My barn wedding is not a unique and special snowflake… and that's okay!

July 10 | Guest post by Jade
The Barn
…IS HIS NAME CHRIS, TOO!? Photo submitted by dr.beckyb

I fancy myself an individual. I mean, I reckon we all do. I fall in the minority with a lot of the things I like, at least when you compare me to the rest of our culture. I have a tattoo of Abraham Lincoln, raccoons are my favorite animal, I love horror movies, I have seven troll characters in World of Warcraft, and there are many, many, many of us who share these qualities.

And while no one has been shaped by the same life events I have, the concept of truly being "unique" is one that we rest a lot of importance on. We seek out ways to express how special we are, whether it's through the clothes we wear, or what hobbies we take up, or any other of the countless ways we say-without-saying, "I'm an individual!"

I always figured I wouldn't have a "typical" wedding. I'm a modest, geeky, tomboy of a girl, and I felt a good guideline for planning a wedding would be incorporating things that make me happy.

My favorite season is autumn, so of course we'd get married in the Fall. I love the colors orange and brown, so why not use those as wedding colors? We found our venue because a friend of ours mentioned a restored barn that was perfect for our needs. I have a stupid affection for drinking out of Mason jars and that seemed to fit with the barn so we're handing them out for our guests. Chris didn't want to rent a tux, so we had a vest and pants custom-made for him. I didn't feel comfortable in a big damn wedding gown and I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on a dress that I'd only wear for a night, so I opted for a lovely, simple dress from David's Bridal that was well under half my budget. It swishes around behind me and it makes me smile when my toes peek out from under it.

I didn't know jack about weddings when I started out planning for all this. But if I've learned anything, it's this…

Fall weddings are SUPER popular (I always thought spring and summer were the peak seasons). Orange is "in" this year. Barn weddings are MAJORLY posh these days. And Mason jars/the vintage-rustic feel is actually like a THING as of late. Hmm.

Recently, I was congratulating a Facebook acquaintance on his engagement. When I asked where he was getting married, he told me it was the same barn that Chris and I had booked. Later, upon posting about getting Chris' suit made at a fancy place in St. Paul, the same Facebook fellow revealed to us that he was getting his suit made there, too. And today, as a final kicker, the barn posted photos of their first wedding (which took place last weekend), and the bride… had my dress.

There are an estimated seven billion people in the world, repeats are going to happen. Some of them make for unlikely coincidences, and some of them make for really happy occasions.

Personality to the wind — I am not running this whole shindig as uniquely as I thought I was. And up until this point, I've let it roll off my back, because I like what I like and who the eff cares if what I happen to like is trendy right now? And I know my dress isn't the most individual of dresses — there are 20 pages of reviews for that very dress on the website. It's just not something that ever stuck in my craw because it's what worked for ME and I love having it on. It's a great dress.

But after I saw it, I went back to the drawing I was working on and I just kept, pausing and staring off into space. It was hitting me that the wedding I'm planning isn't as "offbeat" as I was thinking it was going to be. What does that say about me? Are people just going to think I'm doing this because it's the "in" thing to do? Is mine going to be "just another wedding" that people go to?

And then another coincidence hit: the groom in the recent barn wedding photos? His name is also Chris.

And THAT'S when I realized how ridiculous I was being. There are an estimated seven billion people in the world, repeats are going to happen. Some of them make for unlikely or crazy coincidences, and some of them make for really happy occasions — like the circumstances that led Chris and I to start dating in the first place. And those are the important ones.

Chris is an incredibly common name for the western world, but Chris made that name his, by being himself, by defining what "Chris" means in the context of him. We take a common ground — an interest, a hobby, a character, a creation, and no matter how many times it's been done or pursued before, we make them ours.

Chris and I will make this wedding ours. And the people who matter most are the ones who are going to know that the things we're doing are a reflection of us. And it's going to be awesome. And it's going to be another amazing day in the history of many amazing days I've had with Chris. It doesn't matter how many weddings happen in that barn before ours, it doesn't matter if one million weddings occur on September 28th because Fall is someone's favorite season.

This is who we are, this is how we've chosen to host our party, and if any of the elements in our wedding have been replicated in other weddings, then I bet it made for a really flipping beautiful day. Good on them. Good on us. Bring it on.

  1. As someone who couldn't even order the same thing as someone else at a restaurant until late into college, I fear this. My sister is getting married a month before me, in a barn. My wedding will be in a picnic pavilion of some sort. But all the other details are getting close.

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    • I still won't order that same thing as someone else. Because we can maximize our flavor experience by all ordering different things, right? Right??

