Nine months in the making, I’m finally able to share the decorations and details of the rustic barn wedding welcome party that we hosted for our eldest son and his now bride.
Rather than a more intimate rehearsal dinner, we invited all 90ish wedding guests. It was a great opportunity for the bride’s West Coast and our East Coast family to meet and get acquainted. It was also a reunion of old and dear friends, who we consider extended family.
I elected (with input from dear hubby and the couple) to put a more sophisticated spin on the food and decor for the I Do BBQ. What my British friend described as, “posh rustic” lol! So, I opted for decorations and centerpieces that incorporated romantic lighting elements, live edge wood slices, wine bottles and corks to compliment the barn and mountain woodlands setting.
In her remarks thanking us for the party, the bride noted that I am known as, the “queen of theme.” Adding, with a grin, that I bestowed her the title of my princess lol! Gosh it’s great having another girl in the family!
Custom Rustic Barn Wedding Party Invite
Pictured above is a sample, as our actual invitation contains too much personal information to share.
For the invites, I purchased the Rustic Barn Wedding Invitation with Folding Doors and Strings of Lights from the Etsy shop, dotandbowpaperie. There, Erin offers unique printed and printable invitations and paper goods. I loved working with her on the customized design, and was thrilled with the result!
When I first reached out for a sample, I provided Erin with a link to Flat Mountain Farm’s website. After seeing pictures, she took the initiative of providing a second sample, colored like the actual black barn. We worked through several other customized design modifications, and I was provided with two pdf proofs. And, when RSVP’s exceeded expectations for the three-day wedding weekend, Erin moved quickly to get me additional invites.
Opening the barn doors reveals all the party details; including the menu and option to request a vegan meal. Receiving them about a month after the wedding invitations, helped to build guests’ excitement for all the weekend’s events.
Vintage Barn in Blue Ridge Mountains
Now a 23-acre luxury micro-resort, Flat Mountain is an historic rhododendron farm. It has three chic log house accommodations, a pond, and this antique Scandinavian bar relocated all the way from our own Pennsylvania to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Renovations included the addition of a long, wide covered back porch, restrooms, commercial kitchen, lighting, new roof and more.
Table seating chart I made out of an old bulletin board, with hubby’s help and brought from Pittsburgh. You’ll see the wood cut art and wine cork garland that coordinates with other rustic wedding party decor. Names are obscured for privacy.
This is only the second season they are hosting weddings and other events at Flat Mountain. I discovered it when searching for a venue large enough to hold our welcome party.
Unique Log Building Accomondations
Highlands has lots of fabulous home rentals, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and restaurants. However, anything big enough to host a dinner for our large group was already booked for a wedding reception.
Here is my mom and Sistah B’s clan posing in “summer cocktail” attire in front of the Wren cabin. Behind them on the porch are rocking chairs. A wing to the left includes an outdoor fire pit, sitting area, and second-story balcony.
R and V instantly fell in love with Flat Mountain! They quickly booked the two-bedroom Wren house for themselves; as base of operations for the wedding weekend. Sitting directly across the drive from the barn, the Wren also afforded them privacy and serenity from the holiday crowds in town. Highlands goes from a population of about 3,000, to upwards of 18,000 on summer and fall weekends!
All the bridesmaids and their significant others stayed at the larger Kingfisher house, situated on the pond. Repurposed log buildings, the unique properties have stunning, sophisticated decor, kitchens and baths.
Party in the Woods
Because parking is limited, guests were asked to carpool and drop passengers off in front of the barn. Using the farm’s 6-passenger golf cart, the bridesmaids’ guys pitched in — directing traffic and shuttling drivers to and from the barn and parking area.
Parking is not ideal for a large group, but it worked out okay. And, I did was relieved we didn’t need to go to the expense of hiring a shuttle service which could be $1,500-$2,000 dollars!
Before both sets of barn doors were slid open at 5:30, our younger son — who was best man — greeted and directed guests to the barn’s covered back porch.
Spotted by several partygoers as they arrived to Flat Mountain was this uninvited guest! Black bears are common in the Blue Ridge mountain community, and trash management is stressed throughout Highlands properties and business establishments.
Surprise Grand Entrance
About 15-minutes into the party, guests were directed to form two lines between the Wren’s front porch and the barn. Then — in honor of V’s family’s Vietnamese heritage — the couple came out of the cabin dressed in traditional wedding attire!
Photography taken by Michael Freas Photography.
