Getting hitched in a barn
Rustic structures are popular wedding venues

By JoAnn Petaschnick - Special to Conley News Service

Oct. 5, 2018

The barn at Rustic Manor 1848 lit up at night.
Submitted photo

DELAFIELD — We’re well into fall, which has become peak wedding season with September and October tying June as the most popular month, according to wedding website The Knot. If the trend holds true, many wedding parties will be dancing the night away in a barn.

Yes, a barn. An increasing number of couples — especially younger ones — are getting married in a rustic setting. In fact, 15 percent of couples chose a barn, farm or ranch for their wedding receptions in 2017, up from just 3 percent in 2009, according to one study.

“I believe that barn weddings are so popular because setting a tone for your wedding day is just as important as selecting a theme. The atmosphere that surrounds a barn wedding is comforting and inviting,” said Whitney Shneyder, owner and event planner for Rustic Manor 1848 in Hartland. “With all the stress that goes into planning a wedding, I think couples see a barn as a kind of sanctuary where they can embrace their roots, showcase their creativity and encompass all the beauty that Wisconsin has to offer into their big day.”

Studies reveal that millennial couples often gravitate towards settings that say something about their personalities. By choosing to get married in a barn or other rustic milieu, a couple might want to show that they have an affinity for nature, or that they like simple things.


A couple who were married at Rustic Manor 1848 have their photograph taken
on the wedding venue’s grounds.

Submitted photo

Barns may be slowly edging more traditional wedding locations out of the top spot. The most recent Real Weddings Study from The Knot divulges that barns are among the most popular reception venues booked in 2017. Banquet halls are still the most popular, according to 17 percent of the survey respondents, but they have been losing ground, dropping from 27 percent in 2009. In that same survey, hotels and country clubs came in at 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Carolyn Hewitt, owner of the Barn at Trinity Peak in the Town of Oconomowoc since 2015, believes that many couples are turning away from the formality of a traditional wedding because it is not their style. There is less pressure to have everything perfect with a barn wedding, but these venues can be whatever the couple wants, Hewitt says. “They can have the wedding indoors or outdoors, have a sit-down dinner or an outdoor barbecue. They can go from one extreme to the other. That’s the beautiful thing; you can make it your own, including using your own caterer and vendors,” she said. Despite the rustic appearance, these barns may be anything but primitive, providing the most in creature comforts including comfortable restrooms (no porta-potties, please), dressing rooms for the wedding party, and more. “We pride ourselves in hosting weddings as small as 50 guests to as large as 300 guests. Our unique design allows us to make each event, no matter the size, feel comfortable,” Shneyder said. “We also offer transportation to and from local hotels, wedding planning, assistance with day of decorating, string lighting services, wedding photographers and more.”

The barn at Rustic Manor 1848 is
decorated for a wedding.
Submitted photo

Barn or rustic weddings offer an escape from everyday life for people who live in urban areas and are looking for a haven in a country setting that appears calmer and less complicated. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of celebrating your special day in the Wisconsin countryside, surrounded by fabulous views and wildlife.

Barn wedding venues might not be available year-round. “We don’t do the weddings in very cold months. The barn is heated, but there is no insulation. We primarily have weddings May through October. In November we host fewer weddings and more special events,” Hewitt said.

Will barn weddings be a lasting trend? Wisconsin currently has about 250 barn venues hosting weddings, and the number continues to grow.

Wedding planners differ, but many think they’re here to stay because of their versatility. “I feel like it will last because you can make it your own. That’s the beautiful thing about a barn wedding,” said Hewitt, who is booking into 2020.