There is nothing quite as gorgeous as an outdoor wedding reception. At any time of the year! But especially in the fall and spring, when the weather is mild and the sun begins setting right after your ceremony. I have to say, outdoor wedding receptions are definitely a favorite for me. They’ve got this open breezy feel to them that just really makes you want to dance. Not to mention, they give you so much more space to play around with. For that reason, it can feel a little bit intimidating to host an outdoor wedding. I mean you do have SO much extra space to work with! But, don’t worry. Per usual, I have some great suggestions for you based on some super fun outdoor wedding receptions that I have had the pleasure of shooting in the past. Let’s dive in!
Disposable Cameras for Guests
Keep your guests busy at your wedding reception by putting out a bucket of disposable cameras for them to snap pictures with! There’s something so fulfilling about taking pictures with a disposable camera, your wedding guests will surely love it. Not to mention, it will give them the opportunity to feel like a bigger part of your day because they’ll have the chance to share their night with you via film. You can request that guests return the cameras at the end of the night so that you can have them all developed, or you can send guests home with them and ask them to share any fun pics with you after they’ve been developed. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this one!
Corn Hole & Jenga
Want to offer a fun outdoor activity so that kids have a way of occupying themselves & guests are able to take a quick break from drinking? If so, cornhole and jenga are both perfect options! I love going to weddings where couples have rows and rows of custom cornhole boards set up alongside several jumbo jenga sets. Guests always LOVE these activities–especially guests with kids!
If you’re having a spring, winter, or fall wedding, a reception bonfire is definitely an option! There’s nothing quite as cozy as gathering around a warm fire with friends, blankets, and free beer from an open bar. Not to mention, hosting a reception bonfire will be a great escape for more introverted guests that need a moment of quiet–or ghost stories–before they get back to dancing!
A photo-booth is an absolute MUST at your reception whether indoor OR outdoor. Guests LOVE having the option to have their pictures taken because they want to remember your wedding day just as much as you do, and photo-booth pictures give them a souvenir to take home with them.
This one isn’t necessary, especially if you and your close friends and family aren’t big drinkers. However, if you and your close friends and family even like to drink a liiiiiiitle bit occasionally, I would recommend an open bar! It will really boost the mood of everyone at the reception because it’s so easy to get dehydrated when you’re spending all night cheering for the newly married couple and dancing. Not to mention, you don’t JUST have to offer alcohol at your open bar–you can also offer water, caffeinated beverages, or anything else you’d like! Although guests DO love a cute signature cocktail 😉 we promise, having an open bar will keep the party going eveeeeen longer and will have your guests dancing like no one is watching!
Food Trucks or All Night Snacks
It’s so easy to run out of energy at a wedding. Especially because a lot of times people are so busy getting ready for the wedding the day of that they totally forget to eat beforehand! And that’s a recipe for disaster! You don’t want any guests passing out or leaving early because they got hangry. For this reason, I personally LOVE the thought of having food trucks or an all night snack table available throughout your wedding reception. That way, guests can eat when they feel ready and snack when their energy is depleted from dancing.
Divide Your Space With Intentional Areas
Like I said, having an outdoor reception can feel overwhelming because you’ve got so much open space to work with. An easy way to tackle the layout of your outdoor reception is by dividing intentionally into specific spaces for guests. For example, you may have one area with long communal eating tables so that guests are able to eat together, another area with lounge chairs so that guests have a place to relax and rest their feet from dancing, a dance floor so that guests can shake their money maker, and some high top table near the dance floor so that guests who want to take a short rest or watch their partner dance can sit while still feeling like a part of the party!
Long Dining Tables to Encourage Conversation
I love super long, german style dining tables at outdoor weddings. Being outside during a reception definitely feels a bit more casual than being inside, so I say embrace it and break away from traditional round tables that only sit 6 – 8 people. Get all of your guests talking and moving around the table with communal tables. This will also make guests that have come to your wedding alone feel more included! There’s nothing worse than sitting down alone at a table for 6 hoping that a stranger joins you just so that you don’t look lonely.
Set up an aesthetic photo-wall at your wedding for guests to take pictures in front of! This wall could be adorned with your florals or it could even have a big neon sign in the background with your wedding hashtag on it. The opportunities are truly endless, but having this dedicated photo wall at your wedding will give guests a solid backdrop for photos. Something that can be hard to find when you’re at an outdoor wedding reception because there aren’t any walls outside!
Sustainable Confetti or Dried Flowers for Your Send Off
Another AMAZING thing you can do at outdoor receptions is have an absolutely epic send off using sustainable materials. If you opt for compostable confetti or dried flowers, then you don’t even have to worry about cleaning up after yourself when you leave because the “confetti” will dissolve into the earth! I also LOVE the thought of having wedding guests toss wild flower seeds during your send off–if you’re in a place that will allow this–because then you can return after the wedding during spring to see the flowers bloom & be reminded of your most special day.
I hope that these ideas for outdoor wedding receptions get you even more excited about planning your wedding day! If you’re still on the hunt for a wedding or engagement photographer and like the pictures you’ve seen sprinkled throughout this blog post, then I’m your girl! Get in touch here–I would absolutely LOVE to shoot your wedding. Or, if you just want to keep in touch to gather more wedding inspiration before your big day, feel free to follow me on instagram and pinterest!
Until next time!