guest post: Weddings Today – Country Strong (Venues)

Guest Post by: Susan Sink (Owner of Sinkland Farms)

Wedding vows exchanged beneath a canopy of blue sky.  Gracious nature surrounding your ceremony. The bride and groom exiting the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage.  A single fiddler serenading the wedding party as the bride walks down a grassy aisle towards a majestic arch fashioned from saplings and twigs.  These are just a few of the memorable vignettes that a farm wedding might include.  A country wedding affords couples countless opportunities to create one-of-a-kind celebrations.

Farm and country is the new destination location for weddings.  This trend began growing in popularity years ago in states like California and New York, the “trend setter” states, and has spread across the nation. Part of the allure stems from the wide range of opportunities in settings that are available.  A country wedding can be casual or elegant, family style or festive, classic or contemporary, depending on your preferences.  Add to this our nation’s growing interest in nature-based and environmentally friendly pursuits, and the appeal becomes all the more evident.

More and more farm owners are opening their land, as well as their barns, for use as ceremony and reception venues.  There is a certain easiness of spirit about a farm, a sense of genuine welcome and warmth that makes it the perfect setting.  The idea of things growing and taking root all around creates a magical, bountiful atmosphere. It is good luck for a bride and groom to be surrounded by such a rich abundance of life and nature when beginning their new life together.

Because the location of the wedding is the first and most important decision brides and grooms must make, Susan Sink of Sinkland Farms in Christiansburg, Virginia has numerous suggestions on how to make her farm venue extraordinary.

Keep it simple and stunning….

Look for picturesque spots for the ceremony and practical spots for the reception.  Imagine meadows dotted with wildflowers or pillars flanking the pond. Verdant fields and rolling hills all with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop.  Add to this vision a hand-hewn wood fence—perfect for garlands—and adjacent field with our farm animals contentedly grazing.

Be prepared for Mother Nature….

There are seasonal and climate considerations when planning a farm wedding.  Since most ceremonies and receptions are held at least partially outdoors, make sure there is an indoor space sufficient to accommodate guests in case of a shower or storm.  Imagine a warm barn filled with fragrant flowers and twinkling lights strung from rafters to illuminate the expanse a rustic space can offer.

Economical inspiration…..

Ask about using props from the farm. Decorate wheelbarrows to display favors of locally canned apple butter or seed packets.  Imagine a stack of hay bales and old wooden planks as the table for the wedding cake or an old farm wagon as a perfect buffet table for treats. Gather wildflowers or seasonal plants from farmers’ markets and make centerpieces from local produce.

Make it memorable….

Plan fun and unique activities during the cocktail hour or reception.  How about a horseshoe throwing contest, pony rides for the kids, sunset hayrides around the property for guests while the final photographs of the wedding party are completed.  Hire a live, country-style or bluegrass band. Book the best square-dance caller in the county for at least a portion of the reception. Imagine your reception in the barn with a few long tables calling to mind family-style meals that so many of us fondly remember from grandparent backgrounds.

The farm is a symbol of our nation’s enduring connection to the land.  There is certain easiness of spirit about a farm, a sense of genuine welcome and warmth that makes it the perfect setting for a wedding. Sinkland Farms has gained recognition in southwest Virginia for its harvest pumpkin festival and other family oriented activities.  It is now also a popular destination for wedding ceremonies, receptions, showers, parties and other events.

 All photos courtesy of Sinkland Farms.