10 Things to Ask When Visiting Barn Venues

1) Do you have bathrooms?

Most barn venues do not have restrooms and require that you rent porter potties. Before you jump to conclusions and move on to another location you may want to research porter potties as there are rentals designed specifically for upscale events.


2) Do you have a photographer recommendation?

Having a photographer that is familiar with the location has many benefits. The photographer will feel more comfortable shooting at your venue and will know all of the best spots to get the best results from your photos.


3) Do you have any decor restrictions?

Many barn venues do not allow candles, and have locations that you can not decorate as they may become a fire hazards. Be sure to ask what is allowed. You wouldn’t want to get your heart set on candlestick centerpieces only to find out you can’t use them.


4) Is there a time we have to stop loud music by?

At most venues hotel and barn alike loud music has to stop by 10 or 11pm to avoid disrupting locals and neighbors.


5) Where will the caterer set up?

Caterers have lots of luggage to store, food to heat, and assemble before it is served. They need a space to be able to take care of these needs out of the space of guests. It is important to know they have a place to be able to do this, otherwise you may be required to rent a catering tent.


6) How many guests can the barn hold?

You may be surprised that barns often don’t hold as many people as you think. While it is open and spacious when you visit things get crowded quick with food tables, and a dance floor. It is not uncommon to see those having barn weddings renting a tent for dinner and having dancing and drinks in the barn.


7) Do you have any partnerships with rental companies?

Very few barn venues have tables, chairs, and linens available for use so you will have to rent these items. If a venue requires you to use a certain company or can recommend one you might get a special discount because of the location.


8) Are their any required vendors?

Some venue locations require you to use their preferred vendors. This can raise the costs of the wedding especially if they are more expensive than you prefer to go with.

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9) How long will we have to set up?

3 or 4 days of barn usage is suggested for set up and tear down. You won’t want the added stress leading up to your wedding if there is limited time to get ready.

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10) What is the history of the barn?

Most site managers will tell you this on your visit but don’t forget to find out. Knowing the history of a venue can make it even more charming and you might even have a special connection to the history.

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pictures from Pinterest.com


The Barn at Silver Oaks Estate

all photo credits to Bonnie Harrison Photography
This Summer I had the privilege to take part in styling a shoot at the new Barn at Silver Oaks Estate in Winthrop Maine. Veronica, and her husband Gene, are the owners and creative artists behind this rustic chic wedding venue. A couple years ago you would not have recognized this barn but the two have poured their lives into turning the old barn into a thriving business.
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The 10 acre property includes a ceremony alter, a bar, bridal boudoir, bon fire pit, and views of Maranacook Lake. There is plenty of space for your extended family to join in the celebration. The barn itself can seat up to 400 guests and with 10 acres there is plenty of room for lawn games and other outside activities.
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The attention to detail that Veronica has brought to the space and business is something to admire. Not only is the Barn at Silver Oaks bringing tourism to Winthrop but special efforts have been made to recruit local vendors and new businesses to partner with the venue. This Fall the couple hosted a wedding show and invited vendors to display free of charge.

If you are looking at having a barn wedding in 2018 or beyond don’t hesitate to check this awesome space out as spaces are filling up fast.

Beyond Bouquets: Part Two

In my previous blog post, Beyond Bouquets: Part One , I explored all the magic floral work can offer your event. The delicacy flowers can add through backdrops and chandeliers, the loveliness they offer as a dressing for guest tables in luxurious centerpieces, and the warmth they can offer in personalizing, not just the decor, but the event itself.

Yet, I also shared the glaring statistic that is absolutely daunting to even the most steadfast bride or event planner who are considering using flowers to decorate a reception space.

You know that scary 5-10% of the wedding budget being spent on flowers!


Whether it an allergy (to the flowers themselves or the cost) or a personal preference, please let me emphasize that you needn’t lose a scosh of the grace, elegance, and warmth flowers offer, by instead using unique, clever, and creative ways to avoid using them!

