Rustic weddings aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, and that’s what I love most about them. You can go rustic-chic, southwest Aztec-inspired, free-spirited boho, classic western – whatever your heart desires! But the one thing all western weddings have in common is the country charm.
There’s just something fun about letting loose a little and celebrating your marriage with those you love. While I’m not opposed to a gorgeous formal wedding, some couples find them a bit stuffy. If ballrooms and banquets aren’t something you like, a western wedding might be for you. You can dress it up or dress it down – just have fun making it your own. Your wedding day should tell your story, and your story is yours and no one else’s.
As a Kansas gal and western wedding photographer, I’d love to share a few (actually 42) of my favorite western wedding ideas to help you plan the perfect rustic wedding:
1. Choose a farmhouse, barn, or scenic ranch-style venue
Maybe it goes without saying, but a rustic wedding needs a rustic backdrop. The venue sets the tone for your big day. The atmosphere makes all the difference. Depending on the look you’re going for, search for venues with stables or a cow pasture, like Strawberry Creek Ranch, Younger Ranch, The Barn at Sunset Ranch, or Diamond Cross Ranch. Grassy hay fields make for warm, golden canvases. If you’re going more farm than classic western, cornfields are great for a romantic first look between the rows. For a more intimate vibe, try a wooded or tree-lined venue for elegant and romantic photos.
2. Or even Get hitched at home
Go country cruising with your love on your or your family’s land and pick out the perfect spot to say I do. Go for an amazing view, or under that old oak that’s been there since your daddy was little. Build your own arbor, lay down hay bales for seating covered in quilts, and line the alter with rugs. There’s something truly special about being starting your lives on your land. Not to mention, the find can be a lot of fun too, enjoy that country date night, dance under the stars and dream about your future together.
3. Find an open-air chapel
Want that church feel, but with a view of the land, an open-air chapel is the perfect mix of God meets the land. Remind your guests that God is present in your marriage while still setting the stage for your western/ranch vibe. Gruene Estates, the Meekermark, and The Brooks at Weatherford are all amazing venues with open-air chapels fit for your western-chic wedding dreams.
4. Dance the night away in a barn
Outdoor ceremonies beneath the trees are beautiful, but some couples don’t want to risk the weather. As an alternative, tie the knot beneath the rafters instead. There are so many beautiful barns that feature hardwood floors, large windows or open sides, and lots of room to pull off your western wedding vision. With protection from the weather, barn or farmhouse receptions are a good option for dinners with full place settings and more elaborate décor. A few of my favorite venues are Tobacco Barn Farm, The Barn at Grace Hill, The Barn at Paradise.
5. Play up the floral design
Big bold dried florals are making a big statement in the western wedding world. Dried palm fans paired with feathery pampas grass makes for a stunning boho backdrop for your first kiss, your head table, or even your photo booth. Consider adding overhead installations to add help add some character to those rustic barn beams. Throw in some feathers for that rustic touch or add a succulent or two as a fun southwestern accent. Urban Canyon and Elizabeth McKenzie Florals have created some stunning florals and are two of my very faves!
For a farmhouse feel, try cotton stems, dried flowers, or wildflowers. I’m in love with pine cones and evergreens sprigs for winter weddings, and sunflowers and gourds add pops of color to fall weddings. Try to keep the arrangements as natural looking as possible.
6. Hire a horse-drawn carriage or horse & buggy
Take a ride beneath the stars in a newlywed carriage ride. This will give you some quiet time together to savor the moment. Or make your bridal entrance in a horse-drawn buggy. If you want, make it available to guests as well.
7. Select the bride and groom’s attire
Next to the venue, your attire also heavily plays into the overall theme. For a classic western wedding, dress the groom in a belt buckle, jeans (Cinch, Levi’s and Wrangler’s look good for weddings), boots, and a nice cowboy hat, like an American Hat or one from Greeley Hat Works. My grooms get a 15% discount from Hamblen Hats if you want to gift your groom a new lid. I’m pretty partial to a sharp-looking blazer or vest, too. Or go all out, you get a gown, put that fella in a bold suit, he can wear jeans and boots for the rest of his life! Tie it all together with a printed tie, a bolo tie or a wild rag from Whipin Wild Rags for a finishing touch.
