When it rained on her wedding day, Kristen Blocka and her fiancé, Brian, of Pittsburgh, had to move their outdoor celebration at Fadeaway Farm in Sarver, Pa., into the horse stables.
"All of my friends were standing along the stables where the horses were," says Blocka. "It was kind of impromptu, but it was beautiful."
A love of autumn and beer, rather than an interest in agriculture, drove the Blockas to a farm wedding. The Oktoberfest-themed nuptials were casual and "cozy" — mums, pumpkins, hay bales, mulled wine and a big bonfire finale. Her new father-in-law wore overalls.
"That whole combination just worked for us," Blocka says.
In today's world, though, if you want milk, you drive to the store; you don't go see a cow. Yet, in the wedding industry, brides and grooms are busting down big, wooden, red-barn doors demanding to return to American roots and exchange their vows on an old-fashioned farm.
"Couples are realizing there's more variety out there, and that they don't have to have a formal wedding," says Simone Hill, assistant editor at TheKnot.com, a wedding-resource website that puts the average cost of a wedding at $30,000.
Yet, as one look at Pinterest illustrates, modern farm weddings don't necessarily mean pitchforks and hay bales.
"One client brought four chandeliers into a barn. [She wanted] that juxtaposition of glamour with a barn rustic setting," says Shayne Souleret, owner of Soiree by Souleret, a Pittsburgh wedding-planning company.
Last year, five of the 19 weddings Souleret planned were barn weddings. This year, it's 11 out of 23. Three of them are on functioning farms, while the others are solely used as wedding venues.
"I'm more shabby-chic," says Carey Huleihel, of Squirrel Hill, who got married on Lingrow Farm, in Leechburg. While the ceremony was outside, the reception took place in a restored 1850s barn. Lingrow provided the tables and chairs, as well as an exclusive caterer that used some food grown on the farm, but all the decorating was up to Huleihel. "We did a lot of lace and burlap." The affair cost $25,000.
"I think it's more about the idea of creating a unique experience than it is about [doing] something simpler, [because] sometimes it's no less expensive," says Beth Montemurro, associate professor of sociology at Penn State Abington, who writes on the subject of wedding trends. She says social media has driven the trend as well; weddings are no longer the private affairs they were a generation ago.
"Not only does it have to be memorable for your guests, but something that you will be proud to post and that would impress people."
Souleret says there's a cost-savings misconception, and that she warns couples that if the barn hasn't been renovated, they may be renting a lot— right down to kitchen equipment. "It really depends on the barn you choose."