      (Or I just need to be Different. Who knows…)

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  2. So, so, so, so true! My rustic barn wedding is at the end of the month and I'm totally feeling this. I haven't been bothered by all the choices that I've made that are traditional or expected. I LIKE the idea of tradition and having a script that my wedding guests will recognize! The choices that I have second-guessed are the ones that felt more out there or nontraditional that are getting more and more popular. Wild-flower bouquet? Barn for the reception? Clothes-hangers for a seating chart? Pssht! Downright trendy!

    I've just been telling myself that these things come from a different script (rustic wedding vs. country-club/reception hall wedding) and that's okay, too! Our personality will really shine through in how we combine all the little details, the personal touches we add, and most of all the people! I'll have to make sure to remind myself of all this again in a few years when the whole "rustic barn wedding" thing that feels so popular now inevitably goes OUT of style.

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  3. My fiance grew up rural poor. I asked him what he thought of "rustic" themed or "shabby chic" weddings. He said that for people who grew up associating barns with cleaning horse stalls and mason jars with canning, not cocktails, the whole thing does seem out of a different universe. There's a fine line between a theme and "class tourism" – I guess it all comes down to whether you are having a barn wedding because it reflects your interests vs. thinking it's "quaint" to do things like The Poors. I think it's possible to do it in both an appropriate way and a condescending/insensitive way. The same way people can get married on a plantation and do it either respectfully, or totally offensively (i.e. purposefully hiring all black staff for "authenticity").

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    • I'm not sure that everybody approaches the 'barn wedding aesthetic' from the same place. I grew up small-town poor, and a barn full of horses has always been on my 'things I'd have if I was rich' list. Still is, in fact. (My mum and step-dad got married on a friends' farm several years ago (obviously, they're trend-setters…) because it was free.)
      Then there are all the city-dwellers who equate 'a weekend place in -' or 'retiring to -' the country as a marker of wealth. I doubt that many people are going to say 'hey, let's pretend we're poor for our wedding!' but 'let's try and recreate this idyll that we're told is better than what we have' seems quite likely.

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      • There are definitely different way to approach these themes for weddings, without "playing poor." I'm using Mason jars for my flowers and centerpieces because I don't want to buy a bunch of vases that will just get thrifted or go in a landfill afterwards; I'm going to use the jars for canning/storing dried beans in my pantry after the wedding. I grew up poor, reusing zip lock bags; now I use Mason jars and metal tupperware instead.

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  4. Definitely feel you on this one. My wedding is in late Aug., and I'm starting to ignore wedding blogs and not answer questions about the theme or decorations. Yeah, it's in a warehouse, and we will have mason jars and lanterns. I bought the mason jars from a friend, and they are better for our boozy drunk friends than champagne glasses. It will look like a typical wedding, not a sci-fi movie or carnival or 1800's Western because that's not who we are. But, our friends and family will the there, and I get to do something really incredible. That's the most important thing.

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  5. I have a weird cognitive dissonance in planning my wedding. My fiance and I between us have 13 different ethnic heritages and I am very big on honoring one's background and traditions. We are also very religio-spiritual, so we have a few classic prayers and rituals at our disposal.

    At the same time, I don't want my wedding to be cookie-cutter! I've rejected "first dance" songs because they are overplayed, even if I personally like the song.

    And there is also the issue of my fiancee disliking the spotlight and wanting a short, no-frills ceremony (the exact opposite of me), and the fact that we will have very little money for when we seriously start putting this together.

    As it's turning out–and since it's at least another two years before we can marry, there's still time to change–I'm very fond of the wedding program we've put together thus far based on your traditions, new ideas, and preferences. None of our elements are entirely original, but the way we've arranged and interwoven them (sipping sharbat out of a quaich in a modified san-san-kudo ritual pays homage to Saudi Arabia, Scotland, and Japan all at once, and I'm sure has not been done before) is.

    In the end I think all weddings end up being unique just because of the way the couple arranges them. Maybe every Christian wedding has 1 Corinthians 13 read during the ceremony, but does every ceremony divide the reading between three attendants? (Almost) Every wedding has flowers, but does every wedding use a combination of sunflowers, myrtle, and lavender?

    And no matter how formulaic a wedding is, it will be unique by virtue of the couple and their guests. :)

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    • Having 1 Corinthians 13 read by our best friend….mostly because I need those words spoken on our wedding day to remind us ALL what we have held onto. In the years that we have been together, we haven't turned into what we didn't want to be. There is a specific person (not us) that forgets what love is (or what charity is) and I need to remind that person on that day.
      We're having barbecue. OMG everyone is having barbecue lately. But he is KNOWN for his amazing barbecue.
      I'm making paper flowers. I'm cheap and allergic to most flowers. But all the flowers are being made by me and my best friends and they're amazing because my besties are AMAZING.