For the bride, try a vintage or lace dress (or go boho if you prefer). Rue De Seine and Grace Loves Lace are a couple of my favorite designers. Flower crowns and felt hats add a nice touch and personality to western bridal portraits. All my brides get 15% off a custom hat from Hamblen Hats too. Don’t forget to accessorize with a denim or leather jacket for the evening from Ally Jacqueline or Wild Rose Shop NY. Or snag a fur shawl or wrap depending on the weather
8. Skip the heels
My favorite pair of boots will always be my wedding boots. It’s a good excuse to get a new pair, Old Gringo, Lane Boots, and Ariat are all pretty good at the bridal boot game. You’ll be good from the walk down the aisle to the very last dance. Then wear them to Vegas, out dancing, and on your anniversary date night! Or opt for some tooled leather heels, Bar 9L Designs.
9. Wear chic western accessories
Don’t be afraid to add some bolder jewelry or accessories to your look. Turquoise or white buffalo, chunky silver or gold pieces, or Navajo pearls from Heritage Style or Wild Honey Turquoise. Lockets and heirloom brooches add personality to your attire and photos. Need a bit more glamour? Try rose gold jewelry and accessories.
10. Go with a flowing bouquet style
Instead of a more traditional round bouquet, try a looser spray of flowers. Bouquets styles that work well with western weddings include cascade, hand-tied, crescent, and contemporary bouquets. Wrap that pretty baby up with some tooled leather from Artevae, Magpie West Leather Co or Rockin’ Diamonds Leather, your grandmother’s handkerchief, or macrame for that super boho vibe. You can add on ribbons, memory charms, or lockets with photos of those you love.
11. Set farmhouse, vintage-style table settings
Use beaded glass, crystal, bronze, or brass tableware atop coordinating table runners. And instead of traditional formal tables and chairs, rent more rustic options – check with the venue to see if they have some that match. It can even be fun to mix and match with the chair styles.
12. Use lace, leather, and cowhide
Add some texture and elegance to your design with rustic-chic textiles. Incorporate vintage lace table runners, incorporate wood slices underneath floral arrangements and leather name tags for seating décor, and food displays. Gather up the cowhide from the farmhouse and line your aisle. Need to order some, Cowhide Direct has a huge selection. Cowhide, not quite the boho feel you were hoping for, use vintage rugs, from Revival Rugs instead. The texture will help tie the vibes from your ceremony and your reception together.
13. Bring the branding irons
Consider using your brand, along with those of your family and friends, and create a custom heirloom piece. Brand a rug mid-ceremony and invite your family and friends to finish it by adding their brands during the reception. Not a fan of the rug? What about branding a few pieces of reclaimed wood to create the new table for your dining room. Or even brand a smaller piece of cowhide to have matted for guests to sign, frame it, and hang it in your home.
14. Incorporate rustic wedding materials & accents into the décor
Think raw wood, logs, exposed brick, white-washed materials, tin, chicken wire to hang up photos. You have so many options, and the texture looks amazing in photos.
15. Use antique, deckle-edge, or textured cream paper
Incorporate rustic-looking paper for table numbers, menus, wedding programs, stationery, and more.
16. Replace vases with mason jars, milk glass, or amber
Jam or mason jars look so cute filled with candles, lights, flowers, succulents – whatever you would put in a vase or container. Milk glass creates that perfect vintage vibe for your barn wedding. And if boho is what you’re after the dreamy glow of amber glass is perfect.
17. Add a flame
To create a warm ambiance, incorporate tea lights, votives, floating candles, or a venue with a cozy fireplace. There’s just something extra romantic about a soft, flickering flame as opposed to electric lights.
