help! how should we decorate this barn?


Okay readers, I’m reaching out one last time for your help on some last minute details on our wedding — which is just a couple weeks away now! This is the barn where we are having the party. I’ve sorted out the linens, the flowers, etc… but I fear something else is missing. What does it need? We have a ton of votives to spread around, which will help, and some twinkle lights. Is there anything else I can do to make it look festive (that wouldn’t cost much or require too much production)? Maybe it’s best kept as is — it is a barn afterall. Please let me know you have any great inspirations on lighting or decorations. I’ll share the results with you all soon! — Angela M.

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Go to your local Jo-Ann Fabrics and buy A LOT of white/cream and your color tulle (you can usually find it on sale and even if it isn’t, it is so inexpensive for the amount of impact ) and wrap the pillars and beams in twinkle lights and tulle. Put a swag of tulle here and there. This looks absolutely stunning especially combined with the votives. Additionally, curling ribbon in white and your color hanging from everywhere is lovely. If money isn’t too tight, spring for the shiny/glittery tulle netting. It adds a dreamlike quality.


I would buy a ton of fabric in your colors or just white and create a canopy with the existing rafters. Using narrow strips (say 3 ft or so), you could vary the height at which the canopy hangs in places, adding some interest. That or I would string those icicle lights all over creation and use that with candlelight only. (It could also be fun to try and bring in a spotlight for special moments: first dance, speeches, cake cutting, toasting etc.)

I was going to suggest something similar — get long rolls of muslin, perhaps, or some other very light fabric, and drape it across the barn, from the side beam (attached with staples), over the top of the center beam, and attached on the other side. It would give a lovely tent-like atmosphere, while the rustic sides still feel substantial.

Good luck!

What about something like well strung white lights? Here is a good example from the Foundry in NYC:


We got married in a big empty loft and had a similar decorating challenge … we used galvanized buckets of tree branches in the corners and on tables to fill up a bit of vertical space. We did flowering branches b/c it was spring, but in the fall (and with a barn) you can do even better – early changing leaves!


Remember that your space will be filled with the people you love, decked out in festive gear to help you celebrate the day – they will add more color and fun than any amount of tulle or fabric. Not that I have anything against tulle or fabric (because there are some great suggestions here), I just wanted to put the thought out there.

From what you’ve posted, part of the reason you chose your location was for the rustic, home-spun feeling of the place. I had feelings similar to yours about my reception at the last minute (I commented earlier about the burlap table runners) but decided in the end that simple went better with the location. It sounds like what you’ve got will be beautiful, and I can’t wait to see pictures!

Laura GF

I was at a wedding this weekend with huge paper lanterns hung at different heights from the ceiling and it was gorgeous. Your photo shows a few (?) but I’d put in lots more. This site looks like they have them for a really low cost:

I am sure I’m being paranoid but fabric draped all over + votive candles everywhere brings to mind a barn fire :)


I would hesitate to cover up the lovely rustic look of the barn with too much fabric. A little, to emphasize the beams, however, would soften it up. I also think the multiple paper lantern and bucket of tree branches ideas are great! I really wanted to do the paper lanterns at my last big event but had to cut it for time. If you have the barn for a while it might be easier for you to do. You might be able to rent then from a party supply place, which would save on waste when you’re finished.


I have to go with the paper lantern idea, too . . . either that, or glittery cardboard stars . . . lots and lots? don’t know where you’d get such a thing, but I think it would be pretty.

Mary T

I really love what Sara of GoingBridal fame did for her wedding decorations — you can find them here but you have to scroll down. Just a lot of colorful paper lanterns and decorations hanging from the ceiling. Easy to replicate in a barn!

Please tell us you’ll share the photos — right??

Just a few weeks away!!! Wow!

I like the lights in there – are they lanterns or just the lights the place has? Either way, at least you don’t have those giant galvanized ‘gymnasium lights’ you see in barns so often. I don’t think you really *have* to do anything. The rafters are far from ugly to begin with.

that said, my favorite idea is the paper lanterns. Also like the minimalist canopy strips. Or you could just put a few extra flowers on the cross beams.

It looks like a great site! Particularly once you have pretty tables covering the bare floor.


I went to a wedding in New Hampshire last September, and it was beautiful! The barn looked just like this! Check out these 2 photos for their examples of lights and tulle… simple, yet rustic and elegant.

Congratulations and enjoy every minute of it!

Good cocktails and some fun tall plants (that you later plant at your house). Have a great time!


What about some of those tissue paper hanging “puffballs” (sorry, I don’t know what else to call them) that are in the Martha Stewart crafts line? I believe that she had a how-to on the living site. If not, the “shim and sons” blog has pictures and a description of how to do them.

What a totally incredible space! I am in the “less is more” camp in terms of your decor.

