The Top 6 Rustic Wedding Venues – NJ, PA, DE
While they might not be for everyone, there’s simply no denying the fact that rustic venues fit our style of shooting and are the most popular amongst our clients. There’s something special about a rustic venue that screams comfy and cozy while also being extremely romantic. Whether you’re looking to get married at a beautiful barn or old victorian farmhouse oozing with history, there is a handful in the Tri-State area that we love photographing weddings at. Rustic venues have grown in popularity over the past several years as more and more of them began popping up. Even though we are primarily known as Philadelphia wedding photographers, a good majority of work is done at the many beautiful and rustic farm venues spread out around NJ, PA, & DE.
From high ceilings to vintage wallpaper, rough-cut stones to hardwood floors, the details that fill these venues with character drive home a simpler, much easier way of living. Rustic venues bring forth feelings of warmth, family, that good old’ country lifestyle. While some choose to get married in the city or big ballrooms, rustic barnyard or farm weddings have a very special place in our hearts. While we’ve shot at rustic venues all over the US, this article is going to focus on the ones that are a little closer to home.
If you’ve been to our studio or have seen photos of it, you know that it’s covered from one end to the other in reclaimed wood panels, leather furniture, antiques, beautiful hardwood floors, and custom-built wooden tables. Twisted Oaks owner and photographer Jay grew up on a large farm in South Jersey until he turned 18 so it’s basically in his DNA. When planning his own wedding with his wife Sandi, he chose a place in the Poconos where everyone in the wedding stayed in log cabins for the entire weekend. With a lake and red weathered barn in the background, it’s easy to see how the Twisted Oaks brand turned out to be what it is today.
This is the first of a five-part series that will cover our favorite venues. While a good amount of newly engaged couples book their venue first, there are a good amount that choose to book their photographer before anything else. Each year we book several clients who come into the studio shortly after getting engaged and ask what our favorite venues are. Believe it or not, a lot of our clients put photography above everything else and this series of articles is for clients like them.
So, what exactly makes a venue one of our favorites to work at? Well, let me explain.
To start off, we photograph over 100 weddings per year, more than likely it will be more than 150 in 2020. We have photographed weddings all over the tri-state area (NJ, DE, PA) as well as across the United States. Since we are based out of New Jersey and consider the tri-state area to be our stomping grounds, this series will primarily focus on just that. Our studio of 8 photographers worked together on creating these lists and put a lot of time into getting it narrowed down. Below is a list of criteria that goes into a venue becoming one of our favorites to shoot at:
Read below for our list of top 6 favorite rustic venues, in no particular order. The ones that make us feel at home and like family ourselves!
Rose Valley, PA
ABOUT: Enchanting gardens and rustic stone ruins set the tone for a magical wedding day at this beautiful and elegant venue. With a rich history as a snuff mill, a paper mill and then a wool mill in the 1800s, The Old Mill Rose Valley is oozing with arts & crafts and all the details of the old days that you could possibly dream of.
WHAT WE LOVE: Get married under the amazing archway in the stone garden courtyard, or in the Timber Pavilion and walk around the property finding hundreds of nooks and crannies for photos. The towering bamboo makes a perfect backdrop for a big bridal party, or wander over to the gentle streams of Ridley Creek for photos on the rocky landscape that lead up the mountainside for some absolutely stunning bride and groom photos. Perfect scenery joined with award-winning food from the pros at Conner Catering equals the best day ever!
BONUS: The property sits on a 12-acre wildlife and bird sanctuary AND is dog-friendly!
ABOUT: This 230 acre preserved working farm and inn features seasonal menus made from delicious organic produce grown right on site. With multiple options for ceremony sites, a romantic tented reception space, and overnight accommodations for 18 in the historic inn, your guests may never want to leave!
WHAT WE LOVE: Fernbrook Farms is a rustic and running farm that is basically yours for your entire wedding day. In addition to hosting events, the Farm offers a CSA to share fresh produce with the members of the community and runs a 501c-3 non-profit Environmental Education Center whose mission is to educate young people about agriculture and food. The sprawling property offers plenty of fun and unique locations for photo-ops, and amazing rental items like canoes and tractors to add even more artistic flair to your shots. The best part, you’ll have plenty of time deciding where to shoot – the venue guarantees that each bride and groom have access to the property for almost 24 solid hours!
BONUS: BABY GOATS! Do we really need to say anything else? Farm animals roam freely around the property, making for awesome photo opportunities and some unique wedding day fun!
