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Rustic Weddings - All About Burlap At A Rustic Wedding

Updated on September 7, 2012

Burlap for a Rustic Wedding

Rustic Weddings are all the rage these days. Every day brides are choosing to create unique, distinctive and memorable events for their special night. This is why burlap has become so popular all over North America. Read on to find out why burlap is so popular, including some interesting pictures from actual rustic events. I discuss the eco-friendly nature of burlap, what makes it a unique and memorable fabric to use for a rustic wedding, how to deal with burlap smell and recommend what weight of burlap you should use. There are a few neat things you can make out of burlap, including burlap wreaths and burlap pillows.

Photo courtesy of: Stacy Reeves

What is a Rustic Wedding?

Is a rustic wedding right for you?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the what a rustic wedding, here is a short description: Basically a rustic wedding moves away from the traditional weddings and substitutes a more earthy atmosphere for the standard wedding theme. There are a wide range of rustic weddings, from simply changing the locale to a rustic venue (such as a barn) all the way to a full-on rustic wedding with burlap tablecloths, napkins and invitations. Please check out my other lens detailing a few interesting rustic wedding ideas.

If you are a very traditional bride, rustic weddings are probably not up your alley. Rustic weddings are ideal for a bride that wants to differ slightly from the mainstream in order to reflect her individuality, to make the wedding night unique and to connect with a more earthy atmosphere. Some even plan rustic events so that their guests feel more relaxed, as it is less formal than the traditional wedding setup.

What is Burlap?

Green from Cradle to Grave

What is this fabric, that is so cheap, yet so useful that it can be used for myriad purposes, including making fantastic looking weddings? You guessed it - this unique fabric is called burlap (also referred to as jute). Burlap is made from the jute plant, which is know for its strength and durability. It is related to hemp, but doesn't have the stigma of being a narcotic and cannot be altered to be grown for illegal purposes.

Being a natural product, it is also safe and not hazardous to use or dispose of. Burlap is often used for gardening to cover up shrubs and to protect young plants. As a cotton-based product, it is completely safe to use and does not damage other organic matter. This means that even after starting its life as an environmentally friendly product, it maintains its eco superstar status even in its middle age.

Burlap will decompose naturally when left outside, meaning it will leave virtually no waste throughout its lifecycle. It is truly rare to find a product which starts out by reducing waste, then doesn't pollute or create any waste of its own, even after its intended use is complete. Read on for a few tidbits about what Burlap is used for - and how this humble product as depicted above can be transformed into a gorgeous base for a country them wedding.

What makes burlap so great?

The ideal base for a rustic wedding

Unlike other, more traditional fabrics based on cotton or polyester, burlap looks nothing like an ordinary fabric. It is coarse and uneven and often has blemishes in the weave. Ironically, it is the flaws of burlap that give it its unique charm. Burlap really looks great as the base of an event that is looking to portray a country/natural/rustic environment. Its flaws and uneven pattern look like they could have grown by themselves. What really separates a natural look from an unnatural one are the flaws and blemishes that all real living things have. You can always tell that an image is computer generated, simply because it looks too perfect, as if it could only exist in virtual reality. For a traditional wedding, its all about creating an environment that is more show than reflective of the actual participants. Burlap creates a more natural feel that is much warmer and can truly reflect the character of the bride and groom.

Please leave your comments at the bottom for reasons why you think burlap is great for rustic weddings.

Burlap Bag
Burlap Bag

Burlap Bags

Create unique takeaways for your special event

Burlap bags are a great way to create unique memorabilia for your event. Take the bags to a screen printer and have your pictures printed on them. You can then give the burlap bags away as a memorable token of the wedding. If you are doing a rustic event that it isn't a wedding (say a graduation ceremony perhaps) then rustic bags can be quite useful, especially if there is a loot bag of some sorts.

Burlap bags are quite durable due to the robust nature of burlap. They can carry quite a bit of weight in them, while still being quite light themselves. Here in Toronto where I live they charge us for bags at the grocery store (I hate it since you have to guess how many bags you need and it always ends up being a debate between me and the wife as to how many we should "order" - of course she is always right - lol) so your guests will be able to use the burlap bags for their groceries for a long time after the event is over.

Coloured Burlap

Is it worth the effort?

