Barn wedding burnout? Central Pennsylvania appears immune

Steve Groff, owner of Wyndridge Farm in York County, seen above, said when it comes to planning a wedding "in this crazy world ... people have a yearning for what is authentic and real." - (Photo / Submitted photo)

Farm weddings may not be the hot trend they once were, but no one told local couples that.

Area wedding professionals and those who own farms that have been repurposed as wedding spaces say business is better than ever, and shows no signs of slowing down.

“It is definitely still a growing portion of the industry,” said David Cole Snook, owner of Mx2 Event Design in Harrisburg. “We’re actually seeing an influx of out-of-state folks coming here specifically for that.”

He said Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural heritage means many farms are both authentic and well maintained, making the region a wedding destination for those in search of the latest version of the trend: rustic elegance.

“It’s not rickety old barns, but well-kept spaces in really good shape — some of which even offer modern conveniences,” Cole Snook said. “Barns are still being used, but it’s not as rustic as it used to be. Now they’re bringing in high-end decor.”

Submitted photo

Kim Hanlin, owner of Fallen Tree Farm outside of Carlisle in Cumberland County, said she began opening her horse farm to weddings about five years ago as a way to pay for necessary renovations.

“We had stone ruins of an old bank barn and were trying to repurpose that,” she said.

At first, it was just ceremonies. Then came a tent for receptions. Now, bridal parties and families will book the four guest rooms in the farmhouse to stay overnight. “A lot of them like it because it’s like having their own little farm for the weekend,” she said.

Nancy McKinney, owner of Pleasant View Farm in New Cumberland, Cumberland County, said most of her business comes from local couples who grew up in country settings and want their special day to reflect their roots.

“I have to chuckle whenever I hear that the farm wedding trend is done because I’m booking more and more weddings every year,” she said.

While she and her husband live in the farmhouse, wedding guests can stay in the main inn or carriage house, of which their bed-and-breakfast business is comprised.

Cole Snook said demand is high, with many places booking out two years in advance. While some of the demand comes from local couples, many from metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Delaware are drawn to the area because their wedding dollar goes farther than it would in an urban area.

“These venues aren’t cheap — some can be quite expensive,” he said. “But the economy is different here, so catering and florals and other costs are less than they would be elsewhere.”

Steve Groff, owner of Wyndridge Farm in Dallastown, York County, has found that to be true during the three years he has been in business.

In addition to repurposing the old barn on his family’s farm for weddings and other events, Groff and his wife opened a restaurant that serves upscale American cuisine featuring quality food made from scratch from fresh ingredients. Their brewery makes craft beer and hard cider that is sold both on-site and in grocery stores in nine states.

“It’s a really unique place,” he said. “We don’t have lodging, but we have become a destination.”

With 85 weddings on the books for his fourth year of business, Groff said he thinks people are looking for ways to reconnect and gather in simple settings where they can still enjoy modern amenities.

Besides weddings and corporate meetings, the farm has hosted paint nights and events such as its first Fall Fest, which drew 2,000 people for hay rides, live music and food trucks.

“This is a place to celebrate life,” Groff said. “Family is still a big thing, and in this crazy world, I think people have a yearning for what is authentic and real.”

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