18. Hang lanterns & string lights
Create a warm glow with hanging lanterns and string lights to create a cozy and romantic atmosphere once the sun goes down. Market lights from Party Lights are perfect!
19. Decorate with hoop wreaths or bohemian macramé
I’m so glad hoop wreaths are a thing right now. They are so pretty and versatile. Hoop wreaths come in all sizes, so you can prop them up on display tables, use them for hanging arrangements, or even use a full-sized floral hoop as the ceremony backdrop. The simplicity lends itself to understated elegance. You can also pair the hoop with woven macramé or just use a macramé backdrop instead. Both are gorgeous!
20. Add Southwest or Aztec-inspired décor
Southwest colors and boho styles go hand-in-hand. If you love color, a desert vibe might be the way to go. Incorporate succulents, cacti, woven rugs, and terracotta instead of the leather and lace farmhouse look.
21. Use rustic signs with hand-painted calligraphy
Rustic signs are fairly easy to do yourself (or delegate to a friend or family member with calligraphy skills). All you need are some wood pallets and chalk paint. Check out Pinterest for lots of creative wedding sign sayings and designs. Not feeling that DIY option, order yours from Adorning Oaks or The Rustic Earth.
22. Display old photos
Go through your family’s old photo albums and pull out some of your favorites – especially the black and white ones – to display on a family photo table, or my personal favorite, a literal family tree, if you’re hosting part of your party outside. Not only do they tie into the vintage, rustic theme, they also symbolize the importance of family. It’s sweet to see how all the generations are connected, and your marriage is tying families together to keep the story going.
23. Use old barn wood or dried florals for a photo backdrop
You have backdrop options galore with western weddings, but one of my favorites is an old wood wall, displaying all the family brands. Spruce it up with some dried palms or pampas grass, it’s simple and fun. Plus, guests enjoy taking photos around the setup, too.
24. Photobooth with western props
Entertain guests AND get some funny photos while you’re at it. Gather up some old hats and bandanas, find some mustaches on sticks, and some cap guns – throw in a “WANTED” poster and a stick horse or two for good measure.
25. Nostalgic backyard games
Wedding entertainment doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes simpler is better. Enjoy your drinks or appetizers while playing a few games of cornhole, horseshoes, washers, ladder toss, or giant Jenga.
26. Do your first dance to a romantic country song
Need some help choosing? Try one of this classic, romantic favorites: “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait; “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw; “When I said I Do” by Clint Black.
For something a little less classic but still country “God Gave Me You” by Blake Shelton; “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts; “Speechless” by Dan + Shay; or “A Woman Like You” by Lee Brice are all great choices for your first-time two-stepping as husband and wife.
If you prefer your country a little more Red Dirt, “Wild as You” by Cody Johnson, “All Your’n” by Tyler Childers; “She’s Like Texas” by Josh Abbott Band, and “You” by Jason Cassidy for that perfect, post I do half-step.
27. Make a country & western playlist
On that note, dance the night away with some country and western dancing. Select a good mixture for two-stepping, waltzes, and a couple of modern line dances. Try: “Wagon Wheel,” by Old Crow Medicine Show or Darius Rucker; “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle; “Down in Mississippi” by Sugarland; “If I Knew Then” by Lady A; and “The Luckiest” by Josh Abbot Band.
28. Hire a folk or country band
If you don’t want to mess with a playlist, just bring in the real thing. For a boho or more modern rustic weddings, try a local folk band. A live band will bring extra energy to the evening, and they can read the crowd and take requests, so everyone has a good time. Lendon James and the Highway 34 Band is one of my favorites!
29. Provide cozy outdoor seating with blankets in a basket
When you need to take a break from dancing, head over to the outdoor lounge area with comfy furniture and Warm blankets perfect for snuggling. A tent can also help define the space for a quiet garden lounge or glam boho outdoor lounge. Or, just stick to cute patio furniture – whatever works with your theme and design.