ABOUT: As you pass through the lion guarded front gates, you’ll find yourself on a long wooded road lined with old pines that instantly sparks your interest as to what else this stunning estate surrounded by hundreds of acres of preserved farmland has to offer. We’ve photographed several weddings now at the Ashford Estate and can tell you that it has plenty which is what makes it one of our favorite rustic venues to shoot at. If you’re torn between the old rustic barn type of vibe and a grand ballroom, this is the perfect venue for you. With a lake, waterfall, stone ruins, and a barn chapel, the Ashford Estate checks off all those boxes while also offering a beautiful grand ballroom for your wedding reception.
WHAT WE LOVE: What’s not to love about a wedding venue that offers sprawling views across acres of preserved farmland, a rustic barn for ceremonies, stone ruins draped with lush green vines, a beautiful lake with a floating gazebo (yes, I said gazebo), and an estate with lavish interior design inspired by European country estates. It has everything we need as photographers to capture a good mix of rustic farm style photos to vintage and elegant style portraits in the estate. The Ashford Estate calls themselves a country estate with elegance and sophistication and we couldn’t agree more.
BONUS: The Ashford Estate’s library is a perfect place for an after-party, we would know, we’ve attended a few 🙂 They also offer world-class cuisine from the International Caterers Association Chef of the Year.
New Hope, PA
ABOUT: History buffs and those looking for rustic charm will love this cross between a historic estate and a country farmstead. HollyHedge Estate has truly stood the test of time. Original builder Watson Fell constructed the estate from the ground up in the late 1700s, and many of the buildings are still there today.
WHAT WE LOVE: The Barn provides a gorgeous backdrop for a reception with exposed beams and stones covering full walls. The delicious onsite catering has a farm-to-table premise and a big focus on sustainability for couples who want to go green.
BONUS: The nearby Inn at HollyHedge and nearby sister property, The Lumberville 1740 House – can accommodate over 60 guests between them, and will provide complimentary shuttle service for wedding guests, making transportation plans a piece of (wedding) cake.
ABOUT: ‘The Original’ Wedding in a Barn – this big, beautiful, red barn looks like its right out of a storybook with the scenery to match. Set on 145 acres in rural Pennsylvania overlooking rolling hills and grazing horses, Friedman Farms has all the coziness of ‘down-home’ a million miles away.
WHAT WE LOVE: The barn has been extremely well preserved and maintains much of the original woodwork throughout. Romantic lights line the barn and the venue offers an enormous list of items available for rent as well. Couples can get married under a big old oak tree overlooking the pasture and party all night long on the outdoor deck. And don’t even get us started on the sunsets – the best in PA!
BONUS: The barn is equipped with both heat and AC for year-round celebrations. Additionally, Friedman Farms allows couples to bring in any of their own decor, making it the perfect venue for DIY savvy couples.
ABOUT: Perona Farms manages to seamlessly and flawlessly execute rustic elegance. Two distinct venues – The Barn – a historic rustic barn built in the 1930s, and The Reserve – a Southern European style hacienda with rustic wood and stone touches – offer couples a choice of backdrop for their special day, complete with options for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies.
WHAT WE LOVE: Over 100 years of experience help set this family-owned and operated establishment apart (they’re fifth-generation owners!) and in all that time the values of family tradition have held steadfast. An onsite greenhouse makes for beautiful photos and helps play a part in the seasonal cuisine offered at weddings. Fresh basil is cut right from the plant to your plate! Gorgeous waterfront views of Perona Lake, a sprawling orchard and authentic farming equipment give way for creative shots throughout the day.
BONUS: Original owner Emil Perona started Perona Farms in 1917 as a simple dairy farm, but as his funds tightened he opened his farmhouse and property to boarders looking for a relaxing country getaway. In that time many famous faces stayed at Perona Farms, including baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and actress Eva Gabor.
Jay and Sandi had a pretty good idea of what the Mountain Top Venue was going to look like weeks before we arrived for Cary and Kelly’s Vermont destination wedding. Since Cary is a talented wedding photographer himself, he had made several trips up to the venue during the months leading up the wedding. Each time sending plenty of pics for them to see. As they drove up to the Mountain Top Inn on the morning of Cary and Kelly’s wedding, the first thing that came to their mind was that the photos they had seen simply did not do this place justice. It was from that moment on that their goal was simple. They were going to do everything they could to capture Cary and Kelly’s wedding in a way that showed off just how beautiful this place was since that was the main reason they chose the Mountain Top Inn to get married at.
