All you need to do is quickly Google "rustic barn wedding" or poke your face into Pinterest for a hot second and you'll be met with more exposed wood than a lumber yard. Twinkle lights will hang from every rafter like tiny illuminated bats. City girls like me are flocking to barns for their weddings like it's a midnight release party for the last Harry Potter book. We're foaming at the mouth for these barns.
But let's get real, a lot of us have never even been inside a real barn. And if we ever did, the last thing we'd think was "wow, this would be a great place to bring all of my family and friends who are dressed in their finest clothing." Let's get real: a real life barn smells like shit most of the time. Pinterest leaves this part out.
I understand why some people feel annoyed with the mad rush of barn weddings. The idea that someone would spend thousands of dollars to get married in a barn is sort of hilarious. And frustrating. For some people a barn is part of their livelihood. And there are perfectly decent places to get married in suburbia and in cities.
But let's also get real about this: there is a reason people are drawn to barns. Or, there was a reason I was drawn to a barn.
For a girl who grew up reading Little House on the Prairie there are few things more romantic to me than the idea of growing up surrounded by nature. Never mind they had the constant threat of death by house fire or malnutrition and never mind that an orange was the best present you'd ever get, that shit was quaint.
There's something beautiful, romantic, hardworking, sad, timeless, and deeply, deeply human about a barn.
A week before I got engaged I'd quit my job at a successful start up tech company in Seattle. While I'd loved my coworkers, I'd struggled to connect with the mission of the company. As a student of literature and creative writing, I never quite connected with the passion for the technology. The fever for advancement left me sweaty.
And even today, over a year later, I spend my days looking at screens from my computer to my phone to my TV. I often think of the sea-shell wearing characters of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 who spend their days staring at wall screens. There were times at the tech company, as I sat in meetings discussing web analytics and how companies can make more money using these analytics, when I literally craved paper. I was starving. If I could have, I would have burrowed in the dusty halls of an old library and eaten my way through pages like a starving caterpillar. I wanted to throw my computer in a dumpster. I became obsessed with trees.
The very last song I played at my wedding was "Return to Innocence" by Enigma. And while yes, 99% of this choice was because the song played at the end of JTT's 1990 film Man of the House, the other 1% was because I truly wanted to return to a place of simplicity. I wanted my marriage and our wedding day to be like the soil beneath our feet. Something simple, yet powerful and capable of growth. A return to innocence, you know what I'm saying?
Back to the basics. What makes us human? What makes us a man and a woman, a partnership, a pair that wants to move forward in life together? Keep it simple. Let's return to something human and rooted in history. The earth. Agriculture. Land. Homesteads. Barns. Exposed fucking wood. These are things that help remind me that I am human.
I think my generation feels a pull to these places for very distinct reasons. For many of us, our lives are dominated by the advancements in human engineering and technology. What we touch on a daily basis, is man made. From our coffee makers in the morning, to the alarm clocks we set at night, the alarms that remind us to once again wake up and drink coffee before checking our email on our computers; we are ruled by plastic and metal.While these advancements have improved our lives immensely, they often lack the warmth and richness of an open field.
When I said my vows, there was a wall of exposed wood behind me. We strung lights from our reception space like lightning bugs hanging in the air. And even though there are people who might look at my photos and think, "are you shitting me? Another barn wedding?" I know I was simply trying to return to something that has lately felt unattainable, something more innocent, something deeply human.