The best & worst things you've seen at picnic/casual weddings?

posted 1 year ago in Reception
Post # 17
835 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2019

everwoods :  Oh a VFW will most certainly be handicap accessible. I take care of my 93 year old grandmother so I think of these things all the time. It sounds like you have everything covered! It will be lovely and alot of fun for your guest. 

I am not engaged, yet! But we have dicussed doing something similar. Dinner and dancing is fun, but I want something alittle different. I am thinking bowling!  

Post # 18
114 posts
Blushing bee

I’m having a wedding like yours in 17 days! I didn’t think of bugs because it’s not really a “wild” area. I’ll have to add bug spray and sunscreen to our last minute shopping list just in case. The venue is indoor/outdoor with real bathrooms. We aren’t serving alcohol which I’m a little worried about (my fiance’s family likes to drink). We are also still figuring out what to do about hiring help because I don’t want my family to have to worry about putting out the food and filling the drinks. We are having lawn games as entertainment but no dancing. I’m a little worried about people being bored. If I remember I’ll let you know how it goes. Though as the bride I might not know what the guests honestly thought. At least we’ll have seating for everyone and delicious food.

Post # 19
2404 posts
Buzzing bee

Here’s the pitfalls I’ve seen from BBQ/picnic/backyard casual weddings:

  • not enough seating/not real seating.  Haybales suck and are uncomfortable, don’t expect guests to sit on the ground, etc.  
  • make sure there’s adequate shade.  fans, misters, perhaps?
  • be mindful of the weather (ie, probably not a great plan in 100 degree weather)
  • the bathroom situation.  
  • if smoking is permitted at the venue, ensure there’s a separate smoking area, a good distance away.  
  • have a first aid kit on hand
  • birng bug spray and sunscreen in case anyone forgets.
  • consider accessibility (sounds like you’ve done this)
  • ensure there is adequate trash/recycling
  • if using disposable plates/napkins, please spring for the heavy duty ones like Chinet (sp?) so guests don’t wind up wearing their meal!
  • ice! lots and lots of ice.
Post # 20
5790 posts
Bee Keeper

I went to one at a camp on a lake in the mountains, and it was honestly the worst wedding I’ve ever been to. My 13 year old daughter loved it, but me? Walking through 2 ft. high tall weeds to sit on logs in front of a teepee and a fire, and having most of the guests bring their dogs did not make for a fun time. Bugs, mosquitos, no light, dog droppings everywhere…and a few picnic tables set up with one small votive candle and a jar of jerky? Couldn’t see your hand in front of your face at one point, so people were locking arms to make their way to the food line so we all didn’t trip. lol The bride and groom were behind the tables serving fried chicken and corn on the cob and eating was done inside an old barn. rolls of paper towels on the tables and one porta pot outside. They even raffled off a stuffed/mounted animal (raccoon? he was a taxidermist) to pay for the Blue Grass band that finally showed up. 

Makes for a funny story but was not a fun event. 

Post # 21
1944 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2019

I have been to quite a few of these actually. The ones that hit it off treated it like an actual wedding and reception. Seats were set up, bartenders hired, tents set up and decorated, nice port-a-potties were rented for the occasion, season was taken into consideration (they have been in April/October in the midwest), etc. So if you approach it as a wedding and not as a backyard party, those are the ones that were more sucessful. 

I will say if you want to have one outside, please make sure your guests are comfortable! I was at an outdoor wedding where the dress code was semi-formal and we were all in heels, which looked nice but was a pain to walk around in. Especially since we had to walk about 2 blocks on a gravel road to get to the actual ceremony. So let guests dress how they want, but please encourage flats! 

And I have been to people who treated it not as a wedding, but as a backyard party where a wedding took place. Those rarely went well. Things ran out, not enough seats for everyone (agree with PP, get actual chairs), food was scarce, and people over indulged in drinks. Just make sure you hire someone to bartend (you will probably have to get a liquor liscense depending on your state) and hire someone to do the food. Doing it all yourself or having an aunt watch over it sounds nice, but in reality, they forget! Whether they are having fun on the dance floor or decide its time to go home, the don’t pay attention and things run out. So hire everything out and enjoy your party!! 

Post # 22
100 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: January 2019

I am so thankful for this thread. Our ceremony and reception are going to be extremely casual, but I need to make sure and have plenty of ice water available! It should be a hot day, so I really appreciate the smack in the back of the head this thread just provided for me.

Post # 23
6533 posts
Bee Keeper

I attended a beautiful indoor/outdoor wedding last summer. They had a bar and snacks outside so that people could have something to drink and could socialize before the ceremony began. The ceremony was outdoors with plenty of seating and short and sweet. There were dining tables in the air conditioned lodge and beautifully decorated picnic tables outside. Indoor bathrooms. They lucked out with a great day but would have been just fine if it had rained. Amazing food. Great music. Dancing inside. Kids running around in the park. Men in khakis and button downs or polos, women in summer dresses. A wonderful day. 

Post # 24
119 posts
Blushing bee

You basically described my wedding. It was Saturday 8/18/18, sunny in the 70’s, ceremony at 3pm by the lake with reception on the lawn right after. We rented a park lodge for $500 and set up the tables & chairs outside (but in the case of rain, had the lodge), had lawn games, vodka popsicles, a smores bar… I think it was beautiful in its simplicity and was a lot of fun. I was surprised no guests complained, we actually got a lot of compliments on how stunning everything. Our wedding was small (about 40 people) so it felt intimate and like a family gathering, which really worked for us as we’re not the type to like a ton of attention or do the formal things like dances, garter/bouquet tosses, etc. The only downsides were the unpredictability of weather (but we got lucky, sunny and not too hot) and the bugs, which were remedied by buying some last minute citronella candles. If you go this route, warn guests they can wear semi-formal clothing that can be layered (something to cover up at night) and avoid heels as lawns can be tough on heels.


Post # 25
109 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

Agree with seats and shade. I went to one where I spent a lot of time standing in the sun on grass in heels with no seat available and even covered in sunscreen I was sunburnt by the end of the day. 

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