The Essential Guide to Barn Weddings
Wedding barns are versatile venues, so you can work with many themes to make your day suit your personality perfectly. From decor considerations to attire suggestions, our essential guide is here to help you plan every aspect of your barn wedding.
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- Top Barn Wedding Venues
- Where are barn venues generally located?
- How much does a barn wedding venue cost?
- What themes and colours work well with a barn wedding venue?
- What do I need to consider when choosing a barn for an autumn or winter wedding?
- What do I need to consider when choosing a barn for a spring or summer wedding?
- What decor and flowers work well for a barn wedding?
- What should I wear to a barn wedding?
- Are there any restrictions on having a wedding at a barn venue?
- Where can my guests stay when I am getting married in a barn?
As you would probably expect, wedding barns are generally located in areas of vast countryside, as most barn venues had a previous life as part of a farm. Today, they are beautifully renovated, sought-after locations for couples to tie the knot. Some converted barns are still located on working farms, giving you that gorgeous, countryside charm. Others are located on the land of private homes, stately houses, and hotels. Perfect if you are looking for added privacy and personal touches.
Barn wedding venues can vary in price and are dependent on your location, your package, and the level of maintenance that would be required to ensure your wedding can take place.
Dry Hire Packages
Dry hire venues only include the venue hire itself. This is usually the most affordable option available when it comes to barn wedding venues. This option is usually charged by how long you need the venue. These wedding barns are equipped with the necessities but you will need to find suppliers to fill out the rest of your wedding day requirements, such as external caterers and decor specialists. Have no fear though! These venues usually have a list of recommended suppliers who know the venue really well and can bring your vision to life.
Venue Hire with Food and Drink Packages
Some barn venues also have kitchen and bar facilities and hire top chefs to cater for weddings and events. These venues can offer packages that include the basic venue hire plus food and drink options. This usually also means needing to cover the cost of bringing in staff, so the price can be a significant increase from what a dry hire would be. These packages are regularly worked out based on the cost of dry hire, service costs, and the cost per head for catering. You may need to find other suppliers to help you handle decor elements and a celebrant or registrar to officiate your ceremony.
One of the most popular options for many couples is the opportunity to have an all-inclusive wedding package. These can be pricey but will include the vast majority of what you need for your wedding including food, drink, decor and those who will lead your ceremony. Choosing a package means you receive expert help to bring your wedding day to life. However, you can be limited by the choices available depending on who the venue partners with. All options are usually laid out in a brochure or on your initial venue tour. The packages are usually charged at the dry hire rate, plus a cost per head and optional added extras.
Your venue may have a wedding expert on site. Whether that’s the venue manager or a specialist wedding coordinator, they will be able to form a day that is completely unique to you and your vision. While this can be the most expensive option, they allow you to have a day that is not “standard” and completely personalised. These packages include everything you need to be arranged for the wedding. You can usually expect to be charged for the dry hire costs, the service charge for staff, the catering per head, the cost of each wedding element arranged for you and the cost of the wedding expert’s time. However, you can usually pick and choose exactly what you would like done for you and what you would prefer to do yourself.
Wedding barns can be everything from simple and rustic to contemporary and clean cut. So, there’s an option for every personality, fitting the majority of themes. The most common theme that people choose when planning a barn wedding is a romantic, rustic theme. This generally fits with the natural surroundings that usually come with a barn wedding venue.
The colours associated with this theme are usually warm, simple tones that work with whites and creams. Brighter colours such as reds, pinks and greens are also great in darker or pastel forms to add to the warm atmosphere.
Rustic themes and colour schemes work fantastically with a barn thanks to their vaulted ceilings and exposed brick walls. However, these simple, quaint details compliment with other themes too. The simplicity works well with elegant touches, partnering with thousands of colour combinations, meaning you aren’t just restricted to the norm.
Plus, with barn venues becoming more and more popular, there has been a recent increase in the more contemporary renovations of traditional barns. This allows for a more clean-cut, modern and elegantly simple wedding theme to really shine.
