Planning Your Outdoor Wedding Reception

An outdoor wedding reception can host an almost unlimited number of guests, and has a fresh, natural feeling you could never duplicate in an indoor ballroom. Sound good? We’ve listed a few ideas to help to get you started with planning this special day, including a few of the potential drawbacks involved with an outdoor setting.

One of the great upsides to outdoor wedding receptions is the cost. If you have your own gorgeous parcel of land, you can save thousands over the rental of a reception hall. Even renting someone else’s private land for the event is typically cheaper than a ballroom.

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On the other hand, hosting an outdoor reception at a public park isn’t always ideal, because public parks are just that: public. It can be hard to control who ends up wandering around eating the hors d’oeuvres. So don’t settle — there’s plenty of private acreage for rent just about anywhere, perfectly suited to a large outdoor wedding reception. This gives you more managed access to your event — always a good idea.

One great thing about the outdoors is the games and entertainment that wouldn’t be possible indoors. Outdoor games like horseshoes and croquet are always a hit … and can help to keep the younger set out of trouble.

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The one thing you simply can’t control is the weather. Outdoor receptions are always at risk of being caught up in a storm. Plan for rain, hope for rain, even pray for rain! This way, the worst streak of bad luck will result in a beautiful, sunny day. Set up plenty of sheltered space to ensure enough respite from the elements. Even if the weather stays clear, your guests will appreciate large canopy tents that offer some relief from the sun.

And even when the sky is beautiful, any open space is subject to surprise gusts of wind. Assume that anything that can blow around, will. Keep a special watch on things like tablecloths, napkins, disposable cups and plates, centerpieces, seating arrangement cards, and … ahem … “scents” from trash cans, neighboring pig farms, etc.

Supply bug spray and sunblock for your less-prepared guests. Perhaps a small booth off to one corner of the lot could be dedicated to this task. Citronella candles around the perimeter can also be quite effective in this regard.

Finally, distribute plenty of trash receptacles throughout the site. Guests are more likely to pick up a fluttering plate or napkin when a place to discard is near at hand. You’ll also want hire an attendent whose sole job is to patrol the space and keep things stocked up and litter-free.