It’s hard to resist the rustic charm of a wedding thrown in a historic barn: the soaring wooden ceilings, the beautiful stonework, the striking setting, be it on a sprawling farm in the country or nestled among colorful gardens.
Lucky for us, the Philadelphia area has a host of gorgeous barns to choose from, all with their own distinct history and modern appeal. If this is the celebration you envision, there’s no doubt you can find the one nearby that’s perfect for your Big Day.
Brandywine Manor House
120 Germany Hollow Road, Honey Brook, 610-942-2200
History: The circa-1740s manor house was built as part of the property’s original 1,210-acre grist- and sawmill plantation along the Brandywine Creek. Renovated by the Eck family, who purchased it in 1983, it was then renovated again in 2010 after a fire destroyed all but the oldest part. In 2012, the family imported and rebuilt a circa-1794 barn on the property; when that proved very popular with brides and grooms (weddings have been held here since 2002), they added another 1800s barn to that one—and couples have been celebrating there ever since. S
Specs: All three outdoor ceremony options can fit up to 300 guests: Lakeview, in front of the property’s pond and underneath the arbor; the Glen, surrounded by tall trees and with the optional backdrops of a waterfall or gazebo; and the Garden Terrace, among the roses, in front of the pergola or in the gazebo. The tented Crowne Ballroom has room for 325 people to dine and dance underneath dreamy draping and twinkling lights, while the beautifully maintained Manor Barn has multiple spaces to host different parts of your 200-person event, from the Gathering Room and Barn Loft to the Open Hearth Patio, perfect for cocktail hour.
Highlights: With the diverse ceremony and reception location options at this Chester County space—on the water, in the rustic barn or the airy ballroom, in the woods or the garden gazebo—you can seriously tailor your celebration to whatever feels the most like the two of you.
Good to Know:Because the Crown Ballroom is essentially an open-air space (though there are optional sides to the tent), it’s typically closed from November to April. The venue has a Pinterest account with separate boards for each event space, to help you envision how your Big Day here might look.
Barn on Bridge
385 Bridge Street, Collegeville, 610-287-8771
History: Though the barn has been renovated to include all the modern amenities, the structure still has the original wood beams and stonework put in place when it was built in 1773 as part of a dairy farm. Robert Ryan Catering purchased the property in 2012, though events have been held there since the early ’80s.
Specs: You can host your reception for up to 200 people in a few different locales around the property. In the barn, guests will dine and dance in the open ground floor; two lofts on the second floor are perfect for an indoor cocktail hour. A permanent tent has been erected in the foliage-lined Upper Garden, so your Plan B is built right in; the Lower Garden, enclosed by a white fence and surrounded with flowers, can serve as the site for either a cocktail hour or an outdoor soiree.
Highlights: Before your Big Day begins, you and your ’maids get the run of the two-story Carriage House for your get-ready gathering—and after the ceremony (or throughout the night), it’s a private place where you and your new spouse can take a moment or two to your- selves before rejoining your party.
Good to Know: Any package you choose here includes the total foundation of your party: catering and a cake from The Master’s Baker, tables, gold Chiavari chairs, a champagne toast, and more than 300 linen options to choose from—plus an event planner and day-of coordinator.
The Inn at Grace Winery
50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, 610-459-4711
History: Formerly known as Sweetwater Farm Bed & Breakfast, these picturesque 50 acres in the Brandywine Valley are home to the site’s Quaker farmhouse, originally built in 1734 (with an 1815 addition), and a stately bank barn, constructed in the 1750s to malt barley and other grains for distilled spirits. The owners began taking in guests in 1983; the property was renovated in 2010 to host Grace Winery, complete with seven suites in the manor house and eight cottages.
Specs: After your ceremony, which can take place indoors or outdoors—on the front lawn among the trees, or in the amphitheater overlooking Sweetwater Woods—guests can mingle for a cocktail hour on the first floor of the barn, which houses steel fermentation tanks and rows of oak barrels, and spill out onto the stone patio. Your reception will take place on the barn’s second floor, where up to 140 of your nearest and dearest (or 100 from December through March, due to the first floor’s indoor-ceremony capacity) will dine and dance. You’re free to choose your caterer from a list of options.
Highlights: The venue’s bar top is made from the original steps of Independence Hall, there’s a wishing well for guests to toss pennies (and wishes) into during your cocktail hour, and the staff will set up a bonfire for late-night s’mores-toasting. Plus, your guests who stay at the inn can enjoy swimming, walking through the vineyards, riding, golf, and bocce on the farm’s grounds.
Good to Know: To hold your wedding here, you (or your guests) must book all the suites and cottages for the weekend and have them paid in full by one month before your date. Also, due to a township ordinance, your party’s got to end by 10 p.m.—and your bar service a half hour before that.
515 Painter Road, Media, 610-566-9134
History: This land, purchased back in 1681 from William Penn, was owned by eight generations of the Minshall/Painter/Tyler family before it became a public garden in 1944. The arboretum began with the vast private collection of two Painter brothers who were fascinated with the scientific study of plants, rocks, and other natural specimens. The barn was originally used to house harvested grains, but it was repurposed and added onto in the 1830s when the farm changed over to beef and dairy production. (It’s still one of the largest in the Delaware Valley.) The site has hosted weddings under the direction of Jeffrey A. Miller Catering for the past decade.