If you plan to get married in a barn during the cooler months, there are a few things you should consider for the comfort of you and your guests.
Firstly, depending on how up-to-date the barn is, there may not be much insulation to protect you and your guests from the cold. Often, those who run these venues are aware of this and will give you options for heating. Sometimes, these are open fireplaces or wood burners, which both heat the room and add a cosy, romantic feel to your day.
Secondly, the great outdoors can be unpredictable! You’ll want to ask the venue what they will do to allow your guests to arrive at your venue safely in different weather conditions, such as snow or ice. If the road to the venue is a single track, for example, will the venue ensure salt has been spread to prevent a slippery road surface or will you be responsible for this?
Finally, outdoor space and the weather. If you plan to use the outdoor space, what options are available to you? You’ll need to consider the options for weather-proofing and possibly supply your guests with blankets and umbrellas to help keep them comfortable, whatever the weather. If your venue is a working farm, you may also wish to consider what kind of transport you need to get you to your venue practically. Something like a 4×4 or even a tractor could be a fun addition to your rustic farm wedding feel while remaining a practical option to get you and your bridal party to the venue safely.
During the warmer months, barns can be the perfect place to host your wedding. Often built with a heavy stone, these barns can be very cool inside, perfect for escaping from the hot sun outside. However, there will be a few things you may want to consider for your guests’ comfort.
Firstly, outdoor space. There may be moments where guests will need to be outdoors while the venue changes over from ceremony space to a reception space. Will there be places of shade available for your guests to protect themselves from too much sun? If not, perhaps renting a few, small marquees or awnings will be a good way of providing this space. Alternatively, some dark umbrellas allow your guests to create their own shade while on the move.
You’ll also want to ensure there is plenty of water available. Most venues are equipped with running water for drinking. However, if not, ensure there are bottles of cold water easily available to help keep your guests hydrated. Sun cream with a high SPF will also be important. Perhaps consider creating a comfort kit for your guests in the bathrooms of your venue with things your guests may have forgotten or may need. This can include things such as sun cream, cotton buds and spare hairpins.
The choices you make for decor and wedding flowers will really depend on the theme you choose and the type of barn you’ve chosen for your wedding. Here are some examples of styles that may inspire you for your venue decor and floral choices.
Rustic Wedding Themes
If you are going for an overall rustic theme as many couples do when choosing a barn wedding venue, you’ll want to think simple. Rustic weddings are known for their simplistic elegance, so go with plain, clean colours with some natural whimsy.
For many, this is draped fabrics across the exposed wood beams with warm-tone fairy lights or lanterns being the feature lighting. You can complement this with natural elements such as wooden decor and floral centrepieces.
In terms of flowers, you can think small or big. We’ve seen barn weddings that have dainty floral arrangements as the centrepiece on a table, combined with pretty floral garlands to accentuate the wedding aisle. On the other hand, you could really go all out with the floral elements with large, cascading arches for your ceremony and cascading bouquets for the bridal party.
Often the above can feel a little too fluffy! If that’s the case for you, try including some metallic elements which will reflect the light. This can be bronze or rose gold napkin holders or tall metallic candlesticks; just something to contrast the softness of the fabric and floral features.
Signs are also a fashionable element for rustic weddings, whether that’s a blackboard or hand-painted directions, this idea is definitely something to consider as a way to complete your themed decor.
Decorating a Dark Wedding Barn
Darkness can be both romantic and opulent, so don’t be disheartened if your wedding barn doesn’t have a lot of natural light. There is so much you can do with this!
Firstly, think about lighting. Darkness can make a space feel cold, so light the space with warm coloured lighting. Yellow fairy lights and candles (if permitted) can be perfect. Add reflective elements such as large, decorative mirrors to reflect the light within the room and brighten the space.
Then think about the contrasting colours. Warm colours can be dark, so contrast the venue’s natural darkness with lighter colours to ensure some balance. Whites, pastel pinks, light greens and light woods are the perfect way to accent this.
