Preparing a Garden Setup for a Wedding

Garden wedding ceremony.

If you have a peaceful backyard bordered with flowers and lush with greenery, you may have the perfect garden setup for a wedding. But what else do you have to consider before hosting someone's big day? Here's how to prepare for a small garden wedding that's welcoming, meaningful and picture-perfect.

Time Your Wedding

While you can't dictate wedding-day weather, you may be able to get a sense of when your favorite flowers will be in bloom. Although you can't guarantee what your garden will look like at any given date due to fluctuations in weather over the growing season, look through your garden photos to pick a few dates that may showcase your perennial showstoppers, such as fragrant peonies or roses, and vivid blue spikes of delphinium or daylilies. Discuss with a local nursery to see what kinds of plants they will likely have available at the time of your event to add more garden interest.

Ramp Up Your Care Routine

If you want your garden to look its best, fertilize your plants in the spring for an extra boost of nutrition. Make sure you're watering well so plants aren't drying out and getting stressed. Mulching around plants can help retain moisture and prevent weeds from taking root.

Fill in the Gaps

Choose a nice spot where you expect the wedding couple to exchange their vows. (You can dress it up closer to the wedding day with an arbor or canopy, or by suspending an arch of curtains and fairy lights from a tree.) Carefully evaluate your yard and walkways. Fill in any low areas with fresh dirt and seed, and repair any potential stumbling spots. Also, fill in any garden gaps with annuals or replacement perennials.

Deadhead and Stake

It's important to get rid of any greenery that's faded or perished. Deadhead, or remove, any spent blooms in your garden (such as iris), plant annuals where you might have spring bulbs dying back, trim away dead leaves and stake any heavy bloomers that might flop over (such as peonies or dahlias). Also, trim shrubs that are looking gangly or lopsided, and prune any tree branches that are hanging low and potentially in the way of wedding attendees.

Partition With Plants

When considering your garden setup for a wedding, think about where you want guests to gather. You can use planters of flowers and ribbons or decorative rope to help mark boundaries for seating, eating or socializing. Fill planters with annuals that fit the color theme for your small garden wedding. Add cascading accent flowers such as trailing vinca, alyssum or calibrachoa.

Offer Garden Gifts

You can also fill planters with perennials, such as painted daisies, echinacea (aka coneflower) and coreopsis, and send them home with the bridal couple as a wedding gift and a way to start a garden at home. Even better: It's a gift that keeps giving with plants that flower each year near the couple's anniversary. Seed packet party favors also make for memorable gifts for guests or the happy couple.

Get Festive With Flowers

Fresh flowers are also perfect for table settings and general decor. Clip flowers in the morning, put them in water and keep them in the shade indoors until you're ready to dress up the altar, tables or an archway. Get creative with themed vases or vintage bottles or jars for table bouquets. You can fill out arrangements with greenery such as fern fronds or hosta leaves.

Look for Other Garden Uses

Aside from decor, consider all the ways your plants can enhance a small garden wedding. Can you make a homemade bouquet or boutonniere? Can you harvest fresh mint or muddled berries for lemonade or cocktails? What about incorporating fresh herbs, vegetables or fruits into a light meal? Can you use nasturtiums to decorate and flavor salads? How about using fresh flowers on the cake or dessert? Harvest petals from flowers — such as roses, daisies, peonies, cosmos and zinnias — for a flower girl or to define where the wedding aisle will be.

Illuminate With Lighting

If the celebration will last until after dark, add lighting such as solar lamps around the garden and along walkways. You can also add tiki torches, candles or a canopy of festive outdoor lights. This not only helps guests navigate your yard and prevents stumbles into the roses, but it creates a magical mood and lasting memories of a successful small garden wedding.

If you want to learn more about planning for a wedding, check out Burpee's best cut flowers for bouquets.

Written by Lisa Meyers McClintick

Lisa Meyers McClintick has been an award-winning journalist and photographer for publications such as USA Today, Midwest Living and Twin Cities Star Tribune for more than 30 years. She also has authored travel guidebooks on the Dakotas and Minnesota and volunteers as a Master Naturalist based in St. Cloud, Minn. Her home garden includes fourth-generation perennials, herbs, heirloom tomatoes, fruits for making jam and jellies, and a variety of hybrid and native flowers that inspire illustrations and photography.

January 20, 2022
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