Wedding season is almost upon us! As winter thaws to spring, brides await the big day and everyone from parents to wedding planners finalize the details of flowers, hors d’oeuvres and music. Whether you plan to celebrate a wedding in your back yard or want to use your home as a backdrop for photos, start planning now so your landscape will be prepared for a stunning – and celebration-worthy – spring, summer and fall.
We’re not talking about tents and folding chairs, though. We’re talking about building an outdoor room that is a beautiful – and functional – extension of your home, so whether you plan to spend decades there with your spouse, or you’re recovering parents looking forward to some relaxation time after the main event, your outdoor space can transition from wedding-day set piece to a natural extension of your lifestyle.
Here are some ideas for planning a landscape that will suit a wedding day as well as many years of married bliss.
Prepare The Backdrop
Whether you’re planning an outdoor ceremony or reception, or simply want the perfect backdrop for photos, the design of your landscape will play a major role.
As you plan, consider the season. Spring here in New Jersey is not known for its lush landscapes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a magical setting. Work with Mother Nature, not against her. You may not be able to find a rosebush in full bloom but that doesn’t mean you can’t set the perfect scene. A cascading wall of Forsythia, a ground covered with Snow Drops or Hellebores, the delicate blossoms of Dogwood or Cherry trees. These and more can be designed into your landscape for the perfect photo-op and a future of garden beauty.
You can enjoy a fuller landscape during summer months, so consider the colors and blooms you’d like to see and the style of your wedding. Many Daisy varieties bloom all summer, making them an ideal choice for whimsical weddings. The silky pink petals of Peonies have a more traditionally romantic feel. The bold colors of Sunflowers and Cardinal Flowers make a real statement. Design the plantings that best suit your style.
Fall is a favorite for weddings for good reason. The deep, rich hues of Sedum, Chrysanthemums and Goldenrod, the unique spectacle of Witch Hazel, and the ornamental pods of Chinese Lantern are a mere few of the blooms that contribute to a stunning backdrop.
And while you may not be planning to spend an entire afternoon outdoors during the cold winter months, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a striking setting so you can snap a few well-planned photos. A good landscape design takes into account all four seasons, and that means working with plants, trees and even stone and hardscapes to create texture, depth and visual interest. So even if your wedding takes place in the heart of January, your home can be a lovely backdrop.
Remember, none of these happen by accident. Whether your event is scheduled for next season or next year, planning and designing your landscape backdrop will help you achieve your wedding-day vision.
Install Or Upgrade Lighting
Lighting sets the mood, adds to ambiance, even enhances safety if you’re planning an outdoor event during the late afternoon and evening hours. You can create myriad effects with lighting depending on the layout of your yard and what you want to achieve.
For example, install lighting among tree branches to create a romantic moonlight effect that will pass for the real thing even on a cloudy night. Line a patio with lighting to turn it into an instant dance floor. Wash the front of your house in light to welcome guests. And don’t forget ponds and pools – underwater lighting can create a beautiful and romantic backdrop for that second – or third or fourth – kiss.
If you have halogen lights installed, it might be worth it to consider an upgrade to LED lighting. Beyond the long term energy and cost savings, LED lights are less likely than halogens to attract unwanted and irritating insects. If you’re hosting an evening wedding this could be a bigger issue, especially as mosquitos drop by to enjoy the extra activity! Try not to rely on bug candles and lights, which are notoriously unsuccessful at deterring pests. And bug zappers are not exactly a romantic alternative.
There are also plenty of options for temporary lighting – from strings of white lights, to lanterns, to floating candles – that make great options for décor and will reflect your style and personality. But the nice thing about installing or upgrading landscape lighting as part of the mix is that you can continue to enjoy it for years to come. And it can even serve as a reminder of happy memories.
Tie It All Together
Whether you’re envisioning the perfect cocktail hour or the most enviable photo album, design details matter. And details aren’t necessarily small – they come in many shapes and sizes and complement the type of wedding you want to host. And much like landscape lighting, they can serve as a source of enjoyment and beauty for years to come.
There is more to a landscape than the grass, trees and flowers. Those tend to be the focal points but it’s what ties them together that defines the experience. Pathways, patios, arbors and trellises – these elements add form and function, separating your yard into useable areas while uniting them in a cohesive design.
Stone is one of the most versatile elements of a well-designed landscape and can be used well beyond walkways and patios. Build natural stone walls to serve as dividers, garden enclosures or seating areas, create structures like fireplaces and fire pits where small groups can gather for conversation, even lay out a stone hardscape in place of part of your lawn for a low-maintenance design element that looks great year-round.
Want something truly unique? Add a koi pond to serve as an exquisite photo backdrop and a source of entertainment for family and guests. Even if you don’t have room for a pond, water elements can add a special touch of natural beauty. Waterfalls, fountains and even pondless waterfalls take up a fraction of the space and all add texture, motion and the calming sights and sounds of moving water.
If your reception will be held outdoors, don’t forget music! Outdoor speakers can be installed in strategic locations to set the tone – whether soothing background for dinner conversation or a lively accompaniment to dancing. Permanent speakers can be left year-round and enjoyed by friends and family at any time.
As you envision the perfect wedding day, the perfect photo setting, the perfect reception spot and the perfect space to enjoy for many years into the future, imagine how different design elements can come together to make your dreams come true. Imagine yourself stopping for a romantic kiss beneath an arbor covered in blossoming vines. Sharing a smile beside a bubbling waterfall. Enjoying a private conversation ensconced in a cozy seating area. Spending anniversaries reminiscing over photos taken in front of natural backdrops made up of your favorite flowers. Whatever you can imagine can be a reality with the right plan.
So if you’re planning a wedding – now or in the future – talk to us and share your vision. We’d love to work with you to create the perfect natural setting to begin your new life.