Small and intimate does NOT mean it needs to be any less of a celebration. In fact, your reduced guest list will allow you much more opportunity to spend at least some time with all of your guests which in turn, makes for a much more personal and relaxed experience for everyone!
It’s all about getting creative and making the most of your setting to provide a beautiful, inviting space for your guests to relax and celebrate in style.
With this in mind, we’re handing over the blog to Pippa, Wedding Planner at The W Studio and curator of gorgeous furniture and props for hire at The W Collection to give you her top tips for creating a beautiful outdoor wedding lounge.
If you are thinking of hosting a small wedding reception in your garden or perhaps a small marquee, creating indoor/outdoor lounge areas are the perfect way to encourage your guests to gather comfortably and relax after your wedding breakfast. A chance to continue the celebration whilst re-connecting or meeting new friends.
I have pulled together my top styling tips to help you create the perfect outdoor wedding lounge – working with the space you have and combining practicality with style.
Let’s get the boring but essential one out of the way first! Arrange your lounge seating with plenty of space in between chairs so that guests from different households can safely gather together within the current social distancing guidelines, but without feeling that they are being kept apart. You can also place small bottles of hand sanitiser and face masks in attractive baskets on side tables for your guests to use as needed. If you are reading this post-COVID and restrictions have now been lifted, (YAY!), all the below tips are just as relevant for weddings without restrictions!
Room for everyone
Provide plenty of seating. Start with a couple of main clusters of sofas and armchairs and boost your seating provision by adding stools, floor cushions, beanbags and pouffes. Some guests will settle in one place for the evening and take up residence on a comfortable sofa, whilst others will move around between groups. These smaller seats allow those meandering guests to perch comfortably when they stop to chat.
Add plenty of cushions to your sofas and armchairs in a palette that complements your wedding colours and/or the colours of the garden. Not only will these provide additional comfort, but they are a subtle and effective way to keep the design concept consistent and add a touch more colour to the space.
Add side tables
Ample seating is crucial, but don’t forget about tables! Your guests are likely to be enjoying a drink or two as they relax in the beautiful setting you have created, but trying to balance champagne flutes on an uneven lawn could lead to a lot of wasted champagne – something that doesn’t bear thinking about! You can place small side tables between seats and larger coffee tables in front of sofas so that your guests have plenty of room to put their glasses down. These also give you further scope to introduce some more design details such as florals, candle lanterns and tealights.
And on the subject of drinking…
There’s nothing quite like a refreshing summer cocktail to sip on when relaxing in the sunshine, so why not introduce a cocktail bar, or place drinks trolleys amongst the seating to serve your signature cocktails from? Guests can help themselves or be served – whatever fits the vibe you are going for!
Where there’s alcohol, there should also be water! Particularly if it’s hot. But there’s no need for hydration to be boring! Keep your guests refreshed with a display of self-serve infused waters. Large drinks dispensers not only hold plenty of water, but they look beautifully inviting when filled with a variety of different coloured fruits and herbs.
Complement your surroundings
Work with the space you have. Just as you would at an indoor venue, try to complement the natural features of the space so there is a feeling of continuity in your design.
Look for shade
If it’s hot, your guests will be grateful for some shade. Try to place plenty of seating in the shade of large trees or if there is a lack of natural shade, set up a few attractive garden umbrellas. On a slightly larger scale, canvas gazebos or stretch tents still have the outside feel with open sides, but protect your guests from the sun (and rain!).
Find your style
If you have a relatively blank canvas with few obvious natural features, you can get really creative and have some fun with your styling. You can literally create a setting in any style you like – be it English country garden with lashings of floral blooms, tropical luxe with a Mediterranean feel and an abundance of plants and bamboo furniture, or go completely country with hay bales, blankets and horse troughs filled with bottles of beer! The options are endless so be imaginative and be sure to inject plenty of your own personality and style.
Repurpose your florals. If you have had beautiful floral displays at your ceremony or wedding breakfast, consider moving them out to your lounge setting when the meal is over. This will not only make the most of them but will help to ensure the space feels like a wedding and not just a normal garden party. Reposition your table centre florals on to side tables or display plinths and pluck individual flowers from the larger, less mobile displays and repurpose into bud vases to cluster on your coffee tables.
If you have had a more formal sit down meal, why not consider serving your cake outside, or provide trays of sweet treats on side tables for your guests to graze at. Keep in mind however that if it’s warm, your cake should be kept in the cool until you want to serve it. If you want it on display, place in a shady spot and avoid soft icings and cream unless you want your cake to sit in a puddle of its own icing!
If your reception will go on into the evening, don’t forget about the lighting! String festoon or fairy lights between trees and along walls, position uplights at the base of trees or sculptural features and place clusters of candle lanterns and tea lights around your setting to bring a warm, romantic glow to your reception as the sun goes down.
Keep your guests warm. You can loosely place throws over chair backs or have baskets of blankets at hand for your guests to grab as the evening chill sets in. You can also position fire pits or outdoor heaters near to your seating areas for added warmth – but just be aware of wind direction if you are having open fires. Engulfing your guests in smoke isn’t the best way to encourage them to stay and relax!
Have a Plan B!
We know all too well that our great British weather can put a rather large spanner in the works and just as you’ve created the perfect outdoor setting, the heavens can open! So it’s always a good idea to have a back up plan!
If you have the space inside your marquee or wedding venue, consider the layout and where you could set up your lounge area, should you need to move it indoors. The same styling rules apply and as long as you have kept your concept design consistent, it should work just as well indoors. So get creative and have some fun designing a relaxed indoor/outdoor setting for your guests to gather and mingle and celebrate your marriage in style.
Planning & Styling Pippa, The W Studio
Photography Veronika Ward Photography
Florals Mad Lilies
Floral Assistance Flowers from the Vineyard
Pippa at The W Collection would like to offer our readers £100 off any bookings confirmed by the end of August 2020. Simply quote COCO on enquiry.
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