Weddings - Garden Weddings

By Caroline Wolfe Papocchia on June 28th, 2010

I recently heard a story about a bride who was very specific about her wedding palette: she wanted "the color of new beginnings." What did she mean? Spring green of course: that soft chartreuse shade of new shoots and sprouts. It was the perfect color for her June nuptials.

June is traditionally the most popular month for weddings, and one of the most popular themes for a June wedding is a traditional garden party. Garden weddings take advantage of June's temperate weather and vibrant vegetation, and gardens provide an abundance of inspiration for colors, flowers, décor, food, and photography.

Garden weddings almost always take place outdoors; at the very least the ceremony is outside and the reception ideally takes place in an open but covered structure. The best locations for a garden wedding offer both outdoor and indoor spaces, such as botanic gardens, arboretums, certain historic venues, and country estates.

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There are many types of garden styles and designs, and choosing one as a starting point can inform all of the wedding details. For example, a very traditional garden with clipped hedgerow and gravel walkways lends itself to a prim and lovely wedding celebration. The flower of choice for this type of wedding is the rose, that beloved bloom of June, and the ideal color palette draws from rose's pale and pastel hues — creamy white, lavender, pale pink, and coral, as well as spring green and robin's egg blue.

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A traditional garden wedding lends itself to a daytime or day-into-night schedule. The earlier timing can be quite cost-effective and takes full advantage of the plein air setting of the ceremony and reception. Catering might also be very traditional; perhaps abuffet offering vichyssoise, tea sandwiches, salads and spring vegetables, and a meat such as lamb or pork, all served from decorative sterling silver chafing dishes and pots. A traditional wedding cake rendered in spring colors and topped with real or sugar flowers, or a tier of sweet cupcakes strikes a perfect end-note.

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On the tables, fresh flowers and foliage are a must above any other element. Bouquets of soft tea or garden roses of course, as well as miniature topiaries in ceramic pots, or bunches of hydrangea are perfect centerpieces.

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Overall, decor can be minimal, because the setting provides most of the atmosphere and visual impact. The gardens are beautiful in the moment, as well as in your keepsakes: strictly-tended boxwood mazes and other plantings create a classic backdrop for wedding portraits.

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Another style of garden wedding draws on the more casual, haphazard aspect of the natural world. Taking a cue from the romantic, overgrown gardens of rural Europe, the flower of choice for a rustic garden wedding might be a sunflower, cosmos, or a bunch of wildflowers. The color palette is richer, but also faded: bright oranges, reds, fuchsias, purples, and greens against a backdrop of time-worn wood browns, brick reds, and soft metal grays and greens.

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An early start is also appropriate for a rustic garden wedding, and any sense of tight refinement is abandoned in favor of simple beauty. Rectangular communal tables are perfect for a family-style meal of fresh, artisanal foods like farmhouse cheeses, roast chicken or duck, leafy salads and simple vegetables, finished with fruit plates and fresh berry cobbler. Mismatched china and silverware complete the casual dining scene.

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Wildflowers, sunflowers, and herbs in old tin cans, glass jars, glass bottles, or — ideally — a mix of all three create wonderfully charming centerpieces.

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Tealights, lanterns, and pillar candles in glass jars suspended from nearby trees or set around the dining area take the party into the night. This is a wedding steeped in romance and charm, accented with an almost-childlike sense of magic.

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June is a time for love and most definitely a time for marriage. Any bride and groom who are planning a June wedding should take advantage of all the month has to offer and consider a garden setting for their nuptial celebrations. It is important to remember that traditional and rustic are only two out of many different kinds of gardens, and there are at least as many kinds of garden weddings.

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