Privilege Blog

What To Wear, And What Not To Wear, At A Farm Wedding

Twenty-five or thirty years ago I attended a wedding on a New Jersey farm. The land had been in the bride’s family for generations, complete with corn fields and hay bales. The groom was the brother of a man I hoped anxiously to marry. That man would eventually propose, and I would accept.

In the early 80s a 25- or 26-year old unmarried High WASP might worry about what to wear to the wedding of her hoped-for brother-in-law. She might attend the event with an unquiet heart. And show up noticeably fancier than most of the other guests.

I still remember my outfit – a pale pink linen camp shirt, black button-up cotton knit vest cinched with a thin black patent leather belt, mid-length pleated white cotton jacquard skirt, and a white, round-crown, wide-brimmed hat. Also pearls. A lot of fabric, but our motto for the early 80s was. “In Volume We Trust.” Why I forget what shoes I wore I cannot tell you.

Recently, a young woman got married on her own farm, and asked me if I had any good wardrobe recommendations for her family and guests. High WASP training strengthens sartorial understanding as much as it saps the necessary courage for love. And yes, perhaps only in this culture are skirt fabric and matters of the heart so closely linked.

For the record, I do not suggest belted knit vests. Or the nervous smile that must have accompanied my every move. But cotton jacquard is the right fabric. Polished cotton works too. And longish and fullish is a very good silhouette.

What to wear to a wedding on a farm? A dress or skirt in a non-shiny fabric that won’t snag on hay bale seating, something long and full enough to allow for sitting on the ground if the picnic benches get crowded. Oh, and flats or wedges. No one likes to sink into dirt, no matter how glamorously.

The Grande Dame takes cotton jacquard to its most refined extreme. Has the hardest time choosing which of her hats to wear. The Artsy Cousin tries to make her mother happy, decides the universe is giving permission to mix purple stripes with a feather pattern. Just as well. The motorcycle boots might not have thrilled Mom. The Sturdy Gal is perhaps the happiest of all at a farm, unless she’s wondering why, oh why, everyone else is getting married while she is not. If you can’t wear flowered plimsolls to a farm wedding, when then? Her jeans jacket might raise a few well-plucked eyebrows, but she brings great presents. The best sort of guest, one you can count on to talk to Aunt Priscilla about terriers.

It’s August. I wish all you late summer brides and guests wonderful farm weddings, in Maine, Bedminster, Sonoma, Purdue.

May the sun shine and the mosquitoes sleep deeply.

What To Wear To A Farm Wedding in 2016

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46 Responses

  1. “…but our motto for the early 80s was. ‘In Volume We Trust.’” Oh, the prairie skirts with their lacy petticoats peeking out from beneath the hem, and the hair, teased and sprayed to an extent it wouldn’t wobble in a windstorm. I cringe a little when I think about it.

    Sturdy can, indeed, be cute too. And that ensemble is.

  2. I love them all, but once again Artsy Cousin’s outfit is my favorite. I wish I weren’t so typical :)

  3. This is amazing! I will link to this from the Farm website now that we’re trying to turn it into a legit wedding venue.

    As always you are both helpful and hilarious. Love it!

  4. What an interesting situation! I suppose older ladies would dress in Grand Dame style, only black pants, perhaps, and sturdy shoes…the same as for funerals in the country.

  5. Suddenly I find liking all your suggestions. These are all great for young women, sigh.
    I believe that the ” really ” elderly folk would dress for the occasion, be it anywhere.
    So, we ” certain aged ” would have to choose something -in between. But then again, this latter was off topic.

  6. Hm. I think the final incarnation is my favorite. I’d love to see how this could be adapted for, as Mette says, “certain aged” women. The floral shoes are less charming with kankles.

  7. In the 80s we wore many vests, and yours sounds lovely.

    Vests are coming back, but I fear we can’t wear them this go ’round.

