If like us you're completely enchanted by the idea of a starlit reception, a giant dinner party style celebration, held outdoors beneath the night sky and open air, there are a few things to carefully consider…romantic in idea and a truly unforgettable, unique way to celebrate your wedding? Absolutely! Without logistical complications? Not exactly! Read on to discover the most important points to address and plan for, if your heart is set on a beautifully starlit reception...
It would be unseemly to begin with anything else, this being the most obvious and pressing question, for any outdoor wedding, but particularly one in which you're planning to brave it, sans marquee. Research, research, research! If you love the idea of outdoor dining, begin with the weather patterns, rainfall averages, driest months etc. and plan backwards from there, setting your date and even choosing your destination accordingly.
Mother Nature being the wildly unpredictable being that she is, offers no guarantee of a dry evening, despite thorough research, so have a Plan B, and make sure it's one you can live with, just in case it actually eventuates. This may mean having a marquee or tipi on standby (and paying a deposit for), making the final call, the day before, weather pending. Or consider an alternative space nearby, undercover or indoors, where festivities can be re-located to at the last minute, if need be.
Logistically, getting food to and from a wildly romantic but wildly isolated setting is no mean feat even for expert caterers, particularly keeping hot dishes hot or iced drinks cold. Consider that the further you are away from a building/kitchen/prep area, the further the food needs to travel (most likely on foot) to reach you. When working with your caterer or venue, keep this in mind when selecting the dishes and style of eating. We recommend striking both soup and soufflé from the menu, and similarly anything delicately adorned in micro herbs or flowers, as these will likely flutter away in the breeze before even reaching you! Rustic share style food laid down table centres works beautifully and removes the logistical issue of dozens of individual plates being carried long distances by waiters. However discuss your dining requirements and wishes with your chosen caterer, who will be able to work with you and create an extroadinary dining experience which is perfectly suited to your outdoor space.
Any lighting will look extra beautiful in this setting, and should be considered yet simple. In case of a cloudy night or lack of moon, lights should provide moody, low levels of glow, just enough for guests to find their way and see their food, but not so bright as to detract from the stars hopefully shining above! A simple garland of festoon bulbs skirting the perimeter, or tendrils of fairy lights snaking from trees are both beautiful options, as are ground lanterns lining pathways, or dotted down a sandy beach irregularly clustered. Candles should be housed in vessels so as not to blow out and extra matches should dot tables, just in case.
An oh-so-unromantic but entirely necessary consideration. If you're legitimately in an open field or far from a venue, you will most likely require a generator, either for food prep, fridges or aforementioned lighting. Carefully consider the positioning of this bulky, not entirely silent piece of equipment, keeping enough distance between it and your guests so as not to kill all ambience!
Transport & Travelling on Foot
If your reception is unfolding somewhere beautifully remote, be sure to provide transport for guests to and from their accommodation or a central nearby town. Also consider, if there is a long walk from the drop off point to the dining table (through a paddock or along the sand) make mention of this on invitations so guests, (particularly ladies!) can plan their shoe choice accordingly!
The beauty of these kinds of spaces exists in everything spectacular nature has to naturally offer. The further away you are from city lights the more dramatically beautiful the stars. If dining on the beach, embrace the natural soundtrack of the waves on the sand.
And lastly don't forget...
Nothing ruins an outdoor dinner faster than being nibbled incessantly by insects! Invest in enough scented candles, lanterns or outdoor burning sticks to keep bugs at bay while seated during dinner.
Find in our Brands We Love a list of our handpicked Caterers, Decor Hire Companies and Venues around the globe, to help bring your vision to life, as well as our inspiration article on outdoor dining, Starlit Spaces.