ENTIRE, EMPTY BARN is daunting and I often wondered if I bit off more than I could chew. I mean it isn't as if I had done anything like this before and if I didn't pull it off I wouldn't be ruining MY wedding I would be ruining someone else's wedding. Someone who was nearly an acquaintance when we started this journey...that means her family and fiends don't know me and there would be no "benefit of the doubt" going on. I had to pull this off or I would spoil the day for Brandin and Bill and I don't think my heart could handle that. As I told several people, I was much more nervous for this wedding than I was for my own wedding. Thankfully, the entire day was perfect- everything from my decor to the food to the band...it all just fit together so perfectly.
I think I need to start by reminding you where we started. The barn looked like this:
A beautiful space for sure. But it is important to note that this barn isn't a wedding venue. It is a barn... in a small town in Michigan. A small town where everyone knows everyone else. That is how a venue such as this becomes a wedding space. The bride's family lives on property that adjoins this farm through a back path. Farmer John and his wife Joan farm this beautiful land, growing organic fruits-strawberries, blueberries and grapes and harvest sap for maple syrup. Last year, the first- and only other- wedding was held here; the pretty globe lights are the only remaining evidence of that event. It is my understanding that John and Joan host occasional parties that involve music made with fiddles and banjos and lots of boot stomping. I chuckled when John stopped in to check our progress on Thursday, nervous at what he would think about us using some of his stuff (*more about that later) but he instead of complaining, he asked if we could possibly leave some of the decor in place for their party next weekend. Sure we could.
But I digress. I was trying to explain exactly how primitive this space was when we started decorating last Monday. The only "permanent" electricity comes from a battery that John charges with a gas generator, there was a bat looking at us from the top door rail when we entered the barn, and the women's bathroom facilities involve a lot of squatting and little privacy. We kept electricity use to a minimum and we used generators for the ceremony and reception, the bat didn't bother us so we took a similar approach to him and as for the bathroom....it is what it is. Quicker is better, proper form is imperative to avoid one's pant leg and it is hard to act lady-like and maintain composure while demurely disposing of the make shift toilet paper (in this case paper towel) in the 1 trash bag that I remembered to bring. Yeah, not fun. On the way to the barn on our first day, I commented to my husband that there would be no bathroom during the week of set-up to which he promptly reminded me that I grew up in the sticks and was perfectly capable of using the woods. What he neglected to consider was the robust crop of poison ivy growing on the edge of the woods near the barn.
For the rehearsal and ceremony they rented restrooms. Not a port-o-potty, but a full-fledged restroom. Who knew? If you have ever used a green, over-heated and smelly port-o-potty...and who hasn't?... you will be as astounded as I was with Royal Restrooms. It is a chain with franchises all over the US and well worth searching out if you plan any kind of outdoor event. The units are air conditioned, have sinks with running water, and are pleasant to look at with bathroom fixtures and even artwork on the walls.
|Source: Royal Restroom|
|source: Royal Restroom|
Turning such a primitive space into a wedding venue made for lots of challenges but also allowed us to really use our creativity and ingenuity. We started decorating on Monday but took Tuesday off -Brandin had shopping to finish up and I had a few projects to complete. We hit it hard Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; all long days. Saturday I arrived early and put the finishing touches on everything. I also served as wedding coordinator so Brandin and Bill could just enjoy their day. Thankfully, Casey, the owner of the restaurant that catered the meal, was amazing and he and his staff did a lot of the heavy work- moving chairs, setting tables etc. I really enjoyed working with him and his top notch staff.
If you ever get anywhere near Fennville Michigan (near Lake Michigan) I insist you try out his restaurant, Salt Of The Earth. It is a local-eaters delight and the food is spectacular. We ended up eating dinner there Friday night after my mom brought my kids to see the space and Rick and I decided the barn was complete, minus the things that could only be done in the morning- right before the ceremony. We had been trying to get to Salt for several years but it is an hour drive for us and we just never made it. I promise it will be a frequent destination for us from now on. Fenville is a population-100 kind of town but the restaurant is anything but small town.
Today, I am posting photos of the space as it looked before the wedding on Saturday morning. I have lots of in-process decorating photos and tutorials coming in the next few weeks.
Sadly, I didn't get any photos of the space with the place settings and the napkins in place (though I think my mom might have and those pictures should be posted tomorrow). It was pretty with the aqua napkins.
