Photo: Lacie Hansen
Rustic, boho, country chic...
You can call it whatever you like, but there's one thing we know for sure: the barn wedding is one trend that’s not going away!
And we totally get it. Some people would rather sip champagne in a ballroom under a crystal chandelier, but others like sipping cocktails from mason jars under twinkly lights.
But what are you supposed to wear to a barn wedding? How do you look good without overdressing?
Well, we’re here to help. We’ve been to enough rustic weddings to understand the dos and don’ts of country couture.
So throw that little black dress and those Jimmy Choos back in the closet, you won’t be needing them now. Giddy up because you’re about to get schooled on how you can fit in, and stand out, in a barn.
First Things First: What’s the Barn Wedding Theme?
Photo: Brad Matthews
Let’s make one thing clear right now: not all barn weddings are created equal.
Some couples can turn a barn venue into a posh, elegant space. Others go for a more boho vibe with a rustic-chic feel. And some go full-on country western.
The point is this:
Just because it’s taking place in a barn doesn’t mean it’s a casual affair.
Don't assume it's a semi-formal event just because there's a chicken coop at the wedding venue. Oftentimes, country weddings are just as dressy and formal as traditional ones.
If the invite doesn't specify a dress code, check with the bride or groom (or maid of honor) to figure out the right wedding attire.
When in doubt, wear something that's easy and breezy, not stuffy and stiff. Leave your favorite satin sheath dress in the closet and opt for something in flowy chiffon instead.
Find the Right Length
Photo: Bella Nashville/Frozen Exposure Photography
Traditionally, long dresses are reserved for more formal weddings. While that's still the case, there are some ways to get around that old, tired concept.
It's true - you shouldn't wear a mini dress to a formal event. But you CAN wear a maxi dress to a casual affair, as long as it's the right one.
If you love wearing mini dresses, look for a pretty lace texture or a flowy A-line silhouette. Don't do a sexy bodycon dress or a tight look with jewels and beading - save that for a night at the club.
Midi dresses are ideal. You can do a simple sheath if you want to look chic or go for a breezy A-line silhouette if you want a softer feel.
And even if the wedding is casual, you can still wear a maxi dress. There's no need for a sexy mermaid gown with a train that's going to drag across the barn floor all night. But a pretty, floral print maxi that hits at the ankle is usually perfect.
Choose the Right Colors, Textures, and Prints
Let's face it:
If the couple is having an outdoor wedding reception, they're probably not looking for glitz and glamour. Keep that in mind when choosing a dress. The only thing worse than being underdressed is being WAY too dressed up for the occasion.
Barn weddings always have a rustic feel, so avoid anything with too much beading or bling. Stay away from sequins, metallics, and satins.
Those are fine to wear to ballroom weddings at luxury estates and in five-star hotels. But at a barn in the country or the 'burbs, you'll stick out like a sore thumb.
Instead of your typical wedding wear, opt for soft fabrics like lace and chiffon. Look for pretty prints (especially florals) and details such as ruffles, wrap belts, and flutter sleeves.
The Right Footwear is Key
Photo: Bella San Antonio/Ty Hardin
You know what's not a good look? Sinking into mud or getting your heel stuck in the dance floor during I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
In other words, leave your 6-inch stilettos at home and opt for something more practical. Wedges and block heels are the perfect shoes for an outdoor wedding, as they'll let you be sturdy on your feet while still looking good.
And cowboy boots are always an option, too, especially if it's a casual event. Pair em with a nice sundress and you'll be the belle of the ball (or belle of the barn)!
What Should Guys Wear to a Barn Wedding?
If your man relies on you to put his wedding outfits together, You're not alone. Without us, most of our husbands, boyfriends, dads, and brothers would show up in t-shirts and jeans.
And when you're talking about a barn wedding, pulling off the guys might be just as important than pulling off your own.
Here's what you need to know:
There's NO NEED for a tuxedo. Unless the wedding is a black-tie affair, he doesn't have to wear formal attire. Semi-formal and dressy casual clothing will usually do just fine.
If he plans to wear a suit, stick with light colors like tan and pale grey. Even a black or dark grey suit can look too formal for the occasion.
If the wedding is on the casual side, leave the suit at home and put him in a blazer with pants instead. You might even want to ditch the jacket and style him with a vest that matches his khakis.
And don't be afraid to add some fun accessories. If you've ever wanted to see him in a bow tie, suspenders, or fun socks, now's your chance to do it!
It All Boils Down to This:
When it comes to styling yourself for a night in a barn, knowing what NOT to wear is just as important as knowing what to wear.
If this is your first farmhouse wedding, you might be in for a shock.
For most receptions, you can just throw on your favorite LBD and be done with it. But if everyone else is wearing ruffles and floral prints, your cocktail dress may look a bit out of place.
Remember to keep it easy and breezy. Think lightweight and effortless rather than chic and structured. Avoid sequins and glitz and choose dresses (or jumpsuits) in bright colors, maybe a print, perhaps with ruffles and soft details instead.
But there's one bright side to this whole thing...one reason that you should be really excited about this upcoming wedding. If you buy a new dress for the occasion, there's a good chance you'll actually wear it again!