  8. Jussst when I’m sure I’ve ascended to Artsy Grande, you go and blow me right back to Cousin with one deft [brilliant] stroke: “The Artsy Cousin..loves that gray OIlily on the right, finds it’s sold out and takes that as the universe giving permission to mix purple stripes with a feather pattern.” It’s like you’ve got a laser beam aimed cross country directly into my brain. Welcome!

  9. I like number one best, though without wedges. IMO Charlotte is correct about floral shoes and kankles (a term I haven’t heard for a long time). That said, if the weather is bad, one might consider any of the fun Wellies available :)

  10. I attended an evening wedding reception on a farm this past fall, and was thrilled to doff my suede Te Casan art deco heels and accessorize my silk dress with knee-high pink/brown argyle socks and a pair of trusty green Le Chameau wellies.

  11. My BFF got married on a farm. I’m a true city girl at heart and she had to remind 10+ times not to wear heels!!

    I wore flats *cringe* and suffered through it!

    I will say it was one of the most stunning weddings I have ever attended in New England in the early summer.

  12. I always thought that for a wedding in the country side I would like to look like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, when they go to see the Polo match…except of course that I do not look the very least like Julia Roberts ;)

  13. Funny, I can’t remember the shoes, either. I do remember wearing an yellow knife pleated skirt and embroidered blouse from Hungary. It was 1980. I’m sure I wore pantyhose.

    1. Oh absolutely! Cream ground fabric with red mini daisies sprinkled all over or an off-white ground fabric with poppies floating across the hem borders, go for it! In fuller and longer skirts of the 50’s vintage ilk, these feel very girly and are perfect for an outdoor venue. I’d wear some ballet flats or maybe low-heeled ankle wrapped espadrilles or even a St. Tropez sandal if the venue is more park-like than Green Acres.

  14. Once again I find myself between styles, I’d wear the Grande Dame’s dress and hat and is that a pretty printed shawl in the background? I love the Arty Cousin’s purple shoes. They grey dress is a definate yes but the print isn’t a good substitute for me and I just look silly in a headband.


  15. I’m liking the top choice best, although Sturdy Gal is a close second (those floral oxfords got to me). Now to find someone getting married on a farm.

    xo Mary Jo

  16. What perfect timing! An invitation for just this very sort of event appeared in my mail a week ago and until now, I had not given any thought about what I would be wearing. I am surprised that I am so drawn to Queen of the Farm’s look, especially the frock and hat! I never thought of myself as a Grande Dame type (more the Sturdy Gal type, I was sure) and I certainly don’t see myself as “elderly” in any way! Thanks for the suggestions; I now have a list in hand and I’m ready to go shopping!

  17. Oh what fun have never been to a farm wedding..wonder why I thought square dancing !!! Ida

  18. The Grande Dame dress is my favourite. Wedges or flats are definitely a must for a farm wedding. It would be so fun attending one. :)
    ps: thank you for stopping by my blog

  19. “In Volume We Trust”

    Oh that’s so funny, I’ve never quite shaken that off, I need to translate it into Latin .

  20. Thank you so much for your sweet visit!

    All those looks are absolutely gorgeous! I have never been invited to farm wedding but I would love to and probably I would wear something like “Grand Dame”.

    Have a lovely day!! Hugs

  21. I always dreamed of having my wedding on my aunt’s Virginia farm. There is nothing more romantic to me than a low-key celebration of love. I adore the Artsy Cousin earrings. ;)

  22. Your description of your experience in the 80s is too funny. I can only imagine the nerves involved in attending the event and the worrying spent over finding the perfect outfit. Glad it all worked out in the end!

    Meanwhile, your first suggestion for a contemporary far wedding is great! Love the dress…

  23. Ahhh, polished cotton, bliss. The description of your ensemble for the wedding is stellar, I can almost see you in all of your lovely, anxious prettiness. Every one of the style boards is great Miss Privilege, I think I like the Grande Dame the best.

    Sending you a smile,

  24. You mention Kansas…I’m beginning to wish our wedding WAS on a farm. I like the sturdy gal shoes you selected.

  25. That Nina Ricci dress takes my breath away. Gorgeous! I would wear it to the farm wedding or to dinner. I’d find an excuse to wear it anywhere.
    In Lovely We Trust.

  26. Dear Lisa, Aren’t weddings such happy occasions? Cotton Jacquard is such a great fabric for a summer wedding as it would wear well during the day and not be entirely marred by wrinkles by the time one sat down to dinner. All of your dress choices are lovely. I also love the black wedges – height but comfort. You made me laugh with your comment “In Volume We Trust” as it was so true. I recall the bridesmaid dress I wore to my sister’s wedding – it was puffy and yet at the time unremarkable. I wonder what photos of us from this era that we shall cringe at when flicking through the photo albums in twenty years time. love Lindaxxx

  27. Ally – :).

    Jan – Eeeeek! Prairie skirts. Oh lordie.

    Emmaleigh – Oh don’t call it typical. We say, “Consistent.” ;)

    Zan – I had no idea this was a business venture. I wish you all good fortune.

    Valentine – Interesting. I think a tunic and pants, with sturdier shoes, would be the norm in my family.

    Mette – I’m very flattered you like my suggestions!

  28. Charlotte – OK. A round for the ‘certain age,’ coming up.

    Jen – The title, my dear, is yours:).

    Louise – Vests were fine in my days of of a 25-inch waist:). I fear now I would become too much of a rectangle.

    Flo – I’m honored. I am learning in the way that bats navigate – sonar:).

    J.W. – Wellies! They would look perfect.

    Patsy – Yes, albeit scratchy. Hay, splinters, etc.

  29. Miss Cavendish – Did the argyles peek out the top? I hope so.

    Melanie – Ha! True city girl indeed. The wedding sounds beautiful.

    Marcela – That’s right! What did she wear? I will have to go look. Thanks.

    DocP – Wait. Were you there? Knife pleats. Knife pleats indeed.

    Amanda – Thank you. Yes, the Artsy Cousin loves 50s dress. Do you read Fashion for Nerds? Audi posted this week on a vintage 50s dress she wore to a wedding:).

    Darla – Yes, it’s an Hermes shawl. I liked that grey dress too and was interested to see that Oilily was doing some nice stuff for adults.

  30. Mary Jo – It’s quite au courant, the farm-ish wedding these days. I bet someone will surprise you. xox.

    Beautiful Dreamer – This pleases me to no end! Note that the Grande Dame is not necessarily elderly. It’s just an attitude. One can take it up at any age:). Have fun getting fancy.

    LilyAlcott – Oh gosh. White stockings. Never again. I’m done:).

    Alicia – Thank you very much!

    Classiq – You’re very welcome.

    Tabitha – OK go! I took Latin Pass/Fail and I remember NOTHING! :).

  31. Julia – I completely agree.

    MM – My pleasure! Grande Dame it is:).

    Glitterista – I hope your wedding happens just like that. And yes. The earrings!

    Couture Carrie – Why thank you ma’am!

    Alexis – Thank you. I’ve been admiring that dress for a couple of months:).

    TPP – Thank you Princess. Polished cotton is bliss. Why is it not ubiquitous then?

  32. Legallyblonde – You would love the discussions between me and my siblings:).

    Terri – I can certainly see you in the Sturdy Gal shoes. Weddings on farms are great – the surroundings do the decor for you.

    Caron – Well, as a Queen, I salute you.

    Linda – Yes weddings are lovely. They really are. You are so right about the unremarkableness of those sorts of dresses. How did we use so much fabric towards so small an end?:)

  33. The farm animal accessories clearly make the outfits. I’m going to a steampunk-themed wedding at the Bohemian Grove in October and my mind is reeling with the outfit possibilities. Steampunk is one thing, but the Bohemian adds a whole other layer to it.

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