sign for barn wedding ceremony party

50+ Unique Barn Wedding Ideas You’ll Love

Dec 11, 2019
By Wedding Spot

Barn weddings are having a moment, and the popularity of this venue style isn’t likely to wane any time soon. That means there are plenty of rustic barn venues to explore — from renovated barns originally built in the 1800s to barn venues purpose-built for weddings. 

No matter the barn style you choose for your wedding, we know you’ll want to put your own spin on the rustic shindig. To help, we’ve wrangled helpful tips, questions to ask along the way, and plenty of inspiration for a beautiful barn wedding. 

What’s your barn wedding style?

Before you choose your venue or book that BBQ caterer, think about the reasons you’re dreaming of getting married in a barn. When you picture your day, what is the general theme that emerges?  

  • Classic rustic weddings often include burlap and canning jar accents, as well as rough wood details in contrast with a soft color palette. Highlight the natural bones of the venue, including the exposed wood, high ceilings, and rolling countryside. 

  • An elegant barn wedding might be your style if you envision twinkle lights and chandeliers against a palette of deep hues, luxurious fabrics, and accents of lace. Play rustic and elegant against each other for gorgeous results.

  • Shabby chic combines homemade elements or vintage-inspired touches for a charming ambiance. Blend rustic details in a laid-back, yet sophisticated way with various textures, chalkboard-style or whitewashed accents, and a combination of florals and lace.

  • If country is more your style, you may imagine a wedding party decked out in cowboy boots, rich decor accents of metal, copper, and leather, and a color palette that features dusty blue or blush rose.

Make your barn wedding your own with a blend of these elements: Anything goes!

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Consider these factors when planning your barn wedding

Rustic barn venues are trending, but not every space you see is event-ready. Explore the building and property, review all of the details, and make sure you don’t run into any surprises.

Does the venue meet your requirements?

Is the venue permitted to host events? If so, do they have a kitchen and prep space for the caterer? How about a valid liquor license? Is the barn weatherproof, with appropriate air conditioning or heating? Check that major farm equipment won’t be running during your wedding. 

If the venue is not all-inclusive, find out what you need to provide. Though barn venues may be less expensive to start, the cost increases fast if they don’t provide tables and chairs, linens, place settings, a sound system, restrooms. Ask how vendors reach the facility, and if there are any access issues when it rains or snows. 

At more remote venues, barns and old buildings may even lack adequate lighting — especially in outdoor areas, leading to the parking lot, and in spaces where you would like to take photos. You want it rustic, but within reason, so ask to see pictures of nighttime weddings.

Before you book the venue, consider the time of year you plan to get married. Your summertime visit may not reveal the mud-bogged fields that crop up in spring. Fields of swaying grass you saw during your site visit may be cut for hay by the time fall rolls around. Winter winds may gust through the building, and the curving dirt road could ice over.

Who rolls up their sleeves?

While some barn venues have event coordinators, others may take a bare bones approach. If organizing deliveries, set up, and breakdown are up to you and your wedding planner, make sure you’ve got enough time — and hands — for the job.

Prepare your guests for the rustic environment.

Let guests know if you’re getting married in a barn or outdoors — rain or shine, if that’s the case — and offer clues for how to dress for the wedding. Invitations with a natural, rustic theme are a good start, but be specific on your wedding website or other pre-event communications.

Hay bales and farm animals may be great photo ops, but both may provoke allergies. Hay bales aren’t comfortable for long stretches spent sitting, especially for older guests. Evaluate steep or narrow stairways, uneven ground, and the distance between the parking lot and venue. Keep your guests in mind: Offer alternative seating options, pack wedding kits with Benadryl and bug spray, and arrange for a hayride or shuttle so guests can save their energy for dancing rather than trekking across fields.

That covers the most prominent element of a barn wedding — the venue itself. Now find inspiration for the ceremony, decor, accents, and activities you and your guests will adore.  

Barn wedding bouquet ideas

A barn location means you’ve got the beauty of nature all around you — let it shine by carrying a simple bouquet.

  • It doesn’t get much simpler than sprigs of baby’s breath.

  • A single flower bouquet — especially sunflower — is a country wedding favorite.

  • Gather a bouquet of wildflowers: Black-eyed Susans, daisies, and Queen Anne’s lace are beautiful together.

  • For a non-traditional style, carry a floral ring bouquet or pomander with a twine handle.

  • Incorporate fruit, wheat, greenery, twigs, herbs, or feathers into your bouquet for a lavish accent.

Skip the bouquet and carry a lantern, parasol, or fan. A bouquet of balloons is a playful, whimsical choice. Or, go all out and walk a goat down the aisle — it’s your day.

