How to Have an Easy and Beautiful Garden Wedding
My wife and I recently tied the knot. We had had some real difficulties in planning our wedding day but the day went really smoothly; it was a beautiful day and everything we had dreamed of. Having read so many horror stories of weddings gone wrong, I thought I would share my experience with you in the hope that someone planning a wedding will benefit from our story.
Planning a garden wedding from overseas
I'm British and my wife, whom I met in Paris, is Australian. We were living together in the U.K. when we got engaged and when we started making our wedding plans. We decided, as we were immigrating to Australia and because the Father of the Bride was paying for the wedding, that we would marry in Australia. We wanted to give all the possible overseas guests the best chance of travelling over for our wedding so decided we would have to send invitations to them at least a year in advance. This meant we needed to have a date and location confirmed a year in advance too. All I can say is thank god for the internet!! We looked at so many potential venues but for so long nothing was quite right. Then my fiancees parents found a venue they really liked. They sent us details and photos and we really liked it too but we had a couple of questions so we emailed the venue. The response we received was wholly inadequate - they tried to fob us off saying they had answered our questions in person to the Father of the Bride. We felt as though, just because we were overseas and had to communicate by email, they felt it wasn't necessary to answer our questions, I mean we were only the bride and groom! After that fiasco we were feeling pretty low about things and even toyed with the idea of postponing the wedding to give ourselves longer to look. Thankfully one of my fiancees friends called to say she had just been to a nice wedding at a garden up in the hills. We found the venue on the internet and sent my fiancees parents up to check it out. They loved it and felt it was just what we were looking for based on our phone conversations. The owners of the venue showed much greater professionalism in handling an overseas query.
With the venue booked we then looked into having invites made - emailing my fiancees parents the PDFs before having them printed. We managed to get all the overseas invites posted just less than one year in advance as we had planned. And after that flurry of panic stricken searching we then had quite a while before we actually had to do anything much else. We looked into photographers, decided against using expensive wedding cars and looked for styles of dress and suit but really couldn't do much more until we arrived in Australia.
Planning a garden wedding
In hindsight I think we were really lucky in that our taste in wedding - planning the garden wedding we wanted - actually was probably a lot less work than a more formal wedding. We had decided long ago that we wanted an outdoor wedding (I say we but it was probably more my wife's decision!!). Of course, that is probably more easy an option in Australia than in the U.K.! We decided to marry in April (which is Autumn in South Australia) for a couple of reasons; firstly it would be 5 months after we moved over to Adelaide from the U.K. which we hoped would be enough time to get things organised, and secondly because any earlier in the year might be far too hot (it can reach 45 degrees in Summer) and later in the year there is greater chance of rain and cold. The venue we booked was ideal, having a compartmentalised garden so there were several different options for lawns to hold the ceremony on, and a permanent marquee in case of inclement weather.
With a garden wedding there is only really the option to go semi or informal - trailing wedding gowns don't work on grass and you can't make a seating plan without seats! This takes a heck of a lot of work out of the organisation and consequently a lot of the stress too! We found a great photographic studio that several friends and family had used before and that gave us the digital rights and booked them about 5 months prior to our wedding. The venue we booked came with catering so we didn't have to choose caterers. The venue also had a cottage that my fiancees parents booked for the night before and the night of the wedding for themselves so my fiancee could prepare herself there. This meant we didn't need a car to arrive in as it would not be seen anyway. She was also really lucky finding a wedding dress and found one exactly as she wished on just the first day of shopping for one. The bridesmaids dress was not so easy and they ended up visiting a Vietnamese tailor to have one especially made. I found suits for the best man and ushers to hire with ease and the only problem on the men's clothing front was finding ties. None of the shops we visited had more then one of the ties we liked! Finally we were going to give up and ask the best man to visit Marks and Spencer for us but then completely by accident found the perfect tie - and better than that the store had five of them in stock! The pageboy and flower girls were also very easy to dress. My (now) brother-in-law works in catering so he recommended some cake shops to us and we also found the perfect cake very, very easily. We also found that despite shopping around, our local florists was going to be the best for the bouquets and button holes and we didn't need more than that as we were marrying in a garden anyway!
After that there were only really little details to plan. My mother-in-law arranged a basket of rose petals as the venue didn't allow confetti and we added to that some blowing bubbles as something a little fun and different. My mother-in-law also bought some nice chocolates and wrapped them into little parcels to hand to the guests as they left - a really nice touch. As far as the order of the day went, it was more or less dictated by the style of wedding anyway - ceremony, photos, food, speeches, cake cutting, leave - timing was easy as it was all at the same place.
Our garden wedding
The only possibly negative thing I could say about our wedding day is that the weather was patchy. It was overcast and threatened rain, but we were lucky and the rain held off long enough for us to hold the ceremony outside in the garden - in fact we held most of the reception outside too. The photographer was quite positive about this - apparently we will get better photographs as a result?! And some people stayed in the marquee anyway to be closer to the bar! Otherwise our day could not have been better. We had a beautiful and relaxed wedding but it still was formal enough to convey the gravity of our commitment to one another. Having a garden wedding with finger food service allows a great deal of freedom to actually circulate and socialise with everyone which was really important to us. Both my wife and I and hopefully all our guests had a really enjoyable day.
By Matt Maclay-Ross
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