 Flirt with Frugality in using some of these beautiful alternatives!

I mentioned before the sentiment behind collecting brooches from friends and family to create a broach bouquet  


While, a broach bouquet would last forever, collecting the right brooches might prove a challenge.

Instead, paperwork may be for you.

Not office style paperwork (lame!) rather, paper crafting.

Haven’t done it?


Let me introduce you to your new best friend!

*Note, there are MANY paper flower tutorials on YouTube




Create a gorgeous paper bouquet matching your colors.

Or, keep it super simple for your book lover ( you can use pages from a book with meaning to both of you) 



         The options for using paper flowers are endless as you take them from the essential accessory to a wall adorning focal point for all of your favorite pictures.




 While these alternatives are great for weddings consider as well their potential for birthday, anniversary, and seasonal parties!

I admit, such work can be labor intensive (hopefully you have helpful friends or bridesmaids).

So, for centerpieces, consider stepping away from flowers altogether, paper or otherwise!

My personal favorites (avid word lover here) include the use of books.



Lanterns are another favorite of mine that give a rustic, yet refined look. 


                           Candles too, create a soft ambiance from their light glow. Simply fill your glass candle holder with colorful additions complementing the colors of the event.


                                                                                                                                       Or elegantly display floating candles giving a light, delicate display to your tables.



The options are endless as you begin down this cost-effective, crafty pathway!

For instance, why buy vases at all?

Instead, cut your old wine bottles (there are plenty on hand after nights with the girls making paper flowers), with a glass cutter .

Look at you multitasking! Being kind to the environment and your budget!

My overall point is simple. While flowers, iconic to the wedding scene, have their place, DO NOT stress yourself or your budget considering them a necessity for a beautiful event.

Instead, create your own non-traditional landscape, reflective of your personality, to grace and glorify your event as your own unique masterpiece.



Beyond Bouquets: Part One

Weddings are synonymous with flowers.

A bounty of blooms gorgeously arranged create elegance and grandeur in their display amongst bouquets, centerpieces, backgrounds, and floral chandeliers.

A decadence, glorifying nature’s beauty, adorning corners, tables, and aisles. The sweet elegance of flora softening the lines and ridges of a ceremony and reception space, depositing your theme and colors throughout your event.

Flowers, enrich the atmosphere in their quiet nature, allowing you to impart your particular style in a subtle, refined way.

It was Helen Keller who said, “ love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same”

While your guests cannot see your love, like a flower’s scent, they know its presence and are captivated just the same.

Indeed, floral work can set the tone of any event.


Creating beautiful backdrops .

                                                                        Displaying your theme through centerpieces.2daa2e9922ef20da62b569407df45c57

                                                                            Creating an ethereal glow, a romantic whisper roaming over the head table         with floral chandeliers.                                                                                                                                                        5bc5721f35cbf4c4088c674854872b9f                                    And the star of the      show, next to the dress,   the bridal bouquet.

5a2f7ac7659d96a80ca44e108b1099e9              Events are big business in the world of flowers!

It is said that typically, 5-10% of a wedding budget can be expected to be spent with the florist alone.

That is a whole lotta green paying for some plants!!

You can, (yes of course i’m advocating for) DIY some components to stay out of the financial weeds!

In knowing the basic shapes of typical bridal bouquets, you can hit your local craft store and get your thrifty on!


Thank God for Youtube tutorials!

There are several to guide you to create your floral fantasy whether dreaming of a traditional round bouquet or a luxurious cascading effect.

Bloom Box, is an online flower retailer specializing in bulk flower delivery and provides several tutorials to help you create the bouquets of your dreams!

Or, as part of your bridal shower, you can collect broaches to make a nontraditional bouquet with thought and meaning to each broach within your special arrangement.


DIY not for you?

  Luckily, you can preserve the beauty of your event and make that money even more worth spending.

