Barns are becoming big in the world of weddings, and it’s little surprise; the rustic charm and countryside setting of the buildings makes them ideal wedding venues for a number of reasons. The simple and informal ambience is perfect for a relaxed wedding with non-traditional entertainment.
Let the country setting inspire your choices, from your attire to the amusement you select to keep your guests entertained. If you’re not sure what will work best for a barn wedding, read on for a guide to the best non-traditional ways to keep your guests amused.
Dating back centuries, ceilidhs involved a combination of Gaelic music and dancing in a merry atmosphere, and a barn is an ideal venue for some cheerful folk music and dancing. The music is usually played on an assortment of instruments such as fiddles, accordions, flutes and tin whistles, but has, in more modern times, expanded to include various other instruments like guitars and drums.
Ceilidh dances are usually conducted with attendants in pairs of lines or in rings, keeping in step with the beat of the music, and the steps are easy to learn, often being sideways or jig-like movements.
People often confuse ceilidhs and barn dancing, and while there are common themes, different styles of dancing are usually adopted during a barn dance. Traditionally held in barns, these social gatherings were popular for hundreds of years, eventually dying out in the 1950s. However they are returning as a festive form of celebrating a wedding or other special occasion.
Barn dances can be any style of dancing to folk music, such as Irish or Scottish dancing, square dancing, country and western or English Country Dance, usually to music with a 4/4 rhythm. Don’t worry about being able to memorise complex moves – a ‘caller’ will usually instruct be on hand guests with simple steps that are easy to perform and enjoyable.
If you’ve found a historical barn for your wedding venue, why not let the age of the building influence your entertainment choices? Before photo booths and chocolate fountains were invented, medieval folk had to amuse themselves with much more elementary pastimes, such as games of chess, checkers and bowling.
You could hire some giant games for your guests to enjoy either inside the barn or externally in fine weather, and set up some lawn bowls if there is an appropriate grassy area at the venue.
Another option is to hold an apple-bobbing contest as would have been a popular pastime in the medieval era, while falconry was another source of entertainment in the Middle Ages, and you could arrange for a bird of prey display to take place at your wedding reception, provided the venue is suitable.
Be inspired by the countryside setting and think of quirky amusements you could treat your guests to during your wedding reception. Barns are often found on farms, and guests might enjoy trying their hand at some traditional farm-related activities, such as churning butter, milking cows or feeding the animals.
Meanwhile, some rural venues might also offer extra services that would keep your guests entertained, such as tractor rides across the landscape so your friends and relatives can enjoy the spectacular views, or the opportunity to pick their own apples in an on-site orchard, which could double up as a healthy alternative to traditional sweetened wedding favours.