V’s mother had the outfits specially made and tailored for the couple. Everyone was super surprised and delighted! I thought V looked beautiful in the outfit and hat, with her gorgeous long black hair. And, R’s tunic sporting two golden dragons was a huge crowd pleaser. After that, the party kicked into high gear!
Making Merry with Live Music
Back on the back porch, the acoustic guitar duo, Melonbelly, provided a memorable soundtrack for the evening. Burke and Cliff are very talented and an absolute delight to work with. They also provided the wireless mic, speakers and sound system for the toasts and speeches inside the barn.
While the musicians played, guests were greeted with trays of wine glasses, and passed appetizers of Shrimp Lollipops with Saffron Remoulade, Burrata and Fig Agrodolce Crostini with Fresh Mint, and NC Oysters with Trout Roe Watermellon Mignonette.
All three were wonderful, with the shrimp being the crowd favorite. I was particularly partial to the oysters with the refreshing watermelon relish topping. They were served on wood slice platters covered with moss-like greenery.
Craft Beer & Wine Bar
We were able to choose from several menu options and bar packages offered through the venue management company.
Just inside the back barn doors was a bar setup. Two huge windows (on either side of the doors) provided light between the long porch and back wall of the barn.
Guests had their choice of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Mixed Red, or Rose wines. Or, one of five local craft beers (something the couple and their friends are really into), hard cider, soft drinks and juices.
All the furnishings (vintage, tables, chairs), plus staff, glassware, dishes, and flatware were included in the event fee. I was relieved I didn’t have to deal with another rental vendor long distance and pay delivery charges.
Beforehand, I had put together wine theme wine charms (see Amazon below) with green beads (Dollar Tree) for guests to add to the stem of their glass, and keep as a party favor.
Like the seating chart shown earlier, all the Rustic Greenery Wedding Menu Template, Eucalyptus Wood Slice artwork were part of a kit purchased from the Etsy shop, AneDesignBoutique. Anelia has wonderful digital offerings available online, provides great service, and her templates were easy to work with.
The Lucite tabletop holders came from Dollar Tree. Larger 8 by 10 inch sizes were also purchased to display the barn and wedding invitations on our mantle back at home.
Wide, Long Porch for Mingling
There was a nice mountain breeze on the back porch, but overhead heaters in case it got too cold — which it did not. Since I had put Mr. Buzz “in charge of weather” for the wedding weekend, I also allowed him to take full credit for the fabulous weather lol!
Just days before, a hurricane came through the Carolina’s and Charleston — during a historic high tide — and we had been anxious. Sistah B lives on the water and it rose within a hair of flooding them. Neighbors weren’t so lucky. Ironically, the motor boat my BIL pulled out of the water and put on a trailer to protect it, ended up with a fallen tree on top of it! Fortunately, it looked a lot worse than the actual scratches and dents. Whew!
We set up seven round tables the length of the 15-foot wide porch. Six were 36-inch cocktail tables — four high and two low — and one was a wooden 48-inch table. Chairs were placed around the lower height tables.
Tablecloths were rented from BBJ LA TRAVOLA specialty linens. Highly recommended by the venue management company, Brides and The Knot, I found them extremely easy to deal with. And, much better than the local Professional Rental Services company, who’s estimate included tacking on costly nuisance fees. I tried to negotiate with them, but they wouldn’t budge — even though my son and his bride spent a fortune renting furniture, flatware and other items from them for the wedding!
Ordering sample fabric from BBJ was automated and efficient. Sales staff were also very helpful and responsive. They allow plenty of time for delivery and pickup via USPS. With a showroom in NYC to see samples in person, the couple also ordered their more elaborate wedding tablecloths, runners and napkins from BBJ.
Cocktail Table Centerpieces
Smaller than those on the dining tables inside the barn, centerpieces on the porch were also anchored by a live-edge wood slice. Featured in each was a 5″ by 7″ framed picture of the couple — all from their engagement photo shoot in Central Park and other locations in NYC.
This photo was taken in the ice cream shop where the couple had their first blind date — in February lol! Hubby joked at the wedding that was the first indication they were kindred spirits.
Creating a little fairy magic, were clear wine bottles, “corked” with copper string LEDs (see Amazon below). There were also faux birch-wrapped, wax LED candles with flickering flames. Each was tucked inside a small, black-handle lantern filled with wine corks. Originally, the lanterns (Tuesday Morning) were purchased to hang from our pergola for several Extraordinary My Favorite Things Parties.