Specs: There are several structures and sites on the property that couples are welcome to use for their ceremony and cocktail locations. (Outdoors, for instance, you can say your vows in the magnolia or lilac gardens, followed by cocktails on the porch of Lachford Hall.) But the bank barn is the real star here; the three-story structure and mezzanine can host your reception for 140 people—or, with the tent erected over the adjacent patio, up to 200.
Highlights: Jeffrey Miller recently completed a $1.5million renovation of the barn, gutting the third floor and adding heat, air conditioning and on-site bathrooms (reclaimed wood was used for new walls and stairs, to preserve the original look of the barn), plus fans and bistro lighting in the brand-new tenting.
Good to Know: Because of a township ordinance, music must be turned off by 11 p.m.
533 Kings Highway, Swedesboro, 856-467-1300
History: This South Jersey barn is the result of a happy accident: Built in the 1940s to process the eggs distributed by the Rodes family’s poultry business, it was left empty for decades when a new facility was built. About four years ago, a family friend inquired about throwing a party in the barn; the township then borrowed it for jazz festivals. Wedding requests started
to come in, and over the past two years, the barn has been the site of numerous celebrations.
Specs: With its open floor plan, the barn can host up to 100 people for your wedding; the family intends to add space beneath it in the next few years for a separate ceremony or cocktail setting. Because the food is prepared off-site, dinner is served buffet-style, and while there’s a list of recommended vendors, you’re free to bring in whoever you like to transform the rustic blank slate of a space into the atmosphere you prefer.
Highlights: If you and your to-be have a welcoming, laid-back, homestyle BBQ kind of celebration in mind, you’ll love your menu options here: The family’s poultry business dates back to the 1880s, and they’ve been offering full-service catering since the 1950s, so barbecue—from brisket to pulled pork but especially chicken—is definitely their thing (with an eye-popping feast to go with it). That said, their menus are so extensive that they can do anything from gluten-free to vegan.
Good to Know: This is an authentic barn: no A.C.! (There is heat, however.) Because of that, the site shuts down in July and August.
1401 Morris Road, Blue Bell, 215-616-8104
History: The original property is deeded back to 1730 and by the late 1800s had grown to 825 acres. (When an owner built the giant barn for dairy farming in 1875, it was the largest in the United States.) It changed hands several times over the centuries, with each owner adding new structures and design elements (from more barns and silos to the property’s long white wall), resulting in the sprawling destination we know today.
Specs: If your guest list can’t seem to stop growing, you don’t have to scratch this spot off your list: When you throw your celebration in the Grand Ballroom, you can invite up to 350 people to party along with you. (The Silos Ballroom can fit 160.) There are also several outdoor options for your ceremony, featuring details like built-in gazebos and altars. Executive chef Mtele Abubakar emphasizes locally sourced ingredients, and his team will work with you to customize your menu.
Highlights: Between the Carriage House, the original Manor House and the East and West gatehouses, there are 141 rooms right on-site for your guests to crash in. If you prefer to gather for an after-party at sister property Blue Bell Country Club, a complimentary shuttle will take you and your guests down the block.
Good to Know: You can, if you choose, take advantage of this venue as a one-stop shop: They offer the in-house services of Willow & Thistle for your flowers and local photographer Tyler Boye for your pictures; the on-site Bakeshop at Normandy Farm can handle your sweets; and the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant can host your rehearsal dinner.
The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm
5281 York Road, Holicong, 215-794-5104
History: More than 100 acres of preserved farm land sprawl across Bucks County ,and this quaint historic inn sits right atop a patch of them. The manor house dates to 1740, while the barn went up in the 19th century to house horse stalls. Famed American playwright George S. Kaufman made the property his home in 1936, hosting other writers and celebrities of the time; it became Bucks County’s first bed-and-breakfast in the mid-’60s. Weddings have been hosted here for the past quarter century; current owners Mark and Deena Frank took over three years ago.
Specs: You’re free to use the entirety of the property to spread out your Big Day however you like: You can opt for an outdoor ceremony in the gardens or hold it in the barn, with space for up to 300. (The barn can host 120 for a seated reception.) If you’ve got more like 300 people you’ll be celebrating with, opt for a tented party on the grounds. The farm’s on-site restaurant chefs will prepare your meal with ingredients purchased from local farmers and purveyors—though you’ll have to bring your own booze, as there’s no liquor license. There are seven guest suites in the Manor House, six in the barn, and three in the Kaufman-era cottages.
Highlights: Two words: Miniature. Horses. There are also goats, flower gardens, walking paths and ponds. … And talk about first impressions: Like something out of a movie, your guests will arrive via a long country driveway lined with sycamore trees, disembark in front of a bronze fountain atop a cobblestone entrance, and be whisked into your party by the warm staff.
Good to Know: The inn only hosts one wedding per day, so the staff can focus all its attention on the celebrating couple—and to give you and yours the run of the place. To that end, couples are obligated to book at least 14 of the property’s suites on the night of the wedding.
This article originally appeared in the spring/summer 2017 issue of Philadelphia Wedding.