Love, American Style: Barn Weddings

Whether found on a sprawling ranch out west, in a down-home Southern backyard or a New England dairy farm, a barn is the ultimate venue for a romantic, rustic wedding. Here, eye candy and inspiration from across the country.

Set the scene

Think about bringing the outdoors in and vice versa as you envision your overall design: fresh flowers and greenery inside, comfortable places to perch and/or mingle outside. Play to the scale of your venue. Take advantage of soaring ceilings with hanging poms or lanterns. Keep the mood intimate with low benches and cozy seating arrangements. Country venues tend to be sprawling, with twists and turns galore. Signs pointing your guests in the right direction help ensure a smooth flow from ceremony to cocktails to reception. Consider the season: Spring and summer lend themselves to lush, garden themes; fall is the perfect time to bring in crisp autumn tones, along with pretty apples and pumpkins.

Mismatched chairs are the perfect partners to a farmhouse table. For centerpieces, display cottage-garden blooms in an earthenware crock.

barn wedding tablebarn wedding centerpiece

Or, try this idea: White-on-white blooms and a doily table number.

lace table numbers

Welcomey your guests with a charming outdoor display and thirst-quenchers spiked with mint and fresh berries.

picnic weddingoutdoor wedding cocktails

Berrylicious treats make cheery wedding décor.

bowls of fruit

All signs point to fun. Fresh apples bookend a birch-tree escort-card display.

wedding signapple escort cards

Décor details

Focus on small nuances and personal touches. Whether it’s a rosemary sprig in the napkins, butcher’s twine around cup- cake boxes or burlap bows around the chairs, these are the details that create unforgettable memories. Strive to maintain a balance between “rustic” and “chic.” Think reclaimed wood against gorgeous white lace, or a grand chandelier hanging from a simple, hand-hewn beam. The décor you bring in should never attempt to cover up the rustic charm but instead enhance it. Be strategic with color accents throughout. Consider shades like yellow, blue, pink, to offset the prevailing tones of green (outdoors) and brown (indoors).

Consider a pastoral outdoor setting.

wedding on a pasture

Forever classic: hanging Mason jar lights.

mason jar lights

Choose invitation colors befitting a country-chic wedding.

barn wedding invitations

Pops of turquoise offset neutral table linens. And share the love: a plant stand turned cupcake display.

barn weddingrustic cupcake tower

Barns 101

Barns are not always a standard shape, so make sure the floor plan will accommodate the number of people on your guest list. On a budget? A barn offers so much natural appeal that major décor expenses can be pared down to allow the beauty of the space itself to shine through. Barns can be lit to stunningly beautiful effect. They often have minimal lighting to begin with, so consider twinkling string or Mason-jar lights.  A barn’s cathedral-like ceiling can also make the venue feel impersonal. Hanging swags of lace or fabric about 12 feet above the tables adds warmth without compromising the breathtaking scale of the space.

String lights placed just so focus the wedding activity towards an open-sided barn.

barn wedding lighting

A framed chalkboard sign adds to the homespun vibe. Light up the path with an array of lanterns on tree stumps. 

choose a seat not a side wedding signwedding lighting lanterns

A burlap-swagged display serves as the perfect gift table.

barn wedding gift table

Stack favors beneath a floral display, and serve a vine-embellished wedding cake.

barn wedding favor displaybarn wedding cake

Adapted from Barn Weddings, text ©Maggie Lord, published by Gibbs Smith.