When one hears the term “rustic wedding,” it often conjures mental pictures of celebrations held in the country, perhaps at a farm or a lakeside retreat in Texas or elsewhere in the south. Maybe you associate rustic weddings with wood and stone accented with burlap and rope, or wildflowers and mason jars. While these are all elements one might find at a rustic wedding, they barely scratch the surface of the possibilities.
Rustic weddings have risen in popularity over the past few years, largely due to an overall trend towards informality and natural, organic, or DIY lifestyles. The rustic style perfectly emphasizes this by utilizing natural beauty over manufactured glamor. The rise of Pinterest beginning in 2012 accelerated this trend, and two of Pinterest’s most popular types of pins are DIY ideas and wedding inspiration. Rustic weddings are a natural intersection of these movements, as they often involve elements that appear to be handmade or repurposed. The rustic style often gives the impression of resourcefulness—using simple, commonplace objects in elegant, creative ways.
Many rustic weddings incorporate a vintage style as well, which is a natural fit since “rustic” often suggests “old-fashioned.” Vintage style is somewhat more refined and may provide an attractive contrast with a rustic setting and another rustic decor. To get an idea of how this might look, imagine seating your guests at a table with a lace cover, set with flowered china teacups or art deco-inspired china and lit by antique silver candlesticks; all in a barn-style venue with highlights of rough timber and stone.
Gwen Helbush, head of Where to Start, an event planning service based in Newark, California, says her clients who decided to have rustic weddings did so because “they wanted a wedding that reflected the past without being old, and that was comfortable—not stuffy or formal.” As The Knot’s Amy Elliott explained, “Rustic but refined is a good rule of thumb: a meadow, a ranch in the desert, a white tent on the beach, a clearing in the forest…all of these settings will provide a fitting and welcome sense of informality.”
A rustic wedding is appealing to many couples because it allows them to have a formal event in a setting that feels relaxed and down-to-earth. Many rustic weddings take place outdoors, or are held in indoor spaces such as barns that have been outfitted to accommodate such events. If a casual, laid-back feeling suits your style better than a formal affair, a rustic wedding may provide your perfect setting for a memorable day.
Versatility is another key element in the popularity of the rustic style, which allows endless opportunities to personalize your wedding. It may be an especially good choice for couples with a fondness for antiques, or who want to include family heirlooms in their dress or decor. You can combine and contrast formal elements with natural or vintage features to create a truly unique experience.
Rustic and vintage are styles, yes, but a style is not the same as a theme. A wedding held at a farm or ranch is rustic, but so is a wedding held on the beach or at a venue styled after a Spanish mission. Therefore, a couple having a rustic wedding is not restricted to a certain type of theme.
Some weddings have very traditional or formal themes, while others may be more whimsical. For instance, you could have a general western-themed event featuring lassos, cowboy boots, and horseshoes (a sign of good luck!), an “autumn harvest” theme with motifs of wheat, apples, pumpkins, and fall leaves, a Tuscan-themed wedding held at a vineyard, or a very specific or offbeat theme such as steampunk or “Gig ‘Em Aggies.” The theme should reflect your personalities, interests, and tastes as a couple—the levels of specificity and detail you want to include are entirely determined by you!
Your theme can be expressed through every element of the event if you wish— the venue itself, the attire of the wedding party, the content of the ceremony, the decor and floral arrangements, the season, and the cuisine you will serve at the reception. Once you have selected your theme, you will be able to begin filling in the details. One of the most important details is your color scheme, which will inform everything else you choose, from clothing and flowers to the design of printed materials such as invitations and programs.
Since a rustic wedding is generally held outdoors, the season should be a major consideration when setting your date and choosing your venue. The natural beauty of each season has certain distinct attributes—even in East Texas, where winter isn’t likely to include snow. The seasons may provide distinct colors with a sea of spring wildflowers, or autumn’s colorful foliage that could be seamlessly incorporated into your wedding’s theme. You may choose colors that are inspired by nature, or you may decide to go in a completely different direction.
“In Texas, the rustic wedding trend will always remain a constant; as long as there are barns to get married in, there are rustic weddings in Texas,” says Mary Baird-Wilcock, CSEP, owner of Austin event planning firm The Simplifiers. Indeed, barn weddings are perennially popular in Texas, and the trend is catching on around the country. One well-loved architectural aspect often found in barns is the cathedral-like ceiling, which can bring a hint of the atmosphere of a traditional church wedding to a less formal, more relaxed location.
“Barn weddings have that classic, old-time feel,” says Kellie Todd, public relations coordinator for Indiana’s Bartholomew County Historical Society. “You’re with your family. You’re out on the farm. You’re in the barn or you can get married in the meadow. You can have a classic celebration. It looks fantastic.”
Here at Cafe Natalie, we are honored to partner with some of the best rustic venues to be found in Texas, take a look over at our venues page.
After you have booked your venue and chosen a theme and color scheme, it is time to start planning your décor. A rustic venue can be dressed up or dressed down to match the tone you want to set for your wedding.