While currently there are no services in Maine, it is becoming quite the trend to arrange for donation of your bridal blooms!

                            Traditionally these services are linked with donation centers and donn adorable names such as, Petals with Purpose  or Random Acts of Flowers                       

The flowers, donated from events, are transformed into smaller arrangements and brought to local hospitals, assisted living, hospice, or veteran facilities.

Not to soil the sentiment of these donations at all but these, as well as donations of leftover foods to local shelters, are all tax deductible write-offs.

Not only are you afforded the opportunity to share in love and beauty, but also a small way to fight the flora’s budget busting!

While I am sure the trend will continue, the eternal optimist in me hopes the heart warming notion is shared, as an established service has yet to arrive in Maine.

Yet, with patience, planning, and thoughtful preparation, perhaps the love of your big day could extend beyond your family and friends.

Arrange with friends and family a way to gather and distribute flowers from your event.


Like your love, a flower is a gift that makes your heart smile. Why wouldn’t you want to share it?


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Wedding Barns; a Non-Traditional Alternative

Wedding Barns; a Non-Traditional Alternative

The average twenty first century bride has much more to consider when planning her wedding than her mother did. Forty years ago it was not uncommon for weddings to be held in the house of the bride’s parents. Cake and punch would commonly be served afterwards to the small crowd. Today’s modern bride wants more than just a pretty dress and a semi-edible wedding cake.
Today weddings are all about personalization. You can’t blame her, there are just so many options. First you pick your colors and than you pick stationary, flowers, a guest book, the list could go on forever.

The modern bride is faced between picking between a vintage globe or a personalized puzzle for the guests to sign as an alternative to the book.

For some it is because they genuinely enjoy making each and every piece of their big day special and representative of them as a couple, some brides have the pressures of their friends weddings to live up to, and most see all the pretty options on the internet of what their wedding could look like and cling to these ideas.
The modern bride is fluent in all things Instagram, Facebook, and of course Pinterest. Pinterest, being the biggest wedding site, is like a personalized never ending wedding magazine that does the clipping for you. Yes, wedding barns are all over these channels, but why exactly have they grown to this level of popularity? Wedding barns are almost completely customizable.

Most of these barn venues are simply a building and a piece of land versus the common hotel reception with included chairs, catering, and the same wallpaper to match every Saturday’s wedding. Do you see my point? Most barns are a blank slate inside and purple drapes hanging in a barn won’t clash like it would with the red paisley wall paper at the hotel.
Wedding barns are often owned by locals of the couple. The average price of a wedding in the United States is $26,645. Many couples are conscious of the fact that they have the opportunity to support many small business in the market of their wedding.

Paying a hefty price for a wedding venue might just be a little easier when paid to a local business rather than just another Marriott. Couples feel a much stronger connection to a barn than a hotel utilized by thousands.

Many wedding barns have a very charming historical past and some are beautifully restored to mirror their original state.
Some other benefits to a barn wedding might be the photo opportunities, they are kid friendly, or that cocktail hour might include a wild game of corn hole to entertain the uncles.

While they might not include bathrooms I don’t think barn weddings are a fad that is going out anytime soon. Weddings are becoming more and more unique and personalized and barn venues cater to this very desire of many.


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Celebrate With Spirit!

Of course, in celebrating your wedding, you want to wrap your guests in your love, embraced in your union. Joined together by your love and commitment to each other.

But truly, behind all the pomp and circumstance, you really just want your guests to enjoy themselves.

A notion expressed in your endless, mind warping searches and planning. The wedding, an accomplishment of that seemingly endless feat and the end result of your efforts as you seek out ways to invite, welcome, and show your gratitude to your friends and family.

What better way to thank and bring everyone together other than a particularly delicious adult beverage?

For myself, crafting -centered, frugal, to be quite honest, broke self, I cannot fathom the ability nor desire to offer my guests an open bar. Money aside, a wedding is not a ‘get-blasted’ event and my, mentally, young friends, go for gold when they hear the words, “free drinks.”

