While not everyone wants to get hitched in an octagonal barn built in 1908, plenty of couples are choosing the rustic American Frontier Culture Museum for their big day. According to Cookie Toms, the Staunton location has grown in popularity over the past few years—in part, because outdoor venues are so in.
“We’ve had the very casual and the very fancy,” said Toms, the site’s communications officer. “We have people who put out a tablecloth and a centerpiece, but we’ve also had people who decorate for days!”
The site is ideal for anything from a small wedding to an event with 400 seated guests. Potential ceremony sites include a pavilion with breathtaking views, the octagonal barn, an onsite stone amphitheatre and a converted dairy barn that’s fully climate controlled. The rental fees of $725-1,700 include four hours for the event (although couples can set up earlier at no charge during business hours), and use of tables and chairs. Ample free parking is available.
Meg and Taylor Phillips chose the museum for their June wedding. The Alexandria couple got married in the amphitheater and held their reception in the two-story octagonal barn. Meg said she appreciated the reasonable prices and the location’s flexibility.
“The whole atmosphere was authentic, and it really lends itself to making it into whatever you want it to be,” she said. The bride even wore her favorite cowboy boots with her traditional white gown. And when rain threatened their outdoor event, the staff put up tents at the last minute to preserve the couples’ plans. People would be hard-pressed to find a more laid-back, accommodating venue, she said.
There are no food or alcohol restrictions, and the site offers warming kitchens, plenty of counter space, and ice machines. While the museum’s off the beaten path, Toms says couples “have total freedom to do whatever they want,” as long as they leave the setting as they found it. But they’ll have to do the work themselves—the venue doesn’t offer an event coordinator or wedding planner.
Visit frontiermuseum.org for more info.—Lynn Thorne