Trading Churches for Barns

Northwest couples say ‘I Do’ to farm weddings
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Photos by Jon and Rach Photography

There’s a beautifully weathered barn that sits at the end of a wide path bordered by hugging sugar maple trees. Inside, guests are relaxed, feeling welcomed as they enjoy the view of sunshine on a field of crops and smell the warm, earthy breeze coming in from outside. Family and friends are celebrating — a couple they love is married today. The food is hearty, fresh, nourishing. Kids dance and giggle to quirky music, and grandparents relive their own special days. The bride is smiling, comfortable in her cowboy boots. She made the sign herself. It says, “Welcome to our perfect wedding.”

DSC03370The appeal of the rustic farm wedding is rooted in our Northwest love of the outdoors, fresh local food and the romance of our farming history. Pinterest boards and popular wedding blogs celebrate those details that make a wedding intensely personal. To source unique centerpieces, to incorporate vintage keepsakes with family memories and to craft an imperfect memento of your special day are all paths that lead couples to look at hosting their wedding on a farm.

Whether the couple has a farming past of their own, or they just want a memorable day in a comfortable, green setting, Northwest farms are feeling the love. Corn fields now stand as backdrops for wedding vows and revived barns host festive, one-of-a-kind celebrations for wedding parties from all over. The common theme? Your wedding day is as unique as you are, and many Northwest farms are ready to welcome you.

DSC08515A Green Wedding Day

“The farmland here is some of the best in the world,” Jessie Anderson, who owns Maplehurst Farm in the Skagit Valley with husband Jeffrey Anderson, tells me as we walk in the garden on a sunny late-summer morning. The couple met as children at nearby Conway School. They married at the farm in 2008 and are now the fourth generation of its family owners.

The six-acre venue is surrounded by hundreds of acres of working farmland. The farm’s barn that once served as equipment storage was revived and repurposed into a breezy, bright reception space. The elegant 1903 farmhouse was barged down the Skagit River from downtown Mount Vernon, and it now serves as the Anderson family’s home, with its romantic front porch the setting for joyful wedding photos that take on a nostalgic feel.

Jessie sees the draw of fresh local food and a green escape from the city as the reason for Maplehurst Farm’s growing popularity. “Farm-to-table food is what I see most,” she said. The farm’s barn houses a vast collection of vintage china and milk glass, which wedding couples pair with their own creative touches.

Maplehurst Farm often hosts rustic elegant weddings themed around repurposed pieces, handmade signage and mismatched heirlooms. “It’s fun to embrace the imperfection. You don’t have to have everything matching,” Jessie said. “Embrace the quirks in life. That’s also a good goal for a relationship.”

DIY wedding inspiration

The high, weathered dairy barn doors slide open to reveal a groom’s room at Swans Trail Farms. Clean, organized and inviting, the multiple spaces at this 100-year-old farm on the banks of the Snohomish River offer a glimpse into farming life, while serving as a blank canvas for couples who want to do a little or a lot for their wedding day.

“We see very simple weddings to elegant weddings,” Roxy Burinda of Swans Trail Farms tells me as we stand in the rustic outdoor reception area. Farm staff members are working efficiently to ready the space for pumpkin-patch season after a wedding the night before. It’s nearly autumn, and the farm hums with harvest-time anticipation in that low, golden light that hangs over the Snohomish Valley come late summer.

Swans Trail Farms’ updated, flexible spaces draw creative couples and their wedding ideas. “Pinterest is driving the burlap runners and cowboy boots trend,” Burinda said. She sees an increase in the use of flowers, ethnic food trucks and creative alternatives to wedding cake like cupcakes, dessert stations and pie bars.

Burinda said couples are drawn to Swans Trail Farms for abundant outdoor spaces and help from farm staff who have an interest in making their wedding day special. “We want people to have a feel for the place, to see themselves getting married here,” Burinda said. “On our end of things they’ll have nothing to worry about.”

DSC04368Family first

It’s been 18 years of hosting weddings for Mark and Judy Craven of Craven Farm in Snohomish. This local favorite, popular for decades with families, opens up to serve as a wedding venue some 40 times a year.

“My grandparents owned the farm,” Mark tells me in his enthusiastic, welcoming way. “Weddings help support the farm and give us a way to keep going all year.” We’re walking through a wedding in the process of setting up, and Mark is jumping in often to help with details. He has that classic farmer’s skill of finding the perfect fix for anything.

The groomed gardens, lush green fields and open play spaces at Craven Farm turn into a rustic fairy tale when all done up for weddings. The barn, used for harvest fun in the fall, contrasts with white linen tablecloths and glowing candles for a closer, intimate feel.

Co-owner Judy Craven once owned a popular vintage store in Snohomish. You see her hand in the farm’s careful details. “It makes a difference,” she says as she shows me the rustic elegant hall leading into the bride’s room.

Mark and Judy enjoy welcoming couples back years after their wedding, when they bring their children to play and enjoy the farm’s harvest celebrations.

Judy smiles. “This is joyful work.”

Rustic Eastside Venues

Maplehurst Farm, Mount Vernon

Swans Trail Farms, Snohomish

Craven Farm, Snohomish

Woodland Meadow Farms, Snohomish

Lord Hill Farms, Snohomish

The Loft at Russell’s

Pickering Barn, Issaquah

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