Outdoor Wedding Receptions

Outdoor wedding receptions offer outstanding natural beauty for your celebration.

Outdoor Wedding Reception ideas

Outdoor wedding receptions have a natural charm, but there are some unique factors to consider if you want to take this approach to celebrating your special day. Getting organized and planning ahead are crucial elements of any successful outdoor wedding reception.

Selecting the Perfect Venue

There are many lovely outdoor sites to be considered when thinking up outdoor wedding reception ideas. Some will only work on a seasonal basis. Others, depending on your location and tolerance for the elements, are timeless.

As a general rule of thumb, getting married in a friend or family member's backyard is the most affordable choice. You might want to get married in a local park or at a nearby beach, but keep in mind you'll generally need a permit to do so. Wineries, country clubs, hotel grounds, museum grounds, and estates are options to consider as well, but this can be considerably more expensive.

As you're looking at wedding venues, ask about any pertinent local ordinances. For example, most cities don't allow outdoor music after certain hours. Some areas also require open flame permits if your caterer needs to use chafing dishes or if you want to have candles for decorations.

Planning Your Decorations

Outdoor Wedding Reception ideas

One of the advantages of an outdoor wedding is that you won't need much in the way of decorations. Flowers that are naturally blooming when your wedding will take place can add to the ambiance without adding to your budget. A lovely view of a nearby lake is another ornamental feature that can create a wonderful backdrop for your photos.

If you want to add additional decorations, paper lanterns strung from the trees are a frugal way to add a pop of color. Solar lights are a good option for evening weddings. You may also be able to borrow potted plants from a friend or family member who loves to garden.

Keeping Your Guests Comfortable

Don't forget to make it clear on your wedding invitations that your reception will be held outdoors. This will allow your guests to dress appropriately for the weather.

Other tips to help you keep your guests comfortable include:

  • Provide a beverage station with bottle water and non-alcoholic drinks to encourage guests to stay hydrated in warm weather. Lemonade and ice tea are both good choices.
  • Provide buckets on your reception tables filled with travel-sized bottles of sunscreen, visors, and sunglasses for your guests.
  • Strategically set up fans throughout the area. Providing handheld fans might also be a good idea.
  • If you are in an insect laden area, have plenty of citronella candles, and perhaps even bug zappers, on hand. Annoying pests can really get in the way of a good time.
  • Make sure that your outdoor wedding reception has adequate restroom facilities. If there are no indoor bathrooms nearby, you will need to rent portable bathrooms.

Planning for Parking

Ideally, you should choose a venue with adequate parking facilities close enough to your location so that all of your guests can comfortably walk to and from their vehicles. However, if this isn't a possibility, consider using a shuttle service for transportation. A shuttle will be appreciated by your older guests, those with limited mobility, and parents who are accompanied by young children.

Making a Backup Plan

Every couple planning an outdoor wedding reception needs a backup plan in case the weather simply won't cooperate.

If your ceremony is at a country club or inn, there will be indoor facilities. Reserve a backup room, just in case. It may add to the expense, but it will ensure that your reception can continue in the event of nasty weather.

If your reception area does not have a building nearby, have a tent available. It needs to be sturdy, water resistant, and large enough to comfortably house all of your guests. Additionally, canopies and tables with umbrellas can be a welcome shield from the sun.

Budgeting for Your Wedding Reception

Outdoor Wedding Reception ideas

An outdoor reception isn't necessarily cheaper than one held indoors. If you're worried about sticking to a budget, get a detailed cost estimate of expenses such as renting tents, tables, fans, portable restrooms and other essentials before committing to a specific venue. You may find that holding your reception indoors is actually the more economical choice.

Some easy ways to save money on an outdoor wedding reception include:

  • Consider an afternoon wedding reception. You won't need to serve a full meal, guests don't drink nearly as much alcohol, and you won't need to worry about lighting your venue after dark.
  • Borrow folding chairs from a local community group instead of renting them. Alternatively, you could provide blankets and pillows for a casual outdoor picnic.
  • If you need extra parking space, offer to make a donation to a nearby church in exchange for use of their parking lot. A school or small business that is closed during your wedding reception time might also be willing to let you use their parking lot.
  • Keep your power use to a minimum to avoid having to rent a generator.

Celebrating Your Special Day in the Great Outdoors

Outdoor wedding receptions allow you to celebrate your future as husband and wife surrounded by natural beauty. A thoughtfully planned reception adds aesthetic element to a day filled with exhilaration and promise.


Written by: The Printable Wedding Team