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Stumbling Upon Our Dream Venue

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Walnut Grove Farm - Knox County, Illinois
Walnut Grove Farm – Knox County, Illinois

As a young girl, I was never the type to seriously plan out my wedding, but I always found peace in the country. Every great memory of parties and family gatherings took place among the trees. When the time came to start thinking about a wedding (basically after my first date with my husband-to-be), I naturally knew I wanted something rustic and simple.

rustic venue

Rustic weddings are definitely on trend and for good reason. They’re cost effective–If your venue is full of natural beauty, little decorating needs to be done because nature has done it for you! They’re intimate and personal–Many barn and lodge settings offer a smaller guest limit. By keeping the guest list on the smaller side, your budget will automatically be easier to meet (fewer heads, fewer dollars). And they’re just plain lovely.

rustic venue
Wedding in the grove

My hunt for a venue, which we knew we wanted in or around our hometowns, started online. I scoured the big name wedding sites and kept coming up with locations that didn’t quite fit our needs or would’ve completely blown our budget. Finally, in a moment of sheer frustration, I searched for “barns for weddings.” One of the first hits was The Barn Journal, a website whose tagline is “Dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of traditional farm architecture.” Pretty much perfect.

rustic venue

The event barns and homesteads available for rent are located all over the country though not in every state. Obviously, the Midwest has an extensive list. We found Walnut Grove Farm, a working walnut grove which was homesteaded in 1835. Photos from WGF’s website showed a beautifully restored barn which has been standing since 1860. The rich history of the area paired with the natural beauty and simplicity made the place a perfect match.

rustic venue

We’ll have the venue for the entirety of the weekend, starting on Friday morning for set up and rehearsal and ending Sunday afternoon for tear down. We’re not only money but stress by having he freedom to enjoy the day worry-free. Our rental fee will also extend to the guest house on the property which sleeps up to four people which will allow some members of the wedding party to save money on their lodging for Friday night.


rustic venue
The Guest House

Now that the hunt has ended and planning is in full swing, I have a few pointers to finding the rustic venue which will suit you whether it’s a ski lodge, vineyard, or historic barn.

  • While the internet worked for me, you can start your search with the Chamber of Commerce wherever you’re wanting to hold your wedding. They’re a well of useful information, especially when you’re unsure of the area.
  • Ask about bathrooms. Our venue has a real working outhouse, and we chose a flushable portaloo just in case that makes our city dwelling friends uncomfortable. Because the house plumbing system is not equipped to handle 100+ people doing their business, only the wedding party and guests with disabilities can use the bathrooms.
  • Check into event insurance. Some venues will already have this, while others, like ours, requires guest host liability insurance in order to serve alcohol sans licensed bartender. The fee is around $150 which fit into our alcohol budget. Since we’re only serving beer and wine, we’re still saving money over using a caterer.
  • Look at an almanac. Weather can be a fickle thing, but check into the averages on your wedding date. If the location is warm weather only and doesn’t offer heat, your December wedding won’t be very pleasant or even possible. Many truly rustic facilities only hold events April through October.
  • Read your contract carefully. This goes without saying for any location, but especially smaller operations. Some venues don’t allow open flames indoors or non biodegradable confetti, ours included. Thankfully our plans don’t include candlelight or party poppers.

Who else chose a rustic setting for their nuptials? Please add your experiences and tips in the comments! Finding the perfect venue can be daunting, so let’s help each other out!


is a farmland transplant and former corporate coffee minion living in Chicago. She got married in 2013– you can read her wedding planning posts here.