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Small garden weddings are the big trend for 2021: here’s how to plan one

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Pinterest has reported a 190% increase in searches for “small back garden wedding” ideas and with so many venues booked up, it’s clear that this is going to be the big trend for 2021. Here, Stylist.co.uk speaks to industry experts on the pros of a garden wedding and how to plan one yourself.

The wedding industry has been one of the most badly hit throughout the pandemic, with fluctuating guidelines meaning frustration for both couples and suppliers as weddings have continued to be cancelled and re-booked again and again. 

Now, though, with the vaccine rollout well in hand, it finally feels like those getting married can breathe a sigh of relief and plan a big day that – fingers crossed – will certainly go ahead. 

But after a difficult time financially and a flurry of couples looking for venues that will have them this year, a new wedding trend is emerging which shows how couples are adjusting their plans to ensure that they are able to tie the knot in 2021 – even if it’s not how they initially imagined.

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While ‘the big day’ is often painted as an all-out affair with an expensive venue and 150-person strong guestlist, there’s been a surge in couples looking to get married at home in the garden. 

It makes total sense; even after the lockdown roadmap has played out and restrictions are lifted, many people may feel more comfortable spending time at an event if it’s outside. It’s also easy to imagine that after being unable to marry the person you love, many couples just want to go ahead with their commitment wherever it may take place, feeling that the most important thing is just being together.

Indeed, a new study from Premier Polytunnels shows that 56% of 1,000 adults they surveyed say that they would be happy to go low key with their wedding plans and host a DIY wedding in their own back garden in 2021 following the end of lockdown. The company also found that more than a quarter (27%) of those surveyed stated they’d happily plan a smaller wedding in order to marry sooner.

Plus, Pinterest has also recently reported a 190% year-on-year increase in searches for “small back garden wedding” across the UK, USA and Brazil combined as couples opt for a more intimate, DIY ceremony to help speed up their wedding date.

Speaking to Stylist.co.uk, Sarah Allard, digital editor of wedding website Hitched, explains that outdoor weddings are undoubtedly a big trend for 2021 and beyond. “We’ve seen an 87% increase in traffic to outdoor wedding venues content in the last three months alone, no doubt largely due to the fact that outdoor gatherings are considered a safer option during the pandemic,” she says. 

“Outdoor settings also lend themselves perfectly to the laidback, intimate feeling many couples are currently seeking. Combine that with the fact that we’ve all just spent a lot of time indoors and it’s hardly surprising that brides and grooms-to-be are keen to find ways they can celebrate outside with their loved ones.”

How to plan an outdoor garden wedding?

Sarah advises those throwing their own outdoor wedding to work with the earthy, botanical feel of an open air space: “Think clouds of pampas, rustic table settings and boho rugs. Consider making the most of natural backdrops for photos, plus partying under the stars on your wedding night surrounded by your nearest and dearest sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?”

Sarah’s big tip? Don’t forget the sparklers. “If you’re going to be outside then this is the perfect moment for a seriously Insta-worthy photo opportunity, so give sparklers to your guests and let them have fun with taking snaps or create a sparkler aisle and run down it with your partner. Oh, and always consider a Plan B in case the Great British weather does what it does best…”

Emily Stutchbury, owner of luxury wedding planning service, In Awe Weddings, is full of ideas to rescue brides feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of planning their own do in the backyard.

“Graze boxes are a huge foodie trend right now,” says Emily. “So, make the most of being on-trend and incorporate this into your laid-back affair. There’s an abundance of amazing options for graze boxes and mini dessert deliveries, too, especially after lockdown. Many of them come beautifully presented and you can easily serve them in your home, using the kitchen table as a catering station. This is not only low maintenance preparation-wise but is also great because you don’t need staff to serve the food.”

One of Emily’s biggest pieces of advice is to avoid becoming the host at your own wedding. “Personally, I would advise getting a cleaner for the day before and the day after so that you’re not worrying about getting everything spick and span. I also think it’s worth asking your local pub if they can spare a few staff for the day.

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“They would then be responsible for keeping the bar topped up, keeping the place tidy, and glass and plate collecting along the way, meaning you won’t be worried about the state of your house and your guests being fed and watered.”

And, when it comes to lighting, Emily suggests creating an atmosphere with candles. “They provide such amazing lighting as the darkness sets in and aren’t hugely expensive. You can buy stand-alone church candles in a variety of sizes in bulk that burn for hours from The London Candle Company and scatter them all over.

“Fairy lights are another good way to create atmosphere and provide lighting later on in the evening, if you can source some poles they can be zig-zagged above your event space easily!”

Gloria is one of London’s coolest florists, specialising in weddings, events and floral styling with an elegant, ethereal style inspired by the natural ramblings of the garden.

Gloria’s founders, Kasia and Amaia, think that one of the drivers for having a garden wedding is to do with people’s new found appreciation for their own green spaces during lockdown.

“We have all found a new joy in watching our own gardens change and grow through the seasons over the last year spent at home,” says Amaia to Stylist.co.uk. “Even watching the changes in scenery in local parks or the trees on our streets has brought a new appreciation for our green spaces and how beautiful the seasonal changes can be.”

This talented duo’s advice for brides creating a floral arrangement in the garden is to “work with what nature has already provided” They say: “A beautiful garden already gives natural shape, movement and flow in a variety of greenery and texture and as florists this is half our job done. We would simply look to enhance what was already there.”

“We’d look to use areas of natural beauty such as rambling rose archways, jasmine or ivy covered trellises, twisting pathways and the natural shapes of the trees to create the most authentic setting, true to what the garden already offers. When dressing a garden setting we work to place arrangements within these areas of existing beauty, to draw your eye in, adding pops of detail and intrigue.”

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As things stand, up to 15 people will be permitted to attend a wedding ceremony in England from 12 April. While receptions can also be held, they must take place outside and include a sit down meal. 

From 17 May, weddings can go ahead with up to 30 people, as can receptions indoors at a Covid-19 secure venue. From 21 June, if all goes well, all restrictions will be lifted on weddings.  

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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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