I folded over 120 poms. That is a lot of poms! But it is a big space and it needs a lot of poms. You can find my tutorial here. Brandin brought her 2 teenage nieces to help and the 4 of us sat and opened poms for several hours. Tedious is a nice way of describing it, but the result is well worth it. Originally, I intended the poms to be hung from the ceiling; clustered near the center and spreading out becoming less dense as they spread farther from the center. Um, problem... the barn ceiling was very high meaning a very high ladder and yard and yards of fishing line (per pom) would be needed or some sort of structure would have to be built to create a faux ceiling to hang the poms from. At this point, building some sort of support structure was more than anyone wanted to deal with from a design standpoint, the time constraint, and the expense. The other big issue was just courtesy. The barn wasn't ours and John was letting us use the space; we didn't want to do anything that would be a permanent change to his barn. We ended up running a zig-zag of twine across the barn- in between the lights-to hang the poms on. I had used wire to hold the poms together so it was a simple thing to just wrap that wire around the twine. My poor husband spent an entire day going up and down a ladder hanging them...but they looked fantastic. We had extra, so I used them along the back wall and to define the doorways in to the side room that housed the gift table, non-alcoholic drinks, and dessert tables.
|Early Saturday Morning as I pulled off plastic and put finishing touches on the tables.|
The venue is a barn so we had to cover everything with plastic incase the animals decided to visit during the night. This meant the centerpieces couldn't be set up properly until Saturday morning. When I arrived at the venue at 9am, the florist was just dropping off her beautiful arrangements. It was perfect timing for me to get the centerpieces situated. Frankly, I couldn't wait to get it all set up perfectly and for Brandin to come over- she planned on coming around 10 for photos- to see it. The florist did a spectacular job with the peony and delphinium arrangements. They were stunning, smelled divine and tied into our "Vintage Whimsy" theme (I just coined that right now).
|Photo by Lee Benson|
We used tulle "walls" to hide the antique
|I lightened this photo to make it easier to see.|
I will try to point out when we used something that was "found" in the barn...it so much fun.
The "room" on the left side of the barn was cleaned out by Brandin and her family before we started decorating. She planned on using it for the catering staff and the dessert station. Rather than traditional cake, they served pie and cobbler from a local orchard and gelato from a hometown gelato maker. In the end, that room was way beyond what she imagined and was a peaceful and romantic space. I hope I get some better photos of the space -including some with the pies in place but for now....
The doilies and cake plates are mine as are the vintage bottles ( I decorated them all). The cameras are Brandin's.
|The box is stamped "Albert Crane". Crane's is the orchard that made the pies.|
I made tons of rosettes and we used them all over the space. I did photograph them all individually so I will post more photos later.
I spotted this piece the first day in that pile to the right of the barn and I was so enamored with it I knew I had to use it. On Monday I dragged Rick into the room where it was and told him to start thinking about how we could display it behind the head table. Later I dragged Brandin in to see it as well. When Casey (from Salt of the Earth) showed up and told us we needed to close in the kitchen space (because "...what they do isn't pretty") we knew where to use my piece. The entire structure is sitting on top of a church pew (we couldn't permanently install anything so it is tied in place with thick twine and we hid the twine with poms and rosettes). I balanced the "Crane's" chalkboard on the seat of the pew. And before you ask, no I didn't do the lettering on the chalkboard, someone that works with Brandin did. Doesn't it look amazing?
|She also did this amazing one for the bar area.|
The gift table included this vintage suitcase for holding the cards. I do have a short tutorial for this as well.
We had a few more decorations that I don't have photos of including some wreaths, an iron gate, and the completed gift table. I'll post them if I get them.
Two of my favorite projects remain. The escort cards and a rosette wall-decor piece I made for the barn door.
The escort cards were fun. I made the tags (tutorial coming) and the clothes pins (easy tutorial coming) and we couldn't decide exactly how to display them. Thankfully on Friday the deluxe bathroom was up and running so I took a short break to use the facilities. On my way back up the barn steps, I found an old rusty bed springs and I knew where the tags would go. All it needed was a quick washing off and since Brandin's mom lives less than a mile from the barn by car it was done there. I LOVE how it turned out. I hung 3 rosettes below the tags- I hope to get a photo of that as well.
Finally my favorite piece. The rosette installation (tutorial coming). This piece still takes my breath away. Sadly, it rained and I had to hang it inside the barn which greatly diminished its impact- but it was still beautiful. It ended up hanging above the windows behind the stage; the stage that ended up serving as the location for the charcuterie (meat and cheese) and the band.
I will be posting a lot more about the wedding in the next few weeks so be sure to either become a follower or check back often.
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