Pieces of faux ferns (Michaels) were tucked here and there to fill in, and coordinate with the lush mountain setting.
We brought all the centerpiece and decor elements for the rustic wedding party from home. Everything was pre-staged (candles inside fixtures, ferns precut etc.). It was an extremely tight fit in the car! I was so worried everything (including my gown, hubby’s tux, and our luggage) were going to fit, that I made Mr. Buzz do a trial packing two weeks beforehand lol!
Let Me Call You Sweetheart Table
Centered, just inside the back sliding barn doors, was the sweetheart table for the wedding couple. It’s table-length centerpiece was a derivative of the cocktail and dinning tables.
The six-foot table was set with two places facing guests. Under a wood slide sat a hurricane lantern (bulk, Michaels online), which I filled with wine corks and a real “floating” white pillar candle.
Four mercury glass candles (6 styles per package, Pottery Barn Christmas clearance 75% off) — with flickering LED votives (Amazon) —were interspersed in the five-foot length of faux greenery (Michaels).
Wrapped around the greenery, were two of the same LED light strands as in the wine bottles on either end. Also threaded through the greens, was a garland made of wine corks and wood beads (Dollar Tree) on green twine. Finally, short flourishes of ribbon (matching large bows on the back of the couple’s chairs), were also added.
See, Easy DIY Champagne Cork Wedding Party Figures for the wood slice art place cards, tuxedo and bride dress napkin folds, and personalized avatars I also made for the sweetheart table.
I Do BBQ
Attached to the inside of one front barn door, was an I Do BBQ banner. Made from the same green burlap-like fabric (Michaels) covering the seating chart, it also was strung on green twine with wine corks and wooden beads.
When the doors were open, the banner hung directly above the two-sided dinner buffet table. For the menu cards, I used the same art as the individual place cards. Each was held by wine-cork stands, that were also made to hold the dining table numbers.
Here’s the buffet being setup, before the barn doors were open and food was served. Black tablecloths for the food tables and bar were provided by Flat Mountain. Easy access to the kitchen is to the right.
Dinner was delicious! Although I thought I’d be too preoccupied to eat, I cleared my plate! Every dish was elevated in some way with seasonings, toppings and/or recipe.
For instance, there were giant crunchy croutons in the potato salad. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Everyone said they were going to incorporate them to their own recipe. Even the chicken was special. And, oh how juicy and tender was the beef brisket!
Guests enjoyed serving themselves hot Southern Peach Cobbler in the opposite corner of the barn — with many going for seconds!
A vegan option for three guests was plated and brought to their tables. Chef offered me three choices to select from. Surveying my SIL and bridesmaid, they elected the Cauliflower Steak with mustard emulsion, greens and charred lemon. And for dessert, they were served charred peaches with watermelon granita and sesame seed. Yum!
Plated hot meals were also provided to the photographer and musicians in a private upstairs room.
Rustic Wedding Party Centerpieces
Another element of the art template set was used to make these large table numbers. Each is on a bronze stand that I wrapped with three wine corks and tied with green twine. Extras held the menu tent cards on the buffet referenced earlier.
From this side of the centerpiece you can see one of the large styles of mercury glass votives used on the 60-inch round dining tables. I liked the little bit of glam, sparkle the gold mercury glass added. What do you think of my mixing the rustic with that bit of richness?
Behind the votive is one of the wine bottles filled with LED fairy lights.
In the background you can see another 36-inch round table where I included a menu sign and favorite large photos of the wedding couple.
Like the sweetheart table, each centerpiece is dominated by a lantern filled with corks and wax candle. Rather than hiring another vendor/florist long distance, I decided to emphasis atmospheric lighting elements brought from home.
Besides, it was meant to be a rustic wedding party event, and not “compete” with the actual reception. As if it could! Wait until you see those florals; including greenery and giant floral arrangements hanging from the light fixtures overhead!
Decorated Fireplace Mantle
Behind the table pictured above, is the floor to ceiling stone fireplace. Here it is just after lighting, but before the screen is put in place.
On its narrow mantle are two more pairs of the lighted wine bottles, several flickering votives, more greens, and a string of LED lights.
In the center, are the wedding couples first initials, which were also made with wine corks.
More DIY tutorials on the wine cork projects and rustic wedding party decor in an upcoming post — after we get back from France and celebrating dear hubby and my 40th anniversary!
Did you attend any big celebrations over the summer months? Planning any yourself during the fall season?
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