There’s nothing I love more at a wedding reception than a nice, strong theme tying everything together. I honestly don’t even care what the theme is, as long as everything matches!
The problem these days is that people automatically categorize a beautiful wedding with an expensive wedding. Beauty doesn’t come with money, it comes with taste and planning.
I’ve recently been trying to come up with ways for a bride to pay practically nothing for a reception location. The obvious solutions would be either to have a back yard reception or a reception in an LDS cultural hall. Those can be great options, don’t get me wrong. But a lot of people simply don’t have a backyard that can be used for a reception and don’t want to stand under a basketball hoop in their wedding gown. Two very valid concerns, in my opinion.
My current best idea to solve this problem is a picnic wedding. If you do a web search for picnic wedding you’ll find loads of photos full of great ideas. What really caught my eye was that so many of them took place by a simple pavilion. You know, just like the ones in parks all over and even in the back of a lot of LDS chapels.
If your church has one on their property, you’re really in luck- you can plan for an outdoor wedding and in case of rain move it all inside. If you don’t have access to a free pavilion, parks all over the state will allow you to reserve one for the entire day. Each park’s rental fees are different, but most are under $40 a day and include restroom facilities and power.
I just love the idea of the picnic theme. If you’re into the casual wedding (most people in Utah show up to wedding receptions in jeans anyway- why fight it!) it’d be so cute to go with a red and white checked theme with table clothes. You could bag up sack lunches for each guest and serve lemonade out of your grandma’s old canning jars. You could even bring a game of croquet for people to play on the lawn next to the pavilion! Your reception would be fun and relaxing for all who came!
If you’re looking for more of a formal theme, you could easily dress up the pavilion with a few white twinkle lights and some beautiful table clothes. Your bridesmaids could carry parasols (click here for an example of where to buy them) and big, white kites could be available for children to play with on the grass next to the pavilion (Oriental Trading Company sells packs of 12 white kites for just $9.99). Refreshments could be almost like a formal tea party- open faced finger sandwiches and petite fours served on tiered silver platters, sparkling punch served in tea cups (it’d be fun to borrow cups from family members and line the mismatched cups up in patterns)
However you plan it, if you stick to a theme your guests will be sure to be impressed!