Down To Earth

By Beth Wood

April 17, 2009 5 min read


Rustic weddings are a hit with couples during hard times

Beth Wood

Creators News Service

If a lavish, formal wedding is not your dream, you are in good company. Many couples are opting for simplicity with down-home flair, whether it means homemade favors or a low-key location.

Lucy Ridolphi, marketing and PR manager of Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah, attributed this to a combination of factors.

"I think a simple, rustic approach to a wedding offers an intimate backdrop for the occasion," she said. "With a more green consciousness, people are connecting to the idea of a natural environment for their wedding. The shift in the economy also returns people to the mindset that more is not necessarily better."

"People are fraught with hectic and stressful daily lives," added Erica Ercolano of, which covers wineries in Oregon, Virginia and California. "While they want natural beauty or historically rich venues, they also want to provide a relaxing event for their family and friends."

What exactly defines a rustic wedding? Anna Spraungel Williams, catering manager from San Francisco's McCall Associates, a catering and events management firm, said these affairs should be outdoors and have a homespun feel in the details, such as with favors.

"Down-home is a good way to say it," she said. Ideas for favors include homemade soaps, jams and candles, as well as small family scrapbooks and personalized packs of seeds.

"Wedding favors and place settings that either come from nature or are designed to mimic nature are a good way to incorporate rustic touches into the event," Ridolphi said.

Setting is a key element to your event, and with its mountain location and spectacular views, the Sundance Resort has quite an advantage. "Whether the wedding is upscale or simple, we provide a rustically elegant background for all types of weddings," she added.

Other ideal locations include natural environments, such as beaches or meadows, and wineries, which are often situated in charming rural areas. According to Ercolano, couples choose the wine country because of the beautiful and tranquil setting, but also advised couples to investigate carefully, since choices abound.

"Do your homework," she said. "Research through websites; visit the sites; find out what's included and what's extra. In some cases, neighbors appreciate daytime ceremonies and receptions because they want peacefulness in the evening. But most winery settings are so magnificent that you would be wasting your money to have an evening wedding."

Williams said the pressure of limited funds has increased the popularity of down-home affairs.

"I think the budget is the concern," she said. "When times are tough, family and friends become even more important. So the feeling seems to be to keep everyone comfortable, happy and included.

"I encourage couples to think about the talents that they and their families have and incorporate them. Bake bread or cookies for favors, paint table names on pieces of wood or fabric or build an arbor to get married under."

There's no need to spend a fortune on attire, either. Down-home weddings tend to emphasize comfortable clothes to fit the outdoor venue. However, it's usually the couple's decision.

"Whether it's rustic or not, a wedding can be whatever the bride and groom desire," Ridolphi said. "It can be black tie on top of the mountain or casual attire in a meadow."

When Ercolano moved to California's Napa Valley 25 years ago, it was the first time she saw invitations that used the phrase "wine country casual." But it was hardly the last she heard of the trend, which features relaxed, yet nice, clothes for men and women.

Options for cuisine can also vary, depending on the setting and the budget.

"Definitely comfort food!" Williams emphasized. "Mini-tenderloin burgers, mini-grilled cheese with demitasse of tomato bisque or french fries in paper cones. Back to the basics... but also fun to eat."

Wine country weddings tend to be a bit fancier.

"Aside from beautiful venues is the obvious: fabulous wine," Ercolano said. "And where there is fabulous wine, chefs and caterers follow with phenomenal food."

Despite the details, those in the planning stages should start with the location.

"Find a venue that embodies a natural look and feel that you want," Ridolphi suggested. "Then select a wedding planner that will help facilitate your ideas and incorporate natural themes, color schemes and elements to your big day.

"We are seeing more of an 'anything goes' feel to weddings these days. Be creative. Find what you love about nature and your surroundings and design your wedding from that."

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