Decorating a Light Wedding Barn
Some wedding barns can be flooded with natural light. These are usually the more modern, recently renovated venues. Especially if they have installed some grand windows which force the light into the room. Again, there is so much you can do with this.
Firstly, in contrast to the light decor in a dark barn, for a light barn, you will need to think colourful when it comes to the decor. Again, think warm colours and earthy tones to accent the natural features of the barn. Dark reds, blues and greens can be really gorgeous in such a light space. Don’t fancy that? Bright colours can work fabulously too.
While your venue will be light in the day, you’ll want to also consider your nighttime lighting. Ask your venue if they can show you some images of how your barn looks at night if you are unable to visit. So, you can then make an informed decision about whether your decor will also work at night and what you can do in terms of lighting.
Depending on your role in the wedding, barn venues are perfect for flowy, boho looks and more casual menswear looks. Here are some suggestions for the couple, the wider wedding party and guests.
Wedding dresses with a boho feel are usually a go-to choice as they are perfect for a rustic wedding. However, thanks to the natural elegance of a barn wedding venue, most bridal wear styles will work regardless of the venue’s style and decor.
With that in mind, every barn venue is unique, from the super luxurious with chandeliers and expensive furnishings, to rustic and elegantly simple. Remember to look at your venue and its surrounding area before choosing your bridal wear and accessories. You may find there are specific elements you’d like to reflect in your style. On the other hand, you may find that the surrounding area requires you to look at specific options for things, such as footwear, that you wouldn’t have considered.
Your bridesmaids’ dresses will often reflect the bride’s wedding dress in some way. So, you may want to consider what you will wear first before shopping for these dresses. However, this is another personal choice. Something light and flowing will work beautifully in a barn wedding venue if you are going for that rustic charm. If you are going for a more sophisticated look, a Grecian style is incredibly simple, and yet can exude the level of opulence you are looking for.
The Groom / Groomsmen
In general, barn weddings often exude a relaxed feel. So, a lounge suit would be ideal for this kind of venue. Lounge suits can be both two or three-piece, so you can dress this look up or down as you please. However, similarly to the bride, there is no set answer to what a groom or groomsmen should wear at a barn wedding.
Again, see the venue before you choose your wedding suit. There may be elements you want to reflect in your menswear or elements that may restrict it.
Barn venues come in many different styles. Some are simple, yet elegant while others can be incredibly opulent and ooze sophistication. When you receive your wedding invitation, visit that website of the venue and see what vibe you get. However, warmer colours and boho styles tend to always work really well with the exposed brick and beams that generally come with the barn venue look.
If you are the couple, generally, you wouldn’t be worrying about what your guests should wear to your wedding. But, it may be nice to tell them of any elements about your venue or theme which may inform their outfit decisions. For example, warning your guests that your venue is a working farm may help them decide whether those stiletto heels are the best choice for the day.
Depending on the age of the building and its location, there may be some restrictions for things like noise and decor.
You’ll want to speak to your venue and ask whether live or recorded music is allowed and until what time at night. There may be a requirement to reduce noise from a certain point in the evening. Also, for the same reason, your guests may not be able to spend time outside the venue from a certain point in the night.
Your barn wedding venue may be a listed building and is therefore subject to certain decor restrictions. You’ll want to check this before deciding on what you want and hiring your decor expert. However, many barn venues have a natural beauty to them and don’t require a lot of effort to make them look incredible. So, this may not be an issue in most cases.
As you will expect, many barn venues are located in rural areas. Sometimes this means there is a hotel on the grounds, potentially an old farmhouse for those who are happy to go self-catered or even the excitement of glamping tents, pods and cabins.
If there is no accommodation on site, you’ll want to investigate the surrounding area to decide where you should recommend your guests stay. Usually, your venue will be able to help with this recommendation but if they aren’t sure or the recommendations are fully booked, you could use our guest accommodation search tool.