But – one thing that did come to mind with the large wall to the left of the tables in the pic would be to have a smattering of paper reliefs (similar to Kim on Design Star’s gingko leaf paper plate cut-outs) there. You could use pretty papers – maybe choose a leaf shape of a tree that is native to that area. Depending on what you had planned for that area, you could have pictures of you and your soon-to-be-spouse mounted on the leaves, or, if there is nothing blocking the wall, maybe even use them as an opportunity for guests to write notes to you. You could later mount the leaves to twigs set in a vase, or on a printed tree trunk (like a family tree). The leaves would look nice moving in the breeze when the barn doors are open.


you could peruse flickr for potential inspiration:

I think that selecting a location like that barn means you probably like the barn and the beauty of the raw wood. If I were doing it I would not do very much draping of fabric. Let the raw wood show through, don’t distract from it. And draping the fabric will possibly bring the ceiling down and walls in more and while this space is large the ceilings aren’t overly high. Keep it with an open feeling.

I would focus on the lighting, lighting is a key factor in creating the mood of the environment. The paper lanterns that Laura mentioned would be a great way to draw your eyes upward and light up the rafters. And definitely put them at all different lights. Some vintage looking lamps on the floor would also be very nice.

And tell me those doors open so when you dance you can be seen from outside… I am visualizing so many images for this space. Lovely. Can’t wait to see wedding images.
Cory Ann
wedding photographer


big galvanized metal buckets filled with sunflowers (or whatever your wedding flower preference is) … what more do you need than that?


I got married in a really similar space last summer. We used twinkle lights all over, and table cloths with votives, just like you.
The farm was actually a flower farm, so we had a bunch of large branches on the beams, that we had greens and flowers strung into, making a really cool “forest chandelier”. It was spring, so we were to use lots of peonies and lilacs. It was amazing! Hope that helps!
Best of luck!


Agreed with sheer white or cream fabric and twinkle lights! We wrapped the lights in the fabric and made big swags between pillars at our wedding. We wed in a similarly large and dark room – actually a barely-restored basement ballroom in a 1930’s Atlanta hotel that was quite swanky in its day (but is now worse for wear). The _best_ thing we did was purchase the Orgel floor lamp from Ikea ( We were under a chuppah (fabric canopy) and the light was behind us. It was like being married in front of a warm, soft light box – it was dim and intimate and beautiful, and it translated wonderfully to photos. Here’s a pic:

ellobie in Chicago

Maybe I’m being too practical, but I wonder how one would bring in lots of the paper lanterns without spending hundreds on extension cords? And I’m wondering, too, how many outlets an old barn really has to accomodate said extension cords?

It IS a great idea, just seems logistically difficult. I like the giant tissue paper stars/flowers/balls in light colors, seems way easier.

The yards and yards of fabric sounds a bit overwhelming, but Rowhouse Creative’s photos show that with just a few drapes, it can look really nice.

In general, I agree with the general sentiment: simpler is better. :)


I wouldn’t add a thing…I think it will be beautiful and elegant as you’ve planned it.

How about getting lots of hay bales for extra seating and a way to add even more rustic texture to the barn? eco-friendly, reusable and cheap!
can’t wait to see the pics


A friend of mine had her wedding and reception in a barn. They didn’t decorate the barn itself all that much, but the tables all had beautiful white cloths over them, with gorgeous flowers and tableware.

It was a bit cold in the barn, and they had advised people to bring a warm layer to put on. They served hot apple cider just before the ceremony, which was wonderful and made everyone feel right at home.

The barn had doors that opened at the end, with a beautiful view of a field. Just before the ceremony started a group of horses ran by in the neighboring field.

They had lots of candles set in sand inside paper bags lining the walkway and lanterns hung up in the barn.

I’ve never attended a more beautiful wedding, and it was such a simple building.

Allyson V

I may be a little late in my response, but what about those DIY paper lanterns featured on Bluelines a month or so ago? They were also featured on Apartment Therapy today, and they look really cool. If you’re looking to add some color or pattern to the place, that might be a great way to do it. And if there aren’t enough outlets, I’m sure they’d look just as pretty unlit, as long as the paper you used had some kind of pattern to it.
That being said, the place also looks great as is. Embracing the rusticness (is that a word?) and keeping it simple could be just as beautiful.
Good luck!!!

We got married in a barn last year and used the oversized white string lights. Because we’re in the South and there are ton of Magnolias, we just used the cut branches of those as swag for the railings with little white lights intermingling.
here’s the aisle
I’m definitely of the simpler is better camp, too. When it comes down to it, the only memories I have of the decorations are from pictures. The whole celebration is something of a very happy blur.

Best of luck!!

A very inexpensive way to decorate such a space is by creating balloon columns, they’re easy and fun to do, and won’t take much of your time or money.
Just get a 6 foot piece of cotton string tied between two chairs, then inflate balloons (2 different colors) and tie the balloons back-to-back in different colors. Then cross the balloons on the string, a pair at a time. Once you’ve covered the entire length of string, you can untie the string from the chairs and tie it to the roof, barn pillars, over the door, etc.
It’s cheap, quick and fun to do.

shelterrific » Blog Archive » a few more wedding pix

[…] all the great advice you gave on how to decorate the barn we decided to listen to a few (thanks Reading Glasses, Ellobie, Allyson, DJ and more) who suggested […]


I would like to see pictures of how it turned out! Please post!


My daughter’s reception is going to be in a barn very similar to the one you pictured. Could you post some photos? Thank you! Karen R.

String lights can look cheap, make sure you get really beautiful ones. Also, use a lot of sisal rope to fit in with the vernacular of the structure.