What is your wedding or event style? When I first meet a couple I suggest that they close their eyes and envision what they want their wedding to look like as though it is the day of. To “look around” for details. I ask them to write down how they feel and how they “see” their surroundings and then we start a vision board using either Pinterest or an actual vision board or vision book. Once they find a venue we discuss how their vision compliments the venue, the challenges it may present and how we can overcome or modify their preferences.
If they envision a hotel or art gallery for the reception then the couple’s style probably leans more toward the elegant and/or modern. If they envision it in a barn, garden, beach or other outdoor space then they could lean more towards the rustic, country chic or casual style. As spring is here and summer is around the corner, I thought it would be a good time for a blog about outdoor weddings and event styles.
In Los Angeles the weather is often so mild that it is even possible to have an outdoor wedding in the middle of winter, as was the case of the wedding I did this past Valentine’s Day. It was in fact perfect weather. Warm balmy afternoon during cocktail hour and as the sun set the ceremony started and the fairy lights we had on the trees started flickering on. When the ceremony ended it was absolutely magical with all the fairy lights flickering and the sun setting behind the mountain! Exactly what the bride wanted. As it got cooler the guests went inside for dinner and dancing. The timing could not have been more perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed planning and catering this lovely couple’s wedding.
Outdoor weddings are a popular choice for spring and summer and there are many options to choose from for styling your venue, but it also comes with challenges. Here are some design ideas and in a future blog post I will share tips on how to overcome the challenges. Keep in mind however…. as much as you want to have your event outdoors, always think of your guests’ comfort! They are there to support you sure, but you do want them to enjoy themselves! So consider the heat, the bugs, the surface (grass or gravel for instance) and ensure that your guests have lots of cool (non-alcoholic) drinks and a few parasols won’t hurt either. You could also print your program on a fan to help with the heat (see below). Make sure your besties or bridesmaids have snacks and drinks while you are all getting ready and keep the champagne to a minimum before the wedding! You have a long day/night ahead of you! Also consider that many of the women will wear high heels so a basket of inexpensive flip flops from the 99c store will come in really handy – I promise the ladies will be grateful when it is dancing time! If the weather forecast shows it might cool down, do have a few shawls available.
If your outdoor wedding or event style is casual or you would like a picnic type theme you could include games and picnic baskets and a wheelbarrow or two to use as ice buckets would be a great idea and fit in well with the theme. Brightly colored recycled bottles or jars with simple in-season local cut flowers such as roses, daisies and baby’s breath as centerpieces works with that theme as well as decorations hanging from, or tied around trees. Long wooden tables set up family style with no linens are often used or if you want to go really casual you can even throw blankets and pillows on the ground. This is your day – be as creative as you want and do what works for you and your budget. Keep your guests comfort in mind but do what will make you happy!
If your outdoor style is rustic it could include burlap runners on wooden tables possibly paired with lace, mason jars used as centerpieces and in general lots of candles and lanterns everywhere if it is in the evening. Lanterns are great props for outdoor events so if you are having a day time event fill it with flowers and hang it from a tree or set it on the tables. Hand painted mirrors can be used as dinner menus and wooden serving and centerpieces are also popular. (see below) Chalk boards van be used to show what cocktails are available at the bar and you can buy chalk board signs directing guests to the ceremony or dinner areas.
Another popular summer event choice is the beach. You can create privacy with drapes around your table area, and lots of candles will ensure a very romantic atmosphere! The beach is also a popular choice for a romantic sunset proposal or a rehearsal dinner. The pictures below shows just how stunning a sunset ceremony or reception can be.
Couples who want to have an outdoor wedding often tell me that they want the venue to have a fairy tale or magical night “feel” with lots of little lights and candles. See my previous blog post where I show how you could add serious WOW factor to your venue with lights and lanterns that will provide that magical night/fairy tale atmosphere or see my website for more design inspiration.
If you love the rustic outdoor style but want your reception to be a little more formal, you can make the short jump from “rustic” to “country chic.” Country Chic combines rustic with more refined accessories, as shown in the photos below.
Balance the old barn with modern chandeliers and use an old shabby chic white dresser for a unique desert table and add vibrant color with flowers tumbling out of the drawers.
As this style incorporates nature in its décor, I would lean toward simple elegance. The picture on the left is one of my personal favorites. Casual elegance with the sheer table linens draped and dropped to the ground. I also love to add at least one WOW factor to events and the little balloons with flowers hovering above the tables are just adorable! That will absolutely elicit oohhs and aahhs from your guests.
Hot Tip: If you have the reception in a public garden/park you will have some of your decorations already taken care of from the lush surroundings and plants that are already there. If the surrounding area does not have a lot of color and you want to brighten it up, you can always add color with flowers or colorful napkins and table runners.
You can use the plants and trees for lighting by hanging lanterns from the branches or tying fairy lights to plants and bushes. Be sure to use LED votives and not candles. Add more WOW factor with shabby chic doors for the wedding party to walk through as shown in the collage above and add elegance to a rustic outdoor setting with white lanterns and flowers.
I always try to balance the surroundings with the decor but most importantly I reflect the couple’s personality in all aspects of the event and menu design.
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Thank for spending this time with me and see you next time!