Why worry about décor if you can instantly have the best possible background to your wedding photos—nature itself. And that’s only one of the benefits of having a garden wedding!
But pulling off a garden wedding does take some unique planning. Is it the solution you’ve been looking for? From having it in your childhood home’s garden or at a traditional wedding venue, let’s get you down that green aisle!
Why a Garden Wedding?
If any of the following benefits and characteristics resonate with you, you could be the couple best suited for a garden wedding:
- One or both of you have wonderful memories of a childhood home with a pretty garden
- You’re a nature lover
- You want a casual, kid-friendly event
- There’s a tight budget for décor
- You want loads of colour in your photos
Does it tick your boxes? Here’s how you need to organise your big day in the garden.
The Wedding Basics
The Wedding Date
Be cognisant of the season when picking a date. The types of trees and flowers can help you pick the best time. You want the wedding background looking its best, which could be autumn for bright leaves or spring or summer for colours.
The season also determines what weather conditions you’ll need to plan for.
With the reception in the garden, you’re spoiled for choice for food options. Just make it work for your setup:
- 3- or 5-course meals if guests are seated at tables
- Picnic baskets and blankets for an informal day
- Finger foods so people can mingle
Here’s one of the best things about a garden wedding: you don’t need much décor. Rather, adding too much will spoil the overall effect the flowers and greenery are supposed to have. So, keep it minimal, benefit from the natural background and light for photos, and use your décor budget somewhere else.
A garden wedding can be small and intimate in someone’s backyard or you may find a wedding venue with a big, stunning outdoor area to hire. Make sure it works for your wedding ideas, by considering the following:
- Is there enough space for all guests?
- Does it offer shade—for the ceremony or anyone who needs a break from the bright South African sun—or will you need to hire coverings like a marquee?
- Is there a large enough parking area?
You can still wear your dream dress at your garden wedding. As mentioned above, this setup can cater for casual, formal or anything inbetween. But do take time to consider whether your dress is practical enough for the garden. For example, you’ll be walking over grass, so perhaps a shorter train is the wiser choice.
Even with nature creating the background, you’ll still order flowers for bouquets and perhaps a few table decorations. Make sure you pick flowers that can handle the heat and direct sun. Also have spraybottles with water on hand and appoint someone to give them a squirt now and then so they keep looking fresh.
The Garden Wedding Risk Checklist—5 Vital Considerations
So, you’ve got the basics down but still, having a garden wedding means you’re less in control compared to one in a church or hall. Chances are you’re still having nightmares about what could go wrong. If you make plans for the following five aspects, you can rest a little easier.
No weather channel will tell you exactly how the day’s rain and sunshine will pan out. All you can do is have a contingency plan in place for conditions like a sudden rain storm. A backup plan could be hiring a tent or moving everything to a nearby venue. Research your options to have a viable strategy in place.
Facilities like restrooms play a huge role in guests’ experiences and therefore the atmosphere of the day. Determine if there are enough toilets on site to accommodate your crowd and hire in portable ones if necessary. Don’t worry, these days you can find fancy porta potties or dress them up so they don’t spoil the view.
Preparing the Guests
Your guests’ experience will also be affected by whether their expectations are met. You need to prepare them properly for the unique setting of your wedding, so mention the garden wedding setup even in your invitations. This will help them plan sufficiently, so they come prepared:
- The right shoes for walking on grass or investing in heelstoppers so they can still show off their heels
- Certain guests may need sunblock to protect against the sun.
- They may opt for hats to match their outfits, rather than using the wedding programme to block out the sun.
Tip: make your guests ultra comfortable by telling them sunblock, sun visors and bottled water will be available on site.
Your uninvited guests may include mosquitoes, bees or flies. Plan ahead by asking the venue to check for any pest infestations. You can also keep insect repellant on hand, such as natural mozzie repellants in the form of citronella candles on tables or a spray on product for guests.
If your garden wedding will continue well into the night, make sure the atmosphere stays as enchanting as during the day time. You’ll need enough light so people can safely find their way, without the lights blinding them. Have enough batteries on hand for battery powered fairy lights, or a (reliable) generator to keep lights going, even if there’s loadshedding.
To give your garden wedding that ‘X-factor’, see how you can incorporate the following tips from experts:
- Define your space and create different settings, to help guests know how to utilise the space. For example, add couches or picnic blankets where guests can sit and chat, or a photo booth to capture memories.
- Put up clear signage so guests easily find the venue, even if it’s secluded.
- Keep kids busy with fun activities, like croquet or bubble blowing for the younger ones.
Garden Themed Ideas for the Day
- Reflect the garden theme in your shoes, by adding flowers to them, whether printed, painted or embroidered.
- Potted plants can serve as place cards. It’s a gift to take home and it won’t blow away if the wind picks up.
- Continue the theme in the cake decorations, so you create a unified look.
- Use pressed flowers with your invitations as a finer detail.
- Gift to guests can be a packet of seeds.
Last Tip: You Can’t Control Everything
You can see how proper planning can create that beautiful day you’ve been dreaming of your whole life; even if it’s outside in a garden. But truthfully, you’ll never be able to control everything. There are too many unpredicitable factors, like the weather. ‘Perfection’ may need to make way for ‘special and unique’. And isn’t that what love is?