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How to plan a barn wedding

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Learn how to plan a barn wedding with an authentic downhome country feel

Learn how to plan a barn wedding with an authentic downhome country feel

There’s just something about the simple, rustic feel that appeals to so many brides and grooms looking for a less formal option for their ceremony or reception.

And you don’t have to live in the country to love barn weddings. You can plan a barn wedding whether you live deep in the heart of Texas or right in the middle of New York City Here are some things to consider if an old-fashioned down-on-the-farm wedding is in your future.

First, there is the dress

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Some people think country wedding means simple cotton wedding dresses. And that is the choice for some brides. But just as with the decor, some barn weddings include bride and groom in full gown and tux. The contrast between the setting and the attire can create a wonderfully dramatic look that would be missing in a more “matched” venue.

And speaking of mixing and matching, don’t be afraid to pair that formal wedding gown or tux with a pair of gorgeous western boots! Hey, this IS a barn wedding, after all!


It sounds pretty simple, but you probably do need a barn. Thankfully, that’s become easier as the popularity of ranch or farm-themed weddings has grown. In just a few short years, wedding venues dedicated to barn weddings have sprung up across the country. Do a search on wedding venues in your area and you may be surprised!


If you don’t find a dedicated wedding site, there are still options. Look for area farms and ranches that might be willing to host your event. Historial villages are another option..many “working” historical sites have barns that can be used for weddings and parties.

If you can’t find a genuine barn, other properties can be decorated to create a barn wedding feel. Airplane hangers, warehouses and outdoor picnic shelters in parks can be transformed into barns-for-a-day with the right decor. Think outside the box, er, um, barn and you can come up with options of your own.

How formal is formal? 

Not all barn weddings feature country-style accessories. Some contrast the rustic setting with starched white table linens and crystal chandeliers. Decide early on how formal or casual you want your decor to be. That choice will affect everything from wedding invitations and reception decorations to food choices and favors.

Power on?

While some barns have electricity and running water in the structure, some are far more primitive. Access to amenities is a big factor in determining your wedding ceremony and reception plans. Will you need to rent a generator and portable restrooms? What about lights and food preparation?

If your dream venue doesn’t have power, don’t give up on it. You can get creative with your choices. Solar powered light strings, lanterns, spotlights and table-top lamps can illuminate your site after the sun goes down. Food trucks can come in with food and drinks for fancy and casual affairs. Live music can play on without amps or speakers.

Tis the season…

Many barn weddings require decent weather to come off without a hitch. Shelter may be limited…or non-existent. So it’s important to consider the time of year when you plan a barn wedding. For instance, spring may be lovely where you live, but those April showers could leave you with a soggy wedding site. A backup shelter such as an event tent can let you relax if the forecast is less than ideal.

For chillier seasons, outdoor portable heaters can make it cozy under a tent or at outdoor tables, while tip-proof indoor heaters can keep it toasty inside. Just make sure you’re aware of any fire hazards from the heaters you choose. Remember…barns often equal old wood which doesn’t fare when if a blaze starts.

How far will they go? 

If you live in the country, odds are most of your guests will be near your barn wedding location. But if you’re a city dweller, the nearest barn could be hours from home. Make sure your guests are willing to make the drive to that awesome barn you just found.

And for rural locations, do provide good directions and maps. GPS systems can get wonky on seldom-traveled farm roads, and cellphone signals might be subpar. (The good news is that you can transform those maps into an adorable part of your wedding invitation mailings!)

Take a seat

Or rather, your guests will need to take a seat. Your decision is what those seats will look like. Some couples opt for hay bales draped in fabric in the wedding color theme. Others choose to rent chairs, while some create an eclectic feel with mis-matched vintage chairs or even couches and loveseats. Make sure whatever you choose will work well in the setting. Chairs with narrow legs that sink into the dirt or get wedged between floorboards won’t be fun for anyone.

Make it yours

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Your barn wedding can be anything you want it to be, from a full-on ranch experience to a delightful blend of city and country. This is your day…make it everything you want it to be!


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