There are so many wonderful, barn wedding venues across the country, here are some of our top picks…
Ceremony Spaces: Converted Barn and Large Marquee
An exclusive and fully licensed country wedding retreat nestled in the Chiltern Hills, with sweeping views across the surrounding fields and woodland. Monkton Barn is a beautifully converted and appointed barn set in a delightful courtyard. The venue features a private bridal preparation room as well as offering a brand-new tasting room, its own microbrewery, and a wonderful woodland dell for 2021. Monkton Barn offers a vast choice in catering, delivered by their very own ‘Kitchen Brigade’ and Executive Chef. Creative and inspiring menus combine hearty traditional fayre, with exquisite fine dining and a choice of service style. Monkton Barn is perfect for couples who want something ‘a little bit different’ and the freedom to design their dream wedding day in Buckinghamshire.
One couple said about this venue: “I had my wedding at Monkton Barn last night (NYE) and it was absolutely fantastic. Nothing is too much trouble for them and Eloise ran the day like clockwork and was so helpful and thoughtful throughout. I would highly recommend having a winter wedding there!”
Location: North Yorkshire
Ceremony Spaces: Converted Barn and Luxury Outdoor Arbour
Wharfedale Grange is a stunning, luxury barn wedding venue adorned with stylish features and beautiful lighting; from romantic, cascading fairy lights to gorgeous chandeliers. Wharfedale Grange is located in the heart of Yorkshire situated between Leeds and the spa town of Harrogate. Recently redeveloped, this venue has four beautiful barns which have been turned into “farmhouse-luxe” paradises with a panoramic vista of the breathtaking Yorkshire countryside. This venue is ideal for couples wanting a rustic-luxe feel for their big day with elegant touches, decor and expert florists onsite ready to make the venue feel all the more opulent for your event.
One couple said about Wharfedale Grange: “We could not have wished for a more incredible place to get married and celebrate with all our family and friends. Wharfedale Grange is so beautiful and the attention to detail and support from Claire, Rebecca and the rest of the team is second to none. Everyone is telling us how blown away they were with the venue and we couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else. Thank you so so much guys, you absolutely nailed it!!”
Ceremony Spaces: Milling Barn, Dairy Barn and Blunts Wood
The stunning Oak Barn at Milling Barn a romantic barn wedding venue based in Hertfordshire. The team at this wonderful wedding venue are incredibly proud of how they have incorporated the traditional character the stunning, 17th Century barn with their modern touches. We especially love the exposed oak timbers! This tranquil space is licensed for civil ceremony weddings and is proudly offered to couples exclusively for their special day. Spacious and sophisticated, the Barn is a magical space to tie the knot and a breathtaking place to celebrate your big day with your nearest and dearest.
One couple said about Milling Barn: “AMAZING!! We got here married here on 28th June 2019 and can’t recommend enough!! Absolutely everything was spot on! Verity and the team did everything possible to make our day perfect. It’s a gorgeous venue, the food was fantastic… We just wish we could do it all over again”
Ceremony Spaces: The Abbot’s Hall, The Monks’ Refectory, and The Walled Garden
Notley Abbey holds a certain, magical charm and you will undoubtedly fall in love from the moment you enter the stunning tree-lined approach off the Aylesbury Road. Notley Abbey offers complete exclusive use to each and every couple and some of the most beautiful country house grounds you could imagine. Hosting wedding ceremonies both inside and out for up to 180 guests, in a choice of three locations; The Abbot’s Hall, The Monks’ Refectory for a larger guest list, or, the enchanting walled garden. Once you have said your ‘I do’s’, you and your guests can relax with bubbles and canapes outside on the patio amongst the lavender. We particularly love the exposed brick in the stunning barn venue which has a real, romantic charm to it.
