How to Have a Garden Wedding
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For Comfort's Sake
Achoos! Be smart: Move the ceremony away from pollinated blossoms or bushes. Allergies? Keep your medication nearby.
RV Hospitality Your garden doesn't have an indoor facility? Consider renting a motor home (about $500 a day) for relaxing before the ceremony. You can also use it for doing hair and makeup.
Slip it to them High heels don't mix well with grass and uneven ground; you might provide the female guests with mesh slippers to prevent a broken heel (a great favor idea). Try pearlriver.com.
Gone with the… If your florist brings in trees for decoration, be sure to have her wire them down or weight them with big rocks.
Gown with Love
Your dress needs to be in sync with the other elements of your wedding—for instance, a beaded princess gown may overpower the garden setting. For outdoor nuptials, Howard suggests silk shantung (the fabric is wrinkle-free), and tea-length dresses—a full-length train will prove cumbersome and likely end up filthy. Other options: gowns made from light lace or organza, or with tiers of tulle. She also keeps chalk on hand to cover up smudges.
"Let guests know that they'll be walking on grass so they can wear appropriate shoes," says Howard. The same logic applies to the bride: To avoid sinking with every step, leave the stilettos at home and opt for a lower, more practical heel, such as a kitten or wedge. You might also consider ballet flats or jeweled sandals, depending on your dress.
Music to Your Ears
If you want sweet ceremony music, be sure to seat your string musicians in the shade. "The heat and sun can actually warp and damage instruments," states Amoroso. If you are setting up a dance floor and having a band or DJ, make sure the location has an electrical source. To prevent the tunes from fading into the background, be exact about where you place speakers. "You may not necessarily require more amplification for outdoor spaces, but you do need to spread speakers farther apart and place them more precisely," advises Kallergis. "For dancing, you'll need speakers at all four corners of the floor so that music is piped toward the crowd from all angles."
Many outdoor venues lack adequate parking, while some private estates require parking off-site, so you need to map out a plan well in advance. "Two months before the wedding, do a walk-through—figure out how many cars are expected, the direction of the traffic flow, whether there's enough parking space," says Polly Onet, of New York's Ober, Onet & Associates. Onet recommends hiring a valet service—valets ensure that guests won't have to traipse for miles to get to your ceremony, and also alleviate the problem of seeking out hard-to-find parking spots.
If there's no obvious space for the number of cars expected, Amoroso arranges for shuttles to pick up guests from nearby lots. Since a public garden may not have a street address, it's critical that you provide detailed, accurate directions. Send out maps with your invitations or in a separate mailing; cite landmarks and other indicators as guidelines. If the venue allows, consider posting signs (Jane and Jon Say "I Do" 100 Feet Ahead!) on trees and posts.