There are many types of rustic weddings, but they all have one thing in common: A distinctly personal vibe that is tied to place and lifestyle. Rustic frequently means outdoors, with great vistas as a backdrop and family heritage as a theme.
Photography: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
But rustic has many faces — a lakeside cabin, waving wheat fields in the Midwest, a cottage accentuated by a deck with views of dunes and sea grass, a cabin in the piney woods, or a campsite adjacent to a flowing stream. A rustic themed wedding can be held at home, at a vacation destination or at a public place; it’s the thought behind it, and the details that lift it out of the ordinary. Rustic chic weddings can be made as upscale as you wish, and are not exclusively for the do-it-yourself couple!
Rustic Wedding Décor Basics
Top: Placek Photography – Weddings By Nancy | Bottom Left: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events| Bottom Right: Something Pretty Floral – Charla Storey Photography
Find ample inspiration in iconic rolling hills and grazing cattle, green fields and horse barns, grapevines on a hillside, windswept bluffs near the shore, towering purple mountain ranges, or even the dusty plains of the desert Southwest. A rustic theme is a natural for an outdoor wedding, and a ceremony or reception held in a barn can be every bit as memorable as one in a ballroom.
Top and Middle Left: Inspired Catering – Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios | Middle Right: Pure Whimsy Events – Angela Newton Roy Photography | Bottom: Sash & Bow – Shanna Allen Photo
Seasons and the Outdoors: Rustic Wedding Chic
Top: Destination St. Louis | Bottom Left: NK Productions – Hunter Ryan Photo | Bottom Right: Big Events Wedding – Austin Gros Wedding Photography
Favored seasons for chic rustic weddings span late spring to early fall, because the outdoor world is important. That’s not to suggest that a ski lodge in winter or a summer cabin after the leaves have fallen wouldn’t also be an outstanding choice! Buffalo check blankets and roaring fires mix as well with wedding lace as pale silks and satins.
Top: Steve Wrubel Photography | Florist and Designer: Jackson Durham | Middle Left: Edward Fox Photography | Middle Right: Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios | Bottom: Mary Basnight Photography
Rustic Weddings Design Favorites
Top: Christopher Confero Design – Arden Photography | Bottom left: Steve Wrubel Photography | Bottom right: Fête Weddings – Don Mears Photography
Driftwood and crashing waves bring to mind wildflowers and barefoot pleasures, like rustic might signal denim and cowboy hats! Your kind of rustic might be totally casual or unexpectedly elegant. While we tend to think of rustic in terms of old barns and western wear, there are many interpretations that capture an informal “let’s all celebrate” mood, rather than a more traditional formality. Romantic crystal chandeliers hanging from barn ceilings is one of our favorite rustic wedding decorations!
Top: Big Events Wedding – Austin Gros Wedding Photography | Bottom left: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events | Bottom right: Elevate Events – Willow & Stone Photography
Rustic Themed Wedding Design Ideas
Top left: Placek Photography – Weddings By Nancy | Top right: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events | Bottom: Something Pretty Floral – Charla Storey Photography
Whatever aesthetic your rustic spirit embraces, take advantage of personal leanings, individual traditions, and local cues to spark rustic wedding ideas your perfect wedding. Use the setting for inspiration, and pick the setting that speaks to you of good times and meaningful experiences. If there is one element that unites all rustic wedding themes, it is that the elements have personal significance to the bride and groom.
Top left: Kate & Company – Catering St. Louis – Heather Roth Fine Art Photography | Top right: Carpe Vita Photography | Bottom: Weddings by Nancy LLC – Kate Bentley Photography
Chic Rustic Weddings Have a Common Thread
Top: Flora by Nora – L Photographie | Bottom left: Mary Basnight Photography
The characteristics of rustic country weddings are not so different from other weddings, but they are more whimsical and they are invariably personalized. In a sense, they represent the “story line” of the bride and groom, and that is what makes them so appealing. Give a nod to family background, whether you create your tablescapes from homespun and burlap or from tatting and crazy quilts. Incorporate your heritage into the ceremony and celebration, whether it’s a history of seafaring or of raising cattle.
Top: Placek Photography – Weddings By Nancy | Middle & Bottom left: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events | Bottom right: Amanda Megan Miller Photography – Lola Event Productions
Always: Personalize the Rustic Celebration
To: Christopher Confero Design – Arden Photography | Bottom left: Flora by Nora – L Photographie | Bottom right: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events
Find ways to use, display and honor the past: drive away in a vintage automobile, a weathered horse-drawn hay wagon or a classic wooden motorboat. Write your own vows — an increasingly popular touch, no matter what the wedding theme.
Top: Edward Fox Photography | Middle left: Steve Wrubel Photography | Middle right: Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios| Bottom: Amanda Megan Miller Photography – Lola Event Productions
Décor Ideas: Organic Elements for Your Rustic Theme
Angela Newton Roy Photography
The juxtaposition of natural and handmade — of rough and refined — is the hallmark of the style. Rustic wedding table decorations incorporate organic and natural materials; weave them into the canvas in a unique way to make a charming statement. Rustic wedding decor is meant to put guests at ease rather than to encourage formality, so have fun with décor elements.