One couple said about Notley Abbey: “We just wanted to say a big big thank you for an amazing wedding day at Notley on Saturday. Casey and her team could not have been more helpful from the moment we arrived until when we left. She was also very good at calming my bridal nerves and emotions! The venue looked stunning, and the food was amazing. All our guests were blown away by Notley. Please pass on our thanks to all the staff.”
Ceremony Spaces: The Essex Barn and Outdoor Pavillion
The Channels Estate is a beautiful wedding venue based in Chelmsford, Essex. This stunning, thatched barn venue has a unique ceremony garden and is available with exclusive use for couples and their guests. The Essex Thatched Barn is an idyllic wedding venue and a romantic setting for up to 100 guests to watch you and your soulmate tie the knot. The barn has been beautifully restored and is exceptionally managed by the team at Channels Estate along with their dedicated wedding coordinators who are there to make your day extra special. The Essex Barn can also host up to 200 people for an evening reception. The Channels Estate’s barn venue really is a wonderful space to celebrate with your closest friends and family and of course your new husband or wife.
One couple said about Channels Estate: “Massive thank you to Emma, David, Paul and the staff at the Channels Estate! Thank you for making our day super special and run so smoothly. The hall looked incredible, the food was absolutely delicious (I started to struggle in my dress as it wasn’t able to stretch any further), professional, friendly and extremely helpful all the way through. I highly recommend this venue to everyone!”
Ceremony Spaces: The Music Room and Wedding Garden
Situated at the end of a truly stunning woodland approach you will find a beautiful barn-style wedding venue with accommodation, available exclusively for 24 hours. Cain Manor is a unique gem of a country house wedding venue and is located on the border of Surrey and Hampshire. This venue is licensed for both indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies. Take your pick of picture-perfect backdrops for your newlywed photos whilst your guests sip bubbly on the patio. Meanwhile, an exceptional team of in-house chefs will present the most wonderful wedding banquet to you and your guests. This truly is an idyllic choice for any couple wanting a classic, yet individual barn wedding.
One couple said about Cain Manor: “We had an absolutely fantastic wedding day and Cain Manor completely surpassed our expectations. Our whole experience in working with you in the lead up had been seamless, your quick and helpful replies were always so appreciated. On the day the team were so thoughtful and attentive- so many of our guests said what a fantastic venue it was. Thank you!”
Ceremony Space: Converted Barn
Notley Tythe barn has a completely unique interior. First recorded in 1160 the Barn is an exceptional example of twelfth-century rural craftsmanship. This idyllic venue is set in Buckinghamshire and is truly a beautiful place to tie the knot. The immense arched beams give Notley Tythe Barn an almost chapel-like feel to the stunning building. The Barn has many unique features including the Minstrels Gallery, inglenook fireplace, ancient beams, beautiful roof, large timber bar and integral marquee. Outside, the venue has tailored lawns, stunning views, total exclusivity and a rural setting. This family-run wedding venue seats up to 170 guests and is proud to have an experienced team to make your day extra special; plus, the exceptional views of the uninterrupted countryside are perfect for those all-important wedding photos.
One couple said about Notely Tythe Barn: “Thank you so much for such a fantastic Wedding Reception – we loved every minute of it. So many of our guests commented on the stunning venue, delicious feast and …. Those canapes! Thanks for putting us at ease when we felt a little nervous and for answering our constant questions!”
Ceremony Spaces: Arbour, Threshing Barn and Garden Ceremonies
Set within the idyllic Cornish countryside, Trevenna Barns is a cluster of beautiful, authentic barn wedding venues. With panoramic views of the stunning landscape, your wedding can have the stunning backdrop of all that is romantic about Cornwall and is given to couples on an exclusive use basis. This gorgeous spaces at this beautiful venue are elegantly simple and neutral, meaning that you can make the space perfect for you and your partner’s big day. You can say “I do” within the romantic Threshing Barn under Trevenna’s handcrafted oak and slate Arbour in the great outdoors surrounded by Cornish countryside. The Garden Venue comfortably sits 120 guests and with double-height windows, you can really make the most of the far-reaching views without worrying about the weather.
