy tale setting, neither Gary Gratopp nor Linda Morrison led the charmed Barbie and Ken type of life one may think of when visiting there.
A Michigan native, Gary Gratopp has always been a business man even while attending Ferris State College where he studied business and drama. Gary reported throwing parties at his family home, charging those who attended and then splitting the proceeds with a few friends that helped in the event.
After college, at the suggestion of a friend, Gary applied with the Detroit police department where he was immediately hired. Fresh out of college with a profound street naiveté, Gary was immediately challenged when approaching a suspect, found himself flat on his back with the suspect on top soiling his brand new shiny uniform while beating him in the face. His experienced partner laughed and said, ”College boy, cuff ‘em first, talk to them later.” Apparently Gary learned quickly, soon becoming a plain clothes officer and undercover detective in major crimes.
While working for the police department, Gary ventured into real estate, buying and renovating homes, amassing an inventory of higher end residences. After ten years in law enforcement, Gary was forced to retire due to injuries sustained on the job (it was reported he has had approximately fourteen operations) and went into the family business marketing color to show case products, a field he has expanded and is still involved in today.
Linda Morrison has led no fairy tale childhood. Born in October, the ninth child of single mother whose coal mining husband had abandoned the family, there was no money for any medical care so Linda was born in a convent in Hazzard, Kentucky. Sworn to a vow of poverty, the nuns had no heat, and because she weighed only two and one half pounds at birth, Linda was carried constantly and held close to absorb what body heat she could. The following Thanksgiving, she was adopted and raised by Russ and Mary Rolfes.
Refusing assistance for school from her father, a career federal government employee, Linda began working for the government after graduating from high school, and for the next fifteen years attended night school, completing her college degree in business management and contract administration. Working for the DOD, she transferred to the FAA where she recently chose an early retirement while still at the top of her profession and is now under contract to the government as a consultant.
The fairy tale begins with Gary walking his mother down the aisle to marry Linda’s father. Here Gary and Linda met but did not ride off into the sunset. They remained friends for four or five years and then started a long distance relationship which has developed into what they now have. Soon after their relationship began, Linda decided to invest in some of Gary’s renovation projects. The very first one she participated in was said to have brought her to tears at the idea of putting money into a house that apparently was in much need of repair. Reassured of Gary’s proficiency in remodeling, she was very pleased at the outcome.
While remodeling Eden Try (which was supposed to be only an investment project), both Gary and Linda were approached by lots of people who wanted to either have their wedding pictures taken or their actual wedding to occur there. It did not take long for the marketing mind of Gary and the business management mind of Linda to figure out what they had. From these beginnings Eden Try has grown and continues to grow and develop into the leading wedding site for the entire Fredericksburg area.