Ceremony ideas for barn weddings

If you are hosting your ceremony and reception at the same location, consider the surrounding nature and beautiful vistas your canvas. Strike a balance between the scenery and your decorations — and, as a bonus, you’ll also stretch your decor budget

Fall in love with the backdrop for your ceremony

  • Build a wood plank wall with repurposed pallets. Hang the wall with wreaths, or drape it with twinkle light strings, flowing fabric, or floral garlands for a photo-worthy focal point.

  • Say your vows under an arbor crafted of flowers, leaves, vines, or branches.

  • Use wooden doors — opened, or closed — as the background for your big moment. Choose the type that matches your theme: Wooden barn doors, weathered farmhouse doors, glass-paned, or shutter-style. Search salvage yards, estate sales, and flea markets to find the doors that speak to you.

  • A metal or wooden wedding arch is a classic for a reason: It’s a gorgeous touch you can customize with climbing vines, blooming florals, draped cloth, strips of lace and ribbon, or hanging candles.

Make the aisle pop with natural or homespun accents

  • Decorate the aisle with a border of lanterns filled with candles, fairy lights, or lush green ferns.

  • Skip the aisle runner and use hay or the grass under your feet.

  • Use cut log stumps as platforms for candles or floral arrangements.

  • Place garden hooks at the end of each seating row, then hang canning jars or vintage lanterns on each. Fill them with flowers or candles.

  • Use galvanized metal buckets to display floral arrangements.

  • Edge the aisle with flower petals, leaves, branches, or pumpkins.

Let your guests take in the view

  • Explore the grounds for the most breathtaking scenery. Hold your ceremony or reception in a field with open skies above and mountain ranges in the distance.

  • Take advantage of the property’s waterfront access and say “I do” near a waterfall, pond, or river before moving inside the barn for your reception. Bonus points if there’s a bridge on the grounds: Instant aisle.

  • Have your ceremony against a pastoral sunset — but watch the angle so your guests aren’t staring into the sun the whole time.

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Decor ideas for barn receptions

The design of barn venues can do a lot of heavy lifting with wedding decor. Take advantage! Keep your decor simple and let the beauty of the environment and barn architecture shine through.  

Table centerpieces for barn venues

  • If roses aren’t your style, fresh blooms are still a graceful touch. Keep your budget in check and go local: See if you can collect wildflowers from the grounds to create arrangements in glass vases.

  • Skip the tablecloths and line bare wooden tables with extra-long table runners that hang low on either end.

  • Tree slices, with the bark on, make gorgeous platforms for lanterns, candles, or canning jar vases filled with wildflowers.

  • Carved out logs — lengthwise or set upright, your choice — can be filled with floral arrangements, succulents, or candles. Add a whimsical touch by carving or hanging table numbers on each.

  • Wooden crates or wine boxes create levels while bringing in texture so your centerpieces aren’t flat. Fill them with greenery, apples, or pumpkins. Alternatively, use each crate as a platform for vases, candles, or lanterns.

  • Brighten up the space with lanterns of all shapes and sizes. Use metal, wood, punched tin, or even rustic camp lanterns.

  • Twine-wrapped wine bottles are the perfect vessel for tall, curly willow branches.

  • Use burlap as an accent — ribbons, table runners, or chair sashes are fantastic final touches that don’t overwhelm.

  • Fruit is a fresh, double-duty decor option: Encourage guests to nibble edible centerpieces made with shiny red apples, gorgeous juicy peaches, colorful red pears, or delicious berries. Non-edible centerpieces can include fruit as well.

  • Go the edible centerpiece route, but take it up a notch with a cheese and charcuterie board that stretches the full length of each table. It’s gorgeous, and it supplements cocktail hour. Offer a variety of breads, crackers, cheeses, sliced meats, pickled vegetables, olives, grapes, dried apricots, apple slices, figs, and spreads. Use cutting boards and platforms for varied height.

Decorations for the venue’s outdoor spaces

  • Hang canning jars lit with candles or twinkle lights from tree branches.

  • Set up wooden benches instead of individual chairs for seating.

  • Skip the hay bale seating, but use bales and blooming mums in bushel baskets for a striking look.

  • Use maple syrup buckets as vases to hold branches or flowers.

  • Punched tin lanterns add a romantic flicker of light in outdoor gathering areas. Buy them, or craft your own with hearts, stars, initials — or even a Western boots and broncos motif.

Incorporate rustic chic touches inside the barn

There’s plenty of space at your disposal — haylofts, stairways, wooden walls, and stunning entryways. Tie it all together with these ideas.

Create a storytelling photo wall. Stretch twine or jute cord across a wall in a lazy zig-zag, then attach family photos using clothespins. Or, use the technique to display your seating chart.

Keep the barn doors wide open. Let the view and space play off of each other, and enjoy a welcome breeze. Frame the doorway — inside, outside, or both — with long, draped fabric for a stunning finish.

Look up! Use the barn’s ceiling height to your advantage.