One couple said about Trevenna Barns: “Trevenna is a magical place. From our initial visit in Jan 2018 to our wedding day on 2nd February 2019 everything was so easy. We were so surprised at how little we had to do as everything was taken care of. All the information you could possibly need is provided without you even having to ask. On the day everything ran smoothly and was completely stress-free for us. All of our guests were impressed and fell in love with Trevenna as much as we did. We can’t thank the team enough for making our wedding day so special.”
Ceremony Spaces: The Lakeside Gazebo, The Stone Barn, Dining Room, Main House Lounge, Main House Snug
Nestled in a wooded valley, on the edge of Exmoor National Park, Deer’s Leap is perfect for couples who want a dreamy, rustic wedding and a personal, intimate ceremony! This fabulous venue offers various settings for your perfect day. The rustic old stone barn offers a blank backdrop that you can truly make your own and the gorgeous, hand-crafted lakeside gazebo is a fabulous place to say ‘I Do’. If you’re planning a smaller wedding and want a more intimate surround, the main farmhouse offers a choice of rooms with oak beams and inglenook fireplaces, all licensed for ceremonies. At this family-focused venue, the team can help you organise anything and everything, creating the wedding and reception of your dreams.
One couple said about Deer’s Leap Retreat: “We were so lucky to find Deer’s Leap Retreat. After months of searching for the perfect weekend wedding spot that we could afford we finally found this little gem. We had some key criteria on our list and Deer’s leap catered for all of our needs. The team at Deer’s leap really makes this the perfect venue. Not only is the site just beautiful! You can get married by a stunning lake with pontoon lightning and even have a firework display all finished off by champers in the three hot tubs! Heather and the Gang helped us sort out anything, including building a flower archway, hiding our surprise mariachi band, letting us stay from a little longer, giving out leftover wine free to our guests, giving free lifts home to our tipsy guests, and organising last-minute speeches with the cake at the lakeside gazebo! No ask is too big, and heather will make sure you have your dream wedding!”
Ceremony Spaces: The Stonehill Barn
Stonehill Barn in Abingdon, Oxfordshire is returning for weddings! Bookings are available from 2021 onwards. Set within the grounds of a stunning, Georgian manor house, this wedding venue is the perfect fusion of your charming barn wedding and elegant country house wedding dreams. The beauty of Stonehill Barn lies in a number of its beautiful features including exposed timbers, herringbone brickwork floor, and grand barn doors. There is a mystical ambiance and sense of majesty within the building, making it perfect for couples wanting to tie the knot somewhere rustic and romantic. This idyllic venue and its serene setting forms the perfect backdrop for memorable photographs that you and your partner will cherish forever. The wedding garden in front of the barn also offers the possibility to set up marquees fitting to the occasion. This venue is ideal for a celebrant-led ceremony and reception with its licence for civil ceremonies pending and available to couples in the near future.
Ceremony Spaces: The Carriage Barn and the magnificent grounds
Nether Winchendon House and its Carriage Barn is a stunning wedding venue in the idyllic Buckinghamshire countryside, located on the Oxford / Bucks border near Thame. This venue is enchanting, with so many fabulous spaces within its ground and barn to have amazing Wedding Day photographs – you will be spoiled for choice! You can have a ‘Vows and Rings Ceremony’ led by a celebrant or walk a short distance to be married in the lovely village Church. Within the grounds of this magnificent Mediaeval Tudor and Strawberry Hill Gothick House, is the Carriage Barn which was built to house the carriages belonging to the owners of Nether Winchendon House. Now, it is an idyllic, wedding and reception venue with the grounds of the house to enjoy. What’s more, this space also has its own Bridal Garden and orchard, surrounded by peaceful countryside. It truly is the ideal place for any couple to celebrate with their nearest and dearest on their wedding day. Give them a call, you will absolutely love it!
Ceremony Spaces: The Silo Barn and Oak Pergoda
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