Who doesn’t love a good barn wedding? The rustic details, high ceilings, and beautiful countryside views make these venues one-of-a-kind, and here at Zola we can’t get enough of them. Like all wedding venues, however, barn wedding venues come in all shapes, sizes, and states of repair. As much as we love their aesthetic, they aren’t without their drawbacks. To help you cover your bases and avoid any “If only I’d known…” moments, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of everything Zola couples should consider when planning barn weddings.
Half the reason couples swoon over the idea of a barn wedding is because these venues are often old, historic buildings. Yet be forewarned that this antiquity can come at a cost: your dream barn wedding venue might lack heating and/or air conditioning. Translation: if your barn wedding is at a Nashville wedding venue in the middle of August, you’ll be reapplying deodorant after each dance number. Or, if your nuptials are in the middle of winter at a Minneapolis wedding venue, you and your partner might wind up with cold feet (no, the other kind). If the barn of your choice lacks heating and AC, then budget for extra rentals, such as fans and space heaters to climatize your space. Play it safe and ask your wedding planner or venue coordinator about this crucial detail early in the booking process.
Another logistical thing about barn weddings is kitchen availability. Unless the space has been updated with modern amenities, there might not be an attached, designated area for your catering team to prepare your food. This, obviously, will influence which wedding caterer you hire, as some of these food gurus require an on-site kitchen in which to prepare. Avoid any food service problems upfront by asking the venue about their catering process: Do they have recommended caterers who are used to working in the space? Do they have enough power sources for caterers who bring in their own equipment? Be sure to ask your catering team similar questions to ensure they’ll be able to do their best work at your barn venue.
The biggest concerns that many couples face during their hunt for the right barn wedding venue? Bathrooms and electricity. Or rather, the lack thereof. You may not want to have to use a portable bathroom (although there are some really nice luxury portable restroom trailers out there) or take a long walk to the bathroom in a dress and heels. The lack of electricity in some of these rural wedding venues can further complicate matters for vendors—like your caterer, as we just mentioned, or your band or DJ—who might require outside power sources. Consult with the property manager about the use of a generator if your dream wedding barn is not powered.
If you and your crew are big on dancing, few things matter more than the status of the dance floor at your chosen venue, and barn flooring is a mixed bag. Your barn venue might have lovely hardwood or otherwise finished floors, or it could just as easily have unfinished floors for a more true-barn feel (think plywood, wood chip, or straight up dirt). Depending on the style of your wedding, this seemingly insignificant detail can quickly become an obvious complication. If you are going for a more casual, dressed-down affair, then unfinished floors should be just fine. However, if you’re planning a formal soirée where many guests will be sporting heels or long dresses, a finished floor might need to make it on your barn wedding venue checklist.
What type of barn do you have in mind for your wedding? Are you looking for a newly built, more modern barn fit for a luxurious affair, or do you have a rustic structure in mind? Your answer to this question determines whether you might need a back-up location in the event of rain. Older barns tend to have less secure foundations, which allow in moisture (i.e. flooding) if enough rain occurs. If your dream wedding venue falls into this category, then make sure you discuss what happens when it rains and create a backup plan with the venue staff. They’ve likely dealt with rain before, so make sure you’re up to speed on their rainy day policies before your big day arrives. And, hey, rain isn’t all bad. Overcast skies and post-rain rays allow for stunning wedding photos.
Keep in mind, too, that there are plenty of wedding venues with barns on-site that you can just use as a backdrop for photos, rather than actually hosting your ceremony and reception inside of it. One of our favorites is the incredibly gorgeous Flying Caballos in San Luis Obispo, California.
Despite these potential drawbacks, we’re still convinced barn weddings have earned a special place of honor in the wedding world, and they will continue to serve as incredible, aesthetically remarkable wedding venue options.