Some brides only want burlap that is in a different colour than the natural beige-like colour most burlap comes in. From my perspective the whole point of Burlap is to look natural and rustic and any modification to the naturalistic look ruins the effect. Here in Canada where we add an extra "o" after our "u"s it is extremely difficult to find coloured burlap. If you check out you will see a beautiful assortment of burlap colours, although only available in the USA.

So why use coloured burlap? Very simply, it allows you the flexibility to add a colour scheme to your wedding. For many weddings the colours of the wedding are central to the underlying theme. When you take into consideration that practically all bridesmaids have to dress in a specific colour, it can become extremely important to choose a complementary colour to match the bridesmaid dresses.

Burlap Coffee Bag
Burlap Coffee Bag

Burlap Smell

What to do when your burlap smells

Sometimes burlap comes with a natural scent which is unique to burlap. To some this smell can be quite offensive, which creates great consternation for brides who want to use the burlap at their wedding. It is not every roll that has an odour to it, but the ones that do can sometimes create a problem. As this can be a big issue, I am dedicating another lens to the topic of burlap smell.

The short and sweet version of the lens is this: First and foremost, try to air out the burlap, preferably in a covered area such as your garage if you plan on leaving it for a long time (leave it for a week and check that the smell is going away). For faster results, leave it in the sun. If that doesn't work, try wiping down the burlap with a damp cloth (you can use a touch of soap or detergent if you feel it needs a little cleaning) and wipe it down. This will rub off any external chemicals that were used to treat the burlap. As a last resort, you can always use Febreze or a similar deodorizing product, but this is strictly a last resort.

10 oz Burlap
10 oz Burlap

What weight of burlap to buy?

How is burlap measured?

Burlap usually comes in two medium weights - a 7oz and a 10 oz weight. Fabric is usually measure in ounces per square yard (in Canada and the rest of the world we are supposed to do grams per square metre) but is usually abbreviated to just the weight. You should be very careful to only buy burlap that is at minimum a 7 oz weight, otherwise your burlap will be completely see through. For most people, you will probably be happiest with the 10 oz weight as that has a nice rugged look and feel to it. Being a very cost effective product, it will not cost you much more to upgrade to the 10 oz weight. Some online stores will neglect to mention the weight that they are selling for various reasons. Make sure to inquire before purchasing, as you may be pretty disappointed. Where I work, we only carry 10 oz as that seems to satisfy almost everybody.

If you are wondering how the weight of burlap is measured - here's a quick hitter on fabric weights. As I touched on above, fabric is usually measured by its weight per square yard. Traditional fabrics (such as those you will find on your bed) will usually also have a thread count attached to it as an indicator of the quality of the fabric. This is not relevant to burlap since it has big, large threads and it is not important for it to be soft to the touch. The measure of fabric that is relevant here is the weight, since durability and the tightness of the weave is paramount for burlap. Given that, unless you are using the burlap for ground cover where you want plants to be able to poke through, you want a heavier fabric which will hold up as a tablecloth, table runner or similar.

Burlap Gardening
Burlap Gardening

What to do with the burlap after the wedding?

Use it for gardening!

Most brides who do a rustic wedding are environmentally conscious and eco-friendly. You would be remiss if you simply dumped all your beautiful burlap table cloths and aisle runners in the garbage, so what do you do to squeeze more use out of your burlap? Here are two simple suggestions:

1) Donate or Sell the Burlap Donate your burlap to your local community center in hopes that another lucky bride will be able to create a wonderful event using your burlap. Alternatively, you can always put your finished items up on craigslist or kijiji to sell it. The most important thing is to extend the lifecycle use of the burlap.

2) Use it for Gardening! Burlap is so versatile that it can even be used to cover shrubs and bushes. Being a natural product, it not only looks normal protecting shrubs and bushes, but it will also decompose naturally without harming the plants or the environment. You can also fashion burlap bags to use as cool bio-degradable plant pot.

4" Tree Wrap Burlap - from YourFabricSource

4 x 100 yards Burlap Roll
4 x 100 yards Burlap Roll

I personally have done business with the company supplying this product. YourFabricSource is a great e-tailer on Amazon. They answer all your questions and ship orders out right away. Located in the MidWest, they are centrally located so that your order gets to you fast and easy.

Burlap Wreath
Burlap Wreath

Burlap Wreaths

Not being an artist myself, I can merely point to a neat idea for using burlap at a rustic wedding. You can find many cool burlap wreaths on Etsy, where many crafters of burlap reside. For a simple rustic wedding, often only a burlap tablecloth or burlap table runner is require in order to invoke the rustic atmosphere. However, for those that want to go all out, creating or purchasing burlap wreaths can really complete the rustic atmosphere.

