'Western chic' wedding combines antique feel with modern touches
Michael and Shanna Lecy are BBQ-grillin', country music-lovin', cowboy boot-wearin' kind of people. When they got married last March, it was important to them that the wedding reflected their personalities, right down to the details.
So when deciding on a theme for their wedding reception, they chose one that felt like them. They call it "western chic."
"We put 'western chic' on our invitations because we wanted it to be a little less traditional. That's who we are," said Shanna Lecy, who lives in Plymouth and grew up in Alexandria and Spicer. "We wanted guests to wear their cowboy boots, or buy some for the occasion. We wanted them to have fun and experience something a little different."
Michael and Shanna had a traditional wedding ceremony at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar, where Michael grew up attending. Their reception, however, had a much less traditional feel. It was held at the Rusty Spur Arena at Paffrath Paint Ranch in Spicer, which is owned by Shanna's father, Joel Paffrath, and his wife Kris.
The Rusty Spur, a 70-by-100-foot arena usually used for cattle sorting events, ended up being an "unbelievable and unique" reception venue, Shanna said.
Many family and friends helped transform the Rusty Spur into a natural, elegant space for the big occasion. Paffrath sided the walls of the arena with reclaimed barn wood and purchased more than 300 palettes to create a floor space. Michael's parents provided many antique pieces they have collected over the years, adding to the reception's "cozy yet eclectic" atmosphere.
The couple also hired a decorator, Melissa Aker of Blessings and Blossoms in Raymond, to help turn some of their visions into reality.
One of those ideas was a non-traditional ceiling centerpiece that would tie the space together. With the help of Aker and some family members, the couple created a large chandelier made from white screen windows and adorned it with twigs, branches, strands of pearls and white lights.
"We kind of just threw some things together and came up with this really great piece," Shanna said. "It was probably one of the most talked about pieces of the whole wedding."
Other "western chic" decor included wall sconces made from rusted cans, burlap table runners, table centerpieces of antique bowls holding pearls, ornament bulbs and twine, and table numbers made from slabs of wood. The couple also had a whiskey-and-cigar bar in a small shed right outside the Rusty Spur.
"Everything ended up being beyond our wildest dreams," Shanna said. "We love to combine antique with modern and make it all work together, and that's what we did. There wasn't anything there that wasn't us."
For Paffrath, it was an honor to provide the reception venue and help make his daughter's wedding day special.
"It was a lot of work, but it was a labor of love," Paffrath said. "She did not quit smiling that day, and that's all that mattered. It meant a lot that she would want to share this with me."
Though Shanna and Michael loved everything about their "western chic" wedding, it was sharing the experience with their loved ones that meant the most to them, too.
"It meant the absolute world to us that everyone helped out. Our families became this massive team to pull everything together," Shanna said.
"It's hard to choose my favorite part of that day. It was wonderful to see all of our friends and family come in and enjoy the party, and know that they were there for us. And being able to look at Michael and call him my husband -- that was pretty special too."
Rustic yet elegant theme becoming more popular for weddings
More than ever, engaged couples want their weddings to be a reflection of who they are together.
One trend that has become popular are the ranch-style, country weddings with a rustic flair. For couples who didn't grow up on farms or ranches, however, finding a venue can be a little harder, but still possible.
Stonewall Farms, located just outside of Willmar, began hosting weddings and receptions last year. This summer, 14 couples will be married at the farm, said Kim Holmgren, co-owner of Stonewall Farms.
The 80-acre property, which overlooks East Solomon Lake, offers couples a simple yet elegant wedding ceremony on a pond, horse-drawn carriage rides, traditional yard games and a reception in a rustic barn, with lights twinkling on the crabapple trees outside.
"It's a beautiful place to get married," said Holmgren, who has had five children get married there already. "Most couples just love the farm-feel and the peacefulness out here. The natural surroundings make everything feel a lot more relaxed."
In the barn area, originally built to hold the Holmgren's Friesian horses, newlyweds and their guests can celebrate after the wedding in the spacious loft area. Its high vaulted ceilings and solid wood floors provide a good space for dancing.
Most couples who choose to have their wedding and reception at Stonewall Farms are going for that "rustic elegance" theme, Holmgren said. Because of the natural beauty of the outdoors and the unique feel in the barn, most brides don't do much "extra" decorating.
"Most people just add a few touches," Holmgren said. "They'll add some flowers, log platters or mason jars, that kind of thing. But it's already so pretty, they really don't need to do much else than that."