We ALL have those friends.

However, it makes so much sense to want to avoid sloppy. No wedding needs to be THAT entertaining and why spend all that money, time, and effort if your guests cannot remember beyond the mashed potato bar?

Instead, I jump fully on board the Signature Cocktail bandwagon!


A soul saver, as your inner selves fight the eternal battle between sticking to budget and wanting nothing but the most for those in attendance, signature cocktails allow gracious sincerity in welcoming guests while drawing them further into the event they are celebrating.

Your cocktail choices add such a personalization to the food and beverage scene of your wedding, allowing your personality as a couple to be share and showcased.

If you are a fun and flirty couple, with a lighthearted family, less likely to be offended at the mildly inappropriate, keep that ease and humor within your beverages.

Set up your “advice for the new couple table” beside the bar while on your signature cocktail board, sharing your thoughts on the secret to a happy marriage. Say… sex on the beach  or , the ‘more realistic’ sex in the driveway,  after all, who has time for beaches!?.

Not only a fun, colorful, fruity drink to serve for a summer wedding, but a nod to the hilarious.

Any bartender worth their salt, wedding planner with a keen eye, or DIY bride, can garnish, display, and present whatever cocktail you choose into a beautiful display. A sight to behold in making the act of drinking, more than the booze, but much like the wedding, a presentation, an experience, an event itself .


Regardless of display, let your guests in to experience small nuances in your relationship!

Poke fun at ironic or cute dynamics of you and your other half.. .


For myself, typically full of life, pep, fire if you will, always running a little hot, might choose a warm apple cider with a shot of Jack. Myself represented in a glass that warms you from the outside in. Whereas my partner, while full of life and love, moves a little slower, a little cooler tempered, sweet and easy going, might choose a Sweet Pear , to match his content, go- with- the- flow style.


Perhaps you’d rather share something you  both enjoy. Instead of his and her-ing  it, showcasing something you share  together. Not a yours, not a mine, but an  ‘ours’.


Maybe you both adore desserts and your most favorite of all evenings is snuggling down together with something sweet to indulge in. You might choose to serve a Nuts and Berries, dessert in a glass if there ever was one!  The options are endless as you choose bride and groom combinations,  seasonal, or theme carrying cocktails.

Maybe you won’t even serve your signature drinks at the bar or a separate display at all. Maybe you both come from close families with Sunday dinners growing up. By offering a Sangria or infused cocktail, bottled and presented on the tables, you can pay homage to your growing up, giving your guests a ‘family style’ beverage service, showing your appreciation and continuation of the tradition of gathering to eat, drink, and be merry.


The more you are able to incorporate these little moments, the more your wedding will reflect the individuality of you and your partner. Rather than being dwarfed in the memory, the monotony of, all the weddings to which your guests have been previously exposed.

So while, decoration and presentation of your signature cocktails is key in carrying a theme and adding personal touches to your reception, please please please, focus on the spirits or cocktails you choose to represent yourselves as well.

The way you choose to display your offerings adds character and originality to, sadly, what can become a mind numbing event of sameness as we attend one wedding after another.

In incorporating your style with colors and decor adorning the bar/serving space and showcasing your personalities, you allow continuity throughout the event, to celebrate your union, which in turn, creates a quiet elegance.

So let your signature cocktails take your guests by the hand and bring them to the unexpected! Forget the shock and awe response of an open bar to your budget friendly senses. Instead, remember what is truly important.

Your guests are there to celebrate you!


Signature cocktails allow the veil to be pulled back, to see beyond ‘the couple’ and ‘meet’ the individuals sharing their lives. By subtly sharing of yourself and your relationship in this way, you are allowing your guests to understand the spirit of what they are celebrating.

The personality and individualization of the two being joined.

And what better way to celebrate the happy newlyweds, than with a toast?

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