      1 agrees
  6. Yes! This is perfect. I'm also having a barn wedding. I've seen so many that by now I'm not even sure if I want one because it's trendy or not. Who cares. The barn is pretty so I am happy! I have paused a bit about a dress I was considering when I found out my mom's employee (who also had a barn wedding and a million other things I am doing) wore the exact same dress.

    But at the end of the day it's nice to remember that, while the details of our wedding might not be unique or super offbeat, the wedding will still be unique because it is OUR wedding! That's the important part anyway. No one is coming because they got the invitation and said "oh cool! A barn wedding!" (At least I hope not!)

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    • I have never been to a barn wedding. Just because it might be "trendy" doesn't mean that guests like me wouldn't have an experience that is different, new, & unique! I bet your guests will feel the same. No matter how many barn weddings we've seen online, it will NEVER compare to the amount of church/hotel weddings!

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  7. I loved this article! I've been having the "uniqueness complex" lately too, and now I'm kind of like, screw it! Our wedding will be fun and beautiful and that's all that matters! Although, we ARE getting married in a barn on September 28th! I thought that was a hilarious coincidence I should share. ;) My fiance's name is not Chris though, it's Leah!

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  8. I haven't been worrying that much about what the trends are in weddings. I notice them and have always been amused by the way cultural fads work. How no idea is truly original. I started collecting items from thrift shops (plates, linens, etc) thinking "wow, I'm brilliant" and it turns out that a LOT of folks are doing that right now. We are collecting jars to use for glasses (for no reason other than FREE) and yep, that's a thing, too. And while we aren't having a barn wedding we are having it in our horse arena on September 28th (our anniversary). His name isn't Chris, but similarities abound. ;)

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  9. I struggled with this too. Our wedding will be a bit offbeat because of our budget restraints (sunday wedding, luncheon, no "official" dancing though I imagine there will be some, no bar, just wine and beer) and the fact that I just….don't care….about the details and frills as much as I thought I would. BUT it's funny 'cause like you, the things I grew up liking or doing are all of a sudden extremely trendy. I grew up drinking out of mason jars and people made fun of it ("What, you don't have real glasses?"). My family has all had their own gardens and raised their own meat since before I was born (now 31) but now that's extremely trendy. Oh well.

    I am having a CSA cater our wedding 'cause it's important to me to have really good food. She is supplying dishes and glasses…and those glasses happen to be mason jars. Cest la vie.

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  10. This post is exactly what I need to hear right now! I'm also going for the country-inspired wedding (mason jars a'plenty), but it also works because it fits our venue (the club house of a local search and rescue organization), the location (Hood River, Oregon) and our personalities. I think a really good companion post to this was A Practical Wedding's post about how your wedding is not timeless, no matter what you do. It's very freeing to think: "Well, I can't be original no matter how much I try and I also can't make my wedding timeless, so I might as well do whatever the hell I want."

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  11. Oh I love this. Thank you for sharing. I have already seen plenty of wedding photos showing off ideas I've kept to myself for YEARS! But I know it's the direction I'd be taking even if it wasn't the trend right now. I also find myself getting stuck in worrying that others will think I'm putting our wedding together this way because it's what everyone is doing right now and no one will really understand that this is just the way we are. But what does it matter? Are we having a wedding to promote an agenda of sorts or are we having the wedding because we want to celebrate what we have together?
    As you've stated, there are BILLIONS of people on the planet, repeats are going to happen and it's really fine :) As a matter of fact, it sounds like you're having my wedding!

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  12. One sure fire way to still be unique–hire a Celebrant to officiate your ceremony. Your Love Story would be the centerpiece of the words spoken and genuine and authentic story telling always leaves an impression on those present.

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  13. What keeps me grounded is the fact that no matter which date you choose, hundreds, thousands of people will also be getting married on that day. A wedding has certain requirements to make it a wedding. It won't be unique. But it will still be yours to claim a part of!

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  14. I can completely relate to this post. As a bride who never thought she would be a bride (marriage? No way!) I started planning a completely awesome themed wedding with everything but the three ringed circus involved. And that's when I realized that not only did I not have the time or energy to make that happen, I didn't have the money. So now I'm borrowing everything from a friend who happened to get married a year ago, and I'm going to get married in the same chapel she did, and the only thing that's different is the dress and the people standing at the front. I honestly thought I would have a crazy unique shindig, but now all I care about is having a heartfelt shindig with close friends. And that's okay.

