Socially Distanced Garden Weddings – Tips and Ideas

You found your soul mate, said “yes,” and all that’s left is to say the magical words “I do” and disappear into the sunset as a married couple.  It was all going swimmingly until Covid-19 hit and derailed your plans.

Being caught up in a global pandemic has brought many couples’ wedding arrangements to an abrupt halt, with hundreds of weddings either postponed or cancelled. It’s been a tough time for everyone planning and carrying out these memorable celebrations. Everyone has felt the impact, from the engaged couple to the venue, the caterer, the photographer, and more.

It’s become clear that the status quo isn’t going to return overnight. The days of sharing your special moment with scores of friends and family from near and far are on the back burner for now. We must adjust to what is in front of us if we still want to create lifelong memories of the day we say “I do”.

Social distancing and other preventative measures will stick around for a while, and now is the time to embrace smaller, more intimate weddings. Here are some tips and ideas on how you can still have a beautiful celebration within the parameters of the Covid-19 landscape.

Assuming the reopening plan continues without increased COVID rates, all legal limits on social contact will be removed ➼ 𝟐𝟏𝐬𝐭 𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐞.

Socially Distanced Garden Weddings – Tips and Ideas - BE Event Furniture Sales

The Venue

Choosing the right venue is one of the most complex parts of planning a wedding and often one of the first steps. Indoor venues will likely be overlooked for outdoor spaces or garden settings.  An outdoor wedding allows for better social distancing and can significantly reduce the spread of the virus.

Outdoor venues lend themselves to casual, intimate weddings, with more scope for imaginative seating arrangements. It’s also more accessible for the venue staff to monitor social distancing and guest behaviour against the backdrop of the Covid-19 protocols.

When you’re up against the sullen British weather, hiring a tent or marquee is a good compromise. Ideally, opt for one with open sides to allow fresh air flow. There should still be sufficient space outside the tent for mingling or even a satellite bar. Encourage guests to use these areas rather than stay indoors for the event.

If you’re still in the process of scouting for venues, consider the following points.

Social Distancing

As mentioned earlier, social distancing will likely stick around for a while. Whatever the size of your guest list, ensure that the outdoor area is large enough to accommodate the guests while maintaining the prescribed social distance comfortably.

Tables that previously seated eight guests for the wedding reception might now only seat four. Hence, a guest list of 40 that in the past would require five tables will now need to be split between eight tables to accommodate everyone.  Try, where possible, to seat guests within their bubbles. Although fresh air significantly reduces the risk of transmission, it still pays to be overly cautious.


One of the advantages of holding your wedding in a garden is that you are already surrounded by beauty. Make the most of what you are surrounded with. Any décor that you bring in should complement the natural surroundings. Consider the following ideas:

  • Pick your colour scheme to complement the colours in the garden venue.
  • String fairy lights through the trees and bushes to create a magical setting when the sun goes down. Hanging lanterns have a similar effect but are more cumbersome.
  • Choose your chairs to fit in with the scenery. If you’re planning a rustic wedding, wooden chairs will work well. Use cushions in the colours of the surrounding flowers to make the chairs more comfortable. You’ll want a classier chair for a high-tea type wedding, and if you’re going casual, scatter blankets and beanbags around for seating.
  • Use chalkboard signs to direct guests to certain areas like the toilets or bar. You can even use them to display the menu.

Nature provides a palette of colours, and with a small amount of imagination, you can transform even the plainest garden into a beautiful wedding venue.

The Guest List

It’s an instinct to want everyone you’ve ever known to share your special day with you. But the reality is that if you want to get married now, you must be selective in who you invite. Cutting your guest list to the bare minimum is a daunting task, but it must be done to comply with Government and local restrictions.

So, how do you do this? First, make sure you know your local restrictions regarding the number of guests allowed to attend the wedding and reception. This will have an impact on how you finalise your guest list. Consider your potential guests in terms of the following groupings:

  • Immediate family
  • Extended family
  • Close friends (Must-haves)
  • Other friends (Nice-to-haves)
  • Work colleagues
  • Partners (other than those included in any of the above groups)
  • Vulnerable people

Use these groups to narrow down the list to include those people who you simply can’t imagine not having at your wedding. Remember that the wedding party – bridesmaids, groomsmen and the like – might have to be included in the maximum number of people. If this is the case, try and keep the size of the wedding party low so that you can accommodate more guests.

