There’s nothing quite like a Barn Wedding. And an authentic Maine barn, well, that’s a pretty perfect spot! So perfect, that barns have become one of the hottest wedding venue choices over the past few years. If hosting your wedding activities amidst a barn backdrop ranks high on your wedding planning wish list, here are our top tips for making your day as ideal as your location –
Maine Barn weddings are truly beautiful during any season of the year. Once you have found the right barn venue for your wedding, think about how your wedding date fits with that barn. A barn in an open field may be too hot during the summer unless it has air conditioning (and most don’t), but the same space during cooler months may make it perfect to keep guests comfortable. Most barns don’t have much by way of climate controls, so the likelihood that the barn is not heated may make a winter wedding unrealistic. Along with checking with the venue about their available dates for your wedding, talk with them about what times of the year the barn is most comfortable, and what options they have for hot or cold days.
Barns offer plenty of shelter. Barn weddings do, however, often include use of surrounding outdoor spaces for photography, aspects of the wedding ceremony, or areas for guests to spill into during cocktail or after dinner times. Be sure to plan for inclement weather if you are planning your photography to include the landscaping around the outside of the barn. Offer heaters, blankets or wraps for cold weather, and pretty fans for hot days. Barns vary greatly in size, so consider if your guest list is large enough to warrant an additional tented area. Talk with the venue about what backups they might have as options should you run into weather issues.
Barn venue spaces are A LOT larger (think vertically as well as floorspace) than traditional event spaces. With high ceilings, exposed rafters, and even hay lofts, the interior of barns can feel overwhelming or even cavernous. While these features add to the rustic appeal, think about these characteristics when planning your theme, layout and decorations. Stringing fairy lights or organizing spaces with furniture can make the large space feel cozy and more manageable. Using larger accents and furniture will work better than tiny, dainty items. Because there is so much to look at in a barn itself, keeping it simple usually works better as well.
One challenge of barn venues is that the floorplan may not fit the traditional layout for wedding festivities. Tending to be long and narrow, or very large and open, barn spaces call for some creative thinking when planning your event arrangement and décor. First, have a clear idea of the number of guests you are expecting. Lean on the venue coordinator for suggestions of layouts that have worked in the past. Be sure you are leaving room for each aspect of your wedding – the ceremony, bars and catering, guestbook and cake displays, and mingling and dancing. One great feature of large barns is that areas can be separated out for certain parts of your event. The ceremony area can be set up at one end and the catering at the other. During the early part of the reception, the ceremony area can be transformed into the dancefloor. Have fun and be sure to take advantage of all that unique space!
Since a barn wedding is still a unique wedding venue, do your due diligence to research the venue’s reviews, and your wedding coordinator’s experience working with barns. Past bridal parties will be sure to comment on what worked and what didn’t. Ask the venue for references of past brides you can talk to. The barn venue should also have a list of vendors that have worked there frequently. Working with a caterer, DJ and/or photographer that is used to the venue will make your day go that much smoother.
Some venues have dedicated event coordinators and offer “full service”, while others are more hands off. “Full service” wedding venues would offer staff to be available during all aspects of the event. Barn venues that are more laid back may simply rent the space and you have to take over from there. Consider what is right for you, how much help you need or expect, and make sure you are clear on what level of service you can expect from the particular barn venue you are speaking to.
With a perfect rustic wedding location can come rather rustic parking. Barns often have dirt or gravel drives and parking areas. If you visit a barn venue on a dry sunny day, consider what the parking and walkway in might be like after a week of rain. Make sure there is enough convenient parking to accommodate your guest list (or plan for a shuttle). You don’t want your dressed up guests to have to park along a busy roadway or walk a great distance to reach your venue.
No one knows the venue better than the people who run it. Ask them questions about what wedding parties have done in the past that worked well (and what didn’t). Listen to their suggestions and get examples for ideas for your own wedding. If you are having trouble finding certain vendors, wedding venues know a lot of professionals in the wedding industry and can likely point you in the right direction.
Our experienced staff can offer all the advice and assistance you could need for your barn wedding event. We’ve worked with hundreds of bridal parties, and will help you incorporate your ideas into the River Winds Barn as best that we can. The Estate has other buildings to accommodate your groomsmen, bridal party getting ready before the wedding, and your caterer preparing the food. We also have a list of vendors who we have worked with over the years. Our Day-Of Coordinator is available to add some extra hands on deck for your personal needs on your special day if necessary.