How to Host a Garden Wedding

Bride with a bouquet

The fresh air, sunshine, gentle breezes, and foliage teeming with blooms are just a few of the things that can make a garden wedding so magical.  There are few things more memorable than watching a couple recite their vows beneath a century-old, grandfather oak tree or at the water’s edge in the soft light of the afternoon.  To complement this type of event, choose a prime location and choose a catering menu that’s fresh and light.  Think berries, melons, fresh herbs, seafood, etc.  Keep it colorful and fun!

Formal tea

For a unique take, consider hosting an afternoon tea.  Tea events are perfect for garden weddings as they ooze style and sophistication. The most common type of tea service is known as the Afternoon Tea, also known as Low Tea.  This tea service consists of light fare such as finger sandwiches, scones and sweets and served mid-afternoon at about 4:00 pm. High tea was historically served after the workday between 5 – 7 pm with heavier foods including meats, vegetables, baked beans and casseroles. Finally, Cream Tea is tea served with scones and clotted cream.

One of the quintessential staples of a formal tea is the tiered stands of food.  These should be at each table, and each tier holds a specific set of finger foods.

Formal tea food

Lowest tier

Starting on the bottom tier are finger sandwiches. These are small, triangle shaped delicacies served on thin bread that are crust-free. Assorted sandwiches are featured like cucumber, curried chicken salad, boursin, smoked salmon, egg salad and roast beef. For a more upscale type, include watercress and buttered radish sandwiches along with mini quiche.

Middle tier

The second tier are where the scones are housed. Scones are like soft, dense biscuits. Speak to your caterer about having them served hot alongside Devonshire or clotted cream, homemade fruit preserves, lemon curds and herbed butter.

Top tier

The top tier is for the sweets. An assortment of desserts like shortbreads, petit fours, mini eclairs, cream puffs, fruit tartes, canapes, macarons, sponge cake and cupcakes make for a sweet ending to a fabulous tea. Speak to your caterer about local dessert favorites that you can add as well.

Cookout/BBQ

Give your event the feel of being in someone’s backyard with a cookout or bbq.  Think grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. Keep in mind guests are dressed for a wedding, so limit messy eating by keeping foods bite size and manageable such as grilled shrimp on a skewer.  Then, lighten things up with fresh, colorful summer salads such as Messina’s Ponchatoula Strawberry Salad with spinach, local strawberries, toasted pecans, and feta cheese tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.  Want to take it up a notch…how about grilled pizza?

Messina's Lamb Chops

Drinks

For occasions like a garden wedding, teas are a great addition.  Also include libations such as champagne for toasting, white and red wines and craft beers.  Perhaps a homemade sangria would match the theme of your event.  Will your garden wedding take place during the heat of the summer?  Opt for icy beverages such as mojitos or margaritas.  For daytime festivities, setup a Mimosa and/or Bloody Mary bar.  Looking for creative, non-alcoholic options?  Setup a creative lemonade stand with artisanal lemonades like lavender infused, or blueberry mint lemonade.  Or have some fun with sun-brewed iced teas!

sangria

Tablescape

This is where you can really get creative.  First, decide on how you want your garden wedding to look and feel.  Will it be a posh affair with service on fine china, or will it be a more organic affair with woven baskets, wood platters, and pottery mugs?  For table linens, opt for a crisp white cloth for the formal look, a floral pattern to complement the garden setting, or lace for an elegant French country touch. Coordinate cloth napkins. Make sure to have coordinating creamers, sugar basins and sugar tube tongs to go alongside.

Garden wedding

Tone

The beauty of a garden wedding party is that it is in the great outdoors. The majority of your décor is taken care of with the surrounding florals and greenery.  Reinforce the al fresco tone by adding fresh flowers on each table. Popular for daytime events, or teas, would be large teapot floral centerpieces. For an added touch of authenticity, forgo the electronic route and send paper invitations that match your garden wedding theme to set the tone. For evening events, be sure to hang string lights to cast a warm glow over your event.

An experienced New Orleans caterer like Messina’s can make your garden wedding spectacular

Speak to your caterer about planning the perfect garden wedding. Messina’s Catering and Events has been catering outdoor events in New Orleans since 1961. Learn more by visiting MessinasCatering.com.