Looking for a wedding reception venue with rustic charm and country landscapes?
How about a barn?
Structures that once housed livestock and farm equipment are now being filled with dining tables and DJs, flower arrangements and mood lighting.
More and more couples are gravitating toward barn receptions because of the diversity the venue has to offer, said master wedding planner Laurie Beckmann of A Gracious Event in Altamont.
“There’s nothing saying you can’t throw satin tablecloths on the tables and hang crystal chandeliers from the beams or go to your wrought iron and your rustic and your hay bales,” she said.
Design options range from farmhouse tables with burlap runners to elegantly appointed round dining tables surrounded by Chiavari chairs.
“You can really play with it, and you can do contradictions and have a good time with it. It doesn’t have to go just all one way,” she said.
At the Historic Barns of Nipmoose in Pittstown, one wedding couple rented an old tractor and wagon to ride in on, said rental contact Barbara Squires. One bride hung a disco ball from the beams.
Couples have also gotten creative when decorating the Buhrmaster Barn at Pruyn House in Latham.
“One girl that got married this summer draped huge amounts of white, heavy linen at the entrance to the barn. It gave it like a movie setting feel. It was beautiful,” said Pruyn House’s assistant curator, Pamela Rowley.
Area barns that host weddings draw couples from a wide radius. The Buhrmaster Barn has been booked by people from as far away as Long Island and New Jersey.
“I just think it’s a little bit of a step back in time. It’s a beautiful barn from the 1800s,” said Rowley.
Couples from as far away as Chicago and the West Coast have booked receptions at the Barns of Nipmoose, according to Squires.
“Most people want to get out of the city,” she said.
People are also attracted to the spot because there are three barns that can be used for each event.
“Their guests are not shut in one room for the whole evening,” she said. “We offer outdoor campfires, and it’s a panoramic vista of countryside.”
Although they can be lovely reception locations, barns can also offer special challenges. Many aren’t heated or air conditioned, bathrooms are often off-site and accessibility for elderly and disabled guests can sometimes be an issue.
Unmodified historic barns typically lack windows, as well, so they may be dark.
If the space has low lighting, Beckmann suggested making the wedding photographer aware. Lighting can also be added on the beams, and the space can be brightened with light-colored fabrics, she said.
If there is a lack of windows, air might not circulate well inside the barn, either.
“If it’s August, and it’s been raining, and now it’s hot and humid, and there’s no ventilation in there — and that happens quite often — you really need to think that through when you’re looking at your barn,” advised Beckmann.
Reception guests should be told the event is being held in a barn instead of a banquet hall.
“Advise the guests to wear proper footwear, not spike heels,” suggested Squires.
Hiring a wedding planner is a smart move if a barn reception is chosen, Beckmann said.
“Usually when you’re working with the barn venues, you’re coordinating catering, you’re coordinating rental equipment, you have the need for someone who can make instant decisions due to weather, due to last minute curveballs. The world is not all steady-state, like it is going into your traditional banquet space.”
Because of all the coordination required and the equipment that needs to be brought to the site, a barn reception can sometimes cost more than a reception at a banquet hall, she noted.
Despite the challenges rustic spaces can bring, barns that host wedding receptions book quickly. The Barns of Nipmoose venue is booking into 2015, but still has some open dates in 2014. The Buhrmaster Barn is completely booked for 2014.