Planning your wedding reception can be a daunting task. After all, most engaged couples have not had the experience of planning such a large and important party before.
To help with your planning process, I will cover some of the hallmarks of three popular types of outdoor receptions in this post. At first glance all three may seem to be very similar to each other but there are definite differences in décor and style that really do help create a unique look and feel for each one.
The reception styles I’m including are Casual – Festive, Rustic and Garden.
CASUAL – FESTIVE WEDDING RECEPTION
Venue: Backyard, park, farm, and other outdoor venues.
Décor: Pom-poms, banners/bunting, paper décor and often decorations that hang from trees, fences, and the like. You can go with just “casual” or include more fun details for “casual-festive”.
Seating: Pillows, benches and simple chairs with or without pillows, sometimes decorated with ribbon streamers.
Tables: Often long tables are used without tablecloths. You can include place mats, table runners or tablecloths in simple fabrics such as burlap and cotton.
Centerpieces: Simple DIY incorporating candles and flowers in vases or in recycled jars and bottles.
Flowers: Simple in-season local cut flowers such as roses and daisies with baby’s breath and greenery added.
This informal style often includes colorful ribbons to decorate place settings, bottles, vases and chairs.
Hot Tip: Even though your reception may be casual, it is fun to add “designer” items such as vintage-style drinking straws, creative cupcake wrappers, cupcake toppers, styling tags, and other elements that tie together your color theme and help create a cohesive put-together look. The photos below help illustrate how this style can take shape.
RUSTIC WEDDING RECEPTION
Venue: Farm, park or backyard — sometimes in a large, rented tent or in a barn.
Décor: Burlap is often used, sometimes paired with lace. Mason jars are plentiful to hold flowers, candles, beverages and food.
Seating: Benches or simple chairs often decorated with burlap.
Tables: Picnic tables; round or rectangle tables without cloths or with burlap cloths.
Centerpieces: Simple DIY using Mason jars and recycled bottles and jars. Colorful marbles or stones are often used at the bottom of the vases.
Flowers: Lavender; sunflowers, daisies, dried flowers. Dried wheat is often used in the decorations.
Bales of hay and hand-painted wedding signs can be incorporated in to the décor.
Hot Tip #1: If you love the rustic style but want your reception to be a little more formal, you can make the short jump from “rustic” to “country chic”. Country Chic combines rustic with more refined accessories, as shown below in the last two photos in the collage and the last single photo. In the last photo the burlap runners and yellow metal buckets are paired with white tablecloths and an elaborately decorated ceiling to create a unique and appealing country chic décor.
Hot Tip #2: If you want to make sure that your reception “screams” rustic, be sure to include Mason jars, lots of natural wood, burlap and informally arranged cut flowers.
Rustic – Country Chic:
GARDEN WEDDING RECEPTION
Venue: Public or private garden or most any outdoor space that will accommodate the reception
Décor: Lots of flowers, of course! The décor can be simple or elaborate but this style is usually refined in the accessories and décor used.
Seating: Simple, stylish chairs
Tables: Tables almost always include a tablecloth or elaborate runner
Centerpieces: Centerpieces are usually lush and include lots of flowers
Flowers: Flowers often include roses and other in-season local flowers and can be in formal arrangements.
While this style incorporates nature in its décor, its decorations
usually lean toward simple elegance.
Hot Tip: If you have the reception in a public garden/park you will have some of your decorations already taken care of from the lush surroundings and plantings that are already there.
Below is an example of all of the styles together so you can more easily see how they differ. Click the photo for a large version.
For more ideas see our Pinterest Boards:
Burlap Wedding Ideas
Mason Jars for Wedding Decor
Mason Jars for Beverages
Mason Jars for Food
Country Chic/Rustic Weddings
DIY Reception Ideas from Exclusively Weddings
Resources on This Blog:
How to Use Mason Jars at Your Wedding
Taylor and Andrew’s Rustic Wedding
Casual-Festive Collage: Etsy, Piccsy, Ariella Chezar, Troy Grover Photographers Photo 1: Holland Photo Arts Photo 2: Style Me Pretty Rustic Collage: Lovely Little Details, Jose Villa Wedding Photography, Jose Villa Wedding Photography, Ace Photography Photo 1: Southern Weddings Photo 2: Krista Fox Photography Garden Collage: Moments of Magic, Vanilla and Cinnamon, Jose Villa Wedding Photography, Jesse Leake Photography Photo 2: Belle the Magazine