30. Bring in the barbeque!
For a less formal rustic wedding, you can never go wrong with delicious barbeques like brisket or pulled pork. On the other hand, tacos work well with a western boho or southwestern style.
31. Opt for a naked or semi-naked wedding cake on a wood slice cake stand
Naked and semi-naked cakes complement rustic weddings well because they look a bit less formal, giving off an effortless, chic design. Dress it up with wooden cake toppers and cascading florals or succulents.
32. Make the cake match the jewels
Can you really have too much turquoise? Top it with succulents or some blush colored florals for a pop of color. It will look as amazing as it tastes!
33. Skip the cake altogether
Feature grandma’s favorite pie recipe or even gather several recipes from aunts and cousins. Or maybe create a donut wall for those amazing donuts from the local bakery! Nothing says this is a family gathering like the sweet ending of grandma’s homemade apple pie. No rules mean no cake if you don’t want it!
34. Two Words: Beverage Burros
Do I really need to say more? Those adorable, basket wearing, four-legged bartenders add an adorable western flair that your typical drink server just can’t compete with. Here are a few companies that offer them: Rocky Mountain Beverage Burro; Lyon’s Farmette; Haul N Ass Productions.
35. Select themed signature cocktails
Bring out the mason jars and fill them with western-style classics such as mint juleps, apple pie moonshine cocktails, hard lemonade, classic old fashioned, spiked cider, mulled wine, or pumpkin martinis. Perfect for your rustic wedding theme!
36. Have a firepit with s’mores
Are s’mores western? I don’t know. But if I’m wrong, I don’t want to be right. Chat with friends and family as you roast marshmallows around the fire.
37. Use longhorn skulls or antler sheds
Find one out in the pasture and personalize it for your head table. Or have the honey go shed collecting, he won’t be sad I’m sure. Not feeling the real thing. Don’t worry. You can easily find fake versions of antlers or horns. Some venues already have them hung, and with permission, you may be able to add flowers or greenery to them.
38. Try a woodland animal motif
If you aren’t into the antlers or horns but love animals, try a subtler but equally charming woodland animal motif – no real animals needed. Incorporate woodland animals into the décor with figurines, prints, and drawings. Subtle deer, elk, or moose accents will help complement a woodsier feel.
39. Bring the pups
Aussies, Corgis, whatever, if you have four-legged friends, the laid-back atmosphere of most rustic weddings have laid-back atmosphere are the perfect opportunity for the furry friends to tag along. They’re a part of this journey, too, and I enjoy documenting them for you. Let them play ring bearer or flower girl even!
40. Bring the horses to your bridals
Nothing says western chic like the horses in the background of some gorgeous, glowy bridal photos. Pro tip: bridals are the perfect time to do your trial run for hair and makeup. It also allows us to take our time and create some truly stunning portraits. And who doesn’t want to wear that gown more than once?!
41. Incorporate handmade items
It can be fun to create special personalized items with your family or wedding party, especially if you’re having a small wedding. For instance, you could make DIY wedding favors like miniature hot cocoa bombs or mason jar cookies. Or create a custom-made backdrop together. For some simple DIY projects, have fun making signs, centerpieces, for décor. Hand-made items add a personalized touch; plus, you and guests can take them home as keepsakes or home décor.
42. Use garden string, hemp, or jute string to tie things together
Jute string adds just the right touch for wedding invitations. Use it to tie around bouquets and floral arrangements or wrap it around bottles and vases. Jute string is also great for hanging arrangements or lights and tying the ends of table runners. I’ve even seen it wrapped around cake cutting utensils – it’s so versatile!
Book Your Rustic Weddings with Daedra
Whether you live the ranching life or just like the farmhouse style, I’m here for it. My goal is to capture your wedding day through authentic, canvas-worthy images so you can relive the magic over and over again.
Ready to get started? Drop a line here!