If you want a laid-back, casual vibe on your big day, then a rustic wedding may be for you. This style uses nature-inspired elements and outdoor spaces to create a relaxed atmosphere that encourages mixing, mingling, and having a good time (with a bit of country flair). Keep reading for all of the details on how to pull off a rustic wedding—and some of our favorite rustic decor and other ideas to add to your celebration.
What does a rustic wedding mean?
Nature and the outdoors are huge components of rustic wedding style. Rustic weddings are often associated with rural locations, such as barns and other countryside venues, but you can pull off this relaxed aesthetic almost anywhere with the right approach. Rustic wedding style is typically a combination of farmhouse, vintage, and rugged elements, such as wooden logs, burlap, baby's breath, mix-and-match vases, barrels, and galvanized metal. By adding elegant details like chandeliers, greenery garlands, candles, and twinkle lights, you can achieve a classic rustic wedding style.
What are the best venues for a rustic wedding?
The most obvious venues for rustic weddings are barns, ranches and farms. These types of venues easily lend themselves to rustic wedding style because of their countryside locations and informal settings. Vineyards, mountain lodges, and recreational parks or campgrounds are also suitable for rustic style.
Some barn or farm venues may close for the winter and early spring, especially if your area is notorious for heavy snowfall. This means that you're more likely to be limited to traditional indoor venues during the winter, and as a result, you may need more decor to achieve a truly rustic effect. If you do find a barn or farm that’s available during the winter, ask about the venue’s inclement weather policy, and don’t forget to create a “Plan B” in case Mother Nature has other ideas. Lastly, barns can be very drafty in the winter, so ask the venue if they provide space heaters if necessary. If not, you’ll need to factor in the added cost to rent them so that everyone stays cozy and warm.
What colors are good for a rustic wedding?
One thing we love about rustic wedding style is that it's super versatile. It works with many different color palettes, and each one can help you achieve a different look depending on the decor you choose.
Popular rustic color palettes include yellow and navy, burgundy and orange, or coral and turquoise. For a more “rustic chic” look, stick with a softer color palette composed of pastel hues, such as blush, dusty blue, mint green, or even gold.
How do you decorate a rustic wedding?
Rustic wedding style puts a big focus on handmade details, rugged accent pieces, and repurposed vintage items. Before you choose your wedding decor, you need to decide if you want your wedding to be traditionally rustic (more on that in a second) or something along the lines of a "rustic chic" look instead.
Traditional rustic decor goes heavy on the outdoorsy elements, like hay bales, twine, raw wood pieces, and antlers. Burlap table runners, mason jars, and baby’s breath are also popular at traditional rustic weddings. You can even add seasonal details, such as sunflowers in the summer or acorns and pumpkins in the fall, to play up the pastoral theme.
Rustic chic style is all about creating a setting that's laid-back yet elegant. This twist on traditional rustic style keeps the fundamental elements but adds romantic and classic details—think loose greenery, whitewashed chairs, muted metallic accents, and essentially anything that you'd see on an episode of Fixer Upper.
What are the best rustic wedding flowers?
Rustic wedding style is all about creating a welcoming feel, so you’ll want the bouquets, centerpieces (see our favorite ideas here), and other floral arrangements to have a loose, slightly undone look. In other words, nothing that feels too perfect or overly arranged.
Most types of flowers work well with rustic style, but we particularly love sunflowers, hydrangeas, daisies, roses, delphinium, dahlias, poppies, and lots of greenery (imagine wildflowers you might see growing in a country field). Baby’s breath goes hand-in-hand with rustic style, but Queen Anne’s lace, craspedia, goldenrod, and even cotton puffs are a few other floral accents that look just as lovely.
What do you wear to a rustic wedding?
Generally, rustic weddings allow for more casual dress codes because of the informal atmosphere associated with rustic wedding venues. For example, if your ceremony is taking place in a 200-year-old barn or a field at the edge of a forest, asking your guests to wear tuxedos and floor-length gowns may not be the most practical route.
You’ll also want to consider the venue when choosing your own attire. If you’re wearing a wedding gown, slimmer silhouettes in lightweight, breathable fabrics are ideal for rustic settings. This will give you plenty of freedom to move around easily—a must if you're getting hitched outdoors. A more casual dress code also means that you should keep your accessories relatively understated, but don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun with them! This is an opportunity to wear things that might seem out of place at more formal venues, like swapping your stilettos for a pair of sandals, flats or even cowboy boots!
If you’re wearing a suit, opt for a more informal style in a lightweight material, such as seersucker, cotton or linen. These options still look polished without being overdressed, and they’re ideal for warmer temperatures. Wool suits are a great option for rustic weddings taking place in cooler weather. For the ultimate laid-back look, skip the suit altogether and sport a button-down with dress pants, a tie or suspenders.
