When throwing a backyard reception, what happens there is limited only by the constraints of the space and the flexibility of your imagination. If you want to have a barbecue, go ahead. If you want a luau, party on. Taking the wedding reception outside of the reception hall affords the bridal couple a lot of freedom if they're ready to accept it. Here are some ideas to make a backyard wedding reception easy and wonderful.
In a traditional reception hall wedding reception, there is a dance floor surrounded by tables. In less-formal receptions, some people choose to forego some of the tables and serve appetizers, but the layout is pretty much the same. In a backyard wedding, you can choose any layout you like. Instead of a circular arrangement of tables and chairs, try using the topography of the space to create conversation areas. They could be standing tables around a swimming pool full of lily pads and sunflowers, comfortable lounge chairs on the deck to watch the sunset from, and other groupings of chairs and tables around the yard. Place a food station at each conversation area, and the guests will naturally flow from one area to another.
Decorations need not be extravagant in a backyard wedding reception. Play up the yard's features with extra flower plantings and possibly the addition of some flowering trees. Small flower arrangements of roses or carnations on the tables and about the reception area will go a long way toward creating beauty and ambiance. The cost of decorations could be cut in half, and perennial flowers and trees will be wonderful reminders of the day for many years to come. If the yard you're using doesn't have many features to play up, create a dance floor and surround it with tables. Erect a tent above the dance floor and swathe the tent poles with tulle. String fairy lights up the poles and around the tulle and place lanterns on the tables. It creates a perfect ambiance for an evening garden wedding.
Theme weddings are fun in backyard gathering spaces. You can create a high tea with finger sandwiches, teapots, petit-fours, and prissy flower and herb cuttings. You could also create a masquerade ball with gilded tablecloths and ornate decorations.
Some nice additions to any garden or backyard wedding reception are arbors and gazebos. You could place a flower-covered arbor at the entrance to the reception, and the newlyweds could walk underneath it to be announced to the guests. A gazebo is a fun place for a conversation station, or could even serve as the space for the couple's first dance.
Use your imagination and let your sense of play run wild for your backyard wedding reception. There is a lot less at stake when the reception is in your own backyard. Let this be your day and dress it up with dreams. Plant a flowering tree and decorate it with a commemorative plaque. With a little luck you'll dance in that gazebo on your fiftieth anniversary.