Decorating an Outdoor Wedding Reception
Decorating an Outdoor Wedding Reception

An Expert’s Guide to Decorating an Outdoor Wedding Reception

So you want to get hitched under the wide, open sky? Good for you! Taking your nuptials outdoors is an amazing way to go, no matter if your theme is rustic, beachy, or garden-chic. But there are a few special considerations for those planning an outdoor affair. There’s the weather—it can be a downer, especially if you live somewhere where rain is a possibility—and then there’s finding unique ways to hang and display your decorations when you don’t have any walls or ceilings. Luckily, any outdoors-loving couple will be able to transform their space into a dreamy, beautifully decorated wedding venue with the following tips!

Weather Considerations: Dealing with Wind and Rain

Don’t let Mother Nature scare you away from saying “I do” the alfresco way. There are a few simple tips that can help you manage whatever she plans to throw your way on the big day. 

Secure Tablecloths with Table Clips

One of the easiest ways to deter wind from ruining your perfectly curated table settings? Fasten tablecloths to tables with the help of table cloth clips. These clips offer unmatched clarity and extreme durability, making them virtually unbreakable. These essentials will keep your table dressings looking neat and clean through photographs, dinner, and dancing.

Where Possible, Avoid Paper

Few materials are as sensitive to moisture and heat as paper. Where possible, avoid it at all costs. Instead of hanging posters and paper signage, consider having your welcome board and other signs painted on wood, printed on canvas, or framed in a moisture-resistant encasing. If you want to go for the sweet, rustic look of chalkboard signage, just make sure to use paint rather than actual chalk, which won’t last more than a few minutes outside if it’s wet or humid out.

Stick to “Fastenable” Décor

Anytime you’re decorating outside, ask yourself: Is this fastenable? Fastenable—a word we just made up—describes anything that can be easily, reasonably secured down, either with tape, clips, hook and loop pieces, or ties, without deterring from the aesthetic of the item. In other words, when you’re staging an outdoor event, ditch the confetti, table scatter, or any lightweight table décor.

Keep the Cake Covered

Nothing’s worse than a stunning, intricate wedding cake that’s melting into a ball of frosting-covered goop. Make sure to safeguard the precious dessert table, either by keeping it under a covered canopy or tent or by housing it in a special display case. The cake is one of your most important décor elements, after all!

Bringing Décor to the Outdoors

Whether it’s a field, a barn, or a vineyard, when you’re getting married outside, it can be a challenge to bring your own special touch. Wide, open spaces mean fewer surfaces to decorate and adorn, but there are still some great ways to infuse your personal touch.

To Add Personality, Look Up

You’ve probably got no walls to work with, and that’s the beauty of an outdoor soiree, but if you’re getting hitched beneath a tent, a pavilion, a pergola, or a canopy of trees, you can drape eye-catching décor from above to get your guests looking up. Some amazing hanging décor ideas include flowers, lanterns, honeycomb balls, and string lights, but the possibilities are truly endless!

Hand Out Laminated Paper Fans

If heat is a concern, why not make paper fans a part of the décor? Serving as favors, decorations, and useful accoutrements in one, personalized paper fans can really heighten an outdoor ceremony or reception. Some couples even use the paper fan as a unique approach to the ceremony program. Get as creative as you’d like with these multipurpose accoutrements!

Be Sensible About Centerpieces

Fresh flower centerpieces are basically a requisite for a lovely outdoor wedding, but they can be finicky when they’re not placed in a temperature-controlled environment all day. Choose flowers that are hardy and long-lasting—mums, daisies, carnations, succulents, etc.—to ensure that your arrangements stay gorgeous throughout the event, even if it’s hot or humid out. If you’re having a florist handle your centerpieces and bouquets, they’ll guide you in the right direction.

Create Outdoor “Zones”

One of the biggest décor challenges for outdoor events is combatting that feeling of openness that can make venues feel unstructured or meandering. Where possible, create clusters of lounge areas so that guests feel like there are different areas to congregate. Group a few tables together, using either natural barriers or banners, bunting, or lights to create unique lounging zones.

Focus on Permanent Structures

Trees, fences, the sides of buildings, and the tops of tents all make perfect decoration canvases for outdoor weddings. It may seem like there’s nothing to hang your décor on, but, if you look around, we’re willing to bet there are some simple ways to get creative. Some versatile décor options include garlands—they can be hung both horizontally and vertically, cascading from the ceiling—as well as hanging pom-pom balls.

Saying “I Do” Under the Stars

With a little bit of foresight, some preparation, and the right décor and fasteners, you’ll be able to orchestrate the event of a lifetime, with no wind, rain, or other snafus getting in the way of a perfect affair. Just be prepared to weather-proof the event and choose items that won’t get damaged when exposed to a little wind, rain, heat, or humidity. And remember to stop and enjoy the fresh air throughout the evening!


Halle Summers is a Marketing Coordinator for FASTENation Inc., a premier global manufacturer, technical converter, distributor, and designer of adhesive based fasteners and tapes. Halle enjoys sharing her unique perspective and knowledge through her blog writing. When she isn’t writing articles, she enjoys spending time in downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.