Top left: Inspired Catering – Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios | Top right: Dynamic Events – Front Room Photography | Bottom: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events
Choose a dynamic view as a backdrop for the ceremony. Create an arbor of simple greens, stalks of wheat, or grapevines tied with burlap ribbon. Place flowers — perhaps vibrant hollyhock or gladiolus — in old milk jugs, or fill well-used western boots with vases of blooms to line the aisle.
Top left: Kate & Company – Catering St. Louis – Heather Roth Fine Art Photography | Bottom: Steve Wrubel Photography
Employ natural textures, woven fabric, simple linen and homespun, even burlap. However, depending on the site and the season, feel free to accessorize with bits of old lace or crochet, leather and fur, denim and suede, tartan plaid, or colorful gingham.
Top: Elevate Events – Willow & Stone Photography | Bottom left: Angela Newton Roy Photography | Bottom right: A Stem Above – Misty Winter Photography
Rustic Wedding Color Palettes: Go with Nature
Top left: Sash & Bow – Shanna Allen Photo | Top right: Amanda Megan Miller Photography – Lola Event Productions | Bottom: Inspired Catering – Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios
Pick rustic wedding colors that are simple and appropriate for the season, with palettes that won’t compete with the setting. Rely on nature as your guide; earth tones and the hues you see in surrounding landscape are always appropriate. As seasons progress from spring to fall, your choices will become deeper and more intense.
Something Pretty Floral – Charla Storey Photography
Use natural wood or neutral tones for tables and chairs. Keep them simple. Long farm-style tables are more informal than rounds and encourage a casual atmosphere. But it’s a personal decision. If you envision a kind of rustic elegance, consider textured, to-the floor linen for your tables. As an alternative, think about simple table runners with wood, copper or tin chargers to reinforce the theme.
Left: Inspired Catering – Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios | Right: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events
Think Simplicity for Your Rustic Theme Wedding Table Decorations
Left: Mary Basnight Photography | Right: Dynamic Events – Front Room Photography
Table signs can be made of wood, written on chalkboard, painted on metal, crafted from twigs, seashells or pine cones, or “planted” in flower pots, boots or old farm equipment. Incorporate simple greens and flowers rather than formal floral arrangements. Place a single bright daisy or a small sprig of wildflowers in an old tin can at each place.
Fête Weddings – Don Mears Photography
Use canning jars as water glasses, mugs for coffee and tea rather than cups and saucers, and even old jelly jars for wine! Your guests will love them! Create outdoor “rooms” for guests to enjoy; think about some games to keep children engaged. Create a folksy backdrop for guest wedding photos, or supply a variety of hats and accessories for pictures with family and friends.
Top left & bottom: Angela Newton Roy Photography | Top right: Edward Fox Photography
Lighting Ideas for Rustic Themed Weddings
Top: Mary Basnight Photography | Bottom left: Elevate Events – Willow & Stone Photography | Bottom right: Dynamic Events – Front Room Photography
Plan for adequate romantic lighting, both indoors and out. Hang lanterns or chandeliers from barn rafters or tent poles; string café lights in trees or along a ceiling line; place plenty of glowing lanterns on dinner tables and along outdoor paths. Taper candles are making a big comeback, but can be difficult to maintain outside, think about shielding the flame from wind with an old fashion glass globe.
Top left: Carrie Coleman Photography – Shay Brown Events | Top right: Steve Wrubel Photography | Bottom: Placek Photography – Weddings By Nancy
Let your Ingenuity Shine
Top: Inspired Catering – Régine Danielle Events – Maha Studios | Botton left: Fête Weddings – Don Mears Photography | Bottom right: Big Events Wedding – Austin Gros Wedding Photography
Because rustic weddings are often informal, buffet service is a perfect fit for the wedding meal! Be creative as you plan for food service, so that guests may visit several separate serving stations rather than having to stand in a single buffet line. Nix the idea of a formal, sit-down dinner, and think about a continuous parade of “appetizers.” If a sit-down dinner is your desire, consider family style service at the tables. Or spread your food courses throughout the evening, and let the cake ceremony be the “fireworks” at the end with a dazzling display of cupcakes and cake balls.
Top: Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center | Bottom: Amanda Megan Miller Photography – Lola Event Productions
Your Rustic Wedding: A Party to Remember
Much of the appeal of a rustic wedding comes from the chance to be as creative as you wish. Today, couples want a “party to remember” rather than a stressful, traditional event. It doesn’t matter if your wedding is for 40 close friends or you fill a hall with 400 guests.
Flora by Nora – L Photographie
Resolve to enjoy your day in every way possible. A rustic themed wedding allows you to be part of the fun, as well as playing the starring role!