Do you feel more at home in a pair of boots than a pair of heels? Are you dreading having to dress like a stranger for a day that's supposed to be your special day? Cowgirls at heart, rejoice: you can have your wedding your way and still be fashionable–without having to look like a city slicker.
A Western-themed wedding is the perfect excuse to rent a barn for the occasion. Barns, far from being shabby or smelling of livestock, are among the nation's most popular choices for hip, alternative venues. In fact, many barns have seen so much success in the wedding business that they have devoted themselves entirely to hosting nuptial celebrations. Some barns boast air conditioning and crystal chandeliers, while others stay true to their roots with weathered wooden panels and hard-packed floors. It's up to you what kind of experience you want from your venue.
Looking for special touches to set the scene? Evoke simple tranquility with arrangements of wildflowers in mason jars. Western weddings really shine when simple decorations are used to advantage. Use hay bales draped in quilts for easy, comfortable seating. Scent the air with bunches of hanging, aromatic herbs like lavender and mint. If you're celebrating at night, add some country flair with strings of hanging lanterns.
Don't forget cowgirl fashion! Take your bridesmaids shopping for matching cowgirl boots before the wedding. These can also double as very nice bridesmaid gifts, if you're feeling generous. Besides wearing boots, the men in your wedding party can dress the part with bolo ties. Ten-gallon hats flatter everyone, guys and gals alike–and they’re also a great excuse to wear simple wedding hair. Match the hats and boots to your wedding colors!
A cowgirl wedding just wouldn’t be complete without horses, and equines and weddings mesh surprisingly well. Whether you want to ride down the aisle on horseback or just rent a pair of horses for a post-wedding photo-op, you can usually find a horse rental service to bring a little four-footed magic to your special day. If you're not up for straddling a horse in your wedding gown, you can evoke the same magic by riding off in a horse-drawn carriage.
Rent a Mechanical Bull (Safely!)
Sure, real cowgirls wrangle the real thing. But let's say you want to take it easy on your aunt Bertha and give her a gentler ride. You can rent a mechanical bull for a few hours of your reception, depending on the company and rental package, for under $1,000. Look for companies that are fully insured, just in case Auntie Bertha falls and tries to sue. If you try to find a "bargain" with a company that doesn't offer full insurance coverage, the financial burden will fall on you, so it pays to spend the extra money for a professional rental service.
When searching for the right mechanical bull rental, note whether the company offers safety features like an automatic-stop mechanism, a cushioned or inflatable bull-riding ring, and a programmable bull for riders of different skill levels. There should always be a certified technician present to operate the bull and make sure everyone is using it in a safe and appropriate way. Believe it or not, there is an official Mechanical Bull Association that can answer your questions if you want to make sure your rental company is on the level.
Look for convenience as well as safety. Does the rental package include delivery, set-up, take-down, and extras like power cords? Does it come with its own generator for outdoor events? Do the staff seem friendly and reliable? Will they dress in costume if you want to provide hats, vests, or other accessories to go with your theme? Make sure you're happy with all the details before you sign a contract.
Give your guests a good, old-fashioned Hoedown with music that will be sure to get toes a-tappin'. Hiring a square dance or contra dance band will give every person at your reception an excuse to hit the dance floor–after all, when the caller announces the moves, there's no use saying you don't know the dance! Lively bluegrass music will keep your party energetic long into the night. Just be sure to intersperse a few slower country ballads so people have a chance to catch their breath.
If you're holding your reception outside, start a game of horseshoes on the lawn. This old-fashioned sport is charming, easy to pick up, and doesn't require a lot of physical exertion, which makes it perfect for guests of all ages–especially those holding cocktails in one hand!
Who doesn’t love hay rides? From excited children looking for adventure to romantic couples looking for a place to snuggle, a hay ride appeals to nearly everyone. If you have access to a cart or trailer and a truck or piece of farm equipment to pull it with, you have the makings of some good, nostalgic country fun. Line the trailer with hay bales to lean against and scatter plenty of loose hay in the middle to soften the ride. You can hire a driver to take folks on rides every half-hour or so, or you can draw volunteer drivers from among your friends. (Just make sure they stay sober!) If it's a clear night, your hay ride will also be a perfect excuse to stargaze.
Cowgirl weddings are a perfect way to celebrate your love and commitment in a setting that just feels natural. Your wedding should be a celebration of you and your fiancé. If you don't want to wear a floor-length gown and "prom hair," you don’t have to. Just throw on a pair of comfortable boots and say, "Yee-haw!" Celebrate with all of your favorite people, and ride off into the sunset.