Planning the Perfect Outdoors Reception

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Every wedding is as unique as the couple joining their lives together.  Some weddings are extravagant affairs held in beautifully decorated ballrooms, some are held in a local gathering place, familiar to many of the guests.  One of the most unique, beautiful and challenging is the outdoor reception.  It adds a new dimension to the planning process, the great outdoors!  The weather, the access to services, parking and accommodation for your guests, and many other factors come into play.  Here is a guide to help you plan the outdoor reception of your dreams.

The most logical starting place would be, “Where am I going to hold my outdoor reception?”  Many brides choose family homes with large amounts of land.  Many more choose a familiar park or area with fond memories.  Many Reception halls offer outdoor reception options as well during summer and early fall.  The key is to find a happy medium between functionality and aesthetic.

Some of the most beautiful and amazing receptions are held outside!  The beauty of sunset pictures, wide open spaces for child guests to play, candle or colored lights playing off the vaulted ceilings of your tent create an almost fantasy look.  The coolness of the night mixed with the energy and excitement of your celebrating guests will create electricity in the air that you cannot re-create inside.  There are many unique ideas for using your outdoor experience to the fullest.  Lawn games can be provided for their guests to play throughout the evening like the bean bag toss or horseshoes.  Some brides treat their guests to a magical experience with a “Sky Lantern” or “Wish Lantern” ceremony.  When the sun has set, the entire group heads out under the stars and prepare light weight paper balloons with a candle suspended in the center.  The candles are lit, a wish or prayer is said or thought and the lantern is released.  The warm air from the candle causes them to float gently into the night, creating a once in a lifetime experience! For more information on Sky Lanterns visit

When choosing your site, there are a few things to keep in mind.  How flat and expansive is the ground?  Will it be difficult to set up tables and chairs?  Will there be an area for a dance floor, buffet tables, gift tables, and any other large items you may desire?  If the ground is too uneven, your guests and vendors may spend more time navigating than enjoying the day!  Almost all vendors require a tent, for good reason!  On a hot summer day, the direct sunlight can sap your guests of energy and even damage equipment.  On the other hand, if there is bad weather, your guests will be protected from the rain and the wind with a walled tent.

Electricity is also a very great concern for almost all of your vendors.  Will there be electricity on site, or will you need to get a generator?  If there is power on site, how far away is it from you?  A great way to measure for people that may ask is to get a length of rope that you know the exact measure of.  Starting with some slack near the outlets lay it out towards your site.  Keep taking laying it out, end over end, making sure not to lose your count of how many lengths.  Always over estimate, it is better to have too much than too little!  If you are using a generator, you will need to know how large it needs to be.  A DJ will often need Two to Three Thousand Watts alone; your other services may need another thousand.  Again, being over prepared is not a bad thing on your wedding day!


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