How to Throw the Perfect Garden Wedding
By Lorna Urwin

01 December 2016

Nothing spells romance quite like a garden wedding! Whether your style is rustic or refined, an outdoor wedding in a picturesque location offers a fabulous backdrop for your big day. Read on for some expert tips on making the most of your garden venue from Matai Huka, a stunning garden venue right here in Wellington.

1/ Anchor the ceremony with an arch or arbour

garden wedding

Image by Rebecca Hollis Photography + cover image by Cambia Grace

Garden venues often have a variety of backdrops available for the ceremony itself. Once you’ve chosen the vista you’ll say ‘I do’ in front of, look into some options to frame and anchor the moment further, like a stunning archway, arbour or pergola to stand beneath.  There are some amazing ideas online – simply google ‘rustic arbours for weddings’ or ‘archways for weddings’ and get ready to be inspired!

2/ Have a back up plan 

garden wedding

Image by Caught the Light

When planning an outdoor wedding it’s essential to plan for all eventualities, especially in New Zealand! For heavier rain forecasts, enquire with your venue about outdoor coverage (like marquees and tents) or indoor alternatives. For light rain, umbrellas will allow you to continue to enjoy the natural environment while keeping your guests happy and dry. There are some lovely and decorative options available that will blend seamlessly with bridal ensembles and make a great prop for photo opportunities! 

Bonus tip: If you think you’re likely to need umbrellas, order wrist corsages instead of bouquets for the bridesmaids, leaving their hands free to hold umbrellas.  This is also a much cheaper option, with corsages coming in at around $40 compared to $100 for a bouquet!

3/ Make the most of the natural light

garden wedding

Image by Jenna Wara at Matai Huka

The number one factor in creating gorgeous photos is light, so it’s a great idea to be aware of how the natural light at different times of day (and in different locations) will affect your photos. This may even dictate what time you hold the ceremony! Your photographer will be able to offer invaluable advice on this, but since harsh light conditions can cause you to squint and create unflattering shadows, photographers most often favour late afternoon light or having opportunities to filter brighter sunshine through canopies of leaves. Conditions at sunset and just after are renowned for creating warm, even light that is particularly flattering.

4/ Consider footwear practicalities

garden wedding

Image by Elizabeth Messina

Wandering across lawns means high heels suddenly become a real dilemma, for the bridal party and guests alike! You might want to give guests notice that they may struggle in heels, or recommend that they follow in the likes of Lauren Conrad and Oprah and use ‘high heel protectors’, a subtle and ingenious invention that prevents stilettos sinking into the grass.

5/ Create a light-hearted atmosphere

garden wedding

Images by Ana Lui Photography and Ether and Smith

While garden weddings can be serene and idyllic, there’s also plenty of room for some fun! Signage is a must-have for practical reasons, but you can still bring plenty of personality to the table with humorous or playful signs like ‘dance the night away here,’ or ‘now that we’re together forever, we want you to sit wherever!’
An empty photo frame (with or without props) is another super-simple way to add some fun in a garden setting. Display a wedding hashtag to encourage sharing of the many hilarious group selfies that are sure to ensue!