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47 Outdoor Summer Wedding Ideas

Many couples these days are searching for ways to make their summer outdoor wedding receptions unique.  In an effort to help make your outdoor wedding reception stick out in your guests’ (and your) memories, we’ve compiled a list of summer outdoor wedding set ups, decor, entertainment, wedding menu and favor ideas.

Summer Outdoor Wedding Styles and Set Ups

  • Rent a big, beautiful tent to cover your dining and dancing areas.
  • Make it a backyard summer wedding at the home of one of your parents, family members, or friends.
47 Outdoor Summer Wedding Ideas Chicago Area
Alyssa & Drew Photography
  • Make it a picnic-style wedding with a big picnic food buffet table and tons of freshly-grilled food items.
  • Use indoor furniture (like couches and end tables) as your outdoor furniture…just remember to cover your lounge areas with an elegant tent.
  • Add stylish heaters in case your event’s evening temperature gets a bit chilly.
  • Make your tent rental a clear-roofed tent with a big window that lets in the sunlight (and moonlight).
Clear roofed tent
Rent a tent with a clear roof to let in the light.

Summer Outdoor Wedding Reception Décor Ideas

  • Use lemons, limes and other summer fruits as place cards to brighten up your tablescape.
  • String lights around the dance floor to light it up when the sun goes down.
String Lights at Outdoor Tented Wedding
Alyssa & Drew Photography
  • Provide several Polaroid cameras and a clothesline with pins so that guests can snap a photo and pin it up throughout the evening.
  • Hang a set of beautiful chandeliers inside the tent.
  • Take advantage of the outdoors and use chalkboard art to relay menus, bar items and directions to spaces designated for drinking, dancing and dinner.
  • Include sunflowers in your décor for a beautiful, summery feeling.
Sunflowers and Wild Flowers at Wedding Reception Chicago
Hanna Walowaik Photography
  • Decorate the outdoor elements like trees, gardens and tent ceiling with lights and banners.
  • Hang battery operated lights throughout the outdoor venue, including up in the trees and around the tent area.
  • Use natural décor, such as wood planks, to display your wedding information, including where you’re exchanging nuptials, where the cocktail reception will be and where dinner will be served (assuming you’re hosting the ceremony and reception in the same location).
Custom Wood Signs at Outdoor Wedding
Jolie Images
  • Sprinkle flower petals all over the ground and around your outdoor venue for fragrance and beauty.
  • Hang several Chinese lanterns in your wedding colors from trees and posts.
  • Use mason jars at your place settings, or offer your specialty cocktail served from a mason jar.
  • Hang photos of you and your significant other (and your family and friends) throughout the venue in the trees and bushes, and at tables and around the tent.
Photos of Wedding Couples Displayed at Wedding

Summer Outdoor Wedding Entertainment Ideas

  • Personalize a bags set (also called “cornhole”), or several sets, as bags is a popular outdoor game.
  • Provide Bocce ball, horseshoes and other casual outdoor games for simple summer weddings.
Casual Outdoor Wedding Games and Activities
Mandy Blair Photography
  • Provide bubbles for the kids, and/or host a bubble send-off, where guests blow bubbles as you two leave the reception.
  • Turn your send-off into a sparkler send-off, where guests light up the path from the tent to your decorated car.
  • Host a bonfire, perfect for a s’mores bar idea in the summer wedding menu ideas.

S'mores Bar Station at Wedding Chicago Area

  • Let lit-up paper lanterns go into the sky at the end of the night, a celebration of guests’ well wishes for you.
  • Provide an outdoor photo booth with plenty of props and signs for visitors to hold and wear as they get their photos snapped.

Tasty Catering Backyard Wedding Menu Chicago Area

Summer Outdoor Wedding Menu Ideas

  • Welcome guests to your reception with a signature summer cocktail for them to enjoy as the evening begins.
  • Provide a lemonade, tea or juice stand with the option to add your own fruits and garnishes to keep your outdoor summer wedding guests feeling refreshed.
  • Put plenty of greens and fruits in your salad, because nothing says “beautiful summer day” like a light, fruity green salad.
Summer Wedding Salad Plated
Becca Heuer Photography
  • Serve up some fresh fish with bold, summery flavors that will please your guests’ palates as well as you own.
  • Bring out the kid in your guests and hire an ice cream cart to provide frozen treats that are sure to delight.
  • Incorporate fun foods at your reception, such as cotton candy, popcorn and Super Ropes.
  • Offer a refreshing sorbet palate cleanser in between each of your served courses.
  • Offer a s’mores bar (and a bonfire) once evening hits at your reception.
  • TIP:  No matter how beautiful the cake it, make sure you keep it inside before and after you and your significant other cut it.  Otherwise the hot weather might make it droop!
  • Hire wait staff to served passed appetizers during your summer wedding cocktail hour such as Mini Tinga Tacos or Mini Maryland Crab Cakes.
Passed Appetizer at Wedding Reception
Jolie Images
  • Serve guests a variety of your favorite local beers or wine at the reception.

Summer Wedding Favor and More Ideas

  • Put a variety of flip flops in a basket so that guests in uncomfortable shoes have something into which they can change by the time dancing starts.

Flip Flop Wedding Favor at Summer Wedding Chicago

  • Hang up your flip flop offerings on a string between two trees.
  • Give out sunglasses at the outdoor ceremony as a wedding favor.
  • Personalize the sunglasses with your names on one side and the wedding date on the other.
  • Provide a basket of bug spray, especially if your reception will take place near a pond or lake.
  • Keep a basket of sunscreen for guests to use during your ceremony and reception so they don’t get too much sun.
  • Include small bags on your sweets or candy table so that guests can fill a bag to take with them before leaving at the end of the night.
  • Provide a bottle of water (with a photo of you and your significant other) on each wedding ceremony chair so that guests can stay cool during the outdoor ceremony.
  • Give personalized Koozies to your guests as wedding favors, which would be a great and useful idea if you have canned or bottled beer at your wedding bar.

Personalized Koozies Wedding Favor

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