Hay-bale Budget? Money-Saving Tips for your Rustic Barn Wedding

Barn weddings are all the rage right now—just do a quick search on Pinterest and you'll see the magnificent possibilities that come with a barn wedding venue. This trend continues to be hot, because who can resist the stunning juxtaposition of crystal chandeliers hanging from weathered wooden beams or elegant tablescapes set against distressed barn walls?

Calamigos Ranch Malibu | Sean J Mason Photography

The romance of those rustic-chic contrasts isn't lost on us…but let's snap back to reality for a sec: barn weddings are not cheap. In fact, beautiful "blank slate" barn venues can get downright expensive. Oftentimes, the venue is ALL that's included in the price—think a roof, four walls, and the floor. This means you'll have to rent even the most basic wedding items on your own tab.

That additional tab can include everything from the tables, chairs, linens, and flatware to the sound system and décor (not to mention other potential rentals like portable restrooms and generators—things you'd never have to worry about at, say, a ballroom wedding venue).

Yup, there can be lots of hidden costs involved, but we've put together some smart ways to save so that you can have your dream barn wedding on a hay-bale budget. (And to plan your barn wedding like a boss, be sure to check out our Ultimate Barn Wedding Checklist.)

Think "Off Season" for your Venue

Who says "Saturday in June" brides and grooms have more fun? This tip applies to weddings at any venue, and it's one of our top ways to save: Consider having your celebration on a Thursday in November and see how much they'll shave off the regular rental fee. Or, consider a Sunday morning mimosa-brunch wedding—by taking advantage of daylight, you won't need to foot the bill for lighting (and heating) the barn at night!

Winn Homestead Events

Think "In Season" for your Flowers and Food

Two words will lower both your catering and floral expenses: Seasonal and local. When you buy what's in season, you get food and flowers at the peak of their supply when costs are normally lower. Plus, when they're locally grown they don't need to be shipped halfway around the globe. So not only do you save money, but you also reduce your carbon footprint. Win-win.

TIP: If your barn venue is located on a working farm, they may be able to cut some fresh flowers for your celebration. Doesn't hurt to ask! You can also check out local flower marts or farmer's markets.

Salt & Honey Catering + Events

Manage Your Guest List

Unless the barn holds 500 (which is pretty rare), you'll need to be judicious about who you decide to invite. Most barns accommodate around 150 seated guests comfortably, depending on how your tables are arranged. Keeping your guest count low directly affects your overall costs when it comes to food and rentals, so don't be afraid to cut some of those 4th cousins for the sake of your bank account.

TIP: If you need some help whittling down your guest list, check out our 7 Tips for Tackling Your Wedding Guest List.

Pleasant Union Farm, Georgia Barn Wedding Venue


If there's one thing barn venues have in spades, it's ambiance. So, play up the natural beauty of the space and really allow it to shine, instead of covering it up with pipe and drape or sky-high floral arrangements. Our favorite money-saving tip for barn weddings is to embrace simplicity.

See if the property has hay bales that you can use as "benches" for ceremony or cocktail-hour seating. Or perhaps they can provide picnic tables that could be dressed up with linens, in lieu of you renting fancy tables and Chiavari chairs. With just a few simple (and inexpensive) decorations, you'll allow the barn itself to be the star of the show.

Festive Designs | Julie Wilson Photography


Want to really play up the casual vibe? Instead of a pricey bar tab and bartenders, get a couple of kegs and some Red Solo cups and call it a day. Or mix up some giant vats of sangria and let guests pour their own drinks at a self-serve beverage station. If your wedding is early in the day, we love the idea of a make-your-own mimosa or bloody mary bar with tons of delish accoutrements.

TIP: Make sure the barn venue allows you to B.Y.O.B. And keep in mind that you may need to obtain Liquor Liability Insurance if it's not offered through the venue or caterer.