Cary and Jay first me at one Jay’s workshops and the two of them have been friends ever since. Once engaged, Cary had a pretty good idea that Jay and Sandi were going to be the ones to photograph his wedding. He introduced them to Kelly and it became an even easier decision as the two of them fell in love with the engagement photos that Jay and Sandi captured for them. Due to running the studio, Jay and Sandi only take on a handful of destination weddings per year but this was far from a tough decision. Even though it was a 6-hour drive they had been looking forward to this wedding from the moment they booked it.
Jay and Sandi drove up the night before the wedding, stayed at an AirBnB only minutes from the Mountain Top Inn. As they drove up the venue the next morning they couldn’t help but think about how lucky they are to call this work. It was easily one of the most picturesque looking landscapes they had seen on the East Coast, and the ceremony location couldn’t have been any prettier. The arbor was set in a field with a beautiful lake and forest green mountain range just behind it as a backdrop. The weather was perfect, the sun was out, and the entire day couldn’t have gone any more perfect than it did. The day was filled with emotional moments that filled everyone’s eyes with tears of joy to moments of laughter that left us with memories that will surely last many years to come.
We couldn’t be happier for the new Mr. and Mrs. McCaughey and couldn’t be more thankful that the two of them chose Twisted Oaks to be the ones to capture their big day. Please take your time as you scroll through the photos below. It’s really is a beautiful thing being able to scroll through photos like these and truly feel like you were there.
Associate photographers Angela and Cecilia teamed up for this incredible wedding at The Morris House Hotel, and what an amazing job they did. This wedding was absolutely beautiful in every way. Tori and Corey said I do at the stunning Morris House Hotel surrounded by their closest family and friends and even their beloved pup, Huck. This wedding was a true love story and one that has come full circle if you will. As you are scrolling through you will notice an awesome shot of the bride and groom in front of The Bellevue Hotel, which is where the two met years prior. Victoria was leaving and in the elevator when Corey came running after her convinced she was “the one” and caught her just before the door closed. The rest, as they say, is history. What a beautiful story and an even more beautiful couple. Wonderful job Angela and Cecilia on this perfectly captured Morris House Wedding and congrats once again to the newlyweds.
Bride/Groom Prep Location: Morris House Hotel
Ceremony/Reception Location: Morris House Hotel
Bridal Gown: Sareh Nouri
Bridal Shoes: Stuart Weitzman
Videographer: Atomic Tangerine Productions
Sara and John got married at the gorgeous Perona Farms, the perfect rustic barn wedding that the two of them had dreamt of. This is such an incredible venue, one of our favorites, offering a nice mix of rustic and elegant. Sara and John were up for anything associate photographer Jenna had in mind for them when it came to their portraits just as long as they were together!! What more could a photographer ask for when photographing a beautiful looking couple at a venue that suits our style of photography perfectly. Jenna along with second photographer Inna did an outstanding job capturing this stunning new bride and groom on what they called their “best day ever”. Can’t beat that, we’ll happily take that any day of the week. Although we do hear that a lot from our clients 🙂 Congrats again to the newlyweds, we wish them nothing but the best!
Bride/Groom Prep Location: Courtyard by Marriott Rockaway-Mt. Arlington
Ceremony/Reception Location: Perona Farms
Bridal Gown: Morilee
Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Grooms Tux: Michael Kors
Grooms Shoes: Cole Haan
Videographer: DWhite Visuals
Florist: Presto Flowers
Wedding Cake: A Little Cake
DJ/Band: D’amico Entertainment
While we are in the process of merging our two websites together, we figured Blythe and David’s Old City Philadelphia engagement that Jay and associate photographer Eric shot together would be a great post to publish. As the studio continues to grow and evolve into one of the leading studios on the East Coast it makes a lot more sense to have everything in one spot. Currently, we have this site which has been the main website for the studio but has only been made up of Jay and Sandi’s work. The associate photographers’ work has always been and is still currently a separate website at Twisted Oaks Associates. While it may have made sense to keep the two separate we’ve decided to merge them together to create an overall better experience or our clients. Our web designer is hard at work and we should have the new site ready to launch in a few weeks.
Blythe and David had their engagement photos taken in Old City Philadelphia and are having their wedding photographed by our associate photographer Eric. Every now and then the lead photographer will bring a 2nd photographer to help out, especially when the photos are being taken in the city. Jay and Eric have worked together a lot and if their schedules line up often team up to photograph engagement shoots. While it doesn’t happen very often you will see why clients love it when it does as you scroll through the photos below. The two of them captured some awesome photos of the newly engaged Blythe and David. These two will be getting married at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in May of 2020 and we are all looking forward to seeing the photos that Eric captures for them. Do yourself a favor and take your time scrolling through these, there are some really great examples of Old City engagement photos.