Planning a wedding can be S T R E S S F U L. There are SO many things to think about – your wedding party, budget, food/beverage, etc. After enjoying some time engaged to your future life partner, one of the first orders of business that every couple will have to decide on is the venue. From hotels, golf courses, event centers, etc., every couple has a venue style that they can envision themselves tying the knot in. One of the latest crazes in the wedding world is getting married in a barn, one that has been transformed into a beautiful wedding venue. At Rustic Elegance, we are fortunate to specialize in backyard, tent, barn, vineyard, and orchard wedding coordination. We love working with these types of venues – which start as a blank canvas but may require more planning then if you held your event at a full-service hotel or restaurant. Being in business for over 5 years, we have come up with our top 10 tips for planning a barn wedding, and we would L O V E to share with you all!
You might not think about this right away, but many barn wedding venues will face the outdoor elements because of the different seasons throughout the year. If you’re planning on getting married in the scorching summer months, you might want to think about adding some fans or renting an AC unit to ensure guests are comfortable. Also confirm with the venue if they have air conditioning as an option – there are a few out there. If you’re planning a fall/winter wedding at a barn, consider having space heaters or renting a blow-in-heating unit, so nobody will have to endure the harsh MN/WI winter during such a heart-warming day!
Many barn venues have B E A U T I F U L outdoor options for ceremony sites, or a barn that can start as a ceremony site, where your guests are then invited outside for a cocktail hour, and the barn is then transformed into your beautiful reception venue. While outdoor options for ceremonies and cocktails hours are fantastic – there is always the chance of weather getting in the way. When planning a barn wedding, have a back-up plan if utilizing outdoor space. Also, think about who is going to help initiate a back-up plan once you have one, including ensuring guests are dry and safe, and moving any previously set up décor from your outside space indoors.
Many barn wedding venues are repurposed older barns, that were decorated and transformed to create a place to make lifelong memories from your special day. With the older barns, there may not be as many sources of power or outlets that you will need. Consider bringing a few extension cords or power strips to ensure that your vendors will have enough power to work.
FLOW OF THE VENUE
Layouts of barn venues/the farmland are very different throughout MN/WI. Some have one barn, some have two, some have bridal suites, some do not. When visiting venues, consider the space and spending your entire day there. If you do decide to use the barn space for both the ceremony and reception, there will have to be a “flip” period, or a time when the venue changes from ceremony layout to reception layout. Also when thinking about utilizing this space, also question who will be flipping it for you – the venue workers, family members, or you could hire a day of coordinator [like us] to take all of it off your hands.
LOCATION, TRAVELING AND HOTEL BOOKINGS
If you are centrally located in the Twin Cities, chances are you will have to travel a little bit into the countryside for your wedding if you choose a barn venue. Also keep in mind that this means your guests will also have to travel, and some may opt to stay in a hotel. Consider booking a block of rooms at a hotel nearby for your guests, and providing a shuttle to and from, to encourage safe travels and further encourage dancing the night away.
Barn venues have their own elegance throughout, created by the wooden beams, posts, and rustic décor that the venue has. With the venues permission, you will have the chance to dress up the barn to your D R E A M! A few things to think about when decorating inside the barn:
Centerpieces – If there are going to be doors open at the venue, wind may try to blow away your décor. Think about heavier centerpieces, such as wood logs, heavier flower vases, etc., so that the decorations stay in place! Also, consider who is setting out the centerpieces [florist, family, you, planner, etc.] and who is gathering them at the end of the night.
Lighting – Barns are typically only lit by a few overhead lights and may be seemingly dim on your initial visit to the space. To brighten the room [as well as everyone’s day], think about adding string lights across the ceiling or a chandelier over the head table, for a dramatic effect.
Keep it simple – The barns that we have been so fortunate to work with are beautiful on their own with no decorations. Try to concentrate on the true beauty of the barn with light décor, or choose to focus on a focal point in the room.
DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
All barns have different surroundings. Some may be surrounded by grass and fields, others by dirt paths/roads, etc. Ceremony sites may be all grass, rock, or they may be in the barn itself. Either way, remind yourself and your guests to wear farm or grass friendly attire, especially footwear, for your special day.
Some barn venues require extra “event insurance coverage” to host your event at their venue. This is extra event insurance, in case there were anything to go wrong. This may be an added fee to your budget, so it’s something to keep in mind. Check with your venue or planner to verify.
VENDORS AND DAY OF COORDINATORS
Unlike hotels, event centers, or golf courses, most barn venues do not have an in-house caterer, bartender, or coordinator, which means that you will have to outsource for these vendors. When deciding on vendors to help with you day, it is important to choose vendors that have experience with the outdoor/barn type venues. Some caterers will bring a grill/tent set-up and cook right on site – how A M A Z I N G is this? This set-up ensures food will be freshly made for your guests. Other vendors will bring food already made at their facility and transport it to the barn [not as fresh – but still yummy!] Barn venues may have restrictions on how loud a DJ or band may play, therefore, hire a DJ who has had experience with this type of venue. Also, look for a DJ who has experience with outdoor ceremonies and equipment that can withstand the “wind” noise. When considering your make-up/hair artists, hire someone who can keep your make-up and hair in place despite the weather elements. Last, but not least, hiring someone who is going to capture the magical moments from your day! When hiring a photographer, it is important to hire someone who has had experience with the barn type venue. Lighting can be a challenge and photographing with the elements [heat and rain], can be a tricky. Consider asking your photographer if you can view an entire album from a wedding they have photographed at a barn venue [this way, you know they aren’t showing you just their very best photos]. Hiring vendors with outdoor/barn experience is a must, and will ensure every element of your day will flow smoothly and you won’t have to worry about a thing. Many barn venues will have a list of preferred vendors that they enjoy working with. Think ahead about all the tasks that will need to be completed from start to finish throughout your day, from set-up, greeting vendors and guiding them where to set up, to giving last minute payment to vendors, greeting guests, directing guest traffic etc.
Depending on your venue choice, you may have to clean-up the venue the night of your wedding, and remove all items that you had brought in, including décor, presents/cards, floral, food, etc. Plan for someone to help designate the clean-up effort, so that you aren’t tacked on with any extra clean up fees, or make sure your wedding planning team can take care of it.
One more bonus tip because we just have so much to share! When putting together your seating chart, we always recommend assigned seating for your guests, to make their dining experience a G R E A T one! One common mistake we see is that guest names are listed by table number vs. alphabetical order. This layout forces guests to have to look at all the tables/names to find their own. Instead, consider putting guest names in alphabetical order by their last name, to ensure guests can find their tables/names with ease. Also, we recommend using a list/frame type style vs. place cards. At barn venues, the barn doors are usually wide open to let the natural breeze in and this provides the perfect opportunity for fly-away place cards. When deciding on what will be used for your actual table numbers, consider something large enough to be seen from a distance, and something that is stable against the elements as well [have these placed on the table facing the door that guests will be entering from].
We’ve seen some extremely remarkable weddings at stunning barn venues across MN/WI, and have had the chance to work with some pretty amazing couples! We feel so grateful every day to be doing something that we love and feel so passionate about. We hope that our barn wedding tips have helped you consider how great it is to have a wedding at a barn venue, and that you also consider Rustic Elegance to help coordinate your special day! Photo by: Asher Marie Photography
Photo by: Emily Isakson Photographic Services
Photo by: Shelley Kay Photography
Photo by: Marc Andreo Photography
Photo by: Marc Andreo Photography