Transform a backyard into a magical space with flowers, candles, twinkle lights and sparkling accessories, where family and friends gather for a wedding finale -- the reception. Large or small, a backyard is a frugal choice for a reception, and a familiar and comfortable space for the happy couple and their guests.
Make It Magical
The reception may start in the afternoon and last into the night, requiring lighting to make it magical. Outdoor dusk/dawn sensors plug into outlets and turn on the lights when the sun goes down. String twinkle lights overhead in tree branches or under a patio cover to add stars to the darkening sky. Candle lanterns hanging from shepherd's hooks or from the trees add a flickering, romantic ambiance to the landscape.
Add rope lights for pathways, keeping guests safely out of the flowerbeds as they admire the landscape. Upward-pointing landscape lights highlight the trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the garden. Change the bulbs to green or blue to soften the lighting.
Add Scent and Color
Day or night, adding additional flowers and greenery to the garden brings out the beauty of a simple backyard. Tuck potted plants around the patio or under the trees. White gardenias add their sweet scent to the air, while fragrant salvias attract hummingbirds and butterflies during the day to charm your guests. A pair of potted trees placed on each side of the backyard's entry gate and entwined with twinkle lights lead guests into the reception.
If you are planning the reception several months in advance, plant a mixture of morning glories and moonflowers along a bare wall, on which the vines can climb to enchant guests during the day with the bright faces of the morning glories and the luminous white of moonflowers in the evening. Plant bright annual flowers in the garden's borders to add color. If time is short, transplant annuals, such as cheerful pansies or petunias, into sparse corners of the garden.
Keep It Comfortable
Keep your guests comfortable with padded chairs, portable fans or propane heaters. Patio umbrellas or canopies shade guests from sun and unexpected drizzles, while a rental tent protects them from wind and rain. Colorful draperies hung around the perimeter of a patio cover provide shelter from the elements while evoking an exotic Moroccan influence. A large plush rug laid over a concrete patio softens the hard surface. Add additional lighting, such as Oriental lamps, over tables and the buffet to preserve the romantic atmosphere.
Decorate the Tables
Layer the reception and buffet tables with white linens overlaid with tablecloths in the wedding colors. Crisp white napkins folded into fans, laid flat on the table and anchored by wedding favors, such as jars of local honey or organic jams, keep the napkins from blowing away on a breezy day. Floral centerpieces of bright and cheerful flowers, such as gerberas or zinnias, or exotic flowers, such as gardenias, birds of paradise or orchids mixed with peacock feathers and gold-painted corkscrew willow branches, add color and height to the tables. Pillar candles or votive candles in glass candleholders add light to the tables.
Dance the Night Away
A portable dance floor on the grass allows your guests to dance the night away to your favorite tunes. A DJ or band can provide music ranging from classical to the latest hits. Shelter the artists with a portable canopy and add an extra heater if the night is cool. A rope light suspended from shepherd's hooks or around the edge of the dance floor defines its edges, keeping guests from stumbling on the grass as they enter and leave the area.
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