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10 Things to Consider Before Planning a Barn Wedding

You don't be stuck without a working toilet or temperature control system.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Bradley James Photography

One look at Pinterest reveals the unwavering popularity of the rustic wedding trend. Brides everywhere fawn over wooden accents, wildflowers, eclectic furniture, twinkly lights, and quintessential countryside farms. But many couples don't realize that barn weddings often come with a host of unexpected issues, from non-working temperature control systems to sound ordinance restrictions. Proper preparation can ensure your countryside ceremony goes down without a hitch. Here are 10 things you need to consider when planning a barn wedding.

 

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Rentals

Barns typically aren't all-inclusive event spaces, so couples need to bring in the basics for their wedding. This includes tables, chairs, dinnerware, linens, decorations, and flooring (if the barn has unstable wooden boards underfoot). Make sure to factor the cost of rentals into your big day budget, and coordinate delivery and pick-up in advance.

 

Bathrooms

Given their old age and back-to-basics nature, many barns don't have indoor plumbing. You certainly don't want Aunt Sue or Grandpa Joe using an outhouse during your reception, so it's necessary to rent a portable restroom for your big day—and we're not talking about the ugly blue boxes often seen at outdoor events. Many companies offer "fancy" restrooms with proper facilities, including a sink and soap dispenser.

 

Electricity

Many barns don't have the enough electricity for a big bash, so the bride and groom will likely need to rent a generator. Although the extra cost may seem high, it's worth properly lighting your reception, amplifying your band, and keeping food warm at the dinner buffet.

 

Weather

Without fully functioning electricity, a barn cannot support a temperature-control system. Check to see if the venue has heating and cooling before the big day. If not, you'll need to compensate by bringing in fans, space heaters, blankets, or other seasonally appropriate accessories. Along those lines, remember that barns often have patchy roofs. Consider renting a back-up tent in case rain decides to grace your wedding.

 

Guest Count

Find a barn in the countryside, and you'll notice that interior space is limited. The dwellings weren't designed for hosting parties and some can't accommodate large groups, especially when you take in account the rentals, catering set-up, and dance floor. If you're dreaming of a supersized wedding, consider looking into different venue options instead.

 

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Rules and Restrictions

Like most other privately-owned venues, barns have rules and regulations that guests need to follow. Always ask about licensing, insurance, and guidelines regarding outdoor fires, catering equipment, and access to the grounds. Understand that many barns follow sound ordinances dictated by the city or state; it's possible that the party has to end soon after the sun sets.

 

Hidden Dangers

A barn's rugged and antique appearance caters to its rustic charm, but old buildings have their fair share of flaws. Scope out the space before booking, taking note any issues that could cause a problem on the big day. Spending a few extra bucks on repair can prevent an accident during the reception.

 

The Great Outdoors

Barns aren't always glamorous, and a couple needs to accept the natural state of these outdoor retreats. If the barn is located on a working farm, animal smells may permeate the vicinity. Similarly, guests can experience allergies from hay and pollen, and they'll likely leave with their fair share of pesky bug bites.

 

Location

Nothing beats a secluded barn ceremony in the middle of nowhere. Although the privacy of the location seems endearing, it can create problems for guests. Make sure that guests don't struggle to find a venue that's off the beaten path, and they don't need to walk great lengths from the parking lot to the ceremony site. If the ground appears muddy and slippery, consider laying a temporary path to protect guests' footwear.

 

Landscaping

After scouring the web, you've likely seen dozens of picturesque barn weddings with wildflowers, hay bales, mason jars, chandeliers, and burlap. Keep in mind that not every barn will be able to satisfy your vision. Always keep an open mind and be willing to accommodate—you're sure to have a remarkable rustic wedding no matter what!

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About the Author

Nicole Harris

Nicole fell in love with the bridal industry after a summer internship with Martha Stewart Weddings. Although she's still a couple of years away from tying the knot, she can't help planning her own Big Day. She's crazy about creative DIY décor, classic lace gowns, colorful invitations, and huge (preferably endless) dessert spreads. Until it's time to pick her first dance song, though,...

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