“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Having the space to invite family and friends to celebrate life’s special moments together must be one of the greatest privileges of owning a farm. There is something about doing life in community which instills joy into the most challenging tasks.
Our youngest son recently got married and we were able to host our family from around the world (Australia, Africa, and Europe) for a couple of weeks. What a blessing to share a small slice of our crazy farm life with them - from watching the sun rise and light creep over the fields as we began our work day, to kicking back and enjoying the spectacular sunsets over the Coastal Range after a day well spent.
Hosting a large event like a wedding at your barn is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Not only do you have to consider logistics such as where out of town guests will stay and how you are going to feed them all, you must consider traffic flow and parking, and how to juggle practicality - such as managing access to the barn for your regular clients and taking care of your animals needs - with showcasing your space for the big day. We spent weeks pre-wedding removing any scrap that was lying around, fixing and painting fences, and generally beautifying everything, but at the end of the day, it was still a working barn with all the resultant messiness that that entails.
Since ours was a small wedding (50 people), we decided to hold the ceremony in the barn aisle and the reception in the dressage arena. Fortunately, the weather forecast was clear and sunny, so we didn’t have to worry about making alternative arrangements in case of rain. And since most of our guests were from out of town, they shared transportation from their accommodations which alleviated some of our parking pressures.
We began our decorating efforts the day before the wedding and performed our clean up the day after so I decided to close the barn to boarders for the weekend. We are fortunate in that our clients are lovely, and were so excited for our family, they had no problem with complying with this request.
Decorating the day before also meant that the horses had to stay out on pasture for the weekend - much to their disgust! Ok, ok, they may be a little spoilt, but let’s be honest, if you were used to coming in to your fan cooled stall, away from the pesky flies, during the hottest part of the day, you might be a little upset too if you were left outside.
Speaking of flies, these will always be a challenge at a barn wedding. We hung up plenty of fly traps in the week before the wedding and installed fly misters in the barn aisle to minimize their presence (sadly you will never eliminate them entirely). However, we did not account for yellow jackets, which suddenly made their appearance on the day. We found them to be even more of a nuisance than the flies as they were attracted to the scent of the meat on our charcuterie board. We couldn’t leave anything uncovered even for a moment!
Despite these rather unique challenges we loved the laid-back feel of our barn “chapel” with it’s amazing backdrop of horses grazing in the pasture, and the way family and friends all came together to make it all happen. It truly was a case of, “it takes a village,” and everyone who attended played their part in creating wonderful memories for the happy couple.