Photographer: James Stokes Photography | Florist: Wedding Gallery | Ceremony Venue: Munson Bridge Winery | Reception Venue: Munson Bridge Winery | DJ/Entertainment Services: Todd Norrel | Cake: Kim Wojnik – Creative Crumbs | Catering: B&S Bar
You don’t get much more country than a rustic farm wedding. Your wedding venue doesn’t have to be an actual farm, think more along the lines of a farm themed wedding. Think rustic decor in natural surroundings with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Thoughts of bales of hay and red checkered picnic blankets come to mind as well. Imagine the smell of freshly cut grass and the sounds of birds happily chirping as you walk down the grassy aisle nature has provided. The image of old barns and wooden halls may come to mind as well. The countryside has so many beautiful, rustic venues to offer that would be perfectly suited to a farm themed wedding. In this article, you will be inspired to create the farm wedding of your dreams, plus there will be a few handy hints and tips for planning your farm wedding day.
Your farm wedding doesn’t need to be boring or 100% farm-like by any means. You can choose to incorporate certain aspects of the farm theme, or you can choose to embrace the theme and go all out with it. A farm wedding can be both relaxed and chic, luxurious and down to earth. It is the perfect theme to show off your country style with an elegant twist. Farm weddings are all about adding elements to create a look of rustic country charm.
If you are planning a farm wedding, you want to use that theme to your full advantage. The location is a huge part of creating the wedding of your dreams. If it is a farm wedding you are after, your venue should reflect that it is indeed a farm themed wedding. Your ceremony is best suited for the beautiful outdoors. Try to choose a venue that has both a beautiful outdoor area, as well as indoor options in case of bad weather.
Creating a gorgeous ceremony outdoors isn’t difficult if you have a beautiful setting to start with. Beautiful open land gives you the perfect opportunity to decorate according to your personal style to create the ceremony you envision. Be sure to visit your venue a year in advance on the exact date of your wedding to see what the ceremony site will look like at the time of day you are planning to say your I do’s. It is important that your guest’s comfort is taken into consideration. Have a look if there is shade for your guests to be seated under, if there isn’t, consider moving your ceremony to late afternoon so that you aren’t walking down the aisle in the heat of the day.
If you have always dreamed of a gorgeous indoor ceremony, whether it be in a rustic barn or a traditional chapel, you don’t have to compromise this for the sake of your farm wedding theme. You can create a lovely rustic atmosphere indoors as well. The time of day and weather won’t be an issue if you choose to have your ceremony indoors.
Another thing to consider is seating arrangements, is there enough space to accommodate your total number of guests? What will they be sitting on and does the venue provide it. Consider using rustic wooden chairs with pretty burlap ribbons tied to each. If you are looking for something a little more farm rustic, consider using bales of hay with a blanket or burlap draped over for comfort. If you choose this option you need to consider the length of your ceremony, sitting without a backrest will be tiresome for your guests if your ceremony is a long one. Seat your guests facing away from the sun, this is often overlooked. The sun should be behind your guests, not behind where you will be standing for your ceremony. Guests will not be comfortable squinting through the glare of the sun throughout your ceremony, nor is this ideal for your photographer.
Your aisle is your opportunity to create a grand entrance for yourself on the day. All of your guests, along with your husband to be, will be staring down the aisle waiting for that first glance of you in your wedding dress. Your chairs should be placed in such a way that it creates an aisle for you to walk down, throw fresh rose petals down the aisle for a whimsical effect as your dress sweeps over them. Place candles, lanterns and flowers down the aisle to create a beautiful runway leading to your groom. The alter is another place that you can decorate. Consider creating a raised platform if there isn’t one, so that your guests can all see you as you say your vows, and so that you can feel set apart from your guests. This also creates a stunning feature in all of your wedding photos. Create a canopy by draping soft fabric over branches, this will also protect you from the sun if you are outdoors. Use fresh flowers and soft fabrics to create something pretty over rustic wooden poles or branches. If you are having an outdoor ceremony, why not arrive in an old wagon or on a tractor to add some “wow” to your entrance. Speak to your venue about options that they may have.
