How to Throw a Rustic Whiskey Barrel Wedding
We've seen all kinds of crafty wedding ideas, running the gamut from "Star Wars" tributes to fairy-inspired what with the advent of Pinterest and the unique bride coming into her own in recent years. We've seen weddings at the barn, the beach and even the backyard with decor ranging from the simple and understated to ornate nuptials ripped straight from the pages of a Disney-branded fairytale.
So why not try something with a little Deep South flavor? A whiskey barrel wedding is a guaranteed good time for all. Your loved ones will of course be stoked about the low-key vibes - think elevated cookout bursting with southern warmth.
We know what you're thinking. Whiskey barrels at a wedding? Get out! But hang on there. We'll show you how to throw a Pinterest-perfect wedding that proves whiskey barrels are the new mason jar.
First Off, Where's the Wedding?
One of the best parts of having a rustic wedding is you've freed yourself from the myriad expectations that go hand in hand with traditional - read indoor - weddings. Here's the good news. Your on-trend rustic wedding just so happens to be good for both your wallet and Mother Earth. You'll save on everything from centerpieces to guest gifts with all the DIY rustic wedding projects, not to mention the ability to use elements and decorations straight from nature.
The bad news? Well, you still have to plan the whole thing.
First step, lock down that venue. With a wooded, barrel-y vision in mind, we're thinking the obvious:
- National parks
- Anywhere there's trees
- Heck, even your very own backyard
Perhaps unpredictable weather has you a bit wary of throwing an outdoor wedding. Instead, try something like a local brewery, a barn or even a log cabin. All these spaces echo that woodsy feel but still offer the level of control needed to protect against any unexpected rain storms or cold snaps.
Once you've selected a venue, it's time to get going on those decorations. The internet is bursting at the seams with DIY projects that can be done easily, quickly and, most importantly, at your convenience. And "do-it-yourself" doesn't necessarily mean you've committed to a huge amount of work.
Have some friends stop by and pitch in over drinks and dinner, and you'll be well-stocked with rustic touches before you even know it. From handmade invites and chalkboard signage, to crafty seating placards and barrel card holders, guests are sure to be impressed by the handmade details. For a whiskey barrel wedding, you can really cut down on your list of items to buy at the local Michael's. Plenty of Earth-friendly inspiration is right there in your own backyard.
Here are a few ideas to get the rustic inspiration flowing:
- Get your DIY on with found twigs, sliced tree trunks and cut mix-and-match flowers. Some other materials you can use are local produce such as apples and pears, burlap, twine, dried flowers, pine cones, wheat, or vintage glassware. Anything goes.
- As far as palettes are concerned, warm earth tones and subtle pastels are your friends. Ditch anything too bright or dark, as it can overwhelm the softer aesthetic that really pulls the whiskey barrel theme together. Something simple like a dusty palette of ivories can really complement natural wood accents, balancing the rugged wood with delicate feminine accents.
- If you're craving something a little bolder, a rich palette of oranges, golds and reds is another way to represent that rustic look you're going for, particularly for a fall wedding that has harvest vibes written all over it.
One of the biggest challenges that comes up in planning a rustic wedding is keeping it from veering into "kitsch" territory. Go overboard with barrels, wagon wheels and mismatched vintage bric-a-brac, and your guests may feel like they've stepped into a theme restaurant with a bit too much flair. Keep it simple by incorporating vintage elements with a soft touch and letting the venue inform the choices. Try adding a few wildflowers and natural fibers like burlap or unbleached canvas to add some texture to the space.
Using Natural Materials for Wedding Decorations
Greet guests with messages scrawled on chalkboards, such as your favorite quotes, directions to the restroom, or even some "love-themed" artwork. Try painting signs on distressed wood or another natural surface. Instead of boring paper name cards, sliced wooden disks with guests' names written can be used in their place.
Guests can sit at family-style picnic tables with natural-fiber tablecloths or even just the bare wood. It's probably better to keep centerpieces simple, but there are plenty of opportunities to take the whiskey barrel theme into even the smallest, most unexpected details.
A few ideas for table toppers:
- Vintage glassware: Fill it with wildflowers or potted plants
- Thrift store knickknacks: Stick to a theme like all white ceramic, so things don't get too kooky - unless, of course, that's your jam. It's your wedding, after all.
- Small whiskey barrels: They can be functional or decorative. Fill with a signature cocktail or infused lemonade. Or top with fruits and veggies from the farmer's market for an organic pop of color.
Plants 101: Flowers, Cacti and More
Planters, planters, planters. No wedding is complete without a solid arrangement of plants, whether it's flowers, twigs or even a sweet basket of farmer's market goodies. Gone are the days of red roses and their tiny friends, baby's breath. Get a little creative and think outside of the literal box. Try filling barrels with local wildflowers - a beautiful, rustic touch. Plant some little saplings in a barrel planter. This can even double as a favor for your guests, who may want to take home a piece of love.
For something that leans a little hipster, take to the terrarium for inspiration. Fill your barrel up with succulents, rose plants, tree seedlings - the world is your oyster. A solid lineup of desert blooms, such as prickly cacti and sweet succulents, add a casual Southwest-inspired look to the space.
