Firepit in the back garden

Should we have our wedding reception in the back garden?

This has been the summer for back garden weddings for me and I couldn’t love them more!  If you fancy a country wedding but are pondering whether to forgo the traditional Country House wedding venue in favour of a DIY wedding in the grounds of your, or your parents home then take a look at Anna and Charlie’s back garden wedding in Taunton, Somerset below for a few reasons why I think its a bloomin’ marvellous idea.


While there are of course many benefits to having the in-house venue management team take care of every detail for you, there is nothing like having complete freedom to “do it your way’ from designing the layout of the space to suit your plans, to having the pick of suppliers you like rather than a prescribed list to choose from.

Each and every couple is individual and I like nothing more than to see their own personal stamp on their wedding, getting a glimpse into what makes them tick!  If like Anna and Charlie, you want a dinosaur and a gorilla made out of epoxy resin to police the “No drinks on the dance floor” policy there’s no venue manager telling you its not in keeping with the decor of the venue…and that can only be a good thing for individualism.

A family affair

Weddings are all about bring your most favourite people together to celebrate with you, and its even more special for close family and friends when they’ve had a hand in making the day sensational. Anna’s parents live in a very close knit community in Somerset and the whole village had been eagerly anticipating the event which Arabella (her mother) had been meticulously been planning with Anna and Charlie for the past year.

It was lovely to see the trees she’d been growing and nurturing lining the walkway to the marquee, to see her Dad mowing the wild grass in the morning to create an evening chill out area down by the fire pit, and turning his Land Rovers into mobile cocktail bars.  Even the local farmers got in on the act, having dressed a couple of hay bales as a bride and groom, to great surprise and amusement on the couple’s return from the church.

…and Relax!

There’s nothing more sentimental than getting ready in the home, and often even the room you grew up in, surrounded by family photos and happy memories. Even the most laid back brides start to feel the nerves on the morning of the wedding and its seems to be a calming influence, being totally at home in the environment, knowing where everything is if you need that last little thing sorting.  Also, it means you can often take your time and set up the marquee or event space well ahead of time leaving just the finer finishing touches to do in the morning while you parade around in your Hunter wellies and rollers like Anna.

Even when things didn’t go quite according to plan Anna maintained her cool.  The beautiful vintage car they hired to take her to the church broke down a mile away en route to the ceremony.  Completely unfazed, Anna took it all in her stride (quite literally) and walked the last mile, in the rain, in her fabulous hand-painted heels to the great delight of the village cheering her on.  Sure she was about 20 mins but this mattered not, which leads me nicely on to my next point.

All in good time

With a homespun garden wedding you are the master of your own time.  You decide what happens, when, and in which order to.  I’ve worked at venues where they are quite prescriptive about when you sit down to eat, how long you’ll get for the drinks reception and when the speeches should take place. That may work for some people but when you have your own ideas about the flow of the day that can be a bit inhibiting.

Anna and Charlie wanted to have lots of time to socialise with their guests informally so dedicated a whole ‘room’ in the centre of the marquee with a circular bar, around which most the action took place.  The speeches were deftly delivered from a podium there, with hilarity any stand-up comedian would have been proud, before everyone moved through to the dining area for a leisurely feast.  And of course, being your own grounds means there is no prescribed end to the festivities.  Not only did they carry on late, but Anna’s parents hosted a lunch in the marquee the following day to continue the celebrations and to include many of their extended friendship group and friends from the village who had provided all kinds of help and support to make the celebration a huge success, including putting up many guests, myself included, given the remote location.

By saving on the initial venue hire costs, not only do you have more budget to spend on other things that really matter to you, like an awesome band…or an amazing photographer (ahem!)…or hand painted shoes in Anna’s case but you can do it all over again the next day for another 160 people without it costing you twice the price. Now, that is a result!

Party like its 1999! 

Perhaps one of THE best things about a wedding reception in your back garden is there is no curfew (if your parents and neighbours are invited), and with no other ‘hotel guests’ to consider you can really party like its 1999.  Anna and Charlie were particularly fortunate in that her parents live on very remote farmland where you can make as much noise as you like, for as long as you like without affecting the neighbours, but that’s less of an issue if you’re inviting them all anyway!

As I’m a photographer who stays late I get to witness (and capture!) the dance floor action getting more animated as the night goes on. I daresay this was somewhat fuelled by the unlimited supply of Espresso Martini’s inside, and Dark & Stormy cocktails outside but I can’t be sure.  All I know is that the gorilla, the dinosaur and the wart hog were all powerless to resist and had no choice but to get involved.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join them!

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If you’re planning a chilled out garden wedding, or a crazy fun-filled one in Somerset, London or pretty much anywhere in the world, then please do get in touch. I’d love to hear how you’re going to be doing it your way!

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