Catherine Ann Photography

Blooms on a Budget

Think outside the "traditional wedding flowers" box. Large blooms like hydrangeas and sunflowers mean you only need a few stems for an impressive arrangement. Also, have you seen carnations or baby's breath as the main floral attraction? Huge, billowy arrangements of these pretty "filler" flowers look amazing in a barn—and won't cost a bundle. And who says you even need flowers? Try using lots of leaves and greenery to bring the outdoorsy vibe inside.

Lauren Carnes Photography

Cue the BBQ

The great thing about a relaxed barn atmosphere is that no one's going to balk if they don't receive a 12-course gourmet meal. Keep it casual and go with a local BBQ joint or food truck. Or if you REALLY need to save money, rely on your guests to contribute potluck-style.

Love Is A Big Deal

Handy Helpers

Do you have a friend who's a talented graphic designer? Maybe they'd be happy to mock up your wedding invitations so you can print them out at Kinko's. Is your cousin a gifted hairstylist or makeup artist? See if they can gussy you up for the big day. Does your fiance's friend DJ on the side? Is your co-worker an undercover pastry chef? You get the picture. Don't be too shy to ask your nearest and dearest to contribute their mad skills to your wedding—in lieu of buying you a present.


Get The Look For Less

Think of creative ways you can get the same feel of an expensive décor element for less. For example, instead of bistro lights strung along overhead beams, perhaps a few strategically placed strands of clear Christmas lights could lend the same effect. As for that utterly gorgeous-but-pricey chandelier you wish you had, maybe hanging some inexpensive globe paper lanterns would work (and they'd be even more festive). Achieving the look you want while keeping your bottom line in check takes a bit of imagination, but you can do it!

TIP: Confirm your barn venue's restrictions BEFORE you start planning your decorations. Barns can come with a lot of limitations, and you need to be sure that whatever you want to hang from the ceiling or affix to the walls is allowed.

Oak Hill, New York Barn Wedding Venue

Shopping Is Your Cardio

Two words: Bargain Hunt. Look for mismatched china, glass jars of different shapes and sizes, vintage wooden crates… Think creatively and upcycle some items to use for your barn wedding décor. Scout out Etsy, Goodwill, and local flea markets to find everything from rolls of burlap fabric and lace trim to good old-fashioned Mason jars. You can also peruse Craigslist or Facebook communities for newlywed couples selling gently-used wedding décor. You'll find what you need at a fraction of the price—and with all the charm. (Just be sure to meet any sellers in a safe, public place!)

TIP: Keep in mind that if you buy/collect 50 mason jars as décor, you'll have to bring those 50 mason jars home with you at the end of your event. Not ideal. But, if you repurpose them as wedding favors and let each guest take one home… #creativityforthewin

Shutter Goes Click

Do Yourself a {Wedding} Favor

Speaking of wedding favors, another idea is to forgo expensive items and stick with something edible: a taste of the local bounty, like fresh fruit or small jars of honey or homemade jam. Another option is to create your own spice mixture or give each guest a packet of flower or vegetable seeds. These types of favors are inexpensive to purchase/put together, and really work well with the farm feel.

TIP: Former-wedding-planner-turned-Guide-Gal Sarah used to give her couples this tasty idea: "Donuts make inexpensive wedding favors—and they double as a great late-night snack or an easy breakfast for guests the next morning."


Cut The Cake Cost

You don't need to splurge on a four-tiered, fondant-covered cake (unless you want to!). Why not buy or make several dozen cupcakes and place them on pretty trays? Or get a bunch of pies from your local bakery. You can even set out several sheet cakes placed on wooden crates of different heights. These options are a bit more rustic than a traditional wedding cake, and are the perfect complement to a barn setting.

Sugar Coated Mama | Redmoose Photography

Ready for your own barnyard bash? Find a Barn Wedding Venue Near You!

Money-Saving Tips for your Rustic Barn Wedding

Filed under Barn, Budget Wedding Ideas

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Some clients may have paid to be placed in our editorial and some of these links may be affiliate; however, we never include a venue, vendor, or product unless they have a proper place here. This is part of our Core Values. We create our website first and foremost to be good for the couples using it to plan their Big Day. We won't stray from that for a few advertising dollars. #scoutshonor

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