How to Style your Elegant Barn Wedding

For those who prefer a wedding location a bit more outside the box, a barn could be the perfect solution. As we’ve learned above, barn weddings combine the charm of natural surroundings and rich history, evoking a true sense of warmth. Now we need to figure out how we will plan the perfect, elegant barn wedding.

Add Elegant Elements

barn wedding elegant decor ideas

Even though your wedding may be taking place in a rustic barn where tractors and animals were once housed, that does not mean that your barn wedding has to be entirely rustic. Add elegant elements, such as dramatic fabric draping and chandeliers to transform the rustic space into a chic, romantic setting. Given that barns are often huge in size (and feature extremely high ceilings), incorporating elegant elements that would generally be found in an upscale home or hotel can also help to bring a more intimate feel to the barn and personalize the space. Now is your chance to be creative and turn this barn into a truly magical event space!

Embrace the Barn’s History & Charm

barn history wedding information ideas

When choosing a unique venue, it is always a great idea to share the location’s history or significance with your guests. Include a story of how the barn came to be or use a silhouette of the barn in your paper products and invitations. Embrace the barn’s charm by incorporating classic “barn” elements, such as hay bales.

Use Natural Elements & Fabrics

barn wedding hay bail seating ideas

By using natural colors, fabrics, and elements into your florals and decor, you will create an event space that is complementary to your surroundings and the architecture of the barn. For example, the incorporation of twigs, assorted vases, mason jars, and burlap table runners (below) brings the feeling of the barn and surrounding land to the dining table.

Decor inspiration photos are courtesy of Cosmopolitan Events by Katy Higgins. Courtney & Chris’ Rustic Barn Wedding (at The Olsen Barn in Chester, CA) has been featured on Martha Stewart Weddings. Photography by John Schneck.

Barn Wedding Décor Ideas & Inspiration: Dressing up the Barn

Chalkboard and Handmade Signs

Chalkboard and handmade signs compliment the barn wedding theme. You can use chalkboards to tell guests any number of messages from what’s on the menu or where the wedding favors are located. Chalkboards can also be used for seating charts. They make for a relatively inexpensive decor item. If you don’t want the chalkboard to appear overly rustic, you can dress it up with an ornate frame. By their very nature, chalkboards are also easy to customize as you can handwrite messages and sayings to extend your wedding theme. Handmade signs can also be used at barn weddings. As a popular décor idea for barn weddings, handmade signs often point guests in the direction of all of the night’s events from the ceremony location to the dance floor. Again, these wooden signs can be inexpensive for the bride on a budget.

String Lights and Chandeliers

Barns are not always known for their lighting. Most wedding venues with barns on the property will dress up the space with string lights. String lights create a more romantic and soft ambiance to a dark and dimly lit barn. You can hire a lighting company to execute your vision. You might think that the cost should be low to hang up a few strings, but some companies will quote high bids. It’s best to get lots of bids before committing to one company. If you are cash strapped, you can always string them up yourself if your venue will allow it (however not recommended). String lights are often at their most affordable just after the holiday season. For brides looking to get away from the cliched décor notions of a barn wedding, you can do so easily with the lighting. To add a more elegant and opulent feel, chandeliers can be added to the barn venue instead of or in addition to string lights. You can also hang lanterns from the barn beams for additional lighting.


barn wedding drapery decor ideas

Photo by John Schnack from Martha Stewart Weddings

Barn walls and ceilings are generally plain and wooden. Just like any room that is blank, drapes are added to enrich the space. You can add more visual interest and color to a barn with drapery. Drapes soften the space and in turn can make barns more sophisticated at first glance. You can also use drapery to add drama to your space by adding fabric to entryways and across beams. If you don’t want to use such heavy fabric, but you still want to adorn the walls of your barn with some sort of visual interest, buntings also work with the barn theme. Buntings come in all sorts of fabrics and materials so that you can cater to your level of formality.

Burlap Accents and Twine

Photo from Wedding Chicks by Photographer Katrina Louise

Barn and burlap tend to go together like chocolate chip cookies and milk. A burlap table runner or burlap wrapped around jars always goes well with barn décor. Burlap is also inexpensive for brides watching their wallets. In addition to using burlap accents, twine also harks on the barn theme. You can tie jars, programs and menus with twine to promote that rustic look and feel.

Mismatched Tables, Chairs and Dishes

You might cringe at thought of mismatching, but an eclectic mix of furniture for your barn wedding can also contribute to the overall theme. Chairs and tables don’t necessarily need to match for a barn wedding. The setting is already a bit hodge-podge. Antique and colorful chairs and tables don’t just contribute to the style of a barn wedding but they also help your barn wedding look and feel unique. You can rent from companies with vintage furniture or see if your venue has a mix of tables and chairs. If you can’t do mismatched furniture for your wedding, you can still create that eclectic look elsewhere. Mismatched dishes are an easy way to lend rustic chic and set a more casual tone to your barn wedding. The unmatched look provides a suggestion that this wedding is unique and not like every other gathering.

Glass Jars

Aside from decorating the walls and ceiling of the barn, you have to come up with centerpieces to suit the barn. Colored glass jars go with the blank barn canvas. You can place flowers or candles in colored glass jars, staggered across the tables. The classic Mason jar is always a barn wedding staple. To find these key centerpieces, you can look at antique and vintage stores, garage sales and online bidding sites. Your florist might also have Mason jars that you can use. You can find colored glass jars in all sorts of shapes and sizes to create a more assorted and unique look. For a more sophisticated feel, you can stick to clear glass jars. For a more country look, you can try tin cans and pitchers as centerpieces. Also, for a different feel, you can suspend the jars from the barn beams for a floating presence.

