The historic Henry Breeding Farm has been a wedding venue for 10 years. It has steadily grown in popularity and now is booked solid through most of the year. For more information on the barn, visit www.bartholomewhistory.org.
The historic Henry Breeding Farm has been a wedding venue for 10 years. It has steadily grown in popularity and now is booked solid through most of the year. For more information on the barn, visit www.bartholomewhistory.org.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Weddings typically are associated with white churches and fancy banquet halls. But for many brides, a countryside barn is the new hotspot to be wed.

The trend has taken Indiana and the country by storm. Whether it is on reality TV wedding shows or in bridal magazines, barn weddings can be found just about anywhere a person looks.

One example is the old wooden barn at the historic Henry Breeding Farm in Columbus. Located between a green pasture and rows of corn, the farm is peaceful and still easily accessible from the highway.

Its history is rich in farm heritage. The former landowners donated the farm to the Bartholomew County Historical Society in the early 1980s.

“It was a working farm,” said Julie Hughes, executive director of the historical society. “They raised cattle. The lot immediately below the barn was the feedlot.”

Hughes said that the barn has been a wedding venue for about 10 years. The wedding space started out with just a few people who had heard about it by word of mouth.

Today, it has grown and is booked April through November. Although the barn has no heating or air conditioning, it remains a popular wedding destination.

“I get at least three phone calls per day for weddings,” said Kellie Todd, public relations coordinator for the historical society. “Barn weddings have that classic, old-time feel. You’re with your family. You’re out on the farm. You’re in the barn or you can get married in the meadow. You can have a classic celebration. It looks fantastic.”

Barns weddings provide more than just a vintage venue for couples, however. They also hold opportunities for farmers with barns looking to make extra money.

Todd and Hughes both agreed that farmers interested in opening a barn for weddings have some hard work in store. They also said that it is a profitable venture and high in demand.

In fact, the barn in Columbus is so popular that spots fill up a year ahead of time. Members of the historical society reached out to other farms to see if they would want to open up their doors for weddings to help meet the demand.

“We’ve talked to a couple of local farmers because we’re so busy,” Hughes said. “It is a lot of work. Parking is the biggest consideration, and also facilities like catering. Most barns do not have catering kitchens.

“When you take all things into consideration, you have 200 people coming to your barn. That’s 75 to 150 cars you have to find room for. But barns make a great wedding facility. There’s room for dancing, and a barn wedding here in the Midwest is somewhat quintessential.”

Hughes advised interested farmers to do their homework and learn about insurance policies and liabilities. She said to also consider whether hosts want to invest in chairs and tables, decorations and more.

“I would say if you want to start out and open a barn for weddings, contact somebody locally who already does weddings outside in a barn, whether it’s a neighbor or historical society,” she said. “After the first couple weddings, word of mouth will just spread.”

As for couples who are looking into a barn wedding, Todd encouraged them to do research in order to find the most suitable venue.

“Visit the location,” Todd said. “I strongly encourage that. Always call in advance and know when they book, because barn weddings are growing in popularity. The sooner you call, the better. Also, expect that each barn has its own eccentricities. One woman visited and said, “It smells like a barn!” With the quaintness come some quirks.”

For those looking to get married in a comfortable, cozy environment, barns such as the one at the Henry Breeding Farm are a good option.

“Somebody called in today that had been at a wedding here last weekend,” Hughes said. “They said it was the most relaxed wedding they have been to. They found having a wedding that was a little less formal and more relaxed was just exactly what they wanted.”