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One of the longest-running trends in the wedding industry is having a barn wedding – and for good reason! There are beautiful barns that have been transformed into wedding venue spaces that are perfect for photos and hosting your guests.
I’ve been to some barn weddings that were amazing, and some that weren’t everything I would want as a wedding guest. It’s important to consider everything that goes into planning a barn wedding, especially if you are doing it at one that isn’t built specifically for hosting weddings.
Before you jump into planning a picturesque barn wedding, there are some important benefits and drawbacks to consider.
In general, the pros and cons of a barn wedding are:
- Pro – Barns are a blank space for your wedding vision
- Con – Renting equipment can be unexpected and costly
- Pro – Great wedding photo opportunities everywhere
- Con – Paying for event insurance is a necessary expense
- Pro – Fewer restrictions on vendors and decorations
- Con – Guest comfort can be tricky in a barn wedding
- Pro – There is so much space to fill with guests and decor
- Con – Handicap-accessible entries can be difficult to enter the barn
- Pro – You have a lot of room for unique wedding activities
- Con – Restrooms and running water are not always provided by the barn
- Pro – A barn is a unique space to host a wedding
- Con – Parking can be difficult at a barn wedding
Keep reading as I dive deeper into these pros and cons and how to plan a successful barn wedding.
Pros of having a barn wedding
1. Barns are a blank space for your wedding vision
Because they are pretty basic in terms of looks, you have the opportunity to really make the space in a barn wedding your own. Having a reception or ceremony (or both!) in a barn is an opportunity to lean on the rustic feel of the space, or completely transform it into your personal dreamscape. Versatility is the main reason so many brides opt for hosting their wedding guests in a barn.
And if you think you’re limited to burlap and mason jars, think again. You can add twinkle lights and paper lanterns hanging from the rafters. Transform the barn into a boho paradise. Or give everything an industrial look with metal accent pieces. A barn doesn’t have to be limited to just rustic.
2. Great wedding photo opportunities everywhere
Barns are usually in a picturesque location. With rolling hills and land behind you, the pictures taken with your newlywed spouse and guests will look amazing no matter what. There are so many photo opportunities in the barn itself and on the land around it.
Because it’s usually in a more secluded area you won’t have to worry about other people outside of your event walking by like you would in a park. Or have to deal with traffic noise like a city wedding might. You can get a number of different natural vistas into your photography, as well as the barn itself.
3. Fewer restrictions on vendors and decorations
A lot of venues you look into might have strict rules about what kind of vendors you can hire and the types of decorations you can use. With barn weddings, the rules may be more relaxed. This gives you the flexibility to have vendors of any kind and room to decorate the space however you want.
This highly depends on the venue and whether they host a lot of events. For popular barn venues where weddings are the main business, you may find just as many restrictions and they will be particularly sensitive to anything that disturbs the grounds or poses a fire hazard. But for a more casual set up, like a friend’s or family’s barn there may be fewer rules.
It’s still a good idea to be mindful of things that may be difficult to clean up – like confetti or glitter inside or outside – and things that could get knocked over and start a fire – like candles. You don’t want to be dealing with a lawsuit after your wedding because the owner wants you to pay for thousands of dollars of damage or clean-up.
4. There is so much space to fill with guests and decor
Barn weddings are popular for large guest counts because they usually offer a lot of space for the ceremony, cocktail hour, vendor space, and dancing all night long. Barn weddings are a great (and usually, affordable) option if you are anticipating a lot of guests at your event.
This also depends on the venue and what capacity they will allow. I did a quick search in my area in the Hudson Valley of New York. I found that the average barn allowed 150-300 guests maximum. Just think about a 300 person wedding in a stuffy catering hall versus the wide open spaces of a barn. You’ll have a lot more space for the party to spill out onto the grounds with the indoor-outdoor option of a barn.
5. You have a lot of room for unique wedding activities
One of the things I’ve noticed about weddings these days is brides will do anything to make their day memorable for themselves and their guests. Hosting a wedding now is more about building an experience. With barn weddings, the grounds are normally big enough to have a wide variety of fun things to do for your guests. From simple backyard games like cornhole to more unique rentals like a carousel, the sky truly is the limit when it comes to having your wedding at a barn.
Looking for ways to make your wedding more memorable? Here’s a list of my favorite ideas.
6. It’s a unique space to host a wedding
Even though they are popular wedding venues, barn weddings are still really unique. According to the Knot, about 15% of weddings are barn weddings. Often, barn venues have an interesting history and personality that is unmatched by traditional wedding venues. You and your guests will have an amazing time in a beautiful space with tons of rich local history!
Cons of having a barn wedding
1. Renting equipment can be unexpected and costly
While many brides opt for a barn space because of its price, you can rack up your bill if you have to rent everything for the wedding. Some barns don’t offer anything but space. You could get stuck paying for everything including tables, chairs, food equipment, speaker systems, and so much more.
If you’re trying to figure out how to budget for your barn wedding, I have a free budget guide that might help. It automatically calculates how much to spend on each item based on your budget and guest count. Plus it recommends a maximum guest count for your budget.
2. Paying for event insurance is a necessary expense
If the barn venue you go with isn’t a wedding-specific venue, you could get stuck having to buy insurance and permits to host an event there. These can be pricey depending on where you live. If the venue doesn’t have a license to serve alcohol, you may have to pay for that as well. However, this isn’t an issue for all barn wedding venues. Just ask before booking if this is something you have to look into.
3. Guest comfort can be tricky
If you’re having a barn wedding in the summer, making sure your guests stay comfortable can be tricky. I’ve been to many barn weddings where it was really hot, which made it unenjoyable. You can usually find cooling equipment like fans, or even heaters if it’s in the winter, but again, this could be an additional cost.
4. Handicap-accessible entries can be difficult
Because of the landscape, a lot of barns have issues providing handicap-accessible entries for guests. If you have a lot of elderly or handicapped loved ones attending, you should ask the venue about whether or not they can easily accommodate them.
5. Restrooms and running water are not always provided
This isn’t the case for all barn venues – especially not ones that have been built or designed specifically for weddings – but some may not have restrooms or running water on site. You may have to rent porta potties or water tanks to ensure your guests have access to both water and a restroom.
6. Parking can be difficult
Depending on the conditions of the ground, parking can be a tricky situation for your guests. Some barns will have paved places where parking is available, but if parking is supposed to be on the grass or in a field, issues can arise. If there is rain on the days leading up to or on the day of the wedding it can get messy for cars to park, as well as cause problems for those who walk through it.
No matter what, a barn wedding can be so much fun! Even though there are challenges, there are ways to work around them to make your wedding day special. All that matters is that you and your guests are comfortable and can have fun.