Decorating an Outdoor Wedding

Published: 12th June 2009
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Outdoor weddings are enormously popular in the summertime. Few of us can escape the months of June, July, and August without receiving at least one invitation to an outdoor nuptial ceremony. For those planning and coordinating these events, decorating becomes a special challenge. The great outdoors isn't a clearly defined space like a church or reception hall. Where do you begin? In this article, we'll cover some of the basics that you'll need to know for decorating an outdoor wedding of your dreams.

In an outdoor wedding ceremony, there are three primary areas of decorating that need to be addressed: the entrance, the seating area, and the altar. By defining each of these areas with unique and meaningful decorations, you will help set the tone of your wedding and a theme, if so desired. We'll address each of these areas separately.

The Entrance:

First impressions are everything. When your guests arrive, you want them to feel excited about the special occasion they are about to witness. This can easily be accomplished by creating a unique pathway to the wedding site. The beginning of the pathway should be marked and recognizable. Consider placing garden fountains on either side of the path or an arbor draped in flowers for your guests to walk through. Large urns of flowers can be used and also placed along the path to lead the way. If you are having an evening wedding, consider including landscaping lights to outline the pathway and provide lighting.

The Seating Area:

Seating is always a challenge at an outdoor wedding. You'll likely have to rent chairs for your guests to sit on. You'll want your guests to feel like they are part of an intimate setting, so be considerate of how the chairs are arranged. Make sure that each person has the best possible vantage point of the bride and groom. When decorating the chairs, consider using strings of flowers and ribbons along the backs of the last row of chairs to add an elegant touch to the seating area. If your guests are entering and exiting from a center isle, you might consider draping the outsides of the rows with flowers and ribbons, as well. Consider placing urns of flowers or even free standing patio trellises along the outside of the chair rows. This can add a burst of color, as well as some privacy for your ceremony.

The Altar:

The altar is arguably the most important part of decorating in a wedding ceremony. After all, the bride and groom should be the center of the day. It is important that your guests have the ability to see and hear you during the ceremony. If it will be a large outdoor gathering with more than 50 people, you may want to use a sound system so guests in back can hear you.

If the ground is relatively flat, you might also want to elevate the bride, groom, and officiant. This can easily be accomplished with a sturdy platform to stand on, and the platform can be decorated as desired with flowers, bows, and cloth. You may also want to create a special backdrop or surround for your vows. An overhead structure such as a wedding arbor or garden pergola can be a great option for this. Arbors and pergolas can easily be purchased as ready to assemble kits, and they come in a variety of colors, sizes, and configurations. After the ceremony is over, the garden structure can then be gifted to the happy couple for their new home.

Planning any wedding is a lot of work, but decorating an outdoor wedding doesn't have to be. By paying attention to the three most important areas, the entrance, seating area, and altar, you will ensure that the event is beautifully decorated and your guests are dazzled on your special day.

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