Unless you’re Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, if you’re planning your wedding this summer, you’re unlikely to have access to a grand banquet hall in which to tie the knot.
Weddings can be expensive affairs, and a substantial portion of the budget is often spent on the venue for the reception.
Whether it’s a posh hotel or just your local pub, you can be sure that as soon as you mention the ‘W’ word – the price tag will triple.
More and more couples are now looking at low-cost options which can still incorporate all the elements needed for a magical day.
If you choose to host the wedding in your, or a friend or relative’s garden, you can create a really stunning bespoke setting for your special day for a fraction of the price, leaving you free to spend more money on other things.
Garden weddings can also lend a really personal touch to your nuptials, especially if you and your partner love to spend time in the garden, or you have fond memories of your childhood garden.
To help you plan a memorable day that will rival the royals, here are a few ideas for planning a garden wedding this summer.
Not preparing for bad weather and just hoping that the sun will shine is a sure-fire way to ensure that it won’t.
Having a back up plan for the possibility that it might rain will be a godsend if it does and will keep you from worrying in the months leading up, even if the sun comes out anyway. Renting a marquee is your most comprehensive option here, but again you’ll notice that anything with the tag ‘Wedding’ attached will run up the bill considerably.
You can buy much cheaper versions that won’t come with extras such as flooring, lighting, tables, chairs and heating, so bear this in mind if you’re planning to pitch it up on a grassy area and want a sit-down meal.
Bell tents and tipis are a lovely option for a smaller space and can look magical when decorated with fairy lights and lanterns. Chinese hat marquees are a gazebo style that you could use to provide shelter over your patio but bear in mind that if the temperature drops late into the evening, your guests may start to feel the chill.
Little extras such as patio heaters and providing blankets to snuggle up in will also ensure your guests stay warm.
Invest in a fire pit to
use on your special day and
it will be a lovely reminder
for years to come.
You can even buy lots of cheap pairs of flip flops and umbrellas – enabling guests to enjoy the event come rain or shine.
Having your wedding in the garden gives you free rein to be as creative as you like with the decorations.
A great tip is to consider the style of garden you are working with and work to enhance that style.
Planning an intimate get together in a small cottage garden? Adorn archways, tents and trellises with fairy lights and flowers for a magical woodland setting – note that opting for soft neutral colours will create the illusion of a larger, brighter space.
Do you have use of a larger, more landscaped garden? Hang up pastel coloured bunting and lay out picket fence edged paths for a smart, landed gentry appeal.
Hiring hay bales is a great low-cost option to provide loads of extra seating for guests, and they can add wonderfully to a rural or rustic style wedding.
Outdoor wedding receptions often have a very whimsical vibe – so add to the atmosphere and cut costs again by painting over old furniture to re-purpose as a place to lay out food and drink.
Use the garden in itself as a theme and add attractive bunches of foliage to place settings and table decorations.
A great idea for a garden wedding favour could be small punnets of fruit such as cherries or strawberries that you’ve grown in your garden, with a recipe card inspired by what you love to make from your usual crop.
A great way to prevent your harvest going to waste and cutting costs again! Or you could even gift packets of seeds, inspiring your guests to ‘watch love grow’.
Hosting in your garden gives you great freedom to provide entertainment tailored to your guests.
Live music is a great option for weddings if your budget can stretch (and your neighbours don’t mind!).
Failing that you can rent some good quality speakers and create your own playlist or allow guests to add songs.
Many marquees come with space for a dancefloor, but for a more low-key event you may wish to simply organise a space on your patio or decking for dancing, or for a daytime event you could hire lawn games (a great option to keep little ones entertained).
A lovely way to keep guests entertained and save money on a photographer is to provide cameras for your guests and give them an “I-Spy” list of moments to capture such as “best smile”, “favourite feature” or “a cute couple”. Get them to upload them to Instagram using a hashtag and you’ll have a catalogue of lovely moments documented by your guests.
It goes without saying that hiring caterers will take the stress out of the event but can work out quite costly.
With more informal garden weddings, lots of people like to set up food and drink ‘stations’ where guests can help themselves to pre-mixed drinks and finger food.
Again, you can really get creative with these and put a personal touch to your day.
Mix up your favourite cocktail and serve it in large glass drinks dispensers or you could hire a vintage ice cream cart and stash it full of your favourite frozen treats for guests to serve themselves dessert.
Be imaginative and get creative; with a garden wedding the world’s your oyster as you are not tied to a set menu or dining style provided by the venue.