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Outdoor wedding reception ideas to celebrate your big day

Published: October 29th, 2020

If you’re looking to get married during spring or summer, you’ll likely be thinking about holding an outdoor reception, which can let you use the nature around you as the backdrop to your nuptials. This can inspire everything from the theme, to the decorations and cake, giving your big day an entirely different feel from if it was inside. And with plenty of space to work with as a result, you can get especially creative and experiment with the natural surroundings. So if you’re looking for outdoor reception ideas, here are a few to help get you started.

Stunning venues

Many different types of venues will allow you to host your wedding reception outside, from lush countryside barns, to sandy beaches, and the outdoor spaces of country houses. These provide unique, versatile spaces for your reception, offering an entirely blank canvas to spruce up.

At Sandon Hall, you can host a stately home wedding, including marquee hire to accommodate up to 1,000 guests, as well as special tipis in which to host your reception, surrounded by botanical gardens and 400 acres of rolling parklands. We can also provide an open fire and plenty of space for a bar and dancefloor, making it an ideal spot for your summer wedding celebrations. You can request a brochure for more information.

Adventurous themes

An outdoor reception could inspire more creative themes, and let you work your surroundings into the big day. Our expansive grounds offer the perfect location for a rustic-themed wedding, with the grounds’ tall trees and lush green fields perfectly complemented by twine, wooden decorations. Alternatively, a vintage theme with antique decor would befit the Hall itself — think old suitcases, birdcages and worn wood.

If you want to make nature work to your advantage, consider a botanical garden-themed reception,  incorporating beautiful floral garland centrepieces, crawling vines and fresh petals into the decorations.

Unique decorations

There’s so much to experiment with if you choose to hold your wedding reception outdoors, particularly the decorations. First and foremost, decide upon the appropriate lighting, as natural light can wax and wane at different times of day, depending on the season. At the peak of summer, it’s likely to be light until 10 at night, but if you’re intent on celebrating into the early hours, you’ll need to decorate the outdoor reception space with string lights hung above the dancefloor and seating areas. These will instantly make the space cosier, and provide warm, intimate illumination once the sun goes down.

Festoon lights are another great option, while warm candles evoke a romantic atmosphere, and can be easily placed in mason jars along walkways and on tables. And while you might think the colder months leave are out of bounds, an outdoor winter wedding reception is easily done as well! You’ll simply need additional shelter, which provides opportunities for open fires, snowy scenes, and seasonal decorations like fake snow, candy canes or pine cones, letting you create your own winter wedding wonderland.

As well as the lighting, you can decorate your outdoor space with homemade wooden signs, or a blackboard and chalk, to guide your guests to different areas of the reception, display food and drink menus, or even as a way of laying out your seating plan. Hanging decor can also work a treat if there are trees nearby, as it gives you a chance to attach frames, books and even glass bottles filled with favourite flowers.

Indeed, any kind of flowers will give your reception the perfect decoration, complementing the outdoor setting. Floral garlands, for example, can be placed on tables, fencing and archways to welcome your guests, allowing you to match the florals to your surroundings. For a personal touch, turn the trees into photo displays, using your favourite photos of you and your partner, as well as your family and friends — simply peg the pictures to a piece of twine, and wrap them around the tree trunks.

Fun food and drink

Being outdoors means you can have a little more fun with your food and drink options, whether that be a barbecue, hog roast, or even a portable pizza oven. Upon arrival, your guests could enjoy a few canapes, while grazing tables are also a favourite, filled with meats, cheeses, or fruits and nuts. And for dessert, ice cream or smores are great — the latter is a particularly good idea if you have a fire pit burning. Considering the archetypal English beauty of our grounds, you might also want to enjoy afternoon tea with mini sandwiches, scones and a cup of tea, or a gin and tonic.

And speaking of drinks, an outdoor bar is a must, giving your guests the chance to stay hydrated and getting into the party spirit. Consider setting up stations for water, fresh lemonade, cocktails and prosecco, as well as hot drinks for autumn or winter weddings. You may also wish to personalise the occasion by creating your own cocktails, or serving a drink which includes an element of your surroundings, such as a sprig of lavender or mint.

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