If numbers are tight, be firm on “plus ones”. This is your wedding, and you should be surrounded by those close to you. If Jack from the office is single, he can still enjoy your big day. Likewise, if second cousin Shirley is divorced, perhaps seat her next to Jack! Don’t waste precious space on people you don’t know.

Hybrid Weddings

Large weddings are impossible in the current situation, but with some out-of-the-box thinking, you can still make it happen. Over the past year, businesses have turned to hybrid meetings and events, with some participants physically present and others tuning in via online methods like Zoom and Google Teams.

A live streaming option for guests who can’t physically attend your wedding is a great compromise and enables them to be included in the celebrations, albeit from a distance. It’s also particularly suitable for vulnerable friends or family and overseas residents who cannot attend due to travel restrictions or financial constraints. If you don’t have contact, your venue may have a preferred AV supplier to make the necessary arrangements.

Ensure the venue has decent Wi-Fi that won’t lose connection during the live stream. This constant connectivity isn’t always possible in garden settings and is very susceptible to changing weather. A good AV technician can work miracles, but if your heart is set on a hybrid wedding, make sure that you highlight this as something to discuss with each venue’s wedding coordinator.

The Catering

Current restrictions and financial constraints are forcing you to consider different options for your wedding catering. Wedding planners, venues, brides and even the groom’s mother (who always has a say!) are changing their ideas to enable a wedding to go ahead.

Garden weddings don’t suit the large buffet-style meals we were used to seeing at larger, indoor weddings. Instead, try something more in keeping with the intimate nature of the wedding. Outdoor weddings provide an excellent opportunity for mobile food and trucks. You can also bring coffee trucks or arrange for a mobile bar to be set up outside.

Picnics are also experiencing something of a revival. They are the perfect catering solution for small outdoor, casual weddings; you can go to town on what you include. Whether you’re having a high-end garden tea party or have chosen a rustic, informal theme, your picnic baskets can be made to order. You can also personalise the contents for guests who have particular dietary needs.

If finances are tight, keep costs lower by purchasing the food yourself rather than outsourcing to a catering company. Rope the wedding party in to pack the baskets the evening before or the morning of the wedding. Pop the champagne and have a pre-wedding celebration with those closest to you.

The Formalities

Weddings have become more relaxed, and some age-old traditions have fallen away. Consider these points in your planning if you have a traditional-style wedding, albeit a garden one.

  • Use online services as much as possible. Virtual meeting services like Zoom and Google Meet are useful tools for initial supplier meetings.
  • Make appointments for face-to-face meetings with your suppliers far in advance. Although the pandemic has been around for a while now, there are still many unknowns and the more time you allow for arranging your wedding, the better for all involved.
  • Listen to your suppliers. They know best about what can and can’t work for socially distanced garden weddings, and they have guidelines to follow to keep the event safe.
  • If you’ve opted for formal seating, have more than one seating chart. This reduces the number of guests clustered around a central spot.
  • Avoid sharing microphones. Have at least two available so you can have one in use and one sanitised and ready for the next speech. With small weddings, it’s possible that you won’t require microphones, but sound can “blow away” outdoors, so these may be necessary to counteract the wind.
  • Have more than one pen available to sign the wedding register to avoid a sharing situation.
  • Have sanitiser easily available for guests, and provide each guest with a small bottle at their place or in the picnic basket.

Before you embark on your wedding planning journey, ensure you know the Government and local restrictions regarding small weddings. These are constantly changing in line with pandemic developments, so keeping on top of these regulations is critical to a successful event.

Your wedding is one of the most significant days of your life, and pandemic or not, you want it to be perfect. The current situation encourages creativity in even the most mundane details, leading to unique events that will never be forgotten.

It may not be the wedding you dreamed of when you were a little girl, but embracing the changes may mean that your wedding is more than you ever imagined it could be.

BE Event Furniture Hire offers nationwide delivery and collection on all hired wedding furniture.


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