How to Decorate a Park for a Wedding

Amy Hoover
wedding at a park

Decorating a park for a wedding can be challenging. After all, you want to highlight the beauty of the space but make it special enough for your nuptials. Following some basic guidelines and steps can help break things down into a manageable task.

Ceremony Decorations

The ceremony decorations will consist of a few standard items: altar decorations, chair decorations, and aisle decorations.

Decorate the Altar Area First

gazebo and aisle decorations

The altar area is where all eyes will be, at least until the bride and groom make their exit. Start by decorating this all-important area. How you decorate will depend on what is up front.

  • Gazebo or covered structure: If your ceremony will take place in a gazebo or underneath a pergola or canopy, you'll want to decorate the gazebo to match your wedding scheme. Wrap tulle around supports and tie floral bouquets at the midpoint to 3/4 of the way up the supports. If your wedding will take place at night, weave some LED lights through the tulle. Add a large swag in the center of the roofline. If desired, use rented stands to hold additional floral arrangements.
  • Bridal arch: Weddings without a structure at the front of the ceremony space may use a bridal arch. Decorate the arch with florals, vinery, balloons, crystals, or even small origami figures to match the color and theme of the wedding.
  • Tree: Holding the nuptials underneath a tree makes decorating easy. Add a wide ribbon or two a few feet above your heads with a large bow in the center. If desired, include columns or stands for additional floral arrangements, or make use of shepherd's hooks for hanging bouquets or lanterns.

Decorate the Chairs

decorations on chairs

Once you've decorated the altar area, turn your attention to the chairs. Most people use one of the following two options to decorate the chairs:

  • Covers: If you're using older folding chairs or have mismatched chairs, cover the chairs with fabric covers.
  • Bows and ribbons: Simple bows and ribbons tied around a chair in the back add a beautiful touch to the seating area.

Decorate the Aisle Last

Finally, turn your attention to the aisle. Decorate in the following order:

  1. Add a small bow or floral bouquet to the chairs on the ends of each row.
  2. Place any structures, such as vases, hooks, or stands, where they need to be.
  3. Add the floral arrangements to those vessels.
  4. Finally, decorate the aisle itself shortly before the ceremony begins (or before photos are taken). Roll out an aisle runner or add petals to the aisle. Petals can be strewn haphazardly or in a pattern.

Reception Decorations

Decorating a reception at a park will also take a little creative forethought to make everything come together nicely. Start by considering the location and then add lighting and your traditional decorative accessories like centerpieces.

Start With the Picturesque Background

reception skyline

The park itself often provides a stunning background for the reception as well as the ceremony. By keeping this in mind as you set up, you'll be able to decorate less. For example, if the park you choose has a city skyline visible, set the reception up so guests will naturally face the view. Or, if the park has a gorgeous tree line or wall with flowering vines, you'll want to set up so they are a natural part of your decorations.

Dance spaces, staging, and buffets should be set up off to the side so you don't block the view with these items.

Shelter or Tent Decorations

Park shelter reception décor

If the reception will be held in a park shelter or tent, you'll want to decorate accordingly. Start at the ceiling and work your way down.

  1. Add tulle swags, streamers, and buntings across the ceiling to add height to your decorations.
  2. Tie bouquets, ribbons, and bows around the supporting columns.
  3. Shelters may have a fireplace with a mantel. Add swags, candles, photos, and decorations to this area.
  4. Tents may come with tie-back walls. If so, consider swapping those ties out for sashes in your wedding colors.

Add Lighting

hanging lanterns

Lighting will depend on whether your reception is an open-air reception or is inside a structure.

  • Open-air lighting options: Hanging lanterns suspended from tree branches work well if you have enough trees in the area. Otherwise, consider tiki torches, shepherd's hooks with hanging lanterns, and patio lights to help guests find their way around.
  • Structured lighting options: In a tent or shelter, you can use LED lights to help brighten the area. They can be wrapped around columns and hung across the top of the shelter's ceiling with the tulle. Small chandeliers can also be used as can up-lighting in certain areas.

Finish With Decorative Accessories

The final touch at your reception will be the decorative accessories you add. This includes things like:

  • Table linens: Layer table cloths or use a runner to add a bright bunch. Cloth napkins won't fly away if there is a breeze.
outdoor centerpieces
  • Centerpieces: Incorporate your outdoor venue into the centerpieces by using flowers, vines, branches, and even cuttings from tree trunks in the centerpieces.
  • Cake table: Just because the cake is outside doesn't mean you should skip adding a pretty tablecloth and some candles or petals around your cake.

Pretty Park Decorations

Don't worry about decorating a park perfectly. Let the natural beauty of the park location shine through!

How to Decorate a Park for a Wedding