Your theme may include a certain motif, such as a particular plant or animal, or even an abstract design. Hints of this motif can be used in every aspect of your wedding. For example, if your motif features bluebirds and pink tulips—which most likely would be reflected in your color scheme—you might include simple illustrations of the birds and flowers on your invitations, programs, and any other printed materials. Recycled paper stock with a beige or brownish tone and a rustic texture may be an ideal choice for printing these materials.
Some elements are quite common in rustic wedding décor. Many rustic weddings feature a burlap aisle runner, which is elegant and practical whether your ceremony is held indoors or outdoors. Wood-framed chalkboard easels are a popular and convenient way to display a welcome message or directional signage and are another place to include your motif.
Antique bottles (either clear or colored glass), twine, brown paper, and linen make frequent appearances in rustic wedding décor. Items made of wood, wire, or wrought iron will fit in nicely as well. Other touches may be included to highlight your tastes and interests as a couple, such as vintage books for avid readers or writers.
If your wedding is outdoors during the day, the sun will provide adequate lighting, but you may wish to add decorative touches of light with string lights or candles. Some rustic indoor venues feature sparkling chandeliers to contrast with the wood and stone commonly found in such places, and candles and string lights may be welcome additions there as well.
String lights help set the mood, are practical for use inside or outside, and can be found in a variety of colors. White lights are the most common choice, especially for nighttime weddings, but you might like to include a few strands in your theme colors as accents.
You may like the look of hand-dipped candles, or handmade candles in jars, which can be placed on tables, incorporated into centerpieces, and set along the aisle during the ceremony. Pillar candles may be placed inside glass hurricane lamps. For a touch of real country charm, you might even consider using rustic metal railroad lanterns.
Using native flowers and plants in your floral arrangements is a great way to take advantage of the rustic style. You can find creative ways to use anything you like, from wildflowers to hydrangeas to honeysuckle vines. Wildflowers may provide a variety of sizes, colors, and textures among the blooms, perfect for a rustic look. If magnolia blossoms are in season, they can be a stunning choice. Attractive, fragrant, fresh herbs can be used to accent your arrangements as well.
While some couples choose formal attire for their rustic wedding, most opt for a more informal dress to complement the relaxed atmosphere. A fully casual dress is a possibility too, but most couples go for something a bit dressier.
When selecting dresses for the bridal party, consider hemlines that don’t sweep the ground, as they will get dirty very quickly. A simple, flowing dress looks lovely on the rustic bride, who also may choose to wear flowers or greenery in her hair with—or instead of—a veil. A wreath of flowers and garland that coordinates with the bouquet creates a beautiful, nature-inspired look.
Country-inspired looks are always popular. Wearing cowboy boots with the wedding party’s dresses and suits is both fun and practical, as the boots are comfortable while dancing at the reception and also won’t sink into the earth like high heels will in the likely event that the wedding party must venture onto an unpaved surface. The groom and his groomsmen may enjoy wearing the classic “Texas tuxedo” of cowboy boots and hat, jeans (clean and pressed), western-style dress shirt, jacket, and tie—often a bolo tie.
The type of food served can truly highlight the theme of your wedding, and there are many menu choices that will complement a rustic venue. Your choice of menu and service style likely will influence your choices for place settings and centerpieces.
Bare wooden tables with a burlap table runner are a popular choice for rustic weddings, as they are both elegant and practical. Antique silver makes a lovely contrast when used with burlap linens. However, you may opt for a different fabric for table runners or cloths, such as linen or lace.
Mason jars are a trendy choice for wedding glassware, especially at weddings with a casual, down-home vibe, but you can use crystal stemware or any other type of glass that suits the tone you prefer. Similarly, you may use any type of china. Stoneware may fit in well on your tablescape, or you may opt for vintage china. One option that may be especially attractive for weddings with a vintage style or offbeat, funky theme is to use vintage china with intentionally mismatched patterns. Although the patterns are different, the basic style is similar enough that they have a unified look. Unified, but not exactly the same—just like the newly married couple!
Candles, antique bottles, mason jars, earthenware crocks, metal lanterns, twine, and boxes or baskets made of wire and wood are all elements you may find in a rustic table centerpiece. A centerpiece can be as elaborate or minimalist as you like, and the design will depend on the size of your tables and whether they are round or rectangular.
For an unexpected twist, you can use fresh fruits and vegetables in your centerpiece floral arrangements. Seasonal choices may include bright berries and luscious peaches in the summer, pumpkins and other gourds—and even nuts in their shells—in the fall, or ripe citrus for a splash of warmth and color in the winter months. Texas usually has an abundance of fresh-picked, local grapefruits and oranges in December and January, and they can be a lovely surprise when used in a wedding table centerpiece. You might even try using tree branches laden with fruit if you have room to accommodate them.
As you can see, the versatility of the rustic style makes it easy for many couples to adapt to meet their personal tastes. If you can imagine a version of the rustic wedding that will be perfect for you, go for it! It is sure to be a rewarding experience for all of your guests, creating warm memories to last a lifetime.