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.