Planning a barn wedding doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice glamour thanks to modern farmhouse-style barn venues like the one at Grace Hill near Wichita, Kansas. That’s where one of our couples got married earlier this year and we are so excited to share their story with you today along with our tips for how to plan your own barn wedding!
From the moment we met Shelby & Graham, it was a Yes. Yes, they were completely head-over-heels in love. Yes, they were so kind we wanted to spend all our waking hours with them. And yes, they had a DREAM wedding day (I mean, coffee bar at a wedding? Hello!)
Their day was full of love, laughs and some unique personal moments made only more special by the awesome location they chose.
Although their special day went off without a hitch, barn weddings typically have a few extra logistics to consider throughout the planning process – like where people will go to the bathroom. Here’s a closer look Shelby and Graham’s “Magnolia Farms” inspired wedding day and 8 things to look for when planning your own barn wedding!
Make sure your dream barn venue has a space for you and your gals to get ready in, as well as one for the gents. What seems like a small detail is actually huge when you consider how many hours you’ll be spending together in that room. Luckily The Barn At Grace Hill has private bridal and groom suites that are so beautiful and cozy with lots of natural light.
Speaking of natural light, you’ll
want need it for getting ready so make sure your barn bridal suite isn’t too dimly lit and has at least 1 window. For Shelby, the morning started off with all the girls (the mommas too!) spending time together in the bridal suite, getting pampered by Beauty Call Makeup and The Best Little Hair House.
This handful of Shelby and her closest gal pals were some of the most gracious and joyful women I’ve had the pleasure of working with! They were so invested in Shelby and in pouring love and affirmation back into her on this special day in her life.
Similarly, Graham and his gents were there to keep the laughs and happy tears flowing. Graham and fam are big fans of The Office (that’s what she said?) and were able to sit back, relax and enjoy their time together in the groom suite while we took care of the rest!
Make sure the barn and surrounding fields fit the vision, as it’s going to be the backdrop for all the photos you will have forever and ever. One of my favorite parts of Shelby’s day was when we snuck the couple out during the reception to capture sunset photos out in the venue’s field. During a beautiful and stunning shot, they hear one of their favorite songs ‘Old Town Road’ come on, she bundled up her train, kicked her shoes off, and they took off running back to the reception to party on.
When planning your own barn wedding, take note if there are muddy or overgrown areas and don’t be afraid to ask the venue manager if a certain spot can be cleaned up or if the greenery can be trimmed – Just don’t get carried away and ask them to chop down trees or anything crazy like that!
If you plan to have the ceremony outside the barn, take into consideration the path to get there – will guests in heels stumble over rocks or your grandma’s wheelchair get stuck? If there isn’t a formal path, ask the venue manager if they have wooden planks to lay down to make the walk a little easier for guests.
Make sure they have them 🙂 And that they are completely accessible for all your guests. One issue with more traditional barns is the lack of bathrooms and that they only have porta-potties on-site. But, never fear! Even if there aren’t convenient restrooms available, chat with your planner about bringing in a luxury mobile restroom trailer
Many barns have an outdoor ceremony space but aren’t well equipped in case of inclement weather. An on-site tent or a well laid out room flip option is definitely something to consider when touring for your perfect barn. And just a side note for ANY outdoor wedding… always, always have a backup plan!!
For real. So important! While it’s authentic and so chic to have your wedding in a true barn, they can get extremely warm during the high heat of the day. Fans are indeed an option, but truly consider how those will change the atmosphere of your day (ie, you can’t really keep candles lit with large fans blowing, centerpiece arrangements tend to blow over, signs don’t stay up, etc.)
Also, your wedding dress can get a little hot under there with all that tulle and netting so combine that with a little pre-wedding stress and no air conditioning and those tears of joy during your first look aren’t the only thing that’ll be making your mascara run.
As Shelby and Graham geared up to see each other for the first time, I have to admit my own happy tears were starting to spill over. There is something so special about these two, and to witness their joy as they saw each other for their First Look was magic. As evidenced by all their portraits…just gorgeous.
The twinkling of lights and brief silence as everyone takes in the ambiance of the room before the bride’s big reveal into the ceremony is always a magical moment. Although Graham and Shelby had done a first look, it was magic all over again seeing those barn doors open, as if by magic (not magic, it was me and Nikki lol), and watching all that love and happiness spill back over.
Those special moments are heightened by one of the most underrated wedding design elements – lighting!
Most brides tend to forget about lighting and not all barns are created equal so you’ll want to make sure your barn has adequate outlets, voltage, and equipment to set up any additional lighting you may want to bring in. Double-check if the barn has outlets in the ceiling otherwise hanging chandeliers or other statement lights might not be possible.
Another important thing to look for in your barn venue is kitchen space, especially if you have a larger guest count. Your caterers will need at minimum a good-sized prep space to work out of and access to running water. Even if they are preparing all the food beforehand, most caterers use chafing dishes that require water to keep your food warm (or cold) before it’s served, so access to a sink is imperative for their workflow.
They’ll also need to wash their hands multiple times throughout the night and be able to quickly clean any utensils that get dropped. An outdoor faucet might not seem like a big deal, but it could potentially affect the quality of your catering services (and food) if the issue isn’t properly addressed beforehand so make sure to discuss kitchen space with your caterer.
Most barns are completely open and seem huge at first but after you add in a bunch of tables and chairs, a dance floor, DJ, photobooth, and buffet tables for the reception, suddenly that space seems muuuch smaller. There also might only be one entry into the barn or horse stalls taking up some of that space.
Think about how your evening will flow as far as bridal party entrances, receiving line, dancing, and dinner lines and pay attention to square footage. Your wedding planner can help you figure out how many people can realistically fit into your barn space comfortably.
For Shelby and Graham, the layout at their venue worked perfectly for them. After their proclamation of marriage and exit, they made sure to enter back in and say hello to each and every person as they dismissed the rows. At the end of the night, as guests were lining up and preparing for their sparkler exit, Shelby and Graham were able to spend one last dance together in a perfect moment alone.
There are so many things to consider when planning your own barn wedding but the most important thing of all is that you absolutely love the space! A skilled wedding planner will be able to handle anything on this list so don’t let it hold you back from having the barn wedding of your dreams 🙂
Check out more of the stunning photos from Shelby and Graham’s modern farmhouse wedding below.