Is an Outdoor Reception for You?

An outdoor reception can be pure bliss. After all, what better backdrop than Mother Nature?

But celebrating outdoors is not for everyone.

An outdoor reception generally takes more planning than an indoor reception, and it can be just as expensive – sometimes costing even more.

Because brides and grooms are at the mercy of the elements, they’re also a bigger risk. Mother Nature can be glorious, but she is often unpredictable – and unkind. She won’t hesitate to offer up a deluge during the most delightful of days.

For that reason, outdoor weddings are not for worry warts. Wedding planning can be stressful enough, without having to worry about the weather.

Despite the risks and careful planning required, there are oodles of couples that wouldn’t have their wedding any other way. They’d much rather feel the cushioning of cool grass beneath their feet, than the hard floor of a church or rented hall on their wedding day.

For these couples, deciding on an outdoor reception location is at the top of the ‘to do list’. While some opt to have their weddings in their own backyards, others celebrate in vineyards, forests, beaches or public parks. There’s also the option of having the reception outdoors at a bed and breakfast.

Lea-Ann Suzor, who owns a tent rental company in Windsor, Ontario, Canada says many couples choose to have their outdoor receptions at their parents’ homes – or their own.

“I think people have spent a lot of time and effort on their yards. People are proud of their homes and they like to have their weddings at home so they can showcase their properties,” she says.

Outdoor receptions don’t have to play by all the rules. Some couples opt for champagne brunches, afternoon parties, or cocktail receptions instead of the formal dinner reception.

“We’ve had them go from a casual lobster bake, where guests wore shorts and sandals, to the very formal – with flooring, carpeting and elaborate floral displays,” says Suzor.

Suzor recalls another recent wedding where games, streamers, clowns and balloons were part of the festivities.

“It was almost like a fair. It was pretty and colorful,” says Suzor, pointing out that nearly a third of the wedding guests were children.

One formal option is the cocktail party, says Suzor, who points out that more and more couples are choosing this style of reception.

“A popular thing that I’ve seen recently is more stand-up, cocktail receptions where they have the butler pass around appetizers and wandering minstrel bands in an afternoon or early evening setting,” she says.

Whether a couple opts for a barbecue, or something more formal, an outdoor reception usually requires lots of planning.

“It’s definitely more work,” says Suzor.

And it can be more expensive than one indoors – especially if a couple wants the works (dance floor, lighting, air conditioning, and d├ęcor done by a professional).

Photo: Susan Adler Photography

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