  • Hang Edison lights, paper lanterns, or flower-filled vases from open beams.

  • Drape swaths of material from the ceiling or weave tulle through the beams.

  • Wrap floral or evergreen garland around exposed wood or rafters.

  • Stretch pennant flags made of lace, burlap, or mixed fabrics throughout the space.

  • Hang floral chandeliers from the ceiling.

Get creative with your seating chart.

  • Repurpose window panes, pallets, or window shutters.

  • Create chalkboard-style signage or individual nameplates.

  • String twine across a natural wood board, each strand designates a table number. Then, attach brown paper name tags to the assigned table using mini clothespins or ribbon.

  • Cut tree branches become individual place-card holders with a simple slit carved at the correct angle.

Use wood accent pieces for rugged texture.

  • Fill the space without overwhelming it: Use wooden crates, metal buckets, or tree slices to create varying heights.

  • Hang grapevine spheres of various sizes throughout the venue. Leave them empty for a simple look, or fill them with twinkle lights, LED candles, or flowers.

  • Reduce paper waste with an eco-friendly menu display: Repurpose wooden pallets, old windows, or wood panels to paint your menu selection. Then, display them near the seating chart or at the end of each table.

Creative ways to use a barn venue

Make the most of your barn venue and play up the features you can’t get anywhere else.

Set the mood with your entrance decor.

While minimal may be your general theme, the main entrance is the space where you can pack some extra punch. Wooden barrels, outdoor seating, elegantly draped fabrics, large rustic wreaths, twinkling lights or lanterns: Set the mood before they even set foot in the venue.

Take advantage of unique photo opportunities.

Hay lofts, barn doors, big windows, rolling hills, tractors, farm animals — have fun with your portraits, and don’t be afraid to get those one-of-a-kind shots.

Ditch traditional seating arrangements with alternative layouts.

  • Skip the seating plan altogether and go for family-style seating at long communal tables.

  • Arrange tables in a U-shape, seating guests on the outside so everyone can see each other. 

  • Play up the eclectic theme with a mix of round and square tables.

  • Fill the venue with picnic tables to complement your casual BBQ reception.

Embrace farm-style transportation.

  • Treat guests to a hayride from the parking lot to the ceremony or reception.

  • Take off from your reception in an old wood-sided truck, horse-drawn wagon, or tractor.

Drinks, dessert, and dancing ideas for a barn wedding

Add an extra dash of whimsy with unusual desserts options.

  • Set up a farm-fresh ice cream sundae bar where guests can top their favorite flavor with anything: sprinkles, candied nuts, fruit, maple syrup, chocolate sauce, whipped cream.

  • Skip the traditional wedding cake and serve mug cakes that guests cook themselves — over the fire. Pre-mix the dry ingredients in a tin camp mug and let guests add sprinkles, chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit. Pour in the appropriate wet ingredients, then cook the mug cake over the fire or on a grill. Bonus: The camp mug doubles as a wedding favor.

  • Instead of a towering cake with buttercream frosting, guests each get a rustic mini ‘naked’ cake.

Ramp up the reception fun with non-traditional offerings.

  • Instead of dancing, challenge guests to lawn games — tournament-style.

  • Take the popular photo booth in a new direction: Each photo becomes a “Wanted” poster for a bit of Western fun.

  • Take a break and relax around a campfire. Guitars, harmonicas, and group singing is optional. S’mores, however, are mandatory.

  • Encourage guests to explore with a farm scavenger hunt. While you’re posing for wedding photos, guests can wander the venue, snapping photos posing with items you’ve included on the checklist. Encourage guests to upload pictures for a hilarious album.

  • A live band truly shines at a barn wedding, especially a musical group with a bluegrass or country sound.

  • No matter the music style you prefer, get a band or a DJ who knows how to work the crowd, and maybe start a line dance or two.

Serve up drinks in rustic style.

  • Make a bar using barrels topped with rough wood planks — or even an old barn door.

  • Create stations using galvanized tubs filled with ice and grab-and-go soda bottles.

  • Ask the bartender to design signature drinks with a Western theme.

  • Let the Kentucky Derby inspire your bar offerings, instead. Mint juleps are the obvious choice, but don’t stop there. Experiment with bourbon-based drinks — and name them in true racehorse fashion.

  • A lemonade and sweet tea bar is a thirst-quencher your guests will love. Use chalkboard labels and glass beverage dispensers so guests can pick their favorite. Add a bit of zing with spiked versions for adults.

  • Hot mulled cider — with rum, bourbon, or brandy, if you wish — is a cold-weather favorite.

  • Serve drinks in mason jars, Moscow mule mugs, or unbreakable pint glasses.

Run with a handful of these barn wedding ideas, or customize a few to match your vision and you can’t go wrong! 

Next, explore wedding venues, and discover the top wedding-planning hacks to plan your barn wedding without a hitch.

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.