Rustic themed events are a big trend this year, especially during the summer and fall seasons. Rustic means simple, rough, and/or relating to the countryside – it’s the perfect theme to break out the mason jars, twinkly lights, hay bales, and sunflowers! Forget the sophisticated vibe and gowns and let loose for this homegrown, whimsical theme!
If your main theme is rustic, then pick a more subtle sub-theme like country, woodlands, autumn, or flowers. If the sub-theme is country, hold the event at a barn and include hay bales, sunflowers, and lanterns. Farm animals kept in a nearby pasture could make for great photo opportunities. If the sub-theme is woodlands, hold the event in a beautiful forest or in an area with lots of tall trees and lush grass. Include floral centerpieces with rustic antler decor, tealight candles, and twinkly fairy lights. If the sub-theme is autumn and the event is held in late September through November, hold the event at any location with room for lots of decorations. Include hay bales, orange and red fall leaves, deep rich colors, and pumpkins. If the sub-theme is flowers, choose any outdoor venue – perhaps under a marquee tent – and include tons of colorful flowers as centerpieces, suspended from the ceiling, along the ground forming a path to the tent, construct a flower arch entrance, make everything floral! Think outside the box for sub-themes – just avoid anything modern, sophisticated, or tech-y.
Stick to light, more neutral colors for summer like light pink, light blue, heather gray, cream, turquoise, lilac, and/or peach. For fall stick to richer colors like deep reds and oranges, emerald green, chocolate brown, navy, and/or deep purples. If your flowers or decorations are colorful, have guests stick to neutral-colored attire. If you would rather your guests wear colorful clothing, stick to more neutral decor. You don’t want everything too colorful or it will take away from your natural, rustic theme.
Leave the stilettos and overcoats at home for this theme. Ladies should wear lightweight sundresses and leave their hair loose and wavy and makeup light, as there’s no need to get all dolled up! Girls should also consider wearing a flower crown or tie their hair in a braid and tuck small flowers in the twists for a rustic touch. Guys should wear casual button-downs with bow ties with khaki or denim pants. Think light, neutral colors for summer and dark, richer colors for fall. Footwear should include cowboy boots, sandals, flats, or guests could even go barefoot!
Venue options for a rustic event vary, but for the most part a rustic themed event should be held outside. Something about the outdoors, trees, grass, and flowers just make for a more rustic feel. Look for an area by the countryside or near a mountainous area with a view. A large grassy field, an area near a farm or barn, or lush forest with lots of trees is your best bet. If the weather calls for it, put up a marquee tent at your outdoor venue where you can display the food and set up tables – or even if the weather is perfect, include a marquee tent anyway for more dimension and space at your event. If you want the event to be held inside, choose a barn venue. Barns instantly give off that rustic vibe you’re looking for.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: hay bales! Even if you are not going for a country sub-theme, hay bales give off a rustic vibe and are a perfect decoration during all seasons. You can set them up in a corner and decorate them with flowers or lay a pile of them out for a photo booth area, or use them as seating – just lay blankets over them so they are more comfortable.
Fresh flowers are always great decor pieces for every season as well, just stick with types of flowers and colors that are summer or fall appropriate. Use flowers as table centerpieces, decorate cakes and desserts with flowers, lay them on the ground in a path formation leading to different areas of your event, or create a flower arch entrance like I mentioned earlier. Here’s a fun DIY idea: buy a few round foam balls from Michael’s Craft Store and stick the stem part of fake flowers into the ball, covering it completely. Wrap these in yarn or twine and suspend them from the ceiling of your barn or tent.
You can never go wrong with twinkly string lights as decoration. Suspend the lights from the ceiling of your barn or tent venue. Hang them or wrap them around trees. Try connecting them from tree to tree all around the entirety of your venue, to encircle your event. Lay them over hay bales for an artsy touch. Twinkly lights will look even better if your event is held at dusk or nighttime – they’ll light up your venue and glow to create beautiful lighting!
If twinkly lights aren’t your thing but you still want some sort of rustic lighting, consider tealight candles in mason jars on tables or suspended from the ceiling.
I know this may sound a bit morbid, but antlers and faux animal skulls are very trendy to enhance that rustic look! To keep these decorations from looking out of place, decorate them with twinkly lights or flowers that match your color scheme. Use these as centerpieces.
Table decor is essential. Tree bark slabs or small tree stumps (cleaned of course) give off that perfect rustic, woodlands look. They are perfect to use as platters for food and desserts, especially cakes. Try using them as bases for flower and antler centerpieces. These are a decoration-must for a rustic theme! Use wooden boxes, crates, and pallets in various sizes to place on your food table and display food at different levels. This gives the food table an element of dimension and design and makes it look not-so-perfect, which is what you’re going for. White or lace tablecloths are fine as long as there is decoration on top. Store utensils in mason jars or small metals pails that are wrapped with a twine bow.
Skip balloons, streamers, and tinsel for this theme. All your decorations should be hand-crafted and genuine – not stuff you can buy at a party supply store.
Food isn’t too limited here, so choose whatever you wish! Easy to eat finger foods and yummy desserts are always a hit. Try mini cheeseburgers, mini sandwiches, assorted fruits and cheeses, rustic or floral decorated cakes and cupcakes, pies, a self-serve s’mores bar, old-fashioned sodas in glass bottles served in a shallow metal pail or wheelbarrow filled with ice, and lemonade-based cocktails or margaritas served in mason jars.
A live band or performer is a must for this theme! If that’s simply not within the budget, use a boom box or other type of portable music player and turn on a playlist of your own. Country music or Jack Johnson-esque music is usually best with this theme. Place it near the dance floor, if you have one, and let it play throughout the event. Consider having a photo booth, as those are always super popular among party guests. Lawn games are unique and fun for this theme – have a beanbag toss, play horseshoes or mini golf, or pick up some giant wooden dice and make up a game! And remember, you’re never too old for a sack race!
Try printing invitations on a tan, recycled looking card stock paper, maybe even with jagged edges. But use cursive, pretty colored font that reads the reason for the event or cause, date, times, entertainment, food, and more. The invitations should have a perfect rustic touch with a splash of elegance and color. Props to you if you send invitations out in a burlap envelope wrapped in a bow with twine! Just make sure the invitation goes along with your theme perfectly so guests know what to expect when they arrive.