The rest of the ceremony should be decorated and not left bare. Create a place where guests can enjoy a drink and chat before the ceremony starts. Use wine barrels, old milk cans and crates to create little places of interest throughout your ceremony. Fresh flowers can never go out of fashion or be used too much. Use wildflowers that you can find naturally in your surroundings to create that rustic charm you are after. For something less formal, opt for potted plants placed on crates, logs, and tables, or in rustic tin buckets down the aisle. These can be lovely gifts for mothers and special people at the end of the night. Use your surroundings to your advantage, place chairs and aisles strategically to show off the beauty of your surroundings.
The reception is the main event of your wedding day. It is the time where guests can relax and enjoy whatever the evening brings. It is the time where you can let your hair down and enjoy your first evening together as Mr & Mrs. While the ceremony is an important and special part of your wedding day, the reception is the part where most of the decor and planning is done.
Your reception starts straight after the ceremony. On most occasions, your photographer will steal you away from your guests to capture those romantic shots that you will be displaying in your home for years to come. Your guests need to be taken care of while you are away. It is always a good idea to serve snacks and drinks while you are having your photos taken. Keep your guests entertained to avoid boredom, include fun yard games (if the weather permits) or have personalized quiz cards and word searches for your guests to fill out as they sit and relax. There are many farm-style games that you can incorporate into your reception, do some research and find ones that suit you as a couple. Include games from your childhood that bring back memories, or be daring and create your own new games. Don’t forget to include children if you have chosen to invite them. Have packs for them to color in or provide something creative and fun, like bubbles, to keep themselves busy through the reception speeches.
Your reception hall will most likely be in a rustic old barn or tent to create the ultimate farm wedding vision. You need to ensure that there is enough space to accommodate all of your guests comfortably, as well as your food, DJ or band, and dance floor. If there is space, use long farm-style tables instead of round tables to create that open family feeling. The dance floor is an important aspect of your reception and one that most guests look forward to. After all of the speeches, wining and dining your guests will want to hit the dance floor and let their hair down for the rest of the evening. If your reception venue doesn’t have space to have a dance floor, make do with the space that you have. You can create a beautiful outdoor dance floor for guests to dance the night away under the country sky.
Lighting and decor is crucial in your reception venue. Without these two elements, you will have an empty hall with no atmosphere. Soft fairy lights and candles create a romantic glow that is essential to most weddings, no matter the theme. Whether you are in a barn, a tent or a hall, there are always options to drape lights and fabric to create a romatic feel of the evening, as well as in your photos. Ask your venue about lighting for the dance floor, you want to create a relaxed but fun atmosphere and lighting plays a huge role in creating that.
Decor can be simple for a farm-style wedding. Candles and flowers are generally what is found on most wedding tables, but try change things up and create your own style. Choose wild, natural flowers and create little landscapes in the middle of your tables. Use natural moss and twigs as space fillers. If you love your formal flowers like roses and lilies, don’t compromise, but simply add some wild baby’s breath and sunflowers to the mix. Using Mason jars and glasses is another way to add rustic charm to your farm wedding tables. Don’t be scared to mix and match different size and shape jars and glass vases, this adds to the farm DIY look. Add elements of burlap and lace to your tables to create an elegant country look. Use different elements to display your table numbers, use wine bottles covered in lace or old rustic frames. Use beautiful natural tree trunk slices as bases for flowers and candles.
Your reception venue will have lots of little spaces that you can fill with interesting decor pieces. Stack old books and use them as a base for your flowers, use wooden crates, buckets, and other antique farm style pieces to stack and add flowers to. A trend is to have a photo gallery of sorts, you can create a gallery of your life together as a couple, or a gallery of all the wedding photos of your family. Be creative and create something interesting for your guests to enjoy. Make a focal point of your gift and card table. Use baskets or old wine crates to decorate for your cards. Make bunting flags from burlap to hang throughout your reception area, these will look lovely in your home after your wedding too. Another trend is to have your surname letter as a monogram throughout your reception. Use a big wooden letter and create a wreath around it, decorate it with paint or cover with fabric and place it on your gift table, use different textures to create that rustic look. Get creative and make a pretty DIY piece that will make a beautiful keepsake in your home for years to come.
