One of the great appeals of an open-air wedding is the serene and vibrant setting, which makes guests who’ve never met before feel more like family. An outdoor event evokes romance and nostalgia, and provides fresh inspiration. Incorporate the stunning surroundings and add touches of your own.
Choose flowers that will stand up to wind, sun and heat. “Peonies, roses and calla lilies work well,” says Beth Helmstetter, whose boutique design firm helps clients plan intimate weddings around the world. Use the blossoms throughout your décor, such as in loose bouquets tied to chairs or petals sprinkled down the aisle by children in your bridal party. Sprigs of herbs tucked into napkins make a charming detail.
An outdoor setting that incorporates home décor will wow guests. “Hang chandeliers and string lights in your tent or from trees, and use uplighting for drama,” says Atlanta designer Tony Conway, whose company, A Legendary Event, designs thousands of weddings a year. “Elevate the décor with lounge areas that feature luxurious furniture.”
Don’t overlook the fresh scents of nature. “Include fragrant fruits and herbs like lemons, lavender and rosemary into floral arrangements and details,” says Conway.
Dress up tables with fine china and silver flatware. “For tables, burlap runners and color-stitched napkins make a statement without competing with nature,” says Michael Davis, owner of Cloth Connection, which provides linen rentals for special events.
When possible, eat locally. A farm-to-table menu builds a connection with your wedding area. “Guests love to know when the ingredients were sourced on-site or nearby, so mention the origins on the menu,” says Helmstetter. “Regional wines, microbrew beers and cocktails made with farm-fresh ingredients will complete the feast.”
Make your guests comfortable. Think beyond folding chairs and have fun with seating, such as with antique dining chairs or cushion-covered benches. “Construct walkways to make it easy for your guests to get across grass,” Conway suggests. Include suggestions for attire and footwear on your invitations, and put out baskets of flip-flops, parasols and pashminas.