Burlap wreaths do not need to be restricted to full-on rustic weddings and can be quite tasteful in an outdoor setting. They can be hung as decorative elements either for the wedding canopy or even the aisle. If the bridesmaids are dressed in a rustic theme, small burlap roses can be fashioned to accentuate the style.

Burlap Pillow
Burlap Pillow

Burlap Pillows

If you are setting up the Bride and Grooms table for a rustic wedding, you may want to spice it up with some neat burlap pillows. For a detailed insight on how pillow forms are made. You will find it quite intriguing the detailed process involved in manufacturing the pillow form that will go inside your burlap pillows.

There are a few ways you can really make the table stand out, including the above-mentioned burlap wreaths. If you really are going all out with the rustic wedding theme and want to do everything in burlap, you definitely want to make some burlap pillows. They are relatively easy to make, since you only need to sew up a square piece of fabric. Ideally, you want to add a zipper (somewhat harder to do) or alternatively, you can create a flap at the back. I will hopefully add a lens on how to do this sometime in the future.

To really make your burlap pillows pop, screen print the fabric with a picture of the bride and groom, or with their names on it. This will also create a great memento for the couple to keep around the house as a memory of their special night.

Burlap Table Runners
Burlap Table Runners

Burlap Table Runners

Burlap table runners are actually pretty easy to make. I wrote another lens about how to make burlap table runners. Basically, you take a full width roll of burlap (either 40" wide or 60" wide) and then cut it down to your desired width. Once you have cut it to your desired width, you will then need to cut them down to your desired length - I know, its super complicated...

Now all you need is a serging machine. If you don't have one, you can probably find one used on eBay for a reasonable amount of money. Simply sew up your burlap table runner and presto! you have a nice, simple elegant burlap runner that should look similar to what you see in the picture (that is an actual photo of one that we made).

Common sizes include 14" x 72" all the way to 14" x 132". Some prefer the 12" wide, but this should all depend on the width of the actual table it is being used on.

If you are in the USA - is a great place to buy burlap table runners. They offer great prices with great customer service.

Burlap Tabelcoth
Burlap Tabelcoth

Burlap Tablecloths

Burlap tablecloths are a great way to put a lot of burlap into a rustic event. There are a variety of burlap tablecloths which you can read about on my lens featuring some great burlap tablecloths - head on over there to check it out. I list 3 sources for where to buy basic burlap tablecloths and feature a couple of great Etsy hand made burlap tablecloths. I hope to add more Etsy makers (and ideally someone with their own website in need of promotion). I truly love all the neat things made out of burlap and burlap tablecloths truly epitomize the versatility and elegance of this one of a kind fabric.

Burlap Chair Sashes

Another neat burlap idea

It seems like burlap is great for an almost endless assortment of wedding linens. Burlap chair sashes are anywhere between 4" wide to 9" wide, depending on the look and feel you want for your chairs. Unlike linen sashes, burlap sashes shouldn't run you too much money. You can click on the picture there to get a purchase it on ebay for a great price. Simple burlap sashes can be a very cost-effective way to spice up your wedding.

You can purchase your sash in either a low-weight 5 ounce fabric or a more refined 10 oz weight. The 10 ounce weight is what you will usually see used for the tablecloths and table runners. My personal opinion is that the thicker fabric drapes nicer and looks more elegant. The light fabric often looks cheap and too shabby, even on the rustic end of the spectrum.

Sashes are easy to make yourself as they can even be cut out of regular burlap fabric. They are ideally sewn around the edge, but you can get away with an unfinished edge if you are in a bind.

Rustic Wedding Poll

Why did you do a Rustic Style Wedding?

See results

Burlap Tablecloth Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Burlap Runner Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Your Rustic Wedding Experiences - Or comments on this lens...

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice, I'm a big fan of the rustic wedding. Actually anything that is rustic and looks antique. Nice lens

    • ruth-williams lm profile image

      ruth-williams lm 

      6 years ago

      I just love a rustic/vintage wedding! Those burlap chair sashes are so pretty as well, look much more expensive than a simple DIY!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! I have some burlap wedding invitations at

    • ismeedee profile image


      6 years ago

      Burlap is beautiful stuff! And I love that it is so eco friendly!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image


      6 years ago

      So pretty! I think rustic weddings are so gorgeous!


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