Garden Party Style
Romance and whimsy amid the hedges
Whimsical wisteria floats above as you make your way, teacup in hand, through the hedges to guests adorned in pastel ruffles and pretty floral prints. It may seem you’ve taken a step back in time to Regency-era Great Britain, but in reality, you are at a wedding in 2022 or 2023.
Garden party-themed weddings and related events are newly popular due to several factors. Since 2020, more couples have opted to conduct their nuptials outdoors due to COVID-19. Too, we have become fascinated with the original garden party lovers, the British, via television shows, most notably Bridgerton, and coverage of royal weddings.
“It’s a classic event, timeless in many ways,” said John Gandy, owner of John Gandy Events. “In a time before venues, ballrooms and church halls, many people gathered in beautiful gardens and hosted family get-togethers and celebrations utilizing the many beautiful elements of their garden.”
Gandy said there are key elements to creating a garden party: utilizing natural surroundings as backdrops; an abundance of florals; soft, subtle lighting; a themed cocktail; linens and textures; and games such as croquet, badminton or cornhole.
Gandy’s services are available throughout the country, but with his base being in Tallahassee, he often finds himself designing event spaces in the parks and gardens found throughout that city. Notable locations that would be ideal for garden-themed weddings include Maclay Gardens, Goodwood Museum and Gardens, Dorothy B. Oven Park, Shiloh Farms Church and Barn and the Old Willis Dairy Farm.
“Tallahassee’s unique charm and style is derived from the undeniably pretty and often unexpected features found in Florida’s capital,” said Renee Jones, public relations and marketing specialist with Visit Tallahassee. “The area’s rolling hills, canopy roads and moss-draped oaks as well as its natural beauty and historic gardens make for breathtaking backdrops for garden weddings in any season.”
In Baker, Florida, the 15-acre South Laurel Farm offers an abundance of trees that will provide shade for your tea tables and a green space in front of the reception barn that is ideal for lawn games.
“When I think of a garden party, I visualize an outdoor space surrounded by lush green areas as well as small nooks that could lend themselves to beautifully decorated tables with great food,” said Beth Clary, owner of South Laurel Farm.
It doesn’t offer a craggy coastline, but Northwest Florida has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. If a state park or garden is not available or you’re seeking an option with outdoor and indoor options, many resort properties have scenic outdoor settings.
“The WaterColor community is surrounded by our beautifully manicured parks, so it is the perfect backdrop to a garden wedding,” said Cheryl Walton, senior wedding sales manager at WaterColor Inn & Resort. “The gardens are a rainbow of vibrantly colored flowers, bird houses and the sound of water trickling from the fountains as you walk down the pebble pathways.”
If you opt for an indoor location for your wedding or must bring it inside due to weather, there are ways to bring the outdoor elements inside with florals, menus and dress codes.
Florals real and manmade can make appearances on bridesmaids’ dresses, groomsmen’s bowties, wedding dresses, in hair, on cakes, linens and tableware and as part of the dress code. There’s not a spot where a bloom wouldn’t be suitable.
Should you select a garden-themed bridal shower or seated dinner reception, much of the look revolves around what’s on the table. Walton suggests that garden style often includes custom floral-patterned linens, napkins, tableware, fine china and colored glassware. A dainty teacup may be used for tea or unexpectedly for a cocktail.
For a daytime soiree, offer teatime fare with finger sandwiches, fresh vegetables and fruits and miniature desserts. At a rehearsal dinner or reception, go with farm-fresh fare and whipped sugary confections.
Besides lots of lace, floral and brocade clothing and decor, color palettes are key. Think blush, lilac, dusty rose, pale yellow, sage and powder blue. For decor, explore gold accents such as candlesticks, chandeliers, vintage French-style furniture, bell jar centerpieces, calligraphy on signage and a flower petal toss as you exit.
If you often find yourself dreaming of the romance and elegance of a Jane Austin novel, if you find yourself anxiously awaiting Lady Whistledown’s next letter or love nature’s natural beauty, a garden wedding might be just what you fancy.