For most brides, the Garden Wedding’s siren call seems loudest in the spring and early summer, when it sings of flirty colors that soar from subtle to subtler pastels. Pink and green seem to draw brides like hummingbirds to honeysuckle. But you’ll also see romantic combinations involving mint and lilac or plum and baby blue, to name just a few.
Popular themes? Butterflies and dragonflies, herbs and lavender, gerbers and glowing table lanterns. Super-chic brides clamor for bird & twig motifs, and lucky ones blessed with great geography and timing sometimes get to marry under the apple or cherry blossoms.
History & Tradition
Brides drawn to garden weddings often place great importance on personal and family histories. For these brides, “something old” is more than just a saying! If this rings true, then even something as central as your engagement or wedding band is likely to have a history … like a stone or setting that once belonged to a grandmother.
Some brides pin a piece of their mother’s gown to their own, or weave a number of referrals to relatives throughout the day: a romantic photo table, for example, where grandparents and great-grandparents smile out from sepia photos. Or a bride might choose one of her mother’s favorite flowers for her own bouquet … or Grandmother’s china pattern for the table.
Photography’s a wonderful way to express your love of times gone by, and many Garden brides have found great pleasure in vintage-style wedding snaps — either post-processed in black-and-white or sepia tones, or actually taken with antique equipment for a style you just can’t duplicate with the usual editing techniques.
Belle in the Blooms
Here’s what a garden bride might wear on her big day: an ivory gown touched with delicate floral embroidery. Or one graced with lace, ranging from an overlay to a luxurious all-Alençon style. Perhaps there’ll be a petticoat with a touch of pink, or a pair of sandals with some sparkle at each toe.
As for jewelry, chandelier earrings are perfect. Or how about a gorgeous cameo for you and your girls alike. Don’t flip for cameos? Pearls are always so comme il faut. And a sparkling brooch at the neckline or sash is the best of both worlds: vintage and all the rage.
Pink, of course, is popular for bridesmaids … but yours might look even more glorious if each girl wore a shimmering silk dupioni gown in a slightly different pastel, mirroring all those subtle shades in your flowers.
As for the men? A black tux is never amiss, but the men might also don lighter dress when the wedding’s outdoors … such as gray or tan.
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Simply Sweet: The Perfect Florals
Flowers, of course, are the super stars of any garden wedding (after the bride!). They should be abundant, but not overstyled. Think of Cupid’s natural habitat and you’re well on your way: roses that blush at the tips, fluffy pink peonies, and above all, ample amounts of the Garden theme’s signature flower, Amaranthus (also poetically known as love-lies-bleeding).
Rose petals are another workhorse, toiling overtime for romance when you sprinkle them in bubbling fountains, pockets of tulle, or down the grassy aisle.
Want to add a little sparkle to your bouquet? Swarovski butterfly brooches and bouquet picks are sweet and traditional, whereas dragonfly pins are the height of chic. And here’s a sweet floral splurge: some brides have wowed their guests with a gossamer cake table overlay sewn with live loose orchids, or even an entire blanket of pavéed roses.
Adding in Atmosphere
Fortunately, setting the stage is easy when you’ve picked a venue ripe with such natural beauty. Prepping for a garden wedding can be as simple as hanging clusters of festive paper lanterns from the ceiling and lashing small trees or ivy and twinkle lights to the tent poles. Or if you’re outdoors, try tabletop lanterns and votives hung from tree branches, plus plenty of ribbons to flutter in the breeze.
A Centerpiece That’s a Snap
Brides tend to agonize when it comes to these decor decisions, but once again, simple is sure to charm. Birds are popular motifs, so you often see birdcages romanced with fillers like ivy or roses, surrounded by individual favor nests filled with Jordan almonds.
Rustic wooden bird houses are popular too. So are galvanized watering cans serving as vases. Individual potted plants are well-loved as well: they look marvelous clustered around a taller focal point, and double as sweet favors. Try growing African violets or savory herbs in terra-cotta pots or stylish metal pails. Or, for more whimsy, bright green wheat grass … and plant a lollipop “daisy” in each.
Simple English-garden style urns or pedestals (rent these!) make wonderful bases for flowers. Surround with silver mint julep cups filled with a single peony: again, these double as favors your guests won’t forget.
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Dialing Up the Decor
Want more tips for instant, inexpensive romance? Cluster hot-pink parasols in the open grass wherever you need a burst of color. Place pink silk fans at every setting, weaving in a small slip of paper calligraphed with your guest’s name or a personal note of thanks.
Instead of an ordinary signature frame, have your guests sign die-cut flower cards and glue the individual blooms to the matte for a more whimsical look. Send your ringbearer down the aisle clutching an enchanting pillow made of sheet moss (ask your florist). And use satin ribbon in your colors to lend a personal touch to small yet meaningful details, like bottles of bubbles.
Serving Up Tiny Temptations
Be sure to pique the palette with treats that sing “spring”: flirty petits fours, tea sandwiches, fruit kebabs, and tiered cupcakes topped with fondant butterflies. Then, quench their thirst with Martha-esque rows of iced teas and fruity lemonades. Or for an extra-special treat, serve individual chilled Lorina lemonades in bright sherbert hues. Rest assured: these treats will go down even easier with a string trio or a harpist to pluck sweet strains from the air.
Tried-and-True Ways to Say ‘Thank You’
A few more popular garden wedding favor ideas: flower pins, with showy silk Gerber blooms; seed packets filled with sweet peas or wildflowers, or mini garden pails heaped with sweets and wrapped in tulle. Terra-cotta pots can be made extraordinary, too: paint them to suit, then plant with some sweet flower or herb. Finally, use chalkboard paint to dash a “label” on the pot. Use colored chalk to add each guest’s name, and tie off the pot with a ribbon. Another idea for the crafty: paint beautiful flower patterns on wine glasses for a work of art your guests will savor for years.
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Dish on Your Unique Spin
The garden theme comes in so many different seasons and shapes, moods and colors. Share your plans and inventions below … and upload some pics!