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Good Advice on Planning an Outdoor Wedding Reception

from: Mike Lindsey

Hosting your reception outdoors can be a great deal cheaper and a lot more fun for you and your guests. When you host your reception outdoors you have a lot of options as to how you want things to be.

The only downside to doing this is whether or not the weather conditions will permit it. Because of this your reception and its success is often at the hands of Mother Nature. Other than that, it can be the best decision that you could make.

Outdoor receptions give you an endless supply of ideas and freedom in how your reception will be handled. The best thing is that you can host an outdoor reception at a hall or beautiful grounds, or you can do so in your own back yard.

If your own yard permits it, it would be best to do it here because it is a relaxed atmosphere and you need not worry about many of the small details that come in when using public grounds (i.e. music).

There are many ways that you can make an outdoor reception easy to plan, cheaper to pay for, and a great deal of fun. Of course, there are small formalities that go with it as well.

I have developed a to-do list for you as well to help you to make the most out of your outdoor reception.

Reception to do List

You have to start with a thorough to do list when planning an outdoor reception because this will keep your affairs in order. When creating your list, you have to consider having a contingency plan. The reason for this is to accommodate bad weather conditions that may prohibit your reception from taking place at all. Or having your reception ruined due to a thunderstorm or severe winds.

Here is a sample to do list for you to look at so that you will know all of the things that need to be considered. The list will include what needs to be done, and why it should be handled.

To do list should include:

∑ Renting tent or gazebo and decorating it. Make sure that you confirm your rental date at least two weeks ahead of time or sooner if you can.

∑ Renting tables and chairs. It is cheaper when you set them up yourself

∑ Getting regular updates on the weather. Of course, you should have a contingency plan just in case the weather does not permit an outdoor party.

∑ Getting any miscellaneous items such as extension cords etc.

∑ Hiring a DJ or band and confirming

∑ Deciding on food items and drink and who will prepare what

∑ Getting permits that may be required in serving alcohol

∑ Getting permission from neighbors. You donít want them complaining about the noise and the parking situation (invite them too). Of course this rule applies when you are hosting your outdoor reception in your backyard.

These are some quick tips for your to do list. Of course, you will also want to know how you can possibly save as much money as possible on this event and the tips and ideas are literally endless.

Perhaps the best reason to host an outdoor party is because it will take care of the smoking problem on its own. When you host an outdoor reception, there are so many choices that you can make on what to do and serve your guests. Because of this, I have divided the outdoor reception items separately.

Food for Outdoor Reception

There are many ways that you can choose to serve your reception food when the reception is held outdoors. Here are some of the most popular and money saving ways to serve foods.

∑ Have a casual reception and serve barbecue items such as hamburgers, chicken, ribs etc. Have everyone forego a gift in exchange for bringing their own special dish to the barbecue instead. Just have everyone confirm beforehand so that you do not have everyone bringing the same thing.

∑ Serve your food buffet style having each guest bring a food item instead of a gift.

∑ Serve vegetable, cheese, fruit, and meat trays with dips and other snackables rather than hosting a huge meal. This is a great alternative anyway, for vegetarians as well.

∑ Host your reception with a theme so that you can be more casual with your food, for example, perhaps you can host your reception with an Italian theme and make spaghetti or order pizza etc.

∑ Choose an outdoor theme that is simple and easy and one that you can afford.


Serving drinks at the reception can be the most expensive part of the whole event at times. Of course, it doesnít have to be.

Here are some great tips on serving drinks at your reception that will satisfy everyone; particularly the person/persons who are paying for it.

∑ Serve your beer and punch for free and get all to pay a minimal amount like a dollar per mixed drink etc.

∑ Offer an open bar for a small amount of money per guest such as 2 or 3 dollars to help you recover some of your money.

∑ Request that the champagne toast is free and that everyone bring their own drinks to the outdoor reception. For this option you can also let everyone not be obligated to give a gift.

∑ Look to get your spirits in bulk from a wholesaler

∑ Begin to prepare for your reception months ahead of time so that you may purchase all of the drinks over a time period rather than all at once.

∑ Do not forget to include special punches or sodas for non-alcoholic beverages.


When hosting an outdoor reception, you can save yourself a great deal of money by placing disposable cameras around and letting the guests take their own snapshots for you. This can save you a great deal of money on the wedding photos.

You can also choose to limit the photos that you get with a professional photographer to lower the costs, or you can make a deal with a photographer to give you the negatives at a special discount and you can have them developed yourself at a later date.

Otherwise, your best bet is to simply go with the cheapest option that you can find.

A really fun extra way to capture parts of your wedding is to make a video recording instead of paying for professional pictures. You can simply use your own camcorder or borrow a friendís and ask someone to record the ceremony and the reception festivities for you.

With all of the digital cameras and recorders available now, it is easier than ever to make professional looking videos.

Digital photography can be extremely easy to create and just as easy to reproduce later as weddings mementos for the wedding party.

These days, the average home has so much photo-technology attached to PC computers that there isnít really much needed to hire professional photographers because you can give the professional quality to yourself.

Weather protection

When you are looking to rent a gazebo or weather tent for your outdoor reception the choices can vary greatly. Some places have some really good rental deals, but others do not.

Some places rent by the day, some rent by the hour and some only rent by the week. The prices can also go up or down based on the tentís size, and whether or not you need it to be installed by them or if you are doing it yourself.

You should know that some companies will insist upon putting the tents and gazebos up themselves and taking them down. If the price is too high for you, just go with another company.

You can also choose to use a do-it-yourself tent that can be created using tarps. Tarps come in many different colors and you can find it in any size at any home improvement store.

When you do it yourself, you will pay for it once, but you can use it for years during barbecues, cook-outs etc. That is another way to get cheaper weather protection for your back yard.

Finally, you can opt to buy any number of those tents that do not use mosquito mesh or have removable mosquito mesh. These usually stand on their own and are easy to set up. The best part about buying them is that you will have one handy whenever you need them. Some of them are all weather and can stay up all year round.

It is a good investment if you entertain in the yard often, or if you just like to sit outside during the nicer weather.

If you choose to rent tables and chairs, you can often get good deals when you go through a church or charity for the rental. They will always be willing to give you a hand.

If you find that renting chairs and tables is too expensive you can just set up a table to hold the food outside and ask everyone to bring a folding chair with them if they can so as to make it easier.

This is a great way to save a lot of money on your reception. Hosting it outdoors is always nice to the guests as well as to the happy couple. When you do it in your own backyard, you know that you are in a comfortable place.

If it is a choice between an outside reception and an indoor reception, the outdoor option is always welcome.

About the author:

For more tips and ideas on planning a wedding, check out The Ultimate Online Guide to Wedding Planning

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