What kind of food do you serve at a rustic wedding?
For rustic wedding cakes, we love the look of buttercream frosting, which will give your cake a slightly more relaxed look. Dress up each tier with fresh flowers or greenery, or skip the allover frosting and opt for a naked or semi-naked cake instead. Fondant gives a smoother finish to your wedding cake and can be decorated with a faux bois pattern or burlap ribbons for additional rustic flair.
Rustic weddings are a prime opportunity to try out some alternative dessert ideas—homemade pies, doughnuts, waffles, and even pie pops are just some of our faves. Pies are especially festive for fall weddings, since you can incorporate seasonal ingredients like pumpkins and apples. You can serve pies in addition to your traditional cake or send your guests home with pre-boxed slices or mini pies as favors. We also love cupcakes, candy apples, and flavored kettle corn as rustic wedding treats.
Our Favorite Rustic Wedding Ideas
Hay bale ceremony seating
If you're exchanging your vows outdoors, this creative seating idea is spot-on for a rustic wedding. Even better if you're getting married at a farm or other venue that already has hay bales on site—just add assorted quilts and blankets to dress them up.
Wooden ceremony arch
A wooden ceremony arch is a staple decor piece when it comes to rustic weddings. You can either make your own or source one from a local event rental company—we love this birch branch backdrop decorated with greenery and garden-inspired flowers.
Loose, overflowing wedding bouquet
Add to the laid-back vibe of a rustic wedding by carrying an oversized bouquet filled with vines, greenery, pampas grass, and other botanical accents. Focus on using wildflowers and cheerful blooms, like daisies, sunflowers, roses, ranunculus, and poppies, to achieve that farmer's market-inspired look.
What would a rustic wedding be without cowboy boots? Not only are these shoes appropriate for a rustic aesthetic, but they're also practical if you're having an outdoor wedding and don't want to ruin a pair of new shoes (or deal with uncomfortable heels and laces).
Even with an informal dress code, you can wear a suit if you're having a rustic wedding—the trick is finding the appropriate style. Look for suits that are made from cotton, linen, or tweed that are on the less fancy end of the spectrum. Another option: skip the full suit and opt for a sport coat and jeans (no rips please, though!).
Fleece throw blankets
Even in the height of summer, it can be chilly when the sun goes down if you're having an outdoor wedding. Providing a basket of fleece blankets is a cute and practical solution that your guests will appreciate.
Whether the wagon is purely decorative or you use it in a practical way—such as wheeling a young flower girl down the aisle or displaying ceremony programs—it's a perfect addition to any rustic wedding theme. Choose one in a color that matches the rest of your decor, and then add streamers, greenery or flowers to jazz it up.
Burying the bourbon tradition
This wedding ceremony ritual is one that you'll need to plan for in advance. About a month before your wedding, visit your ceremony site and bury an unopened, upside-down bottle of bourbon (any brand of your choice) at or near the spot where you will exchange your vows. According to tradition, the bottle will prevent rain and bad weather on your wedding day! After the ceremony, you can dig up the bourbon and enjoy a celebratory drink with your brand-new spouse.
Lanterns with candles
Lanterns are one of the most versatile details for a rustic style wedding. You can use them to decorate almost anything, including your reception tables, ceremony alter, aisle, venue walkways, tent entrances, staircases, and more. Add candles (use battery operated ones if your venue doesn't allow open flames) for a romantic touch and a bit of ambient lighting.
Burlap is a quintessential rustic wedding detail, and even the smallest hints of it will give your decor an outdoorsy, relaxed look. Use burlap sparingly to accent your signage (like the bow pictured here), chair backs, centerpieces, or even your wedding invitations.
Wooden card box
Even if most of your guests send a gift from your wedding registry beforehand, it's likely that many people will still bring cards to your actual wedding day. Collect and store them with a wooden card box displayed alongside your guest book or seating chart.
Honey dipper wedding favors
We love this creative wedding favor idea for a rustic theme. Give your guests jars of honey—we recommend handmade batches from a local farm or beekeeper—and miniature wooden honey dippers as a cute and practical favor they'll actually use.
Simple wedding place settings
You don't have to go overboard with formal place settings for a rustic style wedding, but you can still make them decorative and on-theme. Simple fabric napkins, made from cotton or linen for the most casual vibe, and fresh herbs or greenery tied to menus will give your tabletops an effortless, country chic look.
Wheelbarrow refreshment station
This idea is easy to recreate even if you're having a full-service bar during your reception. Use a wheelbarrow filled with ice to serve quick refreshments, such as beer, bottled water, iced tea, lemonade, or fruit juices.
Whether you're having a traditional wedding cake or not, your guests will love the option to choose from a variety of desserts and sweets. A dessert table gives you the option to serve things like pies, cookies, bars, and other sugary confections along with or in lieu of a cake.