Rustic hay bale decor

Photo: Darin Crofton Photography

If you want a laid-back, casual vibe on your big day, then rustic wedding style 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).

Before you start planning your rustic wedding, read all about the style here.


Venue
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.

Season
The outdoors play a large role at rustic weddings, so naturally, the warmer months are popular for this style. We’re not saying that you can’t have a rustic wedding in the middle of winter, but if you live in a colder region, you’ll need to consider several things.

Some barn or farm venues may close for the winter, especially if your area is notorious for a lot of snow. This means that you are limited to traditional indoor venues 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” for mother nature’s sake. Lastly, barns can get 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.

Color Palette
One thing we love about rustic wedding style is that it is super versatile. It works with many different color palettes, and each one can achieve a different look depending on the rest of your decor.

Traditional rustic color palettes include yellow and navy, burgundy and orange, and coral and turquoise. For a more “rustic chic” look, stick with a mostly neutral color palette with soft accent hues, such as blush, dusty blue, mint green, or even gold.

Hanging rustic decor

Photo: Cadey Reisner Weddings

Decor
Rustic wedding style puts a big focus on handmade details, rugged accent pieces and repurposed items. Before you choose your decor, you need to decide if you want your wedding to be traditionally rustic or something more along the lines of “rustic chic.”

Traditional rustic decor incorporates outdoorsy elements, like hay bales, twine, wood slices, 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.

“Rustic chic” is all about creating a laid-back yet elegant setting. This twist on rustic style keeps the fundamental elements but adds romantic and classic undertones, along with a hint of Southern charm—think monograms, whitewashed chairs, muted metallic accents, and greenery garlands.

Stationery
For rustic save-the-dates and invitation suites, look for nature-inspired elements, such as wood grain patterns and floral motifs. Watercolor designs also work well for rustic themes (and they’re very on trend!). Woodburned accents, burlap ribbons and lace belly bands all add a unique 3-D spin to your invites if you’re looking to wow your guests.

Flowers
Rustic wedding style is all about creating a welcoming feel, so you’ll want the bouquets, centerpieces and other floral arrangements to have a loose, slightly undone style. In other words, nothing that looks too perfect.

Most types of flowers work well with rustic style, but we particularly love sunflowers, hydrangeas, daisies, roses, delphinium, dahlias, poppies, and lots of greenery (think of 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 accents that look just as lovely.

Bridesmaids wearing cowboy boots

Photo: Irving Photography

Attire
Generally, this style calls for more casual attire because of the informal atmosphere associated with rustic wedding venues. For example, if your ceremony is taking place in a field at the end of a gravel pathway, 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 materials are ideal for rustic settings. This style gives you plenty of freedom to move around, which will be helpful if you’re 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! Casual dress codes allow for a bit of creativity that might seem out of place at fancier 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.

Cake and Dessert
For rustic wedding cakes, we love the look of buttercream frosting as opposed to perfectly smooth fondant. Buttercream will give your cake a slightly undone look, and you can dress up each tier with fresh flowers or burlap ribbons. Faux bois cakes are a popular choice too, along with “naked” or unfrosted cakes.

Looking for alternative dessert ideas? Homemade pies, and even pie pops, are a fan favorite at rustic weddings. 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 popcorn as rustic wedding treats.