Country Roads, Take Me Home: Thoughts on the Rustic Wedding Trend

We spoke with three brides and brides-to-be about the rustic wedding experience.

By Katie Bowles

Photo courtesy of Natural Bliss Photography.
It’s no secret that Northern Virginia is pretty densely populated—traffic jams, light pollution and a lack of personal space are all parts of our daily lives. When planning their big day, many NoVa couples are beginning to forgo traditional metropolitan weddings and head to the country.  These rustic-themed weddings are often easier to plan, cheaper and more creative than city nuptials. We spoke with several brides to get a look at the benefits of country weddings.


Don’t sweat the small stuff: People associate the country with the idea of “getting back to nature” and simpler times. Rustic weddings are becoming more popular, as many brides and grooms feel that by surrounding themselves with natural beauty rather than ornate decorations, their weddings will in turn be simpler and more personal.

New bride Deborah Young chose to have her wedding reception at goat farm-turned-wedding venue Khimaira Farm in the Shenandoah Valley. She said that her rustic reception “describes the relationship that Joe [her husband] and I have—simple, nothing extravagant and laid back.”

As Deborah learned, having a rustic wedding also means less time spent on preparations: “We were able to use the flowers and plants there as backdrops in some of our photos…we didn’t have a seating chart, and I loved it. We wanted our guests to have room to move around and feel comfortable.” Less time spent stressing over small details allows brides and grooms to focus on what the wedding really represents: a time to celebrate the union of two people with friends and family.   

Photo courtesy of Natural Bliss Photography.

























Have your pie and eat it too: Having a less-formal wedding also gives brides and grooms more room to shirk tradition. At traditional weddings, a wedding cake is usually expected—the same is not so at rustic weddings. Lindsay Cummings, who is planning a May 2014 wedding at the Barn at Aspen Grove in Elkton, Va., chose to have a wedding pie. “When we started planning the wedding, we decided that we weren’t going to do things for the sake of tradition—if a wedding is a celebration of the joining of our lives, it needs to be authentic, not like someone else’s…we seriously would rather eat pie.”

More expensive isn’t always better: The advent of photo-sharing website Pinterest has had a great influence on wedding planning and prep. A large chunk of the site is dedicated to crafts and D.I.Y. ideas for weddings—these are often much cheaper and more meaningful than anything store-bought would be. For example, the centerpieces at Lindsay’s upcoming nuptials are jars that once belonged to her grandmother and great-grandmother. According to Lindsay, “They are beautiful, antique, vintage and also free.”


Photo courtesy of Natural Bliss Photography.


Have fun with it: More personal reflections of the bride and groom don’t have to be limited to the wedding or reception themselves. Less serious wedding photos are becoming popular, especially with rustic weddings. Couples who aren’t from the area can benefit from using country-based photographers (such as Natural Bliss Photography, whose photos we featured here) for their rustic weddings, as local photographers are often able to give ideas and help with unique poses and backgrounds. Not-so-formal, country-oriented wedding photos may include the couple wearing cowboy boots, pictures of the entire wedding party jumping or even comical takes on iconic images.

Hannah Mallalieu, who is planning an August 2014 wedding in Luray, Va. said that she and fiancé Andrew Rogers “took our photos over the course of two hours, so inevitably we started goofing off a bit…I’m glad we have an assortment of silly photos as well as traditional to remember our engagement.” Pictures like Mallalieu and Rogers’ take on “American Gothic” show off a couple’s unique personality and playful side.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Mallalieu/Rowland Photography.




















If you’re looking for a less-expensive, more personal way to celebrate your big day, having a rustic wedding or incorporating some of these themes into your wedding may be the way to go. Country weddings aren’t for everyone, but the ideas prevailing in the world of rustic weddings are good thoughts to keep in mind for any marriage—the wedding is ultimately a celebration of the bride and groom’s love for one another. City or country, the event should be a reflection of the couple.


Products for your Rustic Wedding

Planning on having a sit-down dinner at your rustic wedding reception? The Rustic Wedding Burlap Table Topper Square from YourDivineAffair will both protect your tables and enhance the casual, woodsy feel. $24.95

Photo courtesy of YourDivineAffair/Mozingo Photography.


Keep your rings safe on the way to the altar in this customizable shabby-chic Wedding Ring Pillow Box from Crystal Cove Design Studio. $32


Photo courtesy of Crystal Cove Design Studio.
Set the mood when the sun goes down at your rustic wedding with this Set of 3 Tree Branch Candles from JTLCreations. $24
Photo courtesy JTLCreations.
New brides and grooms can cut the cake (or pie) and have a toast with the Rustic Wedding Glasses and Cake Knife Set from PineNsign. $60
Photo courtesy of PineNsign.
For D.I.Y. wedding crafts, check out SwissMissCloset‘s set of 6 Handled Mason Jars. $13.95
Photo courtesy of SwissMissCloset.
Ending your reception with a sparkler send-off? The Rustic Wedding “Sparklers” Sign from RiverRoadRustics is the perfect touch to let guests know where to find them. $6.95 
Photo courtesy of RiverRoadRustics.
Expert Tips
“Rustic weddings are best kept simple through the use of natural elements. Think a wedding arbor of grained wood with fabric blowing gently in the breeze, lanterns hanging in trees, organic florals, wedding photos in a field of tall grass.  Incorporating the natural surroundings with good design helps set the tone for your wedding and what you wish to convey to your guests.”  Carol Marino, A Perfect Wedding
“Country-themed weddings can be anything from rustic to country-chic.  They can take place in barns or manor homes, but what all of the weddings have in common is that they take advantage of the beautiful outside setting, especially for the ceremony.  During the reception, those guests who don’t want to dance can play croquet, corn hole or bocce ball on the lawn.  These tend to be less formal, but they always reflect the spirit and personality of the couple.” Susan Smith, Simply Elegant Weddings
“When you are holding a rustic wedding outside, be sure to have the grass sprayed before the event to cut down on bugs, and spray table legs so ants won’t crawl up them looking for food.” Laura Weatherly, Engaging Affairs, Inc.