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  15. Oh snap, barns and barbecue are a thing right now? Guess I'm on the band wagon too! But things can be trendy because they're awesome, so of course you'd want to add awesome to your wedding.

    But seriously, since the only dates available for our venue this year were in December, it was a big visual reminder that this venue wasn't just our venue. In fact, I know an OBB member got married there last week!

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  16. Its a weird upside down comfort sometimes that while we all kind of march to our own beat [or offbeat ; )] that we're still wearing dresses like our great grandmothers, and tying the knot under the same trees as other lovers. We can throw in our 'spouse acquired' references or handmade pet costumes or plan a group belly dance but however special we might be we're still all snowflakes and the commitment of two people to each other is so beautifully common it takes HARD WORK to try to be different about it!

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  17. Actually I've been quite shocked that fall weddings aren't more popular. I've been to well over 20 weddings and all but one(it was a winter wedding and it was beautiful) of them took place from May-July. Fall is my favorite season as well and I live in a part of the country where autumn is absolutely GORGEOUS so I can't believe that I haven't been to a fall wedding yet. I think it's mainly because most people are so obsessed with their big day being "perfect" that they don't want to face any possibilities of bad weather.

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  18. Whelp, we've just finalized our venue reservation, so it looks like we're having a barn wedding, too! Even if I saw it a day late, this article is very apropos of my feelings. It's an amazing place, don't get me wrong, but I keep looking at pictures online and they're really starting to run together. I'll have to bookmark this article for the next time I start hyperventilating about not being having The Most Unique Wedding Evar.

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  19. I can totally relate, I just got married two weeks ago, and we had a steampunk octopus themed wedding, which , if you have been paying attention, in the fabulous offbeat empire, is just about as common as le marraige a la mason jar :) It was still the most amazing day of my life though :) Enjoy yourself !

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  20. THIS!! My wedding was low key, colorful, and full of pinwheels. I felt pretty comfortable with how "unique" it was until I found Off Beat Bride…then I felt like my plans weren't "off beat" enough! Pinwheels? Everyone does pinwheels! Hay bales instead of chairs? Boring! I started to angst about this, until I saw a guest article with the exact same anxiety…and then I relaxed. Our wedding didn't HAVE to be completely over the top, crazy, unique, or whatever. It didn't HAVE to be Pinterest-worthy (thank god I didn't find Pinterest until AFTER the wedding) or insane enough to go viral. It only felt not-off-beat because I was constantly browsing OBB and seeing all the other fun weddings. To our guests, most of whom had ever been to cookie cutter white weddings, my wedding was PLENTY off beat and unique. They were thrilled to bring a potluck dish, eat whoopie pies, and carry home a pinwheel as a favor. What was I so worried about? It's a casual backyard wedding, not a theater production. What mattered was that we GOT MARRIED. Phew!

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  21. Thank you so much for posting this! My fiancee and I got engaged and are planning a September 2015 wedding. We both fell in love with this venue near us that's a vineyard with a renovated potato barn. I literally buzzed with excitement when I saw the inside of it and imagined my wedding there. We booked it! I love reading all these OBB posts, but often feel like my wedding won't be worthy of gracing the pages of OBB because it might look like every other barn wedding out there. We will hold sunflowers and get married with the vineyard rows in the backdrop. It'll be gorgeous but I have wrestled with the idea that it won't be very offbeat. Reading this post helped me to realize that it WILL be offbeat…because it will be my fiancee and ME! I love the things you said and want you to know they really empowered me to stop thinking of everything my wedding won't be, and remember everything it WILL be! <3

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  22. A couple of things that helped me through this "omg all my wedding plans are so over done" stresses were

    a) the post(s) on OBB reminding us that most of our guests are NOT on pinterest 24/7 looking at wedding ideas and therefore will not notice if we use some of the trendiest decorations or venue styles, etc.; and

    b) focusing on a couple of things that my fiance and I DIY-ed in a personal way. For example, we are making our own wedding arch. While we have used pinterest for some inspiration, we are going to create it with found materials and with our own two hands. Even if it ends up looking similar to what's out there, we will know that it is truly one of a kind and personal.
    Similar example, our favours are preserves (trendy), but we are canning maple syrup that we tapped and boiled down ourselves, and apple butter from apples we picked ourselves (unique because no one else used our maple or apple trees or put our exact TLC into the process).

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