A lovely way to end your evening is to have your guests join you outside to release lanterns or light pretty sparklers. Things like this are special to enjoy together and also create the most beautiful photos. A photo booth is another fun way to entertain your guests and create beautiful memories for your wedding scrapbook. Keep things simple yet classy and elegant. Combine rustic elements with elegant ones to create the perfect look of “relaxed luxury” for your dream farm wedding.
Food & Drink
The ceremony reception and wedding dress are all important, but if the food and drink isn’t up to scratch your guests will be less than thrilled. Food at a wedding very important, you want your guests to be satisfied to the brim. A farm style wedding allows for a less formal approach to the food and drink. Meal time isn’t just time for eating, but a time for gathering and enjoying each other’s company as the formalities wind down.
You always need to have pre-reception snacks for your guests. Guests can enjoy small cocktail treats and a drink while they enjoy their yard games as you have your photos done. Simple is always better. Cheese and crackers, fresh fruit platters, cocktail size pastries and sandwiches are classic options to stick to. Fresh fruit juice, lemonade, and iced tea are excellent pre-reception drink options.
Farm to table dining is the popular trend with farm style weddings. Choose fresh foods straight from the farm, cooked in a simple but tasty way and served either plated or buffet style. Try and opt for seasonal vegetables and fruit and have a variety of colors to choose from. Another good option is to have cocktail style foods that your guests can snack on throughout the evening, although a good Sunday style roast meal is always the top choice for a relaxed farm wedding. Don’t choose fancy foods to try and impress your guests, farm weddings are simple and down to earth and the food should reflect that. Include some of your favorite dishes, choose classic comfort food dishes that still have a slight elegant twist to it. Coq au vin is a classic French dish, but is simple and comforting and will have your guests coming back for more. Aim for homestyle cooked meals with a touch of sophistication.
The dessert table is always a much-anticipated part of the evening. Homestyle pies and warm puddings are always delicious, comforting options, but a dessert table filled with miniature pastries, cakes and cookies are a huge hit. Once again, choose desserts that you love to eat yourself, stay away from anything that can melt or go bad in the heat of the day. A waffle or pancake bar with different toppings and perhaps an ice cream machine are fun dessert options that allow your guests to choose exactly what they want.
Your wedding cake should fall under the dessert category and is usually served after dessert with tea and coffee. If you have chosen very rich desserts, tone it down with your cake flavors and opt for French vanilla with buttercream frosting. If your desserts are not filled with chocolate and cream then your cake can be a more decadent one. Try to have a balance so that your guests don’t walk away feeling as if they have over indulged. Your cake can reflect your theme, have a look at the popular bare cake. Fresh flowers and buttercream frosting are perfect options for a farm wedding.
Instead of spending money on little gifts as wedding favors, have a candy bar for your guests to enjoy. Have a variety of candy and sweet treats along with little paper bags or boxes that your guests can help themselves too. This is both a fun and quirky little thank you gift that will have your guests feeling like kids in a candy store.
Drinks wouldn’t consist of fancy cocktails, but rather the same down to earth drinks you would enjoy in your own home. Champagne is a must have at any wedding for toasts and speeches, but a bar that has beer and wine will keep your guests happy. Provide a bottle or two of wint for each table, this can even add as decor if you simply tie a pretty piece of burlap around each bottle and place it on the table in rustic buckets. You should always have non-alcoholic options at your wedding, these could include pitchers of lemonade and fresh fruit juice, or a non-alcoholic punch for something a little more fancy. Having a bar area for guests to pick their drink and enjoy it at the bar is a great feature point of your wedding reception.
