If you’re tying the knot, or helping a loved one plan a wedding, hosting the nuptials in your own back yard is a great option. Garden weddings have a lot of things going for them: privacy, flexibility (you have full choice of dates and no time restrictions), and they’re inherently beautiful thanks to the natural setting. Getting married at home also saves a lot on a venue rental.
And just as there are many types of gardens, there are many types of garden weddings. Dress up your garden, dress it down, or simply leave it as is for a picturesque natural backdrop. After all, they are naturally romantic, with lush surroundings and fresh plants and flowers bursting with life.
Large or small, formal or informal, you can set up your garden to host any kind of wedding. Just don’t forget to take the following things into consideration.
Tidy things up
Just like great makeup begins with a good foundation, you’ll need to prep your garden well in advance. Take a look at the lawns; do you need to fix up any bare patches? Prune back overgrown trees, shrubs, or other areas? Rake up fallen leaves and loose clippings? Plant extra flowers?
Take note of any damp, swampy areas and consider whether you should provide guests with an advisory note about suitable footwear. If your patio or driveway is due for some maintenance, now’s the time to get it done, so grab those garden tools and get going (or set some of the younger members of the family onto the task). Remember to also consider accessibility for any elderly or disabled guests.
Decide on the theme
Having a central theme allows you to create a consistent look. A garden wedding should make the most of nature, using complementary color schemes and making the most of the surroundings.
Try using fresh cut seasonal flowers for centrepieces – you won’t need to look any further than your own flower beds. Daisies, dahlias, peonies, roses and hydrangeas are all commonly grown in household gardens and are also popular wedding blooms. You can also place bunches of fresh flowers all around your garden on the day to add color and enhance the special, festive atmosphere. Don’t go overboard, though – your garden’s natural beauty should be allowed to shine through.
And why not use fresh herbs from your garden in the meals and drinks on the day? Mint can be used to infuse cocktails, for example.
Have a back up plan
Outdoors events always require a weather plan. What if it rains? A Plan B could include a marquee or tent for shelter. It also pays to provide some light blankets or other warm wraps for people to cover up in case it gets too chilly, particularly towards the end of the night.
If you’re self catering, consider whether the in-house kitchen is large enough to provide for the number of guests. If you’re hiring a caterer, discuss how much space they will need for preparation.
Choose your menu carefully, as you want to avoid items melting or drooping in the heat. And plan to keep your guests well hydrated – beverages should be available from the start and throughout the event.
Will you be having a live band at the wedding? You’ll need dry and solid ground for the musicians to play on. If you don’t have a patio, look into erecting some kind of temporary platform for the band to set up their equipment on safely.
Don’t overcrowd the space – invite only as many people as your garden can comfortably hold. Don’t forget to account for catering staff, photographer, musicians and any other vendors. Plan to provide easy indoor-outdoor flow with access to all garden areas so guests can mix and mingle easily. Make sure there will be enough seating, including some in the shade (you may also want to provide sunblock and insect repellent for guests’ use).
Lighting is vital if your garden wedding will extend into the evening. Outdoor weddings lend themselves to tasteful, understated elegance. Candles and paper lanterns, or strings of colored lights are a great way of illuminating your garden. Determine if you’ll need any extension cords, how many outlets you’ll need, or consider installing solar lighting around the garden. As for power, it may pay to obtain a backup generator in case you need an emergency electricity supply.
Parking is another matter to consider. You might want to inform your neighbors ahead of time if people will be parking in the street.
Finally, you’ll need to provide bathroom facilities. If you’re making your indoor washrooms available, ensure they are well stocked with toilet paper and soap. Alternatively, you can rent portable toilets.