Unless you live out West, you are most likely preparing for a destination wedding. It is important to have your theme and vision firmly set before choosing a venue for your dream ranch wedding. Do you want bonfires at twilight? Cowboys and Horses? Or something country chic? Settling on a distinctive theme early on will assist you in making the big decision. Then you can look for venues that suit your specific needs.
2. Consider The Cost
Most ranches aren’t designed specifically as a wedding venue, so in order to have the ranch wedding you are dreaming of, you may encounter some additional costs. You may have to bring some “personal” touches with you, whether it be a kitschy centerpiece or even rustic tables and chairs. You should set aside 5-10% of your overall budget for unexpected costs, such as shipping or extra staffing if needed. Even little details can make your day even more memorable.
3. Lodging A Ranch Wedding
Realistically, 5 star hotels are not located in remote, rural areas so you may have to get creative with lodging for your guests. You can add small personal touches to each room to make it feel more homey, such as monogrammed towels or themed soaps or candles.
4. Rain Or Shine
Let’s face it, you could have the perfect ranch wedding set in stone and Mother Nature might throw a wrench into your plans. It is always a good idea to prepare for all scenarios, so plan for extras like fans, tents and bug spray. You can always throw in additional items so your guests feel pampered, like parasols or hand-held fans, or a portable bar cart with beverages to keep them cool under the western sun.
5. Country Decor
Why did you choose a ranch wedding? Did you grow up in the West? Or was it just a “cute idea?” Customize your decor to fit your vision. If you are a die-hard country, go all out with wildflowers, cacti, tractors and the like. If you’re not truly country, then keep it simple and elegant with hints of country flair. It’s truly up to you, whatever suits your tastes and fits your budget.
It’s your big day, dress the part! But consider the comfort of you and your bridal party. A heavy tux or hoop skirt is not ideal on a hot summer’s day. You can keep it simple, yet elegant, wildflowers for hair accessories, cute horseshoe pendants and earrings for the women and western themed cufflinks for the men. Or you can go all out, Stetsons, cowboy boots and spurs.
Remember to factor in things like wind and high heels in grass or dirt settings. You don’t want to lose your veil or sink into the dirt with 6-inch heels. Be creative, yet practical.
7. Get Your Grub On
How can you have a ranch wedding without a traditional home-cooked country meal? It’s always a good idea to support local farms for meats, fruits, and vegetables. A build-your-own taco bar is always a fun idea and who doesn’t love a good barbeque? Serve grilled meats and veggies, or even an old-fashioned pig roast. Again, factor in the weather. Keep your cake cool until it’s time for the ceremonial cutting, As the sun sets, you may opt for blankets and s’mores around a bonfire. Break out the guitar or banjo and have an old-fashioned country sing-along. The ideas are endless.
Especially for a summer wedding, it’s important to keep your guests hydrated, so always have water available as well as country classics like lemonade and sweet tea. For the reception, bring out the local flavor with locally brewed beer, whiskey, and wines. And it’s always a good idea to have a signature drink like Mountain Huckleberry Lemonade or The Mexican Martini.
9. Pamper Your Guests
Make your guests feel at home from the moment they arrive, with a “Welcome Wagon” featuring local snacks and refreshments. Or take advantage of ranch amenities like horseback riding, hayrides, skeet shooting, archery or even a rodeo, especially if your wedding is a weekend-long affair. Kick off the festivities with a saloon-style party or a bonfire. Or something simple like a game of horseshoes or cornhole. Throw in some extra entertainment at your reception such as square dancing or country line dancing. And leave with a bang, literally, as your guests salute you with toy popguns. Make your ranch wedding an event that both you and your guests will talk about for years to come!