DIY an Outdoor Wedding

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Planning an outdoor or camping-style wedding? Here are 8 projects to consider for taking advantage of the natural beauty of your surroundings.

1. Altar of Candles

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No matter where you get married or what kind of wedding you are having, your wedding altar is a sacred place. It doesn’t matter if your altar is traditional and in a church or if it’s between two trees in the middle of the forest – the altar is the physical place on this planet where you and your fiancé will be married. Because our wedding ceremony was at sunset (which wound up being getting pushed back and being at night), I wanted some sort of altar decoration that would be obvious despite the dwindling light. I decided to create an altar filled with candles to accompany us from the side during our wedding ceremony. It wasn’t just beautiful – it was kind of magical. Vintage vases, which you can get at yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, or thrift stores, are great for a project like this. (Safety tip: Don’t forget the sand.)

2. Rustic Aisle Runner

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Since our wedding was outdoors, I needed a solution for an aisle runner along the mulch path where I would be married. What I decided on in the end was simple and budget-friendly while still effective in capturing the rustic and dreamy look I was hoping to achieve. Before you decide what material to use, first consider your feet – will you be walking down the aisle barefoot? Or will you be sporting stilettos? For my rustic vibe, I went with a long and sheer off-white panel of fabric and I topped it with a shorter panel of burlap. Had I chosen to go barefoot, I certainly would have cleared the area better and picked a fabric or material for the runner that would have been sturdier.

3. Mr. and Mrs. Camping Tent

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Sometimes, for some lovebirds, a traditional wedding just isn’t going to cut it. When my husband and I first began discussing our wedding plans, it seemed obvious to us that we would have a camping wedding. After all, we officially started dating during a friend’s camping wedding. We loved the laid-back vibe of an outdoor wedding and the intimate atmosphere that is created when so many people sleep in close proximity to each other beneath the night sky. Although we slept in a lofted bed area inside a cabin most nights of the week, we wanted our wedding night to be special – of course! After perusing photos of camping wedding bride and groom tents online, we decided to use our own 2-room tent. But when I arrived to the tent that night, it was more than just our tent. My husband had arranged battery-charged candles around the tent’s entrance and inside there was champagne, my guitar, and my favorite comforters and pillows atop our air mattress. It was simple, but special. When Austin saw its first thunderstorm in months later that night around 4am, we cuddled beneath the tarp roof as the raindrops repetitively pelted away.

4. Floating Tea Light Candle Mason Jars

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This might not be news to you, but in case it is: tea light candles float! And they look beautiful when lit and floating in water in a mason jar. Both fire and water have meditative elements that will soothe your guests when combined in this fashion. You’ll need to fill your jar with water, of course, but consider adding other elements to your mason jar, as well. Perhaps you would like to put river rocks or seashells at the bottom of your jar? Perhaps you would like to arrange flowers, flower petals, branches, fruit, pine cones, or other natural design components into the water? The possibilities are seemingly endless. You can buy tea light candles in virtually any color you want to match your overall color for your wedding or arrange flowers of the appropriate color in the water.

5. Vintage Photo Table

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A photo table is a great way to allow your guests from near and far to take a walk down memory lane with you at your wedding. Your photos are snapshots of your life and giving guests this intimate insight is a great way to strengthen the bond your guests feel to you and your special day. When I imagined what I wanted for my photo table at my own wedding, I realized that what I had in mind was evocative of memory itself – ethereal and dreamy. And since the photos on the table showed my husband and me as babies growing up into adults, I wanted the table to have a vintage feel as a nod to the past. Achieving this look in its entirety was as simple as a few trips to the thrift store. Simply insert your photos into their respective frames and when the time comes to decorate the table, drape lace and sheer fabric over the table. Set up the framed photos however you wish at this point. For our table, I chose to lay each frame down except for one of us as an accent frame. No matter how you arrange the framed photos, this table will be a gorgeous addition to your wedding decor.

6. Lace and Burlap Table Runners

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While it may seem like a detail easy enough to overlook in the planning stages of your wedding, the décor of the tables at your wedding reception is more important than you might think. The dining, drinking, toasting, and socializing at your wedding will largely all be had at the reception tables – so make sure they’re beautiful and representative of your overall wedding theme. Many brides focus on the floral arrangements and table numbers or place cards (if applicable) while forgetting all about what’s underneath. When I was planning my wedding, I wanted to make sure that the tablecloths and table runners for our long rows of seat-yourself tables matched the rustic vintage look we were working hard to achieve in other areas of the wedding décor. Once I had the idea for dressing the tables, it was simple enough to execute. I chose to use vintage lace and burlap for my wedding tables.

7. Rustic Chalkboard Sign

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If you’ve spent much time perusing Pinterest for wedding décor ideas, you’ve no doubt come across the many variations of chalkboards used adorably for wedding décor. I’m a fan of simple and rustic, especially for events that require so many different design components, like weddings. Your first order of business for incorporating a chalkboard into your wedding is to have at least a rough idea of the purpose you’d like for your chalkboard to serve. The size and quantity of chalkboards you’ll need will depend on many factors. Do you want individual chalkboards to display the names of certain dishes, drinks, or even table numbers? If this is the case, you’ll want smaller chalkboards and a precise amount. Or perhaps you want your chalkboard to denote where parking is or spell out you and your partner’s names? You can use regular chalk, sidewalk chalk, or liquid chalk to decorate your chalkboard. Liquid chalk will give your chalkboard image that smooth texture often seen on chalkboards in restaurants and bars. I haven’t used liquid chalk on a homemade chalkboard myself, but some who have say it is more difficult to remove, so heed that advice before proceeding if you choose liquid chalk. Then decide if you would like to design the chalkboard yourself, allow a friend with great handwriting or artistic skills to do it, or pay a professional to decorate your chalkboard. You might have a chalkboard that looks wonderfully rustic all on its own. Alternatively, you might want to consider using rocks, flowers, burlap, lace, hemp, pine cones, shells, or any other rustic and/or vintage accessory to add to the overall scene of your chalkboard.

8. Card Box From a Vintage Suitcase

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A vintage suitcase is the perfect place for your guests to place their cards upon entering your wedding. It’s simple and elegant and since these cards will one day fill you with wonderful nostalgia, it makes sense to collect them in an item that also triggers that feeling – a vintage suitcase. The topic of gifts isn’t always comfortable to discuss in regard to weddings. It would be in major bad taste to greet guests as they enter your wedding asking for them to hand you their gift, but at the same time, guests who do arrive to the wedding with a gift or card would like for there to be an obvious and safe place to leave their celebratory gesture toward your nuptials. For the sake of convenience, any such designated area should be near the entrance to the wedding and yet not so in the way that the card or gift area appears like a ticket booth, charging a fee for the party. The ideal place for a card or gift area is off to the side, not far from the entrance. Furthermore, this area should be beautiful and aligned with your wedding’s theme so that it flows seamlessly into the wedding décor. Since my husband and I are both passionate travelers, we thought it made sense to make our card area inside a vintage suitcase. Our entire wedding had a distinct DIY feel, so we wanted the card box to follow suit.

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