No matter whether you call it a farmhouse wedding or a barn wedding, a rustic wedding is natural, down to earth and often outdoorsy. It speaks to those couples who love the outdoors or feel a connection to a simpler country style. Yet a rustic wedding can be sophisticated too.
Although barn weddings are still popular, “We’re seeing a change over from truly rustic to rustic chic/glam weddings,” said Jessica Ashley, owner and lead event planner at Jessica Ashley Events. “People are taking it up a notch with a touch of elegance by holding their weddings in an elegantly-refurbished barn.” The newer venues offer climate-controlled indoor and outdoor facilities, catering prep areas, brides’ chambers and grooms’ preparation rooms, as well as wedding and reception areas.
Thinking of holding a rustic wedding yourself? Here are eight great ways to pull it off.
1. Rustic Setting
Within easy reach of Northern Virginia there are numerous rustic venues, from authentic barns to the most elegant barn-inspired wedding and reception halls. Hold a simple farmyard ceremony and pig roast or go all out with a formal event in one of the newer barn buildings.
“Brides want something a little different than normal and many desire the best of both worlds without the formal feel of a church wedding,” said Lori Carlyle, co-owner of Shadow Creek Weddings & Events. “We give them the rustic feel with all the modern elegance.” Its barn was newly-built from the ground up to resemble a thoroughbred horse barn, complete with horses grazing in the fields beyond.
2. Fun and Romantic Attire
“Rustic weddings tend to have a lot of masculine elements to them, so brides can bring in feminine touches through their color palette, décor and very romantic, lacy dresses,” Ashley added. Go traditional or forego the formal train with a simple ankle-length gown.
Cowboy boots and hats, and even bolo ties are not out of the question for men, “Have fun, but nothing too casual. Men should still wear closed-toe shoes.” Tip: guests should research the location to determine their appropriate footwear—some barn venues are very rustic!
Photo taken at Walden Hall
3. Simple Flowers
“Flowers don’t have to be arranged; they can be plopped into a mason jar tied up with burlap and lace,” said Helen Taylor, owner of Windy Knoll Farm. Flowers can be selected by the season, like daffodils or sunflowers for the bride’s bouquet, and winter greens for colder months. Choose wildflowers for beautiful yet simple bouquets or boutonnieres. The less structured they are the better—like you just gathered them from the field.
4. Nature-Inspired Decorations
“If you pick the right place, the structure speaks for itself and you don’t have to do much decorating,” explained Jenn McBride, vice president of operations at Mount Ida Farms & Vineyard. “Both our Lodge and Barn venues were formerly working structures and although renovated now, still retain those authentic elements.”
Lots of natural elements offer style and grace to a rustic wedding. Place field flowers in containers, and use hay bales, lanterns and wooden directional signs to add whimsy. Your touch of elegance can come from a fancy chandelier or two, draping or dramatic lighting. Don’t forget the other natural elements found on a farm; cornstalks and vegetables can also create a down-home ambiance when decorating.
5. Down-To-Earth Menu
The sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing the menu. However, home-styled foods and simple service best capture the theme of a rustic wedding. Popular options include barbecues, buffets, pig roasts, outdoor whiskey and cigar stations, and s’mores melted over a firepit. Serve seasonally fresh, farm-to-table foods and choose your menu to match your wedding theme.
Cakes by Marium
6. Signature Cocktails
Personalize your wedding with a signature cocktail named for a special memory or location. Stick with the theme, and just for fun, serve it up in mason jars!
7. Country-Style Love Songs
Think outside the box for unique musical styles that will highlight your personalities, and feel free to mix it up. Have a classical string quartet for the ceremony and kick off the dancing with country or bluegrass. Country music offers many great love songs; consider Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love With the Boy,” and Rhett Atkins’ “She Said Yes.”
8. Extra Entertainment
Lots of venues offer fun entertainment options for your guests. Silverbrook Farm has an outdoor chess garden, and Windy Knoll offers hayrides. Shadow Creek Weddings & Events makes outdoor games like croquet, horseshoes, ladder toss and cornhole available, and can bring in a Palomino Quarter Horse to be part of the cocktail hour photos. Mount Ida Farm & Vineyard can coordinate a tethered hot air balloon and a fireworks display.
“We have such diversity here in Northern Virginia with rustic vineyards and refurbished barns. Whether you are going glam/rustic or pure rustic/cowboy, you can have it,” Ashley said. “Think about what is most authentic about you as a couple and create a bulleted list of the things that are important to you and where you would like to allocate your budget. Make a short list of venues, read reviews, do your research, and then go visit them. You’ll know the right one when you see it.”
“Most importantly, don’t try to do it all yourself (DIY),” Ashley concluded. “There is so much to coordinate to ensure a cohesive wedding. Make sure you have an event planner or coordinator who can help you with your vision and bring all the elements together.”
Rustic Wedding Venues
48 Fields Farm, Leesburg
The Barn at Edgewood, Stanardsville
Bowood Barn, Louisa
Brandy Hill Farm, Culpeper
Cloverdale Barn, Winchester
Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm, Ashburn
Cross Keys Barn, Harrisonburg
East Lynn Farm, Round Hill
Faithbrooke Barn & Vineyards, Luray
The Glasgow Farm, Fredericksburg
Guildford Farm, Ruckersville
Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, Waynesboro
Khimaira Farm, Luray
Melrose Caverns, Harrisonburg
The Middleburg Barn, Middleburg
Mount Ida Farm & Vineyard, Charlottesville
Pippin Hill Farm, North Garden
Shadow Creek Weddings & Events, Purcellville
Silverbrook Farm, Purcellville
Walden Hall, Culpeper
Windy Knoll Farm, Nokesville
Pictured at top: Flowers by The Posey Detail