Hay Bales and Wine Barrels

For guestbook tables and the like, you can accent the empty spaces around your wedding with hay bales and wine barrels. While hay bales aren’t for every wedding, if you want to create a country look, they work well as accents when you need to fill vacant spaces. Brides looking for a more elegant alternative to hay bales can use wine barrels. You can construct bars and dessert tables with the help of a few wine barrels and an old antique door for the tabletop. They can also be used to fill empty spaces, similar to a hay bale. Barns are big after all.


Back at the barn, lighting that is truly classic is that illuminating from candles. You can stagger candles on the table to lend that rustic feel with a romantic glow. Candles provide  soft lighting that you might want instead of the string lights. However, if the barn is composed of wood, your wedding venue might have restrictions on open flames. If this is the case, you can try battery operated candles or covered lanterns instead.

Barn Wedding Dresses Guide: Ideas + PRO Tips

Now that you’ve booked your barn venue and planned how best to decorate the space for your rustic (yet elegant) wedding, you still need to find that perfect dress that blends seamlessly with your wedding style and venue. While some brides buy their dresses before selecting a venue, many bridal consultants and shops will dissuade the newly engaged from doing so. Certain styles and fabrics of dresses don’t always work for every wedding venue. If you are clueless as to what to look for in a wedding dress for your barn wedding, you are not alone. The wedding dress is not only a big investment, but also a big commitment. It will be seen in photographs for decades and often leaves that lasting impression with guests. In hopes of helping those brides bound for a barn wedding, here are a few features to look for in a wedding dress that you might want to consider for your barn bonanza.


A giant ball gown tends to work well in grand cathedrals and large palatial estates. However, the ball-gown doesn’t always fit into a rustic barn. It can overwhelm the venue and contradict the feeling of the wedding that you want. For many brides, the ball-gown is the princess dream. Even if you are getting married in a barn, you can still have your cake and eat it too. Some designers make dresses with an overskirt. This is a great option if you want a ball-gown for the ceremony, but something more form fitting for the reception. The gown typically consists of a skirt over a sleeker gown. It can be removed when you need to start dancing in the barn rafters. Many brides who have barn weddings resist the ball-gown style and go with something more form fitting. One of the advantages to this look is that you don’t have to worry about overwhelming your simple wedding venue. A more streamlined gown will be easier to move around the barn and outdoor surroundings. Barns can be precarious places where your photographer might have you posing on hay bales and against rusted old barn doors. A dress that doesn’t have as much volume tends to work well in these sorts of spaces.


If you have seen photographs of barn weddings, the bride almost always has some sort of lace detailing on her gown. Lace wedding gowns make for an ideal material for a barn wedding. Barns can be rustic, yet vintage, spaces. Lace harks on those classic ideas of romance. A lace wedding gown also creates a soft feminine look that tends to go with a barn wedding style. Having tried on many lace wedding dresses for my own wedding, I would still be careful with the amount of lace that you choose for your barn wedding. Lace can be extremely heavy, especially if the dress is completely covered in lace. If you are planning on a summer barn wedding and your venue doesn’t have air conditioning, you might want to go with a dress that is composed of a lighter material. At the same time, just because you are getting married in a barn doesn’t mean you need to buy a lace dress. There are other options if you aren’t a fan of lace. Barn weddings tend to be more relaxed and carefree just by design. Your gown material should reflect this. A soft and flowing material like chiffon lends more of an ethereal look that is still easy to move around in from different points in the barn.


For those antique barn wedding venues with buckling gray doors and wooden beams, your wedding dress can also match the venue merely by the color that you choose. An ivory gown tends to compliment those antique settings. Soft ivories might blend in better with vintage decor that you add to your wedding venue. An ivory wedding dress is a nice option for brides that don’t want to wear white, but also for brides that might want to add more embellishments to their dress. Even if you are getting married in a barn, your dress can still be detailed. The color of the dress can carry the theme of the wedding venue and the dress details can reflect more of your style. If you want to wear more of a white gown, you don’t need to change venues. A white wedding dress also works well with certain barn weddings. If you are going for a more classic look with that typical red barn, a white gown will compliment the style of the wedding. If you are going to pick a white wedding dress, it is important to consider the style. Simple and classic designs will work well with the barn. However, those dresses with over the top with beading and details might clash with your classic wedding style. Dresses with cleaner lines in white work well with a barn wedding.


Just as a big ball gown might look out of place in a barn wedding, a dress with a long train might also be problematic for the barn ceremony. If you are getting married in a barn, your ceremony might be taking place right outside of the barn on a grassy lawn. A long train will be difficult to keep from getting dirty on your wedding day. If you want to have a little train, you can. Just be sure that there is a bustling option so that you can move about the barn without tripping over your gown. Some brides with barn weddings decide to forego tradition and pick a short dress. If you are going for a more country style barn wedding, a short dress creates a more relaxed tone. Some brides like to pair these types of dresses with cowboy boots to further the style of a country wedding. A short dress will also be easier to move around a barn location than a long dress with a long train.

Bottom Line…

Some wedding experts will tell you not to buy a dress that doesn’t go with your wedding venue. While you should consider your venue when you purchase your dress, you shouldn’t let it completely dictate your choice. Your wedding dress should fit your personality and style. Brides should stand out on their wedding day. If standing out for the bride entails wearing a giant ball gown, you can make it work in the barn wedding venue. Ultimately, you need to go with the dress that you want and not necessarily the best dress for your venue. The venue can help guide you as you shop for your dress, but it should never have the last word. Brides should select a dress that looks good on their figure. You should feel comfortable, special and yourself on your wedding day, no matter if you are getting married in a barn or a ballroom.


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