Down on the Farm: How to Have a Barn Wedding without Irritating Any Farmers

Your invitations, your way.
The explosion of barn weddings in the past few years has been great for couples who dream of a perfectly rustic wedding venue...but not so much for the neighboring farmers. According to a recent article in The New York Times, not everyone who lives near a barn is thrilled with this trend. From the article:

"'They blare music all night long, they have college students out there screaming, and everyone’s drinking,' said Laurie Tulchin, who lives in a rural part of Iowa City next door to a wedding barn. 'Rural residents have quiet lifestyles. Sometimes I just think, What the heck happened out here?'"

Along with the noise complaints, there are safety concerns. According to the Times:

"In rural areas across the country, residents have protested that some barn owners flout zoning rules requiring that they operate only as agricultural enterprises. Unlike other businesses, the barns are often not inspected to ensure that they are up to code, and many lack proper sanitation, fire doors and sprinklers, accommodations for people with disabilities and licenses to serve liquor.

...'All these people want to have this rustic outdoor wedding in the country so they can get closer to nature, but that barn was built for storing hay,' said Jeff Hettmann, whose next-door neighbor operates a wedding barn in Glenmore, Wis., outside Green Bay. 'It’s not designed to have 200 people jumping up and down and dancing in it.'"

 Barn Weddings

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Thinking of having a barn wedding of your own? Read on for our tips for avoiding trouble.  
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1Choose a farm that has experience hosting weddings. 

You may come across the perfect barn for your wedding while driving along a country road…but if the owners (and their neighbors) aren’t used to having weddings on the property, you could have some major issues. If yours is going to be their first wedding, be prepared to do some extra work to make sure things go smoothly.

2Get to know the neighbors. 

You don’t have to become BFFs, but if there’s a neighbor with property nearby, introduce yourself! Bring a bottle of wine or a local treat and ask them if there’s anything you can do to make their lives easier as you plan your wedding. A small gesture like this can make them feel more comfortable about your upcoming celebration.

3Have an afternoon wedding. 

If you want to blast music that might tick off the neighbors, consider having your shindig during daylight hours.

4Know your crowd.

Real talk: Are several of your wedding guests people who like to get drunk and break things? Has everyone in your bridal party stolen a golf cart at some point in their lives? If so, you may need to cut the partiers from your guest list, and instead invite sheep.

5Make sure you/the barn’s owner are following all local laws. 

Zoning laws are in place for a reason, so learn what they are, along with any noise ordinances and necessary permits, well in advance. According to the Times, one judge ruled last summer that a barn was a potential fire hazard, leaving the bride and groom just daysto make other plans. Even if the barn’s owner says she has everything covered, do your homework.

6Be courteous. 

When it’s your wedding, it’s easy to say “Oh, loud music for a night won’t kill anyone.” But when you’re the neighbors who hear loud music every Saturday and Sunday night for an entire summer, it’s a different story.

7Consider a rustic wedding venue that isn’t in someone else’s backyard. 

We love a great barn wedding…but we’ve seen pretty amazing rustic settings created in other venues. Look into breweries, lodges, and other historic venues. A few bales of hay and bridesmaids in cowboy boots can give it the feel of a farm without all the hassle.

8Appreciate the barn for what it is. 

Many barns and the surrounding land are a part of American history, and the revenue generated by weddings helps the owners maintain them. So aim to leave the barn in the same (or better!) shape than you found it. Avoid environmental hazards (like confetti) and be respectful of the people who live and work on farms year-round.

How to Have a Barn Wedding without Irritating Any Farmers

Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash

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