An estimated 35% of weddings are now hosted outdoors and those numbers are expected to grow. When you decide to plan an outdoor wedding, your options range from a casual backyard setting to an extravagant destination setting on a beach or mountainside.
It becomes easier to manage everything from the space you need to the budget you’re working with, and it only gets easier when you decide to host your reception outdoors, too.
How do you put together a wedding reception that is entirely outdoors?
Read on for 9 awesome outdoor wedding reception ideas that you can feel free to borrow or tweak on your special day!
1. Mark Off Your Reception Space with Lights
Hosting your reception in a wide open field? Unsure of how to delineate the space you’re using for your reception?
Use twinkle lights to create an overhead canopy and show your guests exactly where the party is. These twinkle lights will look whimsical during the day and, as the sun sets, absolutely stunning by nightfall.
2. Find the Perfect Outdoor Seating
Don’t forget that when you’re hosting an outdoor wedding and reception, you’ll need to take care of the seating, yourself. You want to find seating that is weather-resistant and sturdy enough to handle the elements but doesn’t look shabby or cheap. (Platic lawn furniture is a no-go.)
If we had to pick our absolute favorite outdoor seating option, we would have to go with fruitwood folding chairs. They’re strong yet easy to move and have a timeless look that will mesh well with any theme or style of decor.
3. Rent a Dancefloor
Indoor or out, a wedding reception is still a time to celebrate and party! Ask any wedding guest what their favorite part of a wedding is and they’ll probably say dancing. Don’t forget to make music a priority!
Dancing outside can be a tad difficult, especially for anyone wearing heels that are bound to sink into the ground. Fortunately, you can rent a spacious dancefloor from event planners, party stores, and even the occasional DJ. Go classic with a plain wooden floor or kick things up into the 21st century with an LED floor.
4. Provide Sunglasses for the Day
Trying to decide on a cute favor that’s also practical? Set up a sunglasses station at the entrance area to your ceremony with a cute sign that says something like, “Blinded by love.”
Don’t worry about picking up expensive shades. Remember that the biggest priority is to provide a little comfort for the day-of, not buy everyone their new favorite pair of sunglasses!
5. Provide Some Heat for Cold Nights
Unless you’re having a summer wedding, there’s a good chance that things will get a little chilly after dark. Not everyone is comfortable with cold weather, so make sure that you provide a few heating solutions.
Set up a few warming stations with safe outdoor heaters or build a few fire pits on the outskirts of the reception area. Add some seating and set up a few baskets full of nice, cozy blankets guests can use if they start to shiver. If you’re feeling really playful, set up an ugly sweater station with sweaters of all sizes and patterns.
6. Have Fun with Food
When you’re hosting an outdoor reception, you have a ton of food options to choose from. You’re not as limited on space and, since your outside, you don’t have to worry about things getting a little messy!
If nothing makes you happier than BBQ, why not set up some grilling stations and cook up some burgers and dogs? If you’re a taco kind of gal, create a full-blown taco bar with all of the fixings.
Want to give your guests a few options to choose from? Hire a few food trucks to set up at your outdoor reception space.
Later in the evening, if you do decide to set up a fire pit or two, consider making some DIY smores stations to go with them.
7. Set Up an Outdoor Photo Booth
Everybody loves to see the professional wedding photography, but not everyone will find tons of awesome pictures of themselves to hang onto. Setting up a photo booth gives everyone the opportunity to capture their own memories and hang onto them for years!
Use an arbor and other themed props and decor to create a backdrop for the photos. If you want to keep things old school, leave a few polaroid cameras near the photo booth and let guests keep their own snapshots or add them to your wedding photo album.
8. Provide Covered Areas
The biggest concern, when it comes to an outdoor wedding reception, is rain. Ideally, you want a perfectly sunny day and crisp, clear evening. No matter what time of year your wedding is, however, you should still plan for rain.
Set up some covered areas using canopy tents or tarps. Make sure that they’re wide enough to cover all of your tables and chairs if need be. If it doesn’t rain, you can still use these covered areas for food, gifts, and anything else you want to give a little extra protection.
9. Set Out Lawn Games
Kids and adults, alike, love a good lawn game and not everyone will want to dance to every song on your playlist. Set up lawn games on the edges of the reception area to ensure that everyone is having a good time. Games like cornhole are ideal because they’re cheap, easy to throw together, and safe to use.
Borrow Our Outdoor Wedding Reception Ideas
Planning an outdoor wedding reception? You’re in good company! Outdoor weddings are becoming more and more popular, and you can borrow any of our outdoor wedding reception ideas to create your dream wedding.
Looking for more event planning ideas? Want a few more tips on food and drinks? Check out more of our posts and get inspired!