Chris tells us that one of the benefits of hosting a reception at home is that you don't have to spend your money on cut flowers or fancy arrangements. They made an investment in their backyard by planting hydrangea bushes, black-eyed Susans and echinacea flowers, which according to Chris "is a lifelong investment because they come back every year — you don't just cut them and throw them away."
Having a reception at home also allowed the couple to incorporate both of their decorating styles and color choices. Whereas Chris' expertise came in handy when choosing what to plant in the yard, Peyton's keen eye for decor made selecting the finishing party touches a breeze. "I love vintage chicness; I love antiques," she gushed. "I had a ton of hanging lanterns, Mason Jars filled with candles and things that represented my style at the party whereas his landscaping ideas and techniques came into play for the yard."
"I had a ton of hanging lanterns, Mason Jars filled with candles and things that represented my style at the party whereas his landscaping ideas and techniques came into play for the yard."
When planning a wedding reception at home, there are a few things to keep in mind when getting your house ready for a parade of guests. Chris recommends spending some time thinking about the traffic flow and how to keep guests out of the main house. After all, you don't want Uncle Bob rummaging through your medicine cabinets do you? For their reception, Chris and Peyton chose to set up mini stations around the yard, similar to what you'd see at a typical wedding reception. There was a food area, a wine and beer station and a spot by the firepit for guests to sit back and relax. The hanging lanterns throughout the yard tied the areas together for a cohesive feel while also providing ambience.
So how'd they do it? Here's what they had to say about planning a backyard reception:
SheKnows: What are some basic tips for decorating for an outdoor wedding?
Peyton: It's a lot easier to give it your personal style when you're in your own yard. Your yard is already an extension of your home, and it's a lot of fun to put more personal touches because your decorating style is already there.
SheKnows: What are your favorite outdoor wedding themes?
Peyton: Shabby Chic is really popular right now and that's something that I really love, but I try to not take the look over the top. Both Chris and I love the beach and for us it was about incorporating the beach into the vintage, Shabby Chic look and combining the two elements.
For anyone planning a wedding, especially if you want to tie a theme into it, just keep it true to yourself and don't plan anything that doesn't reflect your personality. You want to keep it to what you love in your day-to-day life.
SheKnows: How do you suggest coordinating wedding colors with the natural surroundings?
Peyton: For Chris' brother's wedding, we had so many blue and purple hydrangeas in the yard that our sister-in-law tied in the colors to make it look more natural. Her bouquets were more wildflowers so everything blended in with what was already in the yard.
We also have sunflowers and black-eyed Susans growing in our yard, which add a pop of yellow. I think yellow is something that can go from summer all the way into fall.
SheKnows: What are some good lighting options to create ambiance for an evening reception?
Peyton: I really love Japanese lanterns. I've seen them hung from trees as well as inside of tents. Whether you're completely outside or under a tent, they add some really good light. Twinkle string lights, larger vintage-looking bulbs or even just white Christmas lights can also add a sense of romance.
SheKnows: We know you guys love outdoor games. You even had a Cornhole bean bag toss game set up at your reception and had guests sign it. What are other ideas for keeping guests entertained?
Peyton: I think the music has a lot to do with it. Just making sure that the mood is set with either a DJ or a band — they really control the mood of the party. If you're not going to have, say yard games, just make sure your DJ can keep everyone entertained and keep them on the dance floor.
Chris: Some weddings have a cocktail hour that gets things going, but then you have the two-hour seated formal dinner, and it kind of takes some of the fun out of the wedding. For our wedding we had different stations and no assigned seating so people could move around, eat at their leisure and dance. It kept the party going. We could circulate and mingle with everybody.
SheKnows: How can you prepare for finicky weather in advance? Should you have an indoor option as a backup plan?
Chris: It's always good to have a backup plan. Everyone wants a beautiful sunny day on their wedding, but it's not going to always happen so you need to have a contingency plan in place.
For our wedding, the plan was to get married right on the beach and have the reception on the boardwalk overlooking the beach, but the day before the weather was constantly changing. Then at two o'clock the day of the wedding we had to make the call to set everything up inside a reception hall as an alternative.
For both of my brother's receptions, we had a tent set up just in case it rained. We dressed it up and made it look really cool with flowers and tall vases all over the place so it looked really beautiful even though it was a gigantic white tent.
SheKnows: We know it's not something you typically think about when preparing your backyard for a wedding, but having mosquitoes bite your guests can be a major bummer. What are your tips for bug control?
Chris: For both of my brother's weddings we had Tiki torches set up around the outside of the tents with the citronella oil in them. We also had tables set up outside with citronella candles. We decorated them with flowers so that it didn't look like a store-bought 99-cent candle. It provided light and combated some of the mosquitoes. For additional backup, we had cans of bug spray at a table just in case it was one of those bad bug nights.
Peyton: My best friend just got married in Dallas, and she actually went over to the area where they planned to have the rehearsal dinner a few days before just to check everything out and was eaten by mosquitos. Thank goodness she went over there and realized it was a problem so they could spray the area beforehand. Definitely go to the area a few days before and do a trial run to see how the bugs are.
"My biggest tip is to keep it with your personality and don't try to plan something that looks like it's out of a magazine. "
SheKnows: Any last words of wisdom for throwing a backyard wedding?
Peyton: A lot of people who plan to have a backyard wedding do it because it shows more of their personality and their style. My biggest tip is to keep it with your personality and don't try to plan something that looks like it's out of a magazine. Do what you and your husband love and enjoy, and you're guaranteed to have some fun with it.
Chris: And I say to the husbands, don't be afraid to put in your two cents.
More ideas for wedding decor
Easy DIY wedding decor you'll love
Wedding decorations on Etsy
Unique wedding centerpieces
Images courtesy of Chris and Peyton Lambton.