Bridesmaids & Groomsmen Gift Ideas
You owe these guys. Between the travel, time and wardrobe, your ‘maids and dudes deserve something special to take home. For the girls, try something like a piece of vintage jewelry they can cherish forever, or choose something from an independent artist on Etsy. Guys can always use something like a cool pair of cufflinks or a watch. A humidor or cigar barrel can also be a terrific gift for groomsmen.
Maybe your closest friends would rather have an experience than a gift. Thank your crew with gift certificates to a spa, a favorite restaurant or a great local bar.
Or, if you'd like to send home a piece of the wedding, give bridesmaids and groomsmen their very own American oak barrels for some at-home aging. This carries on your wedding theme of whiskey barrels for wedding decor far after the ceremony and serves as a fun reminder of your special day.
What to Wear
A whiskey barrel wedding is the perfect place to show off summertime prints and a bit of country flair.
Try going for something a bit more casual. Your guests will thank you for the relaxed dress code that allows them to be comfortable. Nothing kills a good time more than being stuck in a pair of Spanx and stilettos.
Brides should skip the Cinderella dress, pancake makeup and lacquered bouffant, and opt for something a bit more natural. We're picturing boho-chic, with flowing mermaid hair, flower crowns and an all-around ethereal kind of look. On the flip side, you could do something a little more "country." Brides and bridesmaids can wear cute cowboy boots with dresses, but this works best if your wedding falls on the more casual end of the spectrum.
For bridesmaids, try something floral or even go vintage. Dusty pastels and romantic laces perfectly complement the woody tones of the barrels and the natural landscape. Another wonderful option is gorgeous flowing gowns. You can always let each bridesmaid choose her own dresses, just keeping to the same styles and colors to keep things feeing laid back. No matter what dresswear you choose, you can strike a rustic tone with vintage jewels and accessories.
The gents can keep it simple as well. We suggest avoiding black or navy suits, which can look out of place against the natural backdrop. Think light greys and earthy browns, and if the weather allows, consider skipping the jacket altogether if the wedding takes place in warmer weather. Vests in varying colors are a nice touch for groomsmen, and the perfect complement to their bridesmaid counterparts' mix-and-match dresses.
Bluegrass and old school country are the obvious choices. But it's important to play some tunes that all of your guests can get down to.
Playlist ideas might include:
- Sticking to a theme throughout all the songs, such as love songs or country music
- Including songs about whiskey, such as "Lace and Whiskey" by Alice Cooper or "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by George Thoroughgood
- A "whiskey wedding through the decades" theme that incorporates songs from every decade of the past century, including some classic country music
Specialty Wedding Drink Ideas
No wedding is complete without a signature cocktail that celebrates you and your beloved. This specialty drink should include whiskey, of course, to play off your theme. A lighter drink you can consume easily while mingling with the guests would be best. Make sure both bride and groom enjoy it, because you'll be drinking to plenty of toasts. You can also serve drinks that incorporate other barrel-aged spirits, such as tequila and rum. Feel free to browse a list of our favorite aged spirits and recipes for more ideas.
We can't talk about weddings without mentioning the food - that's one of the reasons people come to weddings other than to celebrate the bride and groom.
Skip the multi-course, assigned-seated affair. Not only is it exponentially cheaper to go the buffet route, but guests also appreciate the easygoing approach and can serve themselves. Think pulled pork, mac and cheese, and brisket. Just pick your favorites, whether they're indulgent gourmet comfort food or minimalist seasonal fare. The rustic wedding isn't the place for complicated fusion meals or high-concept dining.
If you go the buffet route, you can make a unique table by placing a long slab of unfinished, naked wood across two large whiskey barrels. This is pretty straightforward and requires very little in the way of handyman skills. The wood board should stay in place, but you may want to secure it to be safe.
Or, if you do choose an option with a bit more structure, try going the farm-to-table route and serve dishes family-style. We think a lineup of roasted seasonal vegetables, organic chicken and fish is a good place to start.
For appetizers, clustered together barrels are a good way to showcase different bites as guests make their way around the venue.
Rustic Wedding Dessert Buffet
No rustic whiskey barrel wedding is complete without a killer dessert buffet. Putting one together should be relatively easy. The buffet will essentially be the showpiece of the whole shindig - beautiful desserts on display form the showcase of any rustic wedding reception. They have recently become the center of attention in the wedding world. Think seasonal for the buffet. Fussy fondant and plastic-y looking twenty-tier cakes can stay home. Here are a few other tips:
- Think homemade baked goods that, you know, actually taste good. Mini pies, crisps and cobblers, cute cookies, or even gussied up ice cream sandwiches - anything goes.
- Maybe even go a little healthier with plain fruit as an option.
- Stack up different dessert options on tabletop barrels, and use wooden cutting boards in place of trays to separate different options.
- A nice touch for your rustic buffet is handwritten labels that let guests know what kind of desserts are on the menu. This can be a decorative way to alert guests who are vegan, gluten-free, or have another food allergy which options are suited to their needs as well.
Small Oak Barrels for Weddings from Deep South Barrels
Of course, there are many other ways to incorporate the whiskey barrel concept into your own special day. Feel free to share photos, stories and your own ideas of how to throw your perfect whiskey barrel wedding. Check out our vast selection of whiskey barrels for weddings or for your home. We have big and small options that would perfectly complement your wedding decor. Contact us to order your whiskey barrels for your upcoming nuptials today.