Consider doing “first look” photos. This is a modern trend where you meet your husband to be in an intimate setting before the ceremony. Your photographer will capture all of the emotion and love the two of you share in this special moment. These photos are always gorgeous keepsakes and really capture a special moment between the couple in the first treasured moments together on the wedding day.
If you have a later ceremony or a fall wedding, this is an easy way to fit in portraits without sacrificing time with friends and family. Lighting is key; we look for outdoor shaded light away from guests to ensure the most intimate moment possible. Not being seen before the wedding is still a must for most brides.
Use your surroundings to your advantage, it’s not every day that you can have photos taken in a rustic old barn with the soft glow of fairy lights, for instance. Consider the light and the time of the day. Your photographer can’t capture dreamy photos if there isn’t enough light. If you like the look of sunset photos, you need to aim to have an hour or two before the sun starts to set to capture enough photos and to get comfortable in front of the camera. Be creative, be fun and be natural. As photographers, we look for ways to see how the two of you interact when no one is looking. How do you hold hands? Practice holding hands, touching each other when you’re out in public. Scheduling an engagement session is the best way to ensure you feel the most comfortable in front of our cameras on your wedding day. It’s a conversation with a camera on the day you look and feel the most beautiful. We think you’ll nail it!
Katie and I are grateful for the memories we have made and captured in 2014! We look forward to the wonderful couples we will have the pleasure of working with in 2015. Thank you and Have a Happy New Year!
From the Bride:
We knew from the start we didn’t want to have a typical wedding. We approached the planning process with a clean slate and focused on what we wanted to do rather that what we were expected to do. Traditional aspects such as the bouquet toss, dollar dance, and wedding cake were skipped. We had our mom’s bake some of our favorite treats for a dessert bar instead which turned out to be a hit. A gender specific wedding party was also opted to be adapted. My brother stood in support as my man of honor next to my sister as the matron of honor. The ceremony and dinner were kept intimate and we expanded the guest list for the reception that evening.
Mike and I aimed to share our love for travel and adventure with our guests. We encouraged them to create their own itinerary while traveling to Chippewa Falls for our wedding by providing information for local attractions such as the Leinie Lodge, wineries, and music events within the invitations. We carried this over into the wedding décor as well. Tables were namesake of places we had traveled together and centerpieces were accompanied by photos illustrating those experiences. Escort cards were displayed below a set of wooden initials we had covered with maps of the towns we grew up in and the place we met. Banners of photos were displayed with some of the places we had gone with each other as well as friends. The venue (located two miles from our home) and ambiance were very “us”.
In reality, wedding planning was a community project. The death of a very close friend and a cancer diagnosis for my dad three months prior to the wedding left us focusing on more important aspects. My dad’s coworkers volunteered their time and cut down a birch tree for our centerpieces, something my dad had hoped he could do for us. Friends and family scouted garage sales for unique glassware to complete our vision. Mike’s dad assisted him in building the Lionshead bar and other items from scratch. A generous neighbor gave us materials to use from her dilapidated barn – a door that was turned into a table for the glassware, a window used as a display for our grandparents’ wedding photos, and barn boards for the arbor and other pieces. Our wedding became a celebration of much more than our future together. It also became a celebration of the wonderful people we are so blessed to be surrounded by. I’m happy to share my dad is cancer free and Mike and I continue to love each other more with every adventurous day.
Venue: White’s Wildwood Retreat, Lafayette/Chippewa Falls, WI
Catering: Sweet Clarisse Catering, Augusta, WI
Videographer: Beau Hestekin, Lasting Images Videography
Tent: A1 Rentals, Eau Claire, WI
Dress: The Wedding Shoppe, St. Paul, MN
Mike’s Suit: Men’s Wearhouse
Flowers: Eau Claire Farmer’s Market
General Beer Distributing (beer taps)
Bartender – our favorite bartender from our favorite bar, so also worth a mention: Charlie’s (“Charlie’s at Lawler’s”) in Lafayette/Chippewa Falls, WI