Wedaholic.com: Tips For Hosting An Outdoor Wedding Reception In A Unique Location
I had this question regarding how to decorate a Village Square in Cyrpus for a wedding reception:
"I would like to ask you a question. My fiancé is from a village in Cyprus in a really beautiful location -very romantic. We have decided to have the wedding reception in the village square. I have no idea how to decorate it as I do not want to spoil the whole thing. The square is concrete, only pedestrians, no statues or sculptures - there are only very old houses like cottages (with very old stones not bricks). We have the permission from the council - they were very excited about the idea because young people have stopped using the square and have their wedding receptions at a pool or a hotel. Please can you help with decorating ideas. Thanks very much."
This was my reply:
Thanks very much for your question. I think it is lovely that you have decided to hold your wedding reception in such a traditional location rather than following the trend of opting for a hotel or pool - it sounds beautiful.
I am assuming that you intend to decorate the Village Square to provide you with a seated area for your wedding guests to dine at and an area for dancing. I would advise you to do some research locally and I’m sure you will find tables, chairs, umbrellas, linen and tableware, etc. which you can rent for the wedding reception. Try to choose wooden rather than metal seats as they tend to absorb heat rather than scorch your guests’ when they go to sit down! I recommend that you use the tables, chairs and possibly ornamental arch (see below for details about arches) to define your areas in the Village Square. You could position your tables and chairs all around the dance floor area in a circle or you could set your tables up at one end of the Village Square and leave the remainder of the space for dancing and the band (if you are having live music). For a distinct layout, replace round tables with large oval or long rectangular tables that can sit up to 16 guests.
I do not know what the intended colour scheme of your wedding is, but you could choose flowers, candles and other decorations to complement this and carry your theme right through to your wedding reception. From the details you have given me it sounds as if your wedding is going to have a romantic theme to it and so I have used this as the basis for my decorating ideas set out below.
At an outdoor wedding reception Mother Nature provides most of the decorations with the trees, plants, flowers and surrounding views, so you really don’t have to spend a fortune to decorate it. I have set out below some creative and practical tips for you to follow to elaborate on the charming atmosphere your Village Square venue already has.
Decorations for the Village Square
To create a romantic atmosphere try the following:
Lighting will help to transform the Village Square into a magical wedding reception venue. I’m not sure from the brief details you have given me whether or not you will have a source of electricity available for your use in the Village Square. Going on the basis that you are not able to use electricity here are some ideas for lighting the Square for your wedding reception:
♥ String up some fairy lights from trees in the Village Square or even along the top of the stone walls surrounding the Square. These white static battery-run LED Fairy Lights are available from Lights4fun.co.uk and cost £4 for 1.5 metres. These will look great as the evening gets darker.
♥ If electricity is available for your use then you could string up normal fairy lights in the same way. These come in a fantastic array of colours nowadays. You can also choose different shapes (butterfly lights, hearts etc) to match the theme of your wedding reception. Strings of lights can be purchased very cheaply and they are a fantastic way of creating a fantasy wedding reception.
♥ If the Village Square does not have great streetlights lighting it up at night-time then you might want to consider renting some spotlights as you don’t want your guests falling over each other in the darkness!
♥ Light large tiki torches or citronella torches that can be stuck in the ground for light and also repel bugs. If you are unable to stick them into the ground (you say the Square is made of concrete) find large buckets, fill them with sand and stick the torches in them.
♥ If there are trees surrounding the Square:
- Suspend paper and metal accordion lanterns from trees with candles in them.
- Hang Chinese lanterns in the branches like these ones available from TheUrbanGarden.co.uk.
One of the advantages of having an outdoor wedding reception is the natural beauty which surrounds you and reduces the need for vast amounts of decorating to be done. Visit the Village Square in the weeks running up to your wedding reception and check out how many flowers and plants surrounding the area are in bloom. This will give you a rough idea of how many pots of flowers and garlands of greenery you are going to need to decorate the Square for your reception. Flowers are an excellent way to decorate the Village Square inexpensively.
♥ Garlands of foliage and greenery such as ivy can be strung up around the Square. If you don’t want to use fresh flowers you can buy rolls of artificial greenery off of the internet.
♥ If there are any unsightly stone walls or anything that you want to hide, you can use garlands of flowers, fairy lights or a mixture of both to detract the eye from what is underneath.
♥ To add height and to define the perimeter of your reception space use big potted topiaries. If you can’t borrow or hire them for the day then buy some and they can either be given to members of your bridal party as gifts after the reception or they can decorate your garden! If the topiaries are very tall you can decorate them with fairy lights and ribbons to match your colour theme.
♥ A simple idea is to use galvanized metal buckets or other planters and fill them with flowers. If you are on a tight budget you can use whatever the local flower is which is in season. If money is no object then you can use elegant roses in a colour which compliments the rest of your colour theme.
♥ If there are fittings around the Square from which you can hang baskets of trailing flowers then this could add a colourful element to your decorations.
