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Garden wedding ideas: how to plan a small wedding at home, according to real brides

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Two women having a garden wedding

How to plan an intimate, atmospheric wedding in your garden, according to the real brides having one this year.

It’s no secret that the wedding industry has been monumentally affected by the pandemic, leaving couples with difficult decisions to make on whether to go ahead with a wedding that isn’t what they dreamed, or go through the stress of cancelling venues and suppliers until a later date.

Some brides, though, have found a way around this. Instead of fighting other couples for the few dates still available at many of the venues across the UK, these savvy women are hosting their bash at home instead. 

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You see, this is the year of the garden wedding. Perfect for a relaxed, intimate gathering with only your nearest and dearest, garden weddings are considerably less expensive than a big do and easier to pull together last minute.

Here, a selection of Stylist-reading brides tell us how they’re planning to make their garden weddings special and what their top tips are for anyone thinking of doing the same.

Consider streaming your ceremony for those who can’t travel 

“Ajit and I have been doing long distance from the UK to Texas and it was important to have some cultural elements along with our registry. It is practically unheard of to have ‘intimate’ and ‘Indian wedding’ in the same sentence. The pandemic has changed that. Our Hindu wedding ceremony will be in my uncles backyard, taking the cultural tradition of the bride leaving from her family home quite literally. The hardest part is not having the friends and family we love across the globe with us. However, they will be able to join us virtually through a professional live stream by a videographer. It’s been so special to us that our loved ones can join our day (s) without putting their health or wallets at risk!” Chandani

Surprise your guests

“Me and my partner have been engaged for five years and throughout this we’ve tried multiple rounds of IVF, which has prevented us from getting married both in terms of timing and financially. We have got to the point where we just want to plan something and know that will get our happy ending, so we have opted for a garden wedding which we’re keeping as a surprise for our guests. Instead, we’ve told everyone that it will be a post-lockdown gettogether, but on the day there’ll be a BBQ, live music, stretch tent and trestle tables.” Jenn

Have a supply of flip flops

“We would always advise you to lay down some flooring to avoid your lawn being butchered by narrow tipped heels and stilettos when the dancing starts. Alternatively, have some flip flops handy; your heeled guests will be super grateful for the option to kick off their shoes and dance without disappearing into the soil.” The Wedding Coordinators

Go all-out with lighting

“Another big thing for me is ensuring that once it becomes dusk, the lighting kicks in with some real atmosphere. To do this I’ll be illuminating the entire garden by candle light and, hopefully, creating a ‘secret garden’ aesthetic.” Gabriella 

Explore streaming your ceremony for those who can’t travel

“Ajit and I have been doing long distance from the UK to Texas and it was important to have some cultural elements along with our registry. It is practically unheard of to have ‘intimate’ and ‘Indian wedding’ in the same sentence. The pandemic has changed that. Our Hindu wedding ceremony will be in my uncles backyard – taking the cultural tradition of the bride leaving from her family home quite literally. The hardest part is not having the friends and family we love across the globe with us. However, they will be able to join us virtually through a professional live stream by a videographer. It’s been so special to us that our loved ones can join our day (s) without putting their health or wallets at risk!” Chandani

Be ultra prepared for every eventuality

“I got engaged in December, so I immediately considered the options that were the lowest risk. I didn’t even look at venues, made sure that every vendor had a Covid-19 policy and booked a marquee that’s big enough to social distance. We have also prepared four versions of our guest list which are based on the different restrictions from the past year.” Fiona 

Test how noisy your generator is

“If you are considering a generator to power elements of your wedding, be aware they can be very noisy. Test them in the space and try to position them far enough away if you have space so that the sound of very annoying machinery doesn’t drown out your vows or speeches. On the topic of noise, make sure you sweeten up your neighbours by dropping off a bottle of bubbly and let them know they may be disturbed; ask them for a song selection and invite them to join the celebrations from the comfort of their back yard. The last thing you want is upset neighbours or the police arriving to ask you to turn off the music.” The Wedding Coordinators 

Try a festival theme

“We actually never considered having a venue for our wedding. We’re both massive festival fans and so we’re planning a festival-inspired party at my family’s home back in Italy, where I’m from. We’re getting friends to perform live music and we’ll have food and drinks trucks, too.” Alice

Get creative with floristry 

“To make my Scottish garden wedding extra special I’m going over the top on the floristry. My theme will be centered around greenery and botanicals, so I’ve asked my florist to create bespoke hanging arrangements and centrepieces for the tables.” Gabriella 

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Make the decorations yourself

“It’s been a journey! But everything happens for a reason and I really do think this wedding will be perfect. We were due to have our wedding reception at a stately home and the plan was always to go for a rustic, romantic feel with plenty of greenery and candles. We are hoping to create the same feel, but in a more intimate environment. I’m making the majority of the decorations including placing candles in jars, using bridesmaids bouquets to add to the garden’s decor once they’ve been used, making our own graze table and a gin bar. We have made a photo wall that displays photos of all guests invited with us and we have written messages on the back for a personal touch, too.” Shay

Do up your garden

“We didn’t want to rearrange our wedding, so we decided to make the best of a bad situation and use this as an excuse to do our long-planned garden renovation. My fiance and family have been working tirelessly to get everything done and give us a beautiful space to have a party in.” Bronwyn

Re-allocate your budget

“I’m trying to look at the positives. Choosing a garden wedding has meant that we’ve saved some money compared to the original plan, which means I can have fun with details like hand-painted bespoke menus. Florist and influencer Rowan Blossom and her garden wedding has been a big inspiration to me, so I would advise other brides to take a look at her!” Gabriella 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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