Real Brides: Rachel’s Rustic Barn Wedding

Rachel and Drew threw a country-themed, rustic barn wedding in Michigan

Real Brides: Rachel's Rustic Barn Wedding


When: June 3, 2016

Where: Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Saginaw, MI.  Reception at The Milestone Barn, Bannister, MI.

Photography: Allison Dittenbir Photography

Rachel and Drew grew up in the same neighborhood, and rode the same bus to school together.  It wasn’t love at first sight though, as Drew used to drive Rachel crazy! Several years after graduating high school, a mutual friend suggested that the two of them meet up.  When Rachel finally agreed, the couple became inseparable.

Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Caterer: Sullivan’s Black Forest Catering, Frankenmuth

Officiant: Father Pete Gaspeny, Holy Spirit Parish

Florist: Austin’s Florist, Freeland

Wedding Planner: N/A (Rachel and Drew did the planning with some help from family)

Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Before the Wedding: The bridal party met at Holy Spirit Catholic Church to do hair, makeup, and get dressed.

Rachel’s Wedding Theme: Country/ Rustic

How he proposed: He proposed at his cottage where we spent a lot of time fishing and spending time with family over the years. It was just the two of us and it was peaceful and perfect! We had plans for a large dinner with our friends and family that evening at a restaurant in our hometown to celebrate Drew being home on leave, and it turned into an engagement celebration!

Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Cake: Made by a family friend

Vows: Traditional Catholic Vows

Wedding Colors: Navy and light yellow

Linens: Purchased white linens for tables

DJ: Active Entertainment – DJ Jeff henning

First Dance Song: Old Love Feel New, by Chris Young

Honeymoon: We took a “pre-moon” so to speak (or a year late honeymoon since we were civilly married before he left for deployment), when he returned from deployment in October. We took a 3 day trip to Big Bear Lake in the Southern California Mountains. We stayed at the Marina Resort and had a lakeview room with our own fireplace, it was perfect!

Handmade/ DIY Wedding Items? Yes! Tons of the décor was made by my friends, family, and myself!



Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Wedding Party: 5 bridesmaids, 6 groomsmen, 1 flower girl

Bridesmaids Dresses: Navy

Groomsman Suits:  ‘Sharkskin’ (Dark grey) with a white shirt and navy tie

Rings: Rachel’s ring is from Zales, Drew’s ring is from Larsen Jewelers


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Yellow roses, white hydrangeas, eucalyptus leaves, white spray roses and baby’s breath

Rachel’s Dress: White

Shoes: Ariat cowgirl boots

Jewelry: Claire’s

Old, new, borrowed, & blue? My old was supposed to be a great aunt’s ring, but my mom forgot to bring it, my new was jewelry that my mom and aunt/matron of honor bought me, my borrowed was my veil that I borrowed from my husband’s cousin’s wife, and my blue was my toe nail polish!

On Wedding Planning: Since Drew was deployed, Rachel and Drew had to do the majority of wedding planning long-distance.  I asked for his input on a lot of things and his response was usually “do whatever makes you happy”, but I always made sure to check with him on everything to get thoughts and opinions.



My most memorable moment was during our first dance when he started singing our song to me. Just a couple of months after we started dating, he heard that song for the first time and when he came to pick me up that day, he played it and said “this is going to be our wedding song one day,” so the song means a lot to us. It was so cool to have hundreds of people in the room and yet feel like it was just us in that moment!


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


You and your husbands’ wedding advice: Finish the guest list first and go over it ten times to make sure you didn’t miss anyone! I forgot a groomsman’s parents, thankfully we had room and they were able to come, but it was definitely embarrassing. It was very difficult for us to do the guest list living apart from each other.

Who/what gave you the most help in the planning process? My matron of honor and bridesmaids helped a ton with decorations and listening to my bridezilla moments! My excel spreadsheet of our budget came in handy to remember who got deposits and when, and what was due and when.


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding cake topper


How much influence did your family/ fiancé have in the planning process? I mostly did what I wanted to do, my husband didn’t have too many opinions, but I did always give him the option to make the decision! My family didn’t have too much influence because I had a vision and I didn’t want to stray far from my vision.

What was the biggest roadblock that you ran into while planning the wedding? The guest list and finances since we paid for most of it ourselves

Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


Other goodies and Wedding favors: Our custom guest book was SO cool and definitely a little more of a splurge than your traditional guestbook. We ordered it from TheRusticEarth shop on Etsy, customized with the state of Michigan and our names and date. We got a lot of compliments on it! We also rented a S’mores bar for just $20, and it was a huge hit!

Which part of the process gave you the most stress? The guest list. I know I keep saying it, but it was the worst!

What did you do that you found helped out with stress the best? Calling someone to vent about it and talk it through.


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding- Smore's bar


Real Brides: Rachel's barn wedding


Is there anything that didn’t go as planned? Yes! I have wanted a trolley for my wedding ever since my aunt and uncle got married in 1992 and had one. That was one of the very first things I booked. After our ceremony, we were waiting but no trolley to showed up. I called the company and they said “we’re not sending the trolley, its broken, we’re sending you an upgrade of our big black bus instead,” and at that point I had a complete meltdown. I am still absolutely heartbroken that I did not have a trolley on my wedding day and the company handled the situation in a very rude and unprofessional manner.


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding- decor


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding - table settings


What was your favorite part of the experience/ event? I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one thing! I think everything from having a beautiful ceremony in the church we both grew up in (as opposed to being in a t-shirt and jeans when we got married at the courthouse), to just being able to celebrate our marriage with our closest family and friends. It was a wonderful day! Soak in every moment, from getting ready, to the last dance of the evening. Take mental pictures and get a great photographer! Our photographer caught every single little detail of our day and I could not be happier with how our pictures turned out.

If you could go back in time, what would you have changed? I would have paid to rent my linens rather than buying them like I did. It was such a pain trying to transport the tablecloths to my house, ironing them, delegating them for other people to iron, hanging them properly so they didn’t wrinkle on our way to the barn for set up, then having to take them all back home and try and get stains out of them and keep them from getting too wrinkly again (still working on this part, it’s not fun!)


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding yellow bouquet


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


What did you do to save money? We used family and friends! A family friend made the cake, my brother made us a cornhole game to use for entertainment, our DJ gave us a military discount, and we made most of the decorations ourselves. The ones we didn’t make I purchased at Hobby Lobby during their sales and always used a coupon. We kept our alcohol to beer and wine only, bought boxed wine a few at a time when Meijer had it on sale, and ordered kegs from Opperman’s Cork & Ale where they actually took back one of the full kegs we didn’t tap so we got a little money back. We also bought the baby’s breath and roses we used to decorate at the ceremony from Kroger which was MUCH cheaper than purchasing them from the florist. Our photographer also let us do a monthly payment plan interest free, which didn’t save us money, but it was a huge help! We also had a potluck style rehearsal dinner at our house, where we grilled hot dogs and brats and just had the basic backyard grilling sides supplied by our families.

What was your biggest splurge? I would have to say my dress(es)! I bought my original dress in 2013, it was a very expensive Maggie Sotterro, and when I put it on for the first time in January, it was NOT love like it should be. Fortunately, I was able to find a new dress on a resale page that was absolutely perfect (and significantly less expensive), but since I bought two dresses since I wasn’t happy with the first one, the dress was a huge cost! Brides, if you’re planning a long engagement, wait to buy your dress!


Real Brides: Rachel's Barn Wedding


This is the first barn wedding featured on The Wedding Cat – thank you to Rachel for sharing her wedding story!


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