Arch or arbor
♥ A lot of couples who stage their wedding receptions outdoors choose to have some sort of focal point erected such as an arch. You can leave this unadorned or you can decorate it with flowers and ribbons to match your wedding colour theme or even swathe it in sheer white chiffon or voile. Not only will be arch be a focal point for your wedding guests but it will also provide a perfect backdrop for your wedding photos.
♥ You could place your wedding cake underneath a canopied arbor to create a focal point and help to organize the different areas of your wedding reception around it.
♥ Try to decorate the arch with flowers which co-ordinate with those used on your table settings and bridal flowers. You can ask your florist to decorate the arch or do it yourself.
♥ A definite advantage of using an arch at your wedding reception is that after the event you can place it in your garden as a reminder of your wedding day!
♥ Decorate the Village Square with pastel colored paper streamers. This is very inexpensive but an effective way to add colour and define the area of your wedding reception.
Flowers, floral arrangements and lighting form an essential part of decorating the Village Square but what will really add a sense of uniqueness to your wedding reception will be your choice of table decorations - these help to create an elegant ambience.
♥ You could bring your tables to life and add height to them by anchoring balloons at the centre of the table. Balloons are an inexpensive decoration. eBay sells heart-shaped helium balloons in a variety of colours and prices start at a mere £2.99 for 10 balloons. You could tie colourful ribbons to the end of your balloons to match your colour theme. You could use the balloons to decorate surrounding trees too.
♥ Sprinkle rose petals or confetti onto the tables. They are so many different colors for you to choose from. Have a look at confetti.co.uk. They have real flower petal confetti which is biodegradable - this is important so that you do not have to worry about clearing it up after your reception. It costs £7.99 for 1 pint of confetti. If the weather is likely to be windy then skip this idea as it would make too much mess if the confetti was blown around.
♥ Use greenery to transform the tables by decorating them with garlands of ivy.
♥ Use glittery table linens to add some pizzazz to your wedding reception. These will look great by candlelight!
♥ Cover the tables with white or pastel colored tablecloths and use colourful linen napkins at each setting.
♥ For a quick and inexpensive way to add style if you use long rectangular tables at your wedding reception, try gift-wrap runners down the centre. To find out how to achieve this look click here. The great thing about this is that you can make the wedding favors for your guests to match with the same gift-wrap paper.
♥ For an outdoor feel fill tiny terracotta flower pots with sugared almonds or traditional Cypriot sweets and place them at each table setting.
♥ For favors which double up as table decorations use individually planted flowers of your choice in tiny terracotta pots tied with a ribbon to match your wedding color theme. You can tie a card to them with each guest’s name so that they serve as a place setting as well.
Using candles to decorate the village square will add a romantic intimate atmosphere and will also provide gentle illumination when the sun goes down in the evening.
♥ Turn plain glass lanterns into something really pretty by twisting lengths of ivy around the rim and fasten them with a small knot at the back. Arrange these on the table or hang from tree branches, trellises or dot about the periphery of the Village Square.
♥ Tie pastel colored organza ribbon in a bow around clear glass votive cups. These can double as guest wedding favors.
♥ As an alternative to lanterns, fill terracotta flowerpots with sand or pebbles and then stand taper candles in them. If you use plenty candles in each pot you will create a beautiful glow.
♥ For easy, inexpensive centerpieces for your tables fill glass bowls with water and place floating candles in them. You could intersperse these with floating flowers too.
♥ As you are having an outdoor wedding you could use scented candles to create a lovely aroma.
♥ As your reception will be outdoors you should also consider using citronella candles to ward off bugs and bees, otherwise your guests will be swatting bugs all evening! If the Village Square is a known hot-spot for bugs in the evenings then perhaps you should consider arranging for an exterminator to spray the area with insecticide the day before your wedding reception.
♥ Candles glowing from inside lanterns creates a simple and elegant look for your wedding reception. Look at the selection of clear glass lanterns available at Beau-coup.com. They have a wire handle attached to them so you can use them as a tabletop illumination or suspend them from a tree. They come in a variety of sizes. You could present these to your guests as wedding favors.
♥ Place tea lights around the tables for a simple romantic glow.
♥ For informal, inexpensive lanterns use jelly jars. All you have to do is wrap a piece of flexible greenery around the jar just below the lip, and twist a piece of floral wire around the ends to secure and place a nightlight or small votive candle inside. You can decorate the jars with ivy, willow or other local greenery. These are perfect for protecting your candles from breezes.
♥ To add height to your table settings use large votive trees. These are available from Etreasuresgifts.com for $69.95 but shop around. The great thing about these is that you only need a couple of them to add a stunning focal point on the reception tables and the best bit is you can keep them afterwards - a unique reminder of your wedding reception! The pressed two-toned glass leaves can be arranged in any position you want around the 5 votive holders so that the candlelight can shimmer off the leaves.
♥ If you are on a tight budget you could create your own outdoor chandelier of lights by placing a large branch off of a tree into a pot (you could spray paint the branch gold or silver first if you feel creative!), fill it with sand or stones to hold the branch firmly in place and then suspend tea light holders, glass votives or even jelly jars off of the branches using metal wire. If you are using tables for your reception which have a hole where the umbrella slots, you could place a large branch in there and use it as a votive tree.
As the wedding reception is outdoors you should add height to the tables by adding stunning centerpieces to each of them.
♥ I love this table setting from TheKnot.com. It merges a low candle arrangement with a tall one using fuchsia, bright blue and yellow pillar candles to give the large open space a warm and vibrant feel. This sort of look would great for your Village Square and is easy to recreate.
♥ Use various candleholders of varying height and style and place them on each table. When the candles are lit all across an open space it will create a very elegant and romantic look for your wedding reception.
♥ Use floral arrangements as centerpieces. These can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.
♥ You could fill terracotta pots with flowers to match your colour theme.
♥ Another idea for a unique centerpiece which will look great in an outdoor wedding reception setting is a beach bucket centerpiece as shown here. You take a small metal beach bucket and paint it in your wedding colors. You can then pot a small tree in it and scatter petals over the top of the soil so it does not show.
♥ Fill a galvanized watering can with fresh summer flowers as a centerpiece.
♥ Use tall vases and fill them with flowers. These will help to anchor the tablecloths in place as well.
♥ Have a look at Theknot.com for instructions on how you can make your own centerpiece for the wedding reception tables.
♥ For a stunning citrus centerpiece you could try this idea from Martha Stewart. Tie lemons and grapefruits with yellow taffeta ribbons and pile them into a glass bowl. The bows are secured by pins and sheer yellow organdy drapes from the bowl.
Additional things to consider
♥ For additional colour you could decorate the chairs at your wedding reception. Tie large bows on the backs of chairs with ribbon streamers.
♥ I’m sure that you will be having children attend your wedding reception as I know how family-oriented Cypriot people are (my brother’s wife is from Cyprus!) so how about renting a bubble machine to add a touch of fun. It creates a lovely party atmosphere and the children will love it.
♥ The wedding cake should be given pride of place in the village square as this will form the centerpiece for your wedding reception. If the weather is going to be hot perhaps you should place your cake in the shade or underneath a canopied arch as you don’t want it melting before you and your new husband have a chance to cut it!
♥ If the Village Square lacks colour then choose bright vibrant colours in your wedding decorations to give it an eye-catching appearance rather than using muted pastel colours.
♥ If there are any unattractive features around the Village Square then you might want to shield them off using trellis which can be decorated with trailing greenery and flowers. This is not too expensive to buy and you can use it in your garden after the wedding reception.
♥ Will there be enough bathrooms for your wedding guests? If not, you might want to consider renting port-a-potties. These port-a-potties are fitted out with a sink, vanity unit and mirror. If you decide to do this make sure you decorate them with some fresh flowers, perfumed hand soap to make them more festive.
♥ Have you had any thoughts about what you will do if the weather turns bad? Perhaps you should have a back up plan in place just in case. Having a backup plan for any outdoor wedding reception, anytime of the year, is always a wise move. It might be a good idea to rent a marquee which could provide your guests with shelter just in case.
♥ If there is a possibility that your guests might get cold in the evening when the sun goes down perhaps you should think about renting outdoor patio heaters like the wedding setting pictured here.
♥ Likewise, if the weather is likely to be extremely hot then think about renting tables with umbrellas which would provide your guests with some shade. You don’t want your guests to be melting in the heat! If it going to be very hot weather you should consider renting large electric fans (which could be powered off of a generator in the absence of electricity) and spreading them around the periphery of the village square.
♥ If there is a chance that the village square might be a windy location make sure that you protect your table settings and your candles.
♥ Even a light wind can blow out candles so if there is a chance of wind you should definitely use votive holders, hurricane lamps or fishbowls which will ensure that your candles remain lit.
♥ You can prevent your table coverings from blowing off by using heavy table items as centerpieces, such as large vases of flowers, potted plants or candles. If it is very breezy put large smooth pebbles on the corners of the table to secure the tablecloths or you could use garden twine to tie pebbles to the corners of the cloth. Another idea is to sew small weights into the seams to weight them down.
One thing I have not yet mentioned is the logistics of getting the Square decorated in time for your wedding reception. It is probably best to decorate the Square on the morning of your wedding. Ask a group of your friends and family to volunteer for this job as you and your fiance will prbably not have time to get involved yourselves on the morning of your wedding. Give them clear instructions for doing it and if possible have a trial run prior to the wedding so that you can plan out where your guests will sit and where the dancefloor should be.
Remember that if you are on a tight wedding budget it is possible to decorate the Village Square and keep your costs down. Try eBay for a lot of your decorating supplies as they are very affordable and will undoubtedly deliver them to you in Cyprus. To save money bulk buy items like citronella candles and garlands of greenery.
My final thoughts are that you don't have to go overboard on decorating the Village Square. You will find that the outdoor atmosphere creates its own magical atmosphere without too many embellishments. If you decorate it with some creativity you can add a romantic touch to your wedding by turning the Village Square into a unique setting for your wedding reception.
Please let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck with your wedding!
Posted